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Behavior Principles in Everyday Life


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Title: Behavior Principles in Everyday Life

Behavior Principles in Everyday Life
  • Chapter 2
  • Pavlovian Conditioning

Forming Associations
  • In this chapter you will learn how biologically
    established reflexes such as emotional
    responses, sexual responses, and psychosomatic
    symptoms can become associated with new stimuli
    through Pavlovian conditioning. You will also
    learn when and why the effects of Pavlovian
    conditioning can fade over time though they do
    not always fade.

Repeated Presentation of an Eliciting Stimulus
  • Habituation vs. Sensitization
  • Habituation is a decrease in the strength of an
    elicited behavior (a reflex) following repeated
    presentations of the eliciting stimulus.
  • For example, we quickly stop attending to
    low-intensity background noises such as the
    ticking of a clock or the distant noise of
    traffic. Similarly, a sudden, unexpected tap on
    the shoulder may elicit a startle response, while
    further taps have no such effect.

Habituation and Sensitization
  • By contrast, sensitization is an increase in the
    strength of an elicited behavior following
    repeated presentations of the eliciting stimulus.
  • For example, soldiers under attack generally do
    not habituate to the sound of artillery shells
    exploding nearby. Instead, their startle reaction
    grows stronger.
  • Needless to say, this greatly contributes to the
    stress they experience and the inevitable
    breakdown virtually all soldiers suffer after
    repeated, prolonged exposure to battle

Habituation and Sensitization
  • Why does repeated exposure to certain stimuli
    sometimes result in habituation and sometimes in
    sensitization? One factor is the intensity of the
    eliciting stimulus.
  • A low-intensity stimulus, such as the ticking of
    a clock, generally results in habituation.
  • A high-intensity stimulus, such as exploding
    artillery shells, generally results in
  • And a stimulus of intermediate intensity often
    results in an initial period of sensitization
    followed by habituation. For example, at a
    shooting range, the first few shots you hear
    might produce an increasingly strong startle
    reaction. But you then begin to habituate to the
    shots, and after a while they are hardly noticed.

Habituation and Sensitization
  • Habituated responses can also reappear following
    the presentation of a seemingly irrelevant novel
    stimulus, a phenomenon called dishabituation.
  • For example, Cheryl might quickly habituate to
    the sound of gunshots at a shooting range. If,
    however, a handsome stranger approaches and
    stands nearby, she might again be startled when
    the next shot is fired.
  • Likewise, couples can sometimes rekindle their
    romance by traveling to a new and different
    environment- or even just by treating themselves
    to a night in a hotel room rather than staying at

Pavlovian Conditioning
  • Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) studied biologically
    established reflexes and the processes by which
    new stimuli become associated with the reflexes.
    The type of learning he discovered is commonly
    called Pavlovian conditioning but it is also
    known as classical conditioning and respondent

Pavlovian Conditioning Cont.
  • Stated simply, Pavlovian conditioning occurs when
    some neutral stimulus is so closely associated
    with an existing reflex that it takes on the
    power to elicit the reflective response.

Two Types of Reflexes
  • A reflex consists of a stimulus-response sequence
    in which come stimulus (S) elicits a
    biologically based response (R).
  • S ? R
  • The most basic and primitive type of reflex is
    the biologically established (or innate) reflex,
    which is called an unconditioned reflex to
    indicate that no conditioning no learning is
    involved in its origin.

Two Types of Reflexes Cont.
  • Each inborn reflex can only be activated by one
    specific type of biologically determined
    stimulus, which is called an unconditioned
    stimulus (US) to indicate the no conditioning
    (no learning) is needed for this stimulus to
    elicit a reflexive response.
  • The response elicited by the US is called an
    unconditioned response (UR) to indicate that no
    conditioning is necessary for that response to

Two Types of Reflexes Cont.
  • A bee sting can elicit an unconditioned reflex.
    We are born with nerves that cause us to respond
    to a bee sting as a US that elicits the UR of
    pain and jerking away. A sting is a US that
    elicits the UR of pain and flinching.
  • A second type of reflex, called a conditioned
    reflex, can be learned through the process of
    Pavlovian conditioning when some new sensations
    become associated with an innate or conditioned

Two Types of Reflexes Cont.
  • When a young child first sees a honeybee, the
    child has no innate fear of the bee The bee is
    a neutral stimulus (NS) upon first sight. But
    once the child learns that touching bees can be
    associated with pain, the sight of a bee becomes
    a conditioned stimulus (CS) that elicits the
    conditioned response (CR) of fear.
  • During Pavlovian conditioning, the neutral
    stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus (CS) that
    elicits a conditioned response (CR).

Two Types of Reflexes Cont.
  • Although a CS is capable of eliciting a reflexive
    response, the conditioned response (CR) is not
    identical to the unconditioned response (UR).
  • After a child has been stung by bees, the sight
    of bees is a CS that elicits the CR of fear.
    This CR of fear is not as strong as the UR of
    pain and crying that is elicited by the US of an
    actual bee sting.
  • Although the CR resembles the UR in some ways,
    the CR is usually less intense and slower to
    appear than the UR, although other differences
    are possible.

