conditioned response

Cultural Dictionary

conditioned response definition


In psychology, the response made by a person or animal after learning to associate an experience with a neutral or arbitrary stimulus. Conditioned response experiments by Ivan Pavlov (see Pavlov's dogs) paired a neutral stimulus (sounding a bell) with a natural response (salivating) by associating the bell with the presentation of food. Conditioned response experiments by B. F. Skinner and other behaviorists (see behaviorism) associated an arbitrary action (an animal's pressing a lever) with a positive reward (presentation of food) or a negative reward (an electric shock).

Note: Response conditioning is used in behavior modification. Stop-smoking clinics, for example, may use an electric shock whenever a patient lights up. The patient will then associate smoking with the unpleasant experience of the shock.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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