An Example of Classical Conditioning Relevant to Health

An Example of Classical Conditioning Relevant to Health

Classical Conditioning is defined as learning that occurs when two stimuli, a neutral stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus that triggers unconditioned responses are paired off. Because of the pairing off, the neutral stimulus that had no power to cause a response loses its neutrality and assumes similar influences over a subject as the unconditioned stimulus (Ayers, et al., 2007). That is, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus with the ability to prompt the conditioned response.

There are two main applications of Classical Conditioning applications: Cue Exposure Therapy and Aversion Therapy. Cue Exposure Therapy,an application of classical conditioning, assists in the treatment of addiction.Cues associated with addiction such as smells, people, the sight, or locations areviewed as condition stimuli. With repetitive exposure to cue, and without involvement in addictive behavior,cues lose theirability to stimulate craving. Since most patients in recovery programs cannot eliminate all cues linked with their addiction, it becomes important to minimize the influence of the cues.According to Emmelkamp & Vedel(2012), this can be achieved through Cue Exposure Therapy, which relies on the theory of classical conditioning in its application.

Therapists also employ the application of Classical Conditioning to treat many types of unwanted behaviors.This is achieved through the use of Aversion Therapy which is also an application of Classical Conditioning. In Aversion Therapy, an unwanted behavior is intentionally pairedwith an unpleasant experience, for example, administering a drug which induces vomiting and nausea if a person consumes alcohol. The intentionally paired association between vomiting and alcohol removes any previous association of positive feelings with alcohol, and after Aversion Therapy, alcohol becomes associated with vomiting. This helps the individual outgrow the unwanted behavior. While the effect of Aversion Therapy may wear off after a while, during that period, an individual can develop new manners of healthy living.Another example of how classical conditioning could affect health behavior is based on the concept of one-trial learning (Harari & Legge, 2001).

These applications of Classical Conditioning have been found to be particularly effective in the context of addictive behaviors, dietary behavior patterns, and unwanted behaviors. It has also been used to explain other health-related behaviors such as comfort eating. Therefore, the application of classical conditioning to address various health conditions through aversion therapy and cue exposure therapy could be helpful in a healthcare setting.



Ayers, S., Baum, A., McManus, C., Newman, S., Wallston, K., Weinman, J., & West, R. (2007). Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health, and Medicine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Barkway, P. (2013). Psychology for Health Professionals. Australia: Elsevier.

Emmelkamp, P. M., & Vedel, E. (2012). Evidence-Based Treatments for Alcohol and Drug Abuse: A Practitioner’s Guide to Theory, Methods, and Practice. New York, NY: Routledge.

Harari, P., & Legge, K. (2001). Psychology and Health. Oxford, OX: Heinemann.

Pastorino, E. E., & Doyle-Portillo, S. M. (2015). What is Psychology? Foundations, Applications, and Integration. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Do you need an Original High Quality Academic Custom Essay?