Ivan Pavlov – Starving Dogs and BMW

Behaviourism was the first system of psychology to influence marketing and in nowadays it is still a viable system. There are at least three forms of behaviourism: Pavlovian conditioning (classical conditioning); Operant conditioning; Tolman’s behaviourism. Classical conditioning is behaviourism of John B. Watson. He is credited as a founder of behaviourism in psychology though it has Pavlov who pioneered the first experiments in ‘classical’ conditioning. One of the best ‘classical’ conditioning examples would be a stimulus of food and the dog’s reflex reaction to salivation.

Picture1Pavlov noticed that his dogs would begin to salivate whenever he enters the room to feed them, even when he was not bringing them food. As a result, he started from the idea that there are some things that a dog does not need to learn.  Dogs salivation reflex, when they see food is automatic. However, when Pavlov discovered that any object or event as which the dogs learnt to associate with food would trigger the same response. He added new Neutral stimulus – bell, before feeding the dog. After a certain time, bell became a Conditioned stimulus for a dog to start salivationConditioned response. Dogs behaviour has changed, so it means that this must have been learned, because at one point the dogs did not do it, and there came to a point when they started.

The same thing is used in television ads. It is assumed that if some unconditioned stimulus like a beautiful girl, attractive image or valued lifestyle is associated with a brand, it will become a conditioned stimulus, which makes consumers think positive about an advertised brand. (O’Shaughnessy, 2004)

For example, BMW M3 ‘’Full of Soul’’ TV advertisement. Where conditional stimulus is expressed as a sexual relationship between men and women. Watching advertisement we make our associations in the middle of stimuli in adverts, or implications about positive and negative reinforcement, which affect how we respond to adverts. We learn through responding to reward/avoiding punishment. We can assume that this BMW advertisement using sexual relationship as a reward when buying their brand cars.

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