PSYB45H3 Study Guide - Startle Response, Certified Emission Reduction, Conditioned Taste Aversion
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Examples of Respondent Conditioning
Defining Respondent Conditioning
Timing of the Neutral Stimulus and the US
Conditioned Emotional Responses
Extinction of Conditioned Responses
Discrimination and Generalization of Respondent Behavior
Factors that Influence Respondent Conditioning
The Nature of the US and the CS
The Temporal Relationship between the CS and the US
Contingency between the CS and the US
The Number of Pairings
Previous Exposure to the CS
Distinguishing Between Operant and Respondent Conditioning
Respondent Conditioning and Behavior Modification
Chapter 8, Quiz 1
Chapter 8, Quiz 2
Chapter 8, Quiz 3
Ideas for Class Activities
1. You can conduct an exercise in class in which you present an unconditioned stimulus to generate an
unconditioned response and then pair a neutral stimulus with the US to demonstrate respondent conditioning.
Borrow a starter’s pistol from your school’s track or cross country coach. This is a pistol that shoots blanks to start
races. It does not fire a bullet but makes a very loud noise when fired. Show the pistol to the class and explain that
it is harmless. Also tell the students that you will fire the pistol some time in class as part of a demonstration (if
anyone in class objects, do not proceed with the demonstration). At some point without warning, raise the pistol
suddenly and fire it while it is pointed up in the air. Have the students describe the bodily responses they are
experiencing as a result of being startled by the loud noise. This is an unconditioned reflex (Loud noise elicits
autonomic arousal as a startle response). A few minutes later fire the pistol again without warning. Have the class
note their bodily response. The third time, raise the pistol as if to fire it but do not fire it. Have the students
describe their bodily responses to the raised pistol. Many will report a startle response or autonomic arousal. The
raised gun is neutral stimulus that was paired with the loud noise and should now elicit the same type of autonomic
arousal in the students.
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2. Describe a variety of examples of respondent conditioning and have the students identify the US, UR, CS, and
CR in the examples. Examples may involve simple conditioned responses such as an eye blink or more clinically
relevant responses that involve anger, anxiety, or sexual arousal.
Answers to Practice Test Questions
1. US - unconditioned stimulus; UR - unconditioned response; CS - conditioned stimulus; CR - conditioned
2. An unconditioned stimulus (US) is one which elicits a response with no prior learning or conditioning. For
example, bright light in the eye, painful stimulation to the body, and a loud noise are examples of unconditioned
3. An unconditioned response (UR) is one which is elicited by an antecedent stimulus (a US) even though no
conditioning has taken place. It is a natural reflexive action of the body that occurs when a US is present. For
example, an eye blink in response to bright light, rapid withdrawal from a painful stimulus, and a startle reflex to a
loud noise are examples of unconditioned responses.
4. A neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus (CS) by being paired with an unconditioned stimulus (the
neutral stimulus and US are presented together). This process is called respondent conditioning.
5. The outcome of respondent conditioning is that the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus (CS) and
elicits a conditioned response (CR) similar to the unconditioned response (UR).
6. In delay conditioning, the NS is presented and the US is then presented before the termination of the NS; Trace
conditioning is similar to delay conditioning (the NS precedes the US) except that the presentation of the US does
not overlap with the presentation of the NS; Simultaneous conditioning involves the simultaneous presentation of
the NS and the US; Backward conditioning occurs when the US is presented prior to the NS.
7. In most cases of respondent conditioning, trace and delay conditioning, in which the CS is presented first, are
most effective. Backward conditioning is least likely to result in respondent conditioning.
8. Higher order conditioning occurs when a neutral stimulus is paired with an already established CS and the
neutral stimulus becomes a CS. For example, a light precedes an electric shock delivered to a person, which elicits
a UR of autonomic arousal. Later the light will be a CS and elicit autonomic arousal as a CR. Now, when a tone
(neutral stimulus) is paired with the light, the tone becomes a CS elicits the same CR of autonomic arousal.
9. By pairing a neutral stimulus with one which elicits an emotional response (such as autonomic arousal), the
neutral stimulus will come to elicit the emotional response, which thereby becomes a conditioned emotional
response (CER). Examples are positive CERs are happiness, love, and excitement. Examples of negative CERs
are fear, anger, disgust, and prejudice.
