Aspects of Operant Conditioning

Evoking a startling response using classical conditioning in an unsuspecting person can be achieved in a typical setting. In this case, the specific choice scenario is in our hostel room between eight in the evening and midnight, when my roommate typically does his private studies. I will set the alarm on my phone such that after every 60 minutes, it gives a faint beep sound. After the first beep, the phone will give a louder ring to a specific piece of music when conducting private studies with my roommate. During the first ring, I will ask him if he wants to take candies, which I am sure he will accept based on his craving for sweets. So, I will hand him one or two pieces of candies. In the second ring, I will ask him the same question and give him one or two candies items, and the process will be repeated several times. The roommate will be conditioned such that every time the phone rings, he will expect me to give him the candies and stretch out his hand to receive the pieces.

It is expected that even if I do not ask him if he needs the candies, he will have been conditioned to expect the same thing to happen, which will confirm Pavlov’s dog experiment of conditioning. In this case scenario, the signal is the end of the time set on the phone alarm. The unconditioned stimulus is represented by the first faint alarm beep, while the unconditioned response is the roommates’ reach out for the candies (Nevid, 2016). The conditioned stimulus will be the second louder beep or ring, while the conditioned response is the roommate’s automatic reach out for the candies. Based on this simple but effective experiment that shows evidence of classical conditioning in humans, the following key elements describe the situation and the outcomes.

In operant conditioning, the subject learns to develop a voluntary response to gain some consequence or reward. The reward or consequence is the reinforcing factor that entices the subject to act (Nevid, 2016). An antecedent stimulus is an effect that comes before the response. For its part, shaping is a gradual process that helps establish operant responses and repeatedly reinforces closer approximations of the desired response until it is achieved in the long run.

In this scenario, the best thing would be to offer the roommate some positive rewards when he makes his bed every day and cleans his side. I would tell him that whenever the room is clean, I will be coming to the room with the films to watch while enjoying his favorite drinks because I want a clean environment. The antecedent stimulus that will trigger him to take action will involve mentioning that I do not enjoy watching films and tossing a drink in a messy room (Nevid, 2016). So, he will always wake up early and ensure that he has cleaned his side and had his bed made before leaving, which is the reward/response of the action.

The more I come with new films and drinks, the more he will make sure that the room is clean, reinforcing the movement. Finally, I will encourage self-control and regulation in my roommate by slowly avoiding mentioning the nature of the room and only referring to bringing movies and drinks (Nevid, 2016). Hopefully, the roommate will become accustomed to the new routine and begin to take responsibility in hopes that the films and drinks will continue without the need for my input (external stimulation).


Nevid, J. S. (2016). Essentials of psychology: Concepts and applications. Cengage Learning.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Aspects of Operant Conditioning." February 14, 2023.

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PsychologyWriting. "Aspects of Operant Conditioning." February 14, 2023.