Predictive Stimuli
  • A CS contains important information about things
    that may come next.
  • A CS functions as a predictive stimulus
    indicating that a reflex might soon be elicited.
  • The sight and odor of a beautifully cooked meal
    are CSs that can elicit salivation and
    pleasurable anticipation of delicious food, even
    before dinner comes out of the oven. In this
    case, the CSs are predictive stimuli for
    pleasurable feelings.

Predictive Stimuli Cont.
  • Our brains have evolved to be quite sensitive to
    correlations or contingent relations between
    reflexes and the cues that precede them. The
    cues that most reliably precede and predict the
    onset of a reflex are usually the stimuli that
    become CSs.
  • The stimuli most predictive of the accident tend
    to be causally or contingently related to the
    onset of the unconditioned reflex.

Predictive Stimuli Cont.
  • When you are served a delicious dinner in a
    restaurant, you may notice the mouth-moistening
    salivation reflex. Which of the countless
    stimuli present in the room become associated
    with the moistening reflex? Will it be the
    sounds of background music and silverware
    clinking on plates, sights of the server and
    other people, words on the menu, topics of
    conversation, or the odor of the food?

Predictive Stimuli Cont.
  • The stimuli most closely associated with a
    delectable meal such as seeing it listed on the
    menu or smelling it at a nearby table are most
    likely to become CSs that elicit the CR of happy
    anticipation and a moistened mouth.

Common Conditioned Responses
  • Why do we have reflexes?
  • Most animals evolve to have numerous reflexes
    because the reflexes are crucial for basic
    biological functioning, survival, and
  • Most animals have evolved to be capable of
    Pavlovian conditioning, and humans are no

Common Conditioned Responses Cont.
  • Pavlovian conditioning allows us to respond not
    only to US, but also to the numerous CSs that
    become associated with our reflexes.

Voluntary Muscles
  • Babies are born with a variety of muscular
    reflexes of the skeletal muscular system that
    help ensure their early survival.

Voluntary Muscles Cont.
  • Although some of the infants reflexes such as
    the sucking response disappear in childhood,
    many continue to function all through life.
    Adults jerk away from pricks with sharp objects,
    get startled by sudden stimuli, and calm down
    with gentle stroking. In infancy and all through
    adulthood, people tend to smile or cry when very
    positive or aversive things happen to them.
    Smiles, tears, and many other facial responses
    are based on reflexes, and they help communicate
    our emotional state to others.

  • There are numerous reflexes based on the
    involuntary muscular responses of the circulatory
  • For example, physical exertion increases heart
    rate and blood flow to the entire body. Sexual
    stimulation also causes increased heart rate, but
    blood is shunted especially to the genital areas,
    causing vaginal lubrication and penile erection.

  • Several reflexes have to do with the digestive
    system, including the salivation reflex studied
    by Pavlov.
  • Food in the mouth is the US that elicits the
    unconditioned reflex of salivation. Through
    Pavlovian conditioning, we learn to salivate when
    exposed to cues that are predictive stimuli
    associated with food. Merely sitting down to a
    delicious dinner (a CS) can literally make a
    hungry persons mouth water (a CR), before food
    is put in the mouth.

Digestion Cont.
  • Extreme stress, shocks, and pain are USs capable
    of eliciting other digestive and excretory
    reflexes such as butterflies in the stomach,
    nausea, vomiting, and even urination or

Digestion Cont.
  • Unfortunately, cancer patients who receive
    chemotherapy often experience nausea and vomiting
    as side effects of the strong chemicals used in
    therapy. Chemotherapy is the unconditioned
    stimulus (US) that elicits unconditioned sickness
    (the UR). After having chemotherapy, some
    patients begin to experience conditioned nausea
    and vomiting before they come to therapy.

Digestion Cont.
  • Seeing that it is time to go to therapy is a
    predictive cue (CS) correlated with chemotherapy
    (the US) hence the calendar and clock provide
    the predictive stimuli that can elicit nausea
    illness before therapy actually begins.

Digestion Cont.
  • Although the brain is sensitive to correlations
    between predictive cues and reflexes, it does not
    always make the correct associations. --For
    example, cancer patients who receive chemotherapy
    sometimes learn to associate the foods that they
    have eaten before going to therapy as CSs that
    elicit nausea. Patients who eat ice cream before
    their chemotherapy may later find that ice cream
    causes them to become nauseous.

  • Reflexes of the respiratory system include
    coughing, sneezing, hiccups, and asthma attacks.
  • Some psychosomatic illnesses result from
    Pavlovian conditioning.

  • There are a number of reflexes in the
    reproductive system, related to making babies,
    delivering babies, and breast-feeding them.
  • Touch to the genitals is the US (unconditioned
    stimulus) that elicits the URs (unconditioned
    responses) of vaginal lubrication, penile
    erection, nipple erection, and other signs of
    sexual arousal, including orgasm.

