Ivan Pavlov Theory and Biography


This paper explores the life of Ivan P. Pavlov, a Russian physiologist known for his research in classical conditioning. Five outside sources are referenced Tibbetts, Stephen G., Criminological Theory: The Essentials, 1st Edition, SAGE, (2011), including internet sources. Contents of the paper include early and social life, and career objectives. Many arguments have been made as Ivan Pavlov was known for as classical conditioning, but really has a background in physiology. Ivan Pavlov won the Nobel Prize in physiology of medicine in 1904 and was best known for the secretion of a dog’s salivating when in relation to feeding times. This type of behavior was found by accident which furthered his career.

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Keywords: conditioned stimulus (CS), unconditioned stimulus (US), conditioned response (CR), unconditioned response (UR)

Ivan Pavlov

Ivan Pavlov was born on September 26, 1849 in the Russian Empire of the Soviet Union. Mr. Pavlov was the oldest of eleven children in his family and his father was a religious priest. His mother was a stay at home mother. Mr. Pavlov did everything a young person would do when growing up except he fell from a high wall onto concrete and was home schooled until the age of eleven due to his injuries. Mr. Pavlov is best known for his research in classical conditioning, according to McLeod, S.A. (2007) which later became to be known as an “instinct for research.” Mr. Pavlov first started with a religious career in seminary school at Ryan Church School, and then went forward toward studies in “physics and mathematics” Anrep, G.V. (1936). Mr. Pavlov enrolled at the University of Saint Petersburg where he not only studied math and science, but learned the physiology on studying the nerves in the pancreas. Scholars of his time included J.M. Sechonov and D. I. Pisarev. Soon after going to college and was awarded the “Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1904.” (The Nobel Peace Prize in Physiology and Medicine 1904 Ivan Pavlov) 2 February, 2012. This study and award included children as well as dogs in analyzing the results of salivate glands through food under different conditions. These type of studies was new to scientist because most studies that involved dogs or animals died in the process of testing. Mr. Pavlov first noticed that dogs secreted before the food was actually brought in to the subject. This type of study was the beginning of continuing studies in the process of making a dog’s life more manageable, and to be able to understand the functioning of all animals.

Literature Review

During the years when Mr. Pavlov won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1904 many publications` in reference to the reflex system were published including “The work of the Digestive Glands” in 1897. (1904 Nobel Prize laureates) 2012-04-05. These experiments were done on reflex systems such as digestive systems and taking portions out of them to be examined. Mr. Pavlov then studied other involuntary temperaments under stress and pain which included all types of strong types and weak types. This was accomplished by shock treatments from electrical stimuli. The final effect was seen by how much pain an individual could accept before their nervous functions would shut down. Mr. Pavlov then furthered his study by using a buzzer to demonstrate that when the food was presented along with dogs they would salivate at certain times which is called classical conditioning. This was also known to all of the western world as “modern behavior therapy.” Plaud, J.J. & Wolpe,J. (1997). Many new ways of thinking were evolved from Pavlov work which was included through popular culture “Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World” and “Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity Rainbow.” Russell Betrand (1931). Finally another form of popular culture was the Movie “Clockwork Orange” which has the anti-hero protagonist Alex perform a procedure called Ludovico which causes a person to feel nauseated after watching violent acts.

The impact on Pavlov’s research has had on the study of classical conditioning is widespread, and has been used on mental health issues. Some of these are used for phobias, anxiety attacks and panic disorders. During the years of 1997 and 2000 over 220 articles have been published regarding the research and development of classical conditioning through psychology. Many forms of taste aversion has evolved from this, and are used in the ranching business by having bad tasting foods for the preying animals so they won’t have any desire to attack herds of animals.

These theories concluded that there were two basic responses when given the correct components. A conditioned stimuli (CS) and a conditioned response (CR). The (CS) is when the subject is conditioned to a certain sound or condition such as bell or metronome, and then goes on into the response such as salvation as in Pavlov’s dog’s experiments. This a learned behavior which is accomplished through a reward and punishment method. The shorter the interval between both the presentation of the (CS) and the (US), the faster the dog’s learned the behavior. These behavior s are either strengthened or weakened do to the final outcome of these behaviors.

