Psychologists have conducted a number of experiments to discover various forms of learning. Each form of learning has its own principles. The concern is primarily with the application of these principles in human learning. Experiments have been centered for the most part on three types of learning. Learning by conditioning (classical and operant), Cognitive learning and Imprinting. In this article we will focus on classical conditioning.
It would be wise to briefly describe “conditioning” before classical conditioning could be explained. Learning by conditioning is also called learning by association. Most of the learning takes place by this process. It consists of associating one experience with another experience that is already familiar to us. Conditioning is simply the process of taking up some new stimulus for which we already have some response. For example, our stopping at the sight of red traffic signal is an example of conditioned response. Conditioning involves forming association between the events in the environment (stimuli) and our behavior (responses). There are two kinds of conditioning; Classical and Operant. As mentioned earlier, we will focus on Classical Conditioning here which in NLP is known as anchoring.
A well-known experiment in Classical Conditioning was performed by a Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov, who accidentally discovered the conditioned response while performing a series of experiments on digestion and salivation in dogs. While doing so, he observed a curious phenomenon that sometimes stomach secretions and salivation in dogs would begin when no food has actually been eaten. Merely the sight of a food bowl or even the sound of the footsteps of the individual bringing the food was enough to produce a physiological response in the dogs. He saw that the dogs were responding not only on the basis of a biological need (hunger) but also as a result of learning or, as it came to be called later, Classical Conditioning. In Classical conditioning, an organism learns a response to a neutral stimulus that normally does not bring about that response.
To demonstrate classical conditioning, Pavlov conducted a series of experiments. In one, he attached a tube to the salivary gland of a dog, allowing him to measure the amount of salivation that occurred. He then sounded a tuning fork and a few seconds later, presented the dog with meat powder. This pairing occurred repeatedly.
At first, the dog would salivate only when the meat powder itself was presented, but soon it began to salivate at the sound of the tuning fork. In fact, when Pavlov stopped presenting the meat, the dog still salivated after hearing the sound. This implied that the dog had been classically conditioned to salivate to the tone.
The sound in this case is called the neutral stimulus because it has no effect on the response of interest. The meat powder is considered the unconditioned stimulus because food placed near the dog’s mouth automatically causes salivation to occur. The response, which the meat powder produces, is called the unconditioned response which implies that it is a response not associated with previous learning. After Classical Conditioning has taken place, the tuning fork has evolved from a neutral stimulus to what is now called a conditioned stimulus. At this time the salivation to the tuning fork is called a conditioned response. The conditioned stimulus evokes the conditioned response.
In short, classical conditioning is a form of learning in which a previously neutral stimulus comes to elicit a response through its association with a stimulus that naturally brings about that response.
The question is how we can classically condition (anchor) ourselves or others for our benefit?
As stated earlier in the article we are naturally conditioned in life to respond in certain ways in certain contexts. An NLP trained and certified Practitioner learns the tools to anchor certain states consciously or unconsciously to change, improve or create more choice in a context that clients or self wants a difference in experience.
Anchoring is incredibly powerful, long term and rapid, and can be used for allergies, fears, anxieties and motivation in a change work setting. We can all think of songs and smells that when we are exposed to them take us back to a particular event of our lives, a job, a wedding even a funeral and if we learn how we are conditioned, if the response is not beneficial to us, we can change it on a physiological level using NLP. This is taught at our practitioner training and can be done via touch, spatially and/or sounds very easily through self application and in work with others. Anchoring links in with submodality patterns, as once the response is re-conditioned or just made aware of, a distinctive set of feelings, images, sounds and maybe even tastes and smells will be present.
If you’d like to know more about anchoring please post in our forum and a positive discussion for all will take place.