Reproduction Cont.
  • These sexual responses are biologically
    established reflexes mediated by the lower spinal
    cord, and Pavlovian conditioning allows many
    stimuli that are associated with these reflexes
    to become eroticized, hence capable of
    eliciting sexual responses. Thoughts, words,
    visual images, odors, and a multitude of other
    stimuli can become CSs (conditioned stimuli) that
    elicit CRs (sexual responses) after the CSs have
    preceded the US of the unconditioned sexual

Reproduction Cont.
  • CSs that elicit sexual arousal are commonly
    called erotic stimuli or sexual turn-ons.
  • Each individual learns a unique set of sexual
    CSs, depending on his or her unique history of
    Pavlovian conditioning.
  • Because we all have different life experiences,
    it is only natural that each person learns a
    unique set of erotic CSs many or few
    depending on her or his unique conditioning

Reproduction Cont.
  • People with unusual histories of sexual
    conditioning can acquire some unique CSs for
    sexual arousal. Beyond a certain point, a
    persons unusual conditioning may strike others
    as odd or abnormal, but the conditioning
    process that produces unusual sexual CSs is the
    same Pavlovian conditioning that produces
    normal CSs. The clinical literature
    demonstrates how unusual sexual CSs can be
    conditioned without anyone planning it.

  • There is good evidence that sexual responses can
    be classically conditioned. For example, Rachman
    and Hodgson (1968) took seven male volunteers and
    presented them with conditioning trials in which
    a picture of black, knee-length boots was
    followed by a picture of a nude woman.
  • After about 30 trials, five of the males became
    sexually aroused by the sight of the boots. The
    researchers later eliminated the conditioning by
    repeatedly presenting the picture of the boots
    without the picture of the nude- a process known
    as extinction.
  • This result was replicated at the University of
    North Dakota in 1995 by pairing colored geometric
    shapes with erotic stimuli.

  • As you may have already guessed, this same
    process might partially account for the
    development of masochistic tendencies (the
    tendency to perceive painful stimulation as
    pleasurable) in humans. The painful stimulation
    from being whipped, for example, has for some
    people become associated with feelings of sexual
    arousal, as a result of which the painful
    stimulation itself can elicit arousal.

  • Interestingly, as with Pavlovs dogs, people who
    are masochistic do not perceive all pain as
    pleasurable rather, it is only the type of pain
    that is connected with their erotic experiences
    (e.g., being whipped) that is perceived as
    pleasurable. The pain they feel from accidentally
    stubbing a toe or banging a shin is as aversive
    for them as it is for anyone else (Rathus, Nevid,
    Fichner-Rathus, 2000).

Emotional Responses
  • Most unconditional reflexes have an emotional
    component that is either pleasurable or aversive.
    Therefore, eliciting a reflex often brings up
    emotional responses. The USs that elicit sexual
    responses, salivation, and reflexes associated
    with all the other biologically based rewards
    also elicit pleasurable sensations. In contrast,
    the USs associated with all the biologically
    based punishers such as sharp, hot, and
    stinging stimuli elicit aversive sensations.

Emotional Responses Cont.
  • When neutral stimuli precede reflexes that have
    an emotional component, the CSs that are created
    via Pavlovian conditioning can also elicit
  • The emotional response elicited by a CS is called
    a conditioned emotional response (CER).
  • Just as conditioned responses (CRs) are not
    identical to the URs that they predict, CERs do
    not completely resemble the unconditioned
    emotions on which they are based.

Emotional Responses Cont.
  • Because CSs are predictive stimuli, CSs
    associated with USs that have emotional
    components can elicit pleasant or unpleasant
    emotions before a US appears.
  • New CSs with emotional associations can be
    created any time that Pavlovian conditioning

Emotional Responses Cont.
  • For example, when a mother first begins
    breast-feeding her new baby, the infants sucking
    on her nipples is a US that elicits the
    milk-release reflex, which is pleasurable for the
    mother. Through Pavlovian conditioning, the
    predictive stimuli that precede just seeing the
    baby tugging at her blouse and trying to reach
    her nipples is a CS capable of eliciting the
    milk-release reflex and pleasurable feeling (the
    CER), even before actual breast-feeding begins.

Emotional Responses Cont.
  • Even cognitive stimuli can serve as CSs that
    elicit CERs. When a mother thinks about
    breast-feeding, she may experience warm and
    pleasant feelings.
  • Hearing the national anthem can elicit goose
    bumps. Hearing an inspiring speech or song can
    cause the skin to tingle or send chills down our
    spine. Criticism can elicit sweat on our face,
    palms of our hands, and armpits.

Understanding Emotions
  • If you want to better understand your feelings
    and emotions, pay closer attention to the stimuli
    that precede them.
  • People are often influenced by environmental cues
    including the emotional responses of others when
    labeling their own emotions.
  • Identifying our emotions involves both internal
    sensations and external cues.