Classical conditioning procedures are done by many methods such as forward, simultaneous, second order, higher order, backward, temporal, zero contingency and extinction procedures. To learn how these behaviors work first we need to look at forward conditioning which is the fastest way which is completed by either through delay or trace conditioning. Delay conditioning is where when the (CS) is used and then overlaps in the use of the (US). (See table A1) Trace conditioning doesn’t have any overlap between the (CS) and the (US). What happens is the (CS) starts and ends before the (US) is showing. This is what is called the trace interval or conditioning interval. For example if you sound a bell for three seconds and blow into a person’s ear a second later, the person will feel the air into their ear. When you use the bell and then blow into a person’s ear, the person will feel the puff into their ear at the same as the bell with no delay. Simultaneous conditioning is when the (CS) and the (US) are used at the same time. Second order and higher order conditioning is done as a two- step process through forward conditioning. This involves two neutral stimulus and then paired with the first (CS) to come to a single (CR). This would be two separate stimulus like food and a metronome and would both have the same results such as Pavlov’s dogs in salvation secretion. Backward conditioning is done when “CS immediately follows a US” Chang, Raymond, C. January 2004. This occurs when the (CS) indicates that the (US) is completed rather than this occurrence is about to happen. Temporal conditioning is used in a timing methods and is used in the study of many animals. The (US) are done at regular intervals and the (CR) occurs right before the (US). Many studies are done in animal cognition when related to this event. Sort of like a feeding schedule when animals know by their biological clock feeding time is done at certain times. Zero contingency procedure is when the (CS) cannot predict when the (US) is going to happen. Each of the (CS) and the (US) essentially zero each other out. Extinction is done when the (CS) done will stop making a (CR) and eventually the (CR) will completely stop.

There are also phenomena’s associated with classical conditioning such as acquisition, extinction, external inhibition, recovery from extinction, stimulus generalization and discrimination, latent inhibition, conditioned suppression, conditioned inhibition, and blocking. When the acquisition phase we think of a quicker response time for the (CR) to take effect. This occurs when both the (CS) and the (US) are paired together in a test result. When you measure the (CR) many tests may be required which will gradually increase the (CR) done by speed, and also by the animal state of mind. Extinction as explained before is the elimination of the (CR) done through presenting the (CS) alone without any (US). External inhibition means when an unfamiliar test is used right before or at the same time as the (CS) which causes a lesser (CR) in relation to the (CS). When we look at recovery from extinction, this is caused after extinction from a stimuli that is completed, and then another or the same (CR) is given again. This causes a reacquisition, and is known that all extinction measures aren’t completely eliminated from the effects of any conditioning. When this event is occurred over and over again the time interval is faster after each event. This is known as “spontaneous recovery” Cherry, Kendra, 2013-02-10 when after a test period after many hours or even days, the results will have a (CR) which is usually weaker than the original one. Stimulus generalization occurs when the same (CR) comes about when one particular (CS) has the same results from a test stimuli. Stimulus discrimination is the opposite when one (CS) will elicit a (CR) or none at all. Latent inhibition is an effective event to stimuli with very little conditioned relationship to the stimuli being presented. This will cause no learning to be effective and is known to prevent information to overload when occurring. Conditioned suppression is one of the best ways to actually measure the amount of classical conditioning. This is accomplished by a series of tests, and when a conditioned response is feared (usually by some type of pain such as electric shock), then the “stronger the association of the (CS) and the (US).” Gallistel, R & Gibbon (2000). This is known as conditioned inhibition which is typically done in three phases through conditioned emotional responses. Blocking is then done by using two different phases.


