The statement of this theory states that if we get two stimuli at the same time of which one causes an emotional stir in us and we are unresponsive to the other, then eventually even the other stimulus also causes the same response as the first one.


The two stimuli get associated with each other and generate the same effect in us. Classical conditioning is a very popular theory which works on the fact that ‘associate and learn’. This theory works best when there is some evolution benefit coming out of it. This theory gained huge popularity and a lot of research was carried out on it. The results were very obvious and this made the researchers study deeper into the theory.

Of the few famous experiments is the Pavlov experiment which proved this theory beyond doubt. He bred a couple of dogs. Every day while feeding them he used to ring a bell. This went on for months. After that whenever he just rang the bell the dogs mouths began to salivate. Getting food was a favorable stimulus. Ringing of the bell was a stimulus which they did not respond to earlier. However through associative learning of the mind, the ringing of the bell became associated as a favorable stimulus and they began to salivate as soon as he rang the bell, food or not.

Another important experiment which gave a methodical and systematic understanding of this theory was the Garcia and Koelling experiment in the year 1966. They conducted the experiments on a bunch of laboratory rats. They fed the rats a sweet tasting liquid. After a few days they gave the rats an injection which made them ill immediately after feeding them the liquid. The rats associated the liquid with the illness and avoided it. However, the rats did not start avoiding the feed when they received electric shocks after drinking instead of the injection. The researchers made an observation at this juncture that it was connected with what food the rats could eat without getting harmed. Then they conducted the second part of the experiment. They coupled the electric shock with harsh light and a lot of noise. The rats associated this unpleasantness with the electric shock and then learnt to avoid the shocks! This was found very absurd as they did not avoid the shocks which were hurting them directly but started avoiding them when they were coupled with something like harsh lights and noise. Many times we associate a particular fragrance or color with a person we like and that color often reminds us of that person.

Finally, this theory also states how we can use this theory to our benefit. Many times, people get someone to do a job he or she doesn’t like by coupling it with a job he or she would like or enjoy. Eventually they tend to like both the jobs. This theory has thus recently become an important part of the corporate world and human resource department too.