Understanding Emotions Cont
  • As you learn to search for and locate the stimuli
    that elicit emotions, you can begin to use
    behavior modification with your emotions. You
    can practice mood control by selecting USs and
    CSs that elicit the emotions you want.

Please forgive me for using such a sexist image
but advertisers are always trying to change how
you feel about their products
Make yourself really relax
  • An athlete can get themselves into a very relaxed
    state with some muscle relaxation exercises (USs)
    that can be very time consuming but while so
    doing, if the word relax is repeated, the word
    would acquire CS properties.
  • If at the time of competition, the word relax is
    said to themselves, some of the same bodily
    effects of the exercises would be achieved

  • How is it that one person can empathize with the
    emotions of another? When we see other people
    smile with twinkling eyes, we often feel happy
    because years of prior Pavlovian conditioning
    lead us to associate genuine smiles with happy
    situations. Thus, smiles become CSs for our
    emotions of happiness. Likewise, seeing other
    people sobbing and shaking with grief become CSs
    for most of us to feel sad, too.

Empathy Cont.
  • Whenever people have had similar Pavlovian
    conditioning with any given emotional situation,
    their similar conditioning allows them to
    empathize with each other.
  • People who have had unique emotional experiences
    may know things that only a few other people
    who have had similar experiences can empathize

The Dynamics of Conditioning
  • For decades, people thought of Pavlovian
    conditioning in simple mechanistic terms. If you
    pair a neutral stimulus with a reflex long
    enough, the neutral stimulus eventually becomes a
    CS that can elicit a conditioned response.
  • Today we realize that the brain is a very active
    stimulus-processing organ.

The Dynamics of Conditioning Cont.
  • Due to evolutionary processes, the brain has
    evolved to search for contingent relationships
    among stimuli, as when one stimulus causes the
    next. All the reflexes mediate biologically
    important life functions, including responses to
    food, sex, sharp objects, fire, allergens, and so
    forth. When the brain detects some new stimuli
    that seem to be causally connected with
    contingently related to the onset of the
    unconditioned reflex, it build connections that
    associate the new stimuli and the US ? UR reflex.

The Dynamics of Conditioning Cont.
  • Any stimulus provides an enormous amount of
    biologically useful information to the brain if
    it accurately predicts that a US is likely to
    appear, and this facilitates the stimulus
    becoming associated with the unconditioned
    stimulus becoming associated with the
    unconditioned reflex.
  • Pavlovian conditioning can occur without our
    being consciously aware of the processes.

The Dynamics of Conditioning Cont.
  • Many people with fears and phobias cannot recall
    any experiences that would explain the onset of
    their phobia.
  • Of course, Pavlovian conditioning can also occur
    when people are conscious of things that caused
    them to have conditioned responses.

The Dynamics of Conditioning Cont.
  • Nevertheless, the brain can do an amazing amount
    of cause-effect analysis (actively searching for
    contingent relationships among stimuli) even when
    we are not consciously aware of the brainwork and
    Pavlovian conditioning that is happening at an
    unconscious level. If you fear spiders,can you
    recall the time and events that produced this
    conditioning? If you cannot, you are not alone.

The Dynamics of Conditioning Cont.
  • Much early research on Pavlovian conditioning
    focused on simple models with one cause and one
  • But today we know that the brain can detect
    complex patterns among all sorts of stimuli that
    can predict the onset of a reflex.

The Dynamics of Conditioning Cont.
  • The brains sensitivity to complex stimulus
    patterns helps explain conditioned inhibition,
    where some special signal inhibits responses to
    CSs that otherwise elicit reflexes. If spiders
    are CSs that elicit fear for you, you may jump
    with anxiety when seeing a spider. But if PJ
    the practical joker in your crowd drops a
    wiggly rubber spider in your lap, you might not
    jump because you have learned that stimuli from
    PJ are usually harmless.

The Dynamics of Conditioning Cont.
  • Likewise, if PJ gave you a check for 1000, you
    might not jump with joy. Since PJ has a long
    history of doing things while just kidding,
    seeing PJ can produce conditioned inhibitions of
    many responses.

Biological Preparedness
  • The brain is not equally sensitive to all types
    of stimuli. Some types of stimuli are much more
    important for survival than others, and
    evolutionary processes have prepared the brain to
    locate some types of causal correlations more
    easily than others.
  • In Pavlovian conditioning, we often see a
    biological preparedness for making certain
    associations especially easy. The brain is
    biologically structured to connect certain types
    of CSs with life-critical USs, even with limited
    learning opportunities.

Biological Preparedness Cont.
  • For example, various types of rich, diseased, or
    poisonous food can make a person sick by
    triggering the reflexive responses of nausea and
    vomiting. It may take only one experience with a
    certain type of food and the sickness reflex to
    condition a strong negative response to that
    particular food, even if the vomiting occurs as
    long as 2 to 3 hours after eating the food. Such
    rapid conditioning in spite of long time delays
    reflects considerable biological preparedness for
    the conditioning of the sickness reflex to new
    food flavors and odors.