The summary of all these test results are then finalized into theories of classical conditioning. These are done by data sources, stimulus substitution theory, and he Rescorla Wagner model. Most of the data sources used were on vertebrates as in birds or rats, but have also been done invertebrates such as sea creatures named the sea slug “Aplysia.” Shettleworth, S. J. (2010). In the stimulus substitution theory Mr. Pavlov summarized that conditioning doesn’t occur when a new behavior is learned, but is a reflex method to a certain stimuli. The problem is that the (CR) and the (UR) are not the same thing every time an experiment is done. The Rescorla Wagner model has been in place for over forty years, hence that certain stimuli will work better than others, but after the initial (CS) is established then a test subject can predict the onset of the (US). This model is used in a mathematic way by predicting, surprising, and expectation of the event. The above used terms of acquisition, extinction, and blocking are also used. These methods are all learned behaviors since classical conditioning is also a learned behavior. The equation is basically the actual amount learned behavior when the amount of surprise is the difference you would expect between the two of them. The equation remains a constant with is usually the change is surprise to measure the amount of learning. Such as: a?†V= ?? (? – ?V. Even though other learning models and theories have evolved over time, the Rescorla Wagner model is the easiest one to predict, measure, and understand. If you look at the actual test area which the tests are done as in Pavlov’s dog’s then we need to look at content. Pavlov’s dog’s started salivating even before the experiment started because of the dog’s surroundings.

Many new applications have evolved from Pavlov’s classical conditioning theories such as neural theories, behavior theories, drug response, and conditioned hunger theories. Neural theories is either a learned behavior or from unconditional stimuli such as your heartbeat which will continue on unless you die. These are done by your central nervous system and coordinated through your brain into your spinal area which a person has very little control. Some of the behavioral theories are used to treat phobias and are dealt with until the extinction level is completed. A conditioned drug response may occur in the same setting as with dog secretion knowing that a stimuli is about to occur. An example of this would be in methadone used to curb heroine addiction and when a person is always given the drug at a certain area they are in, the drug would already begin to work. For conditioning hunger would be when a subject has been fed at a certain times or place, and a certain sound is indicated. The subject is then to conditioned to eating through the lateral hypothalamus. Conditional emotional response has been used not only in humans, but in fertility in fish and animals for mating at certain times and places. This can something simple such as pictures or even drugs which would trigger the desired results.


Many of Ivan Pavlov theories are still used in today’s scientific world. Pavlov’s dogs has helped many students as well in theory to understand why we behave in a certain way. The classical thought of learning is mostly noted and always used from the day we are born, and until the day we die. Learning is the key for Ivan Pavlov to also teach us the ways to learn from classical conditioning.


Saul McLoed (2007), Pavlov’s Dogs- Simply Psychology, retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html

Asratyan, E.A. (1953). I.P. Pavlov: His Life and Work. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House. Ivan Pavlov- Wikipedia, free encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pavlov

Kendra Cherry (2014) About.com psychology, retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/classicalconditioning/a/pavlovs-dogs.htm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (April 2014), Classical Conditioning, retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_conditioning

Tibbetts, Stephen G., (2011) Criminological Theory: The Essentials, 1st Edition, SAGE,


Physiologist Ivan Pavlov’s research on salivation and digestion led to the discovering of classical conditioning.

A statue of Ivan Pavlov and one of his dogs.


Forward conditioning showing delay and trace conditioning is shown below:

Diagram representing forward conditioning. The time interval increases from left to right.


Types of all conditioning procedures and effects shown below:

Simultaneous conditioning

Second-order and higher-order conditioning

Backward conditioning

TABLE A2 (Continued)

Types of all conditioning procedures and effects shown below:

Zero contingency procedure

External inhibition


Unconditioned Stimulus (Food) > Unconditioned Response (Salivate)

Pavlov showed the existence of the unconditioned response by presenting a dog with a bowl of food and the measuring its salivary secretions (see image below)


Video of Ivan Pavlov events of his life and career achievements shown below:


Comical chart on pavlog’s dogs before and after conditioning shown below:

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