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Operant Conditioning in a Nutshell April 2, 2007

Posted by Johan in Learning.
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The video below is a good example of operant conditioning – in a cat, no less!

Clicker training is a popular way to teach pets tricks. The technique is based on first “loading” the clicker by giving the animal a treat and clicking. Eventually, then, the clicker becomes a pleasant stimulus in itself through classical conditioning, and can be used as a quick, easily administered reinforcer in operant conditioning. This guy seems to be using the clicker in a somewhat unorthodox way – he gives the cat a treat each time, so this way, the clicker only serves to let the animal know that a treat is coming. This may be a handy way to let the animal know exactly which behaviour is being rewarded (if you just give a treat, you might not have time to give the reward before the animal has started another, unrelated behaviour).

Before you conclude that if you can teach cats to operate levers, you can teach anyone anything, you may wish to look at this classic paper

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