Biological Preparedness Cont.
  • The rapid conditioning of negative responses to
    certain foods is not uncommon in everyday life.
    For example, if a friend invites you to a nice
    restaurant and coaxes you to try the seafood, you
    may innocently select something too rich for your
    stomach. When the scallops wrapped in bacon
    arrive, they look and smell delicious. Fried in
    bacon fat and smothered with a rich sour cream
    sauce, they are sweet and succulent.

Biological Preparedness Cont.
  • Much to your surprise, 1 or 2 hours later, your
    stomach starts complaining. The rich, heavy food
    was too much for you, and you begin to feel weak
    and nauseous. After another half-hour you are
    burping up potent odors, and shortly thereafter
    everything comes up. Terrible taste! And your
    stomach does not calm down for another hour.

Biological Preparedness Cont.
  • The rich food triggered the unconditioned reflex
    that is a part of a biological safe-guard
    system which rejects bad food from the body.
    Pavlovian conditioning builds from this basic
  • In fact, the next time you notice scallops on a
    menu or sit next to someone who orders scallops,
    you may feel weak in the stomach, perhaps a bit

Biological Preparedness Cont.
  • Due to Pavlovian conditioning, a new stimulus
    scallops has become a CS associated with the
    biologically established sickness reflex. The
    learning experience has established a conditioned
    food aversion, in this case, a dislike for
  • Pavlovian conditioning allows each individual to
    learn the particular foods in his or her
    environment that trigger the sickness reflex.

Biological Preparedness Cont.
  • We all begin life with the same biologically
    established reflexes, but Pavlovian conditioning
    gives us the flexibility to go beyond the
    biologically determined responses. Each
    individuals unique life experiences create
    patterns of conditioning that reflect that
    persons unique history of learning with
    scallops, abalone, or red frogs.

Six Other Determinants of Strong Conditioning
  • (1.) Strong USs produce stronger conditioned
    reflexes than do weak USs.
  • (2.) The more often a CS is predictive of a US,
    the more power the CS acquires to elicit a CR.
  • (3.) When a CS is always associated with a given
    US, the CS takes on a greater ability to elicit
    the CR than if pairing is only intermittent.

Six Other Determinants of Strong Conditioning
  • (4.) Short time lags between the onset of a CS
    and the onset of a US facilitate Pavlovian
  • (5.) Cognitive processes sometimes allow people
    to associate a predictive stimulus and US that
    are normally separated by long time periods.
  • (6.) A predictive stimulus must occur before
    not after a US for conditioning to occur.

Suboptimal Conditioning
  • The brain is sensitive to contingent
    relationships among stimuli and usually
    associates USs with appropriate CSs but this may
    not occur when two or more competing cues are
    possibly associated with one US.
  • There are two cue competition effects, called
    overshadowing and blocking, in which conditioning
    does not precede optimally.

Suboptimal Conditioning Cont.
  • In overshadowing, the presence of intense, large,
    or conspicuous stimuli capture the brains
    attention and interfere with the conditioning of
    the less conspicuous stimuli that better predict
    the onset of the US.
  • In blocking, the conditioning of a valuable
    predictive stimulus is hampered by the strength
    of CSs established by prior conditioning.

  • If you were stung by a wasp during a walk in the
    woods, would it make sense to develop a
    conditioned fear response to every stimulus
    associated with that event (e.g., the trees
    surrounding you , the butterfly fluttering by,
    and the cloud formation in the sky)? No, it would
  • Rather, it would make more sense to develop a
    fear of those stimuli that were most salient
    (that really stood out, the most attention
    grabbing events) at the time of being stung,
    such as the sight of the wasp or the sound of
    buzzing wings.
  • In overshadowing, the most salient member of a
    compound stimulus is more readily conditioned as
    a CS and thereby interferes with conditioning of
    the less salient member.

  • Head managers make use of the overshadowing
    effect when they assign an assistant to announce
    an unpopular decision. Although the employees
    might recognize that the head manager is mostly
    responsible, the assistant is the most salient
    stimulus and will, as a result, bear the brunt of
    the blame.
  • It is thus the assistant who is likely to become
    most disliked by the employees. On the other
    hand, head managers often make a point of
    personally announcing popular decisions, thereby
    attracting most of the positive associations to
    themselves even if they have been only minimally
    involved in those decisions.

  • Similarly, the positive feelings generated by the
    music of a rock band will be most strongly
    associated with the most salient member of the
    band (e.g., the lead singer)- a fact that often
    leads to problems when other band members
    conclude that they are not receiving their fair
    share of the accolades.

  • The phenomenon of overshadowing demonstrates
    that, in some circumstances, mere contiguity
    between a neutral stimulus and a US is
    insufficient for conditioning to occur. An even
    clearer demonstration of this fact is provided by
    a phenomenon known as blocking.
  • In blocking, the presence of an established CS
    interferes with conditioning of a new CS.

