Ivan Pavlov And His Dog, St. Petersburg, 1914

May 23, 2021

This colorized photograph from 1914 shows the end result of one of the first experiments we learned about in psychology class … the one about how Ivan Pavlov came to understand the concept of classic conditioning by conducting (humane) experiments on dogs. Through his experimentation, he was able to prove that some responses are instinctual, and some are learned. His work helped lay the groundwork for the field of behavioral psychology. 

Bierka the dog joins Dr. Ivan Pavlov and others in this colorized photo. (colorized by Klimbim)

Ivan Pavlov, however, was not a psychologist. In fact, he was rather skeptical about the newly formed discipline of psychology as a whole. So how did this Russian scientist and research make waves outside his own discipline? How did Pavlov’s experiments go to the dogs? Let’s find out.

Who Was Ivan Pavlov and What Was He Doing in Science?

Ivan Pavlov (exploringyourmind.com)

Ivan Pavlov was born in a tiny Russian village in 1849. Growing up, his family pushed for him to become a priest. They even sent him to seminary. Pavlov, however, was much more interested in science. When he read the works of Charles Darwin, he decided to leave theology to pursue an education in the sciences at the University of St. Petersburg. He earned degrees in physiology and chemistry and graduated with his doctorate in 1879. He took a job teaching physiology at Russia’s Imperial Medical Academy which allowed him to continue doing his own research on his favorite subjects, digestion and blood circulation.