Directions for Assignment:
Conducting the Experiment
1. For this assignment, you will get to do a classical conditioning experiment with a friend! This exercise involves the conditioning of the human eyeblink.
2. First, you will need some equipment. Gather the following items before starting your experiment: A spoon, a straw, a watch, and a tall, thin glass filled with some water.
3. Find a person from our class or a friend who is willing to participate in your experiment. Have your participant sit at a table with his/her chin resting on their hands to the head remains stationary.
4. Begin by tapping the full glass once (CS) with the spoon. Note the participant’s reactions. Tap a few more times until he/she makes no consistent response.
5. Begin conditioning your participant by tapping the glass once, followed immediately by a strong puff of air to the participant’s eye (UCS) through the straw. Be certain the air is strong enough to elicit an eyeblink (UCR). Repeat the procedure seven times at 20-second intervals.
6. On the eighth trial (the test trial), tap the glass but deliver no puff of air. Record whether an eyeblink (CR) occurs in response to the sound.
7. Repeat seven more conditioning trials and another test trial, also at 20-second intervals. Record any blinking responses. Continue alternating seven conditioning trials with one test trial until the sound clearly elicits an eyeblink.
8. To assess whether generalization has occurred, tap the empty glass with the spoon. Record whether a clear blink is made.
9. Finally, you want to extinguish this response, so that your participant doesn’t blink every time someone makes a toast! Proceed with extinction. Tap the glass approximately every 20 seconds until no eyeblink is elicited. Record the number of trials needed to achieve extinction.
10. If you want to test for spontaneous recovery, allow your participant to rest for 4-5 minutes, then tap the glass but deliver no puff of air. Record whether your participant blinks.
Writing the Report
1. In your report, include the original recording sheet that includes your record of the participants’ eyeblink patterns.
2. In your Method section, describe how you set up the experiment. In other words, describe the materials, setting, time period it took to do the experiment, characteristics of your participant (i.e., male, female, age, but NO NAME!), etc.
3. In your Results section, state whether or not your conditioning experiment was successful. How many trials did it take to see a conditioned response to the puff of air? How many trials did it take for extinction to occur? Did you see spontaneous recovery?
4. In your Discussion section, talk about why (or why not) your experiment was successful. If you could do your experiment again, what factors would you change? Include a short discussion of your reactions to the experiment.
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