Classical Conditioning

Critical Thinking Questions

If the sound of your toaster popping up toast causes your mouth to water, what are the UCS, CS, and CR?


The food being toasted is the UCS; the sound of the toaster popping up is the CS; salivating to the sound of the toaster is the CR.

Explain how the processes of stimulus generalization and stimulus discrimination are considered opposites.


In stimulus generalization, an organism responds to new stimuli that are similar to the original conditioned stimulus. For example, a dog barks when the doorbell rings. He then barks when the oven timer dings because it sounds very similar to the doorbell. On the other hand, stimulus discrimination occurs when an organism learns a response to a specific stimulus, but does not respond the same way to new stimuli that are similar. In this case, the dog would bark when he hears the doorbell, but he would not bark when he hears the oven timer ding because they sound different; the dog is able to distinguish between the two sounds.

How does a neutral stimulus become a conditioned stimulus?


This occurs through the process of acquisition. A human or an animal learns to connect a neutral stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus. During the acquisition phase, the neutral stimulus begins to elicit the conditioned response. The neutral stimulus is becoming the conditioned stimulus. At the end of the acquisition phase, learning has occurred and the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus capable of eliciting the conditioned response by itself.