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Ivan Pavlov
(1849 - 1936)

picture of Ivan Pavlov

Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov (1849 - 1936) inspired the behaviourist movement. Until the cognitive revolution, behaviourism laid claim to the title of "scientific psychology". Behaviourism was championed in America by JB Watson and BF Skinner.

In 1903, Pavlov published his results on what he called the "conditioned reflex", different from an innate reflex such as withdrawing one's hand from a flame. At first, Pavlov's dogs salivated only when they saw and ate their food. But by ringing the bell, and then presenting the dogs with food, an experimenter could induce the dogs to salivate whenever the bell rang, even if no food were present. Pavlov called this learning process "conditioning". The dog's nervous system had come to associate the ringing of the bell with food. Pavov also found that the conditioned reflex will be repressed if the stimulus proves "wrong" too often. If the bell rings repeatedly but no food appears, eventually the dog stops salivating at the bell.

        Pavlovian conditioning is "classical" conditioning. It is passive. So-called "operant conditioning", pioneered by BF Skinner, is based on "rewarding " or "punishing" active behaviour initiated by the animal itself.

        In the benignly totalitarian society of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, the family has been abolished and replaced by Infant Nurseries: "Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning Rooms." Eight-month-old babies belonging to the Delta caste are conditioned to hate books and flowers. The babies are frightened by loud noises and electrical shocks when they attempt to touch these objects. Thereafter the Deltas will refuse to touch these objects. Children are encoyuaged by means of systematic conditioing to be free and uninhibited about sex, nudity and bodily functions. Exclusive pair bonding has been discarded. Sex is promiscuous: "everyone belongs to eveyone else".

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Brave New World?
Future Opioids
BLTC Research
Huxley Hotlinks
The Good Drug Guide
The Hedonistic Imperative
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

David Pearce