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Learning is the result of connection between a stimuli and the response to it meaning when a stimulus has been followed by a specific response, it inclines to be accompanied by that response on the next occurrence. Moreover, passage of time is not the reason why people forget things, but the intervention.


It is proposed by this theory that:

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?           For conditioning to be built, the subject actively responds.


?           Because learning needs the conditioning of distinct developments, guideline must comprehensively inform tasks.


?           Being exposed to a wide range of stimulus at different levels is recommended to construct overall response.


?           The final response will be accompanied with the stimulus in the learning process; therefore, it should be proper.


Guthrie argued that, in contiguity hypothesis, reinforcements such as rewards or penalties do not affect learning as they happen after the connection between stimulus and response is established. As sales promotions are considered as a means to reward their customers, contiguity theory will not be further deliberated1.


Classical Conditioning


Classical conditioning is also known as Pavlovian conditioning which was unintentionally revealed during the 1890s by a Russian physiologist – Ivan Pavlov. He observed how his dog salivated when being fed, and he discovered that his dog would salivate whenever he came into the room, even when he was not bringing them food. Ivan Pavlov was the first type of learning of behaviorist tradition, and his theory had a profound impact on the understanding of human behavior2.


Classical conditioning is the learning process in which a natural stimulus that brought a specific reflexive response is associated with a new conditioned stimulus with a purpose that the new stimulus also triggers the same reflex3.                             

The model of the theory generally consists of stimulus and response. The unconditioned stimulus originally triggers a natural reflex called unconditioned response. The neutral stimulus does not provoke a response. It is new and constantly paired with the unconditioned stimulus until a strong association is made, and the new stimulus transforms into a conditioned stimulus that eventually cause a conditioned response.                               

Operant Conditioning


Operant conditioning investigates how consequences influence behavior. Three-term contingency is one of the essential ideas in operant theory, that identifies which responses are strengthened by rewards or punishments in the context of what situations or discriminative stimuli. According to Engel et al, operant conditioning shows how the results of a response impact the probability that behavior will be performed again4. Edward Thorndike, John Watson, and B. F. Skinner are the leading theorist in developing operant conditioning theory5.


Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are distinguished from each other by the direction in the order. While Pavlov believed that the stimulus lead to response, Skinner followed the opposite order. It is proposed that, in the language of operant conditioning, behavior depends on its consequences6.  In order words, the behaviors are learned if they are followed by the reinforcement, as the reason for the initial happening does not matter which means that behaviors are influenced and controlled by their consequences7.                                  

Operant conditioning claimed that if a behavior is reinforced, it is more likely to happen in the future than the non-reinforced one. The reinforcement happens after the behavior and be able to alter the probability of recurrences. Contiguity, probability (frequency), and reinforcement are three determinants that affect conditioning. Contiguity refers to the simultaneousness meaning the object is provoked by the stimulus and simply respond. Frequency is about how often that stimuli and reflex take place. Reinforcement is a means to strengthen the conditioning.


This assumption leads to the belief among behaviorists that behaviors are controlled by external factors in the environment, not by internal forces. In the marketing context, sales promotions are used as external factors to encourage purchase, or to add extra value to products and services. However, consumers may exploit of the promotion and walk away, or they may think that promotion is a kind of reward that they deserve when they choose a brand. Promotions are used to increase purchase frequency, and the ideal action is to build up the relationship with the customers that they continue to purchase the brand in the post-promotion period8.

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