  • For a real-life example of the blocking effect,
    imagine that you have to make an unpopular
    announcement to your employees. The phenomenon of
    blocking suggests that you would do well to make
    it a joint announcement with another manager who
    is already disliked by the employees (one who is
    already an aversive CS).
  • The employees might then attribute most or all of
    the bad news to the unpopular manager, and you
    will be left relatively unscathed.

  • Extinction occurs whenever a CS is present but
    does not precede its US.
  • When a CS no longer precedes a US, it gradually
    loses its ability to elicit conditioned
    responses, and the conditioned reflex (CS ? CR)
    becomes weaker. The more often a CS is present
    without a US, the weaker the conditioned reflex
    becomes. Eventually the stimulus ceases to
    elicit a conditioned response.

  • Once a CR has been extinguished, one should not
    assume that the effects of conditioning have been
    completely eliminated. For one thing, a response
    that has been extinguished can be reacquired
    quite rapidly when the CS (or NS) is again paired
    with the US.
  • If I somehow manage to overcome my phobia of
    dogs, I might rapidly reacquire that phobia if I
    again have a frightening experience with dogs.

Spontaneous Recovery
  • Although extinction weakens conditioned reflexes,
    conditioned reflexes regain some of their
    strength during periods after extinction ends,
    due to a process that Pavlov called spontaneous
    recovery. Whereas conditioning takes place when
    a CS precedes a US and extinction takes place
    when a CS appears without its US, spontaneous
    recovery occurs during periods after extinction
    stops when the CS is not present at all.

Spontaneous Recovery
  • The phenomenon of spontaneous recovery is
    particularly important to remember when
    attempting to extinguish a conditioned fear
    response. For example, we might arrange for a
    dog-phobic child to spend several hours with a
  • At the end of that time, the childs fear of the
    dog might seem to have been totally eliminated.
    Nevertheless, we should expect that the fear will
    at least partially recover the next time the
    child is confronted with a dog, and that several
    sessions of extinction may be needed before the
    fear is completely eliminated.

Spontaneous Recovery
  • Similarly, if you feel terribly anxious with a
    new date at the start of the evening but more at
    ease after a couple of hours, do not be
    disappointed if you again find yourself becoming
    quite anxious at the start of you next date. It
    may take several dates with that person before
    you feel comfortable right from the outset.

Avoidance Retards Extinction
  • If a person avoids contact with a CS, extinction
    cannot take place. If you fear math or computers
    and avoid them, you deprive yourself of chances
    to overcome your fear of math or computers.

Avoidance Retards Extinction Cont.
  • Conditioned fears and anxieties are less likely
    to extinguish naturally than are conditioned
    pleasures. The reason for this is simple CSs
    that elicit fear motivate avoidance, hence retard
    extinction whereas CSs that elicit pleasure,
    motivate approach, which allows extinction to
    occur if the CSs cease to predict pleasurable

Therapeutic Extinction
  • Extinction can be used in behavior modification,
    especially when people have persistent fears that
    bother them for years and strong avoidance
    responses prevent extinction.
  • Therapeutic extinction involves having a person
    confront a fear-inducing CS in a safe environment
    that is free of all types of aversive stimuli.

Higher Order Conditioning
  • After one stimulus is conditioned into a CS
    because it is predictive of a US, other stimuli
    that are predictive of the first CS can become
    conditioned into conditioned stimuli even in
    the absence of the original US. The process by
    which new CSs are created by being associated
    with a CS alone (with no US present) is called
    higher order conditioning.

Higher Order Conditioning Cont.
  • Words often become CSs with an ability to elicit
    conditioned emotional responses (CERs) due to
    higher order conditioning.
  • Higher order conditioning is not as strong as
    first order conditioning.

Higher Order Conditioning Cont.
  • There are two main reasons why higher order
    conditioning is weaker than first order
  • (1.) First, USs are the causes of biological
    reflexes and the source from which all Pavlovian
    conditioning takes its strength, and they are not
    present in higher order conditioning.

Higher Order Conditioning Cont.
  • (2.) Second, the higher order CSs are being
    conditioned from other CSs that are on extinction
    during higher order conditioning since they are
    not being followed by the USs from which they
    take their strength. Hence, the CS2 produces a
    weaker response than the CS1, and the CS1 is
    weaker than the US.

  • After a CS has been conditioned to elicit a
    certain response, the CS may precede a US or CS
    that elicits a different and incompatible
    response, which leads to counterconditioning.
  • Counterconditioning can reverse the effects of
    the original conditioning by combining extinction
    and new conditioning.

