Conditioning is a form of learning, in which a learned response becomes associated with specific stimuli.

In the case of classical conditioning, when an unconditioned stimulus, which always elicits an unconditional response, is repeatedly presented with another stimulus which does not normally trigger a response, the newly associated stimulus will be enough to elicit the response. The classic example is that when a dog is given meat (unconditioned stimulus), it will trigger salivation (unconditioned response). If a light or sound signal (conditioned stimulus) is presented together with the meat, the dog will learn to respond to this with salivation as well (conditioned response).

The American behaviorists took the principle of classical conditioning a step further, resulting in the concept of operant conditioning, which takes the consequences of behaviors into account. In this case, reinforced behaviors will occur more frequently and punished behaviors less frequently. Reinforcement can either be a reward or the removal of an adversive stimulus, while punishment can take the form of an adverse stimulus or the removal of a reward.