10. Respondent extinction involves the repeated presentation of the CS without presenting the US until the CS no
longer elicited a CR. For example, if Pavlov continued to present the sound of the metronome (CS) but never
paired the metronome with the delivery of meat powder (US), the dog would begin to salivate less and less to the
sound of the metronome until the dog quit salivating altogether when it heard the metronome.
11. When the CS elicits the CR sometime later after extinction had taken place, spontaneous recovery has
occurred. For example, when Pavlov presented the sound of the metronome repeatedly without putting meat
powder in the dog’s mouth, eventually the dog quit salivating to the sound of the metronome. However, when
Pavlov presented the metronome sometime later, the dog again salivated, although to a lesser extent than before
12. Taste aversion differs from other types of respondent conditioning in that the UR (nausea and vomiting)
elicited by the US (tainted food) may occur many minutes after the occurrence of the NS (the taste of the food).
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Nonetheless, the taste of food becomes a CS that elicits nausea.
13. Discrimination develops in respondent conditioning in the following manner: When a particular stimulus (S1)
is paired with the US, but similar stimuli (S2, S3, S4, etc.) are presented without the US, only S1 will elicit a CR.
Consider the example of Madeline who is attacked by a German Shepherd. Every time she walks by the yard with
the German Shepherd, the sight of the dog (CS) elicits autonomic arousal or a fear response (CR). However, when
she walks past other houses with different dogs that are friendly, she does not have the fear response.
14. Generalization develops in respondent conditioning in the following manner: If S1 is paired with the US but
similar stimuli (S2, S3, S4, etc.) are never presented in the absence of the US, the CR is more likely to generalize
to these other stimuli. If Madeline was attacked by the German Shepherd but she never had encounters with
friendly dogs, her fear response would be more likely to generalize to other dogs that are similar in some way to
15. The following 5 factors influence respondent conditioning:
(1) The nature of the US and CS. The intensity of a stimulus will influence the effectiveness of the
stimulus as a CS or a US. In general, a more intense stimulus will be more effective than a less intense stimulus as
(2) Temporal relationship between the CS and US. For conditioning to be most effective, the CS should
precede the US (as in delay and trace conditioning).
(3) Contingency between the CS and US. Contingency between the CS and US means that the CS and the
US are presented together on every trial.
(4) Number of pairings. Although one pairing between a neutral stimulus and a US is often sufficient to
establish the neutral stimulus as a CS, in general, more pairings of the CS and US produce stronger conditioning.
(5) Previous exposure to the CS. A stimulus will be less likely to become a CS when paired with a US if
the individual has been exposed to that stimulus in the past without the US.
16. Public speaking is a situation which may produce increased autonomic arousal in the speaker (autonomic
arousal is a respondent behavior elicited by the situation). As a result, the student might engage in operant
behaviors, such as avoiding classes which require public speaking, the avoidance behaviors are then negatively
reinforced. As a result, in the future the student is more likely to avoid classes in which public speaking is
17. By exposing the child to a number of “safe” dogs (the presence of the dog is not paired with barking, biting, or
any other stimulus events which may elicit the autonomic arousal or behavior pattern labeled as “fear” in the
child), the child’s fear of dogs will eventually be extinguished. In using positive reinforcement, the child could be
praised, or another reinforcer could be delivered for gradually approaching the dog, petting the dog, playing with
the dog, etc.
Answers to Quizzes
1. respondent, operant 2. unconditioned stimulus, conditioned stimulus 3. neutral stimulus 4. See Table 8.1
5. c 6. d 7. conditioned emotional response 8. conditioned response or CR 9. US=loud noise, UR=startle
reflex, CS=raising the gun, CR= startle response 10. the nature of the US and CS, the temporal relationship
between the US and CS, contingency between the US and CS, the number of pairings, previous exposure to the CS
1. consequences, antecedents 2. unconditioned response, conditioned response 3. CR 4. see Table 8.2 5. a
6. b 7. fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, happiness, love 8. spontaneous recovery 9. precedes 10. startle
response or autonomic arousal, running to mommy
1. US, CS 2. US 3. it becomes a CS and elicits a CR 4. UR, US 5. CS (initially a neutral stimulus) 6. CR
7. respondent conditioning 8. CS 9. CS 10. US=lions roar, UR=startle response or autonomic arousal,
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