Therapeutic Counterconditioing
  • Systematic desensitization is a gentle procedure
    used to reduce peoples fears and anxieties to
    CSs such as flying in airplanes, riding in
    elevators, or speaking in public. It is also
    useful in helping with post-traumatic stress
    syndrome, which can be caused by sexual assaults,
    mugging, battle fatigue, and other horrific

Therapeutic CounterConditioning Cont.
  • Aversive counterconditioning is a powerful
    technique for reversing peoples attraction to
    CSs that elicit troublesome positive emotions
    such as addiction to gambling, drugs, or alcohol.

Systematic Desensitization
  • People can overcome fears and anxieties by
    pairing the CSs that elicit mild anxiety with
    stimuli which elicit relaxation and other
    pleasurable feelings. After they feel
    comfortable at this first mild level of CSs, they
    move up one step at a time to CSs that had, in
    the past, elicited higher and higher levels of
    fear and anxiety.
  • This process is called systematic desensitization.

Read the rest of slides on systematic
desensitization, etc. on your own!
Systematic Desensitization
  • Systematic Desensitization is a procedure
    developed by Joseph Wolpe (1958) in which the
    person with a phobia practices relaxation while
    imagining scenes of the fear-producing stimulus.
  • A phobia is a fear in which the level of anxiety
    or escape and avoidance behavior is severe enough
    to disrupt the persons life.
  • Wolpe determined that a person could decrease
    fear responses by learning to relax while
    imagining progressively greater anxiety-producing
    scenes described by the therapist.

Systematic Desensitization
  • The key ingredient is to maintain her relaxation
    response as she imagines the fear-producing
    stimulus. Wolpe called the process reciprocal
    inhibition because the relaxation response
    inhibits or prevents the occurrence of the fear
  • There are 3 important steps in the use of the
    systematic desensitization procedure.
  • 1) The subject learns relaxation skills using one
    of the procedures to be described.
  • 2) The behavior modifier and subject develop a
    hierarchy of fear-producing stimuli.
  • 3) The subject practices the relaxation skills
    while the behaviorist describes scenes from the

Systematic Desensitization
  • Developing the Hierarchy
  • Once the subject learns the relaxation
    procedures, the behavior modifier and subject
    develop a hierarchy of the fear-producing
    stimuli. The subject uses a fear rating scale and
    identifies the amount of fear that is produced by
    a variety of situations related to the feared
  • The fear rating scale, is called a subjective
    units of discomfort scale (SUDS). On the 0-100
    scale, a rating of 0 corresponds to the absence
    of fear or anxiety and 100 corresponds to the
    maximum amount of fear or anxiety.

Systematic Desensitization
  • The hierarchy is complete when the client has
    identified 10-20 different situations that are
    progressively more fear producing. Fear-producing
    situations should be identified across the range
    of fear levels so that the hierarchy is composed
    of situations with low, middle, and high fear

Systematic Desensitization
  • Progressing through the Hierarchy
  • Having developed relaxation skills and
    constructed the hierarchy with the behavior
    modifier, the subject is ready to begin
    systematic desensitization and progress through
    the hierarchy. At the start of the session, the
    subject practices relaxation exercises.
  • After the subject signals a state of relaxation,
    the behavior modifier describes the first scene
    in the hierarchy, which produces very little
    anxiety. The subject imagines this scene while
    continuing to relax. Once the subject has
    successfully imagined this scene while
    maintaining relaxation, the process moves to the
    next step in the hierarchy.

Systematic Desensitization
  • The behavior modifier describes a slightly more
    fear-producing scene. Again the subject imagines
    this scene while maintaining the relaxation
    response. The behavior modifier might repeat the
    scene a few time, to be sure that the subject can
    imagine the scene while maintaining the
    relaxation response.
  • The behavior modifier then describes the next
    scene in the hierarchy, which is again slightly
    more anxiety-provoking than the previous scene,
    and the subject imagines the scene while
    maintaining relaxation.

Systematic Desensitization
  • This process continues over the course of a
    number of treatment sessions until the subject
    can maintain relaxation through all of the scenes
    in the hierarchy.
  • Thus, in systematic desensitization, the subject
    relaxes while imagining the feared stimulus the
    subject does not make actual contact with the
    fear-producing stimulus.

In Vivo Desensitization
  • In vivo desensitization is similar to systematic
    desensitization, except that the subject
    gradually approaches or is gradually exposed to
    the actual fear-producing stimulus. To use the in
    vivo desensitization procedure, the subject must
    first learn the relaxation response.
  • Next, the subject and behavior modifier must
    develop a hierarchy of situations involving the
    fear-producing stimulus. In the in vivo
    desensitization procedure, the subject does not
    imagine each scene in the hierarchy rather, the
    subject experiences each situation in the
    hierarchy while maintaining relaxation as an
    alternative response to replace the fear

In Vivo Desensitization
  • During the in vivo desensitization, it is
    important for the subject to advance through each
    step in the hierarchy without an increase in
    anxiety. As we have seen, on way to accomplish
    this is for the subject to practice relaxation at
    each step in the hierarchy.
  • However, relaxation training is not always used
    during in vivo desensitization. Instead, the
    behavior modifier might simply provide
    reinforcement for approach behavior at each
    hierarchy step. (In fact, even when relaxation is
    used, the subject should receive positive
    reinforcement at each new step of the hierarchy,
    in the form of praise from the behavior

