Monday, October 12, 2009

Pavlov and The Office

On February 9th of 2007, I remember getting inundated by students who had watched the TV show, "The Office" the night before. It seems the episode had a sequence where Jim classically conditioned Dwight to the sound of his computer booting up. My students were all ecstatic because, not only did the scene show classical conditioning, in one short segment Jim actually talked about Pavlov and his conditioning of dogs.

I've had some interesting discussions with my classes whether the example presented is classical, operant conditioning or a bit of both. Is Dwight being reinforced for putting out his hand when he hears the discriminatory stimulus of the computer OR is the computer sound a CS and putting out the hand a CR? And, what about the strange taste he has in his mouth at the end of the sequence?

For those of you looking to show the clip from the original DVD, you need to find the fifteenth episode of the third season entitled "Phyllis's Wedding". Below I have a number of websites which include the clip. If none of the sites work (I have found it hard to find a site which consistently includes the video due to copyright issues), do an internet video search for Pavlov, The Office, Prank, and/or Altoids.

These links are active as of December 15, 2009


Anonymous said...

I stumbled accross this site and felt compelled to add to this post. The big bang theory in Season 3 Episode 3 (The Gothowitz Deviation" shows the one of the main characters training the other using operant conditioning. As a University Psychology student I thought it was glorious in one of my favourite tv shows!
here's a clip:

Anonymous said...

If you can't access the above links as we can't in my school district you can download the video clip from YouTube using the following link on

Anonymous said... is for The Office clip involving Jim training Dwight with an altoid.