In Vivo Desensitization
  • Alternatively, the therapist must have the client
    engage in other reinforcing activities or in
    distracting activities at each hierarchy step
    for example, the client might recite coping
  • The therapist might provide reassuring physical
    contact by holding the clients hand or placing a
    hand on the clients back as the client
    progresses through the hierarchy. This variation
    of in vivo desensitization is called contact

Advantages Disadvantages of Systematic and In
Vivo Desensitization
  • The advantage of in vivo desensitization is that
    the subject makes actual contact with the feared
    stimulus. Desirable behavior (e.g., approach
    behavior) in the presence of the feared stimulus
    is reinforced as an alternative behavior to
    escaping from or avoiding the feared stimulus
    there is no problem with generalization from
    imagination to the actual fear situation.
  • Once the subject has progressed through the
    hierarchy, he or she has demonstrated successful
    performance in the fear-producing situation.

Advantages Disadvantages of Systematic and In
Vivo Desensitization
  • However, one disadvantage of in vivo
    desensitization is that it is more difficult and
    possibly more time-consuming and costly than
    systematic desensitization.
  • This is because the behavior modifier has to
    arrange actual contact with the fear-producing
    situations in the hierarchy they must leave his
    or her office to accompany the subject as he or
    she is exposed to the actual fear-producing
    stimuli. In some cases, it may not be possible to
    arrange contact with the fear-producing stimulus.

Advantages Disadvantages of Systematic and In
Vivo Desensitization
  • For example, it may not be possible to find
    spiders in the winter in some parts of the
  • However, whenever possible, in vivo
    desensitization is preferred over systematic
    desensitization in treating a fear or phobia
    because successful behavior is demonstrated in
    real life rather than in the imagination, and the
    successful behavior is reinforced, so that the
    behavior is strengthened in real-life situations.

Advantages Disadvantages of Systematic and In
Vivo Desensitization
  • The advantage of systematic desensitization is
    that it is easier and more convenient for the
    client to imagine the feared stimulus than to
    come into contact with it.
  • For example, if the subject has a fear of flying,
    the behavior modifier can describe scenes of
    being in an airport, on an airplane on the
    ground, or on the plane in the air. It would be
    much more time-consuming and difficult to conduct
    treatment that involved actual contact with the
    feared stimulus.

Other Treatments for Fears
  • Flooding
  • Flooding is a procedure in which the person is
    exposed to the feared stimulus at full intensity
    for a prolonged period of time. Initially, the
    person experiences heightened anxiety in the
    presence of the feared stimulus, but over time
    the level of anxiety decreases through a process
    of respondent extinction.

Other Treatments for Fears
  • For example, a person with a fear of dogs would
    sit in a room (with a therapist) with a dog
    present for a long period of time. Initially, the
    person would be highly anxious, but over time the
    anxiety would decrease and the person would be
    more comfortable with the dog.
  • Because the CS (the dog, the feared stimulus) is
    presented without the US (being bitten or
    startled) over a period of time (e.g., a couple
    of hours), the CS no longer elicits the CR

Relaxation Training
  • Relaxation training procedures are strategies
    that people use to decrease the autonomic arousal
    that they experience as a component of fear and
    anxiety problems. The person engages in specific
    relaxation behaviors that result in bodily
    responses opposite to the autonomic arousal.
  • Whereas bodily responses such as tense muscles,
    rapid heart rate, cold hands, and rapid breathing
    are part of the autonomic arousal, relaxation
    exercises produce bodily responses such as
    decreases in muscle tension, heart rate, and
    breathing rate and warming of the hands.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • In progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), the
    person systematically tenses and relaxes each of
    the major muscle groups in the body. Tensing and
    relaxing the muscles leaves them more relaxed
    than in their initial state.
  • To use PMR, the person must first learn how to
    tense and relax each of the major muscles of the
    body. The person can learn to do this from a
    therapist or a model, from listening to an
    audiotape of the procedure, or from reading a

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Having learned how to tense each of the muscle
    groups, the subject/client can begin the
    relaxation procedure. First, the client gets into
    a comfortable position in a comfortable chair
    such as a recliner. The relaxation exercise
    should be conducted in a quiet room or some other
    place that has no major distractions.
  • Next, the client closes his or her eyes and
    tenses and relaxes each muscle group. Starting
    with the first muscle group, the dominant hand
    and arm, the client tenses the muscles tightly
    for about 5 seconds and then abruptly releases
    the tension.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • This allows the client to feel the contrast
    between the tension and relaxation in that
    particular muscle group. The client focuses on
    the decreased level of tension in the muscle
    group for 5-10 seconds and then moves to the next
    muscle group on the list the other hand and arm.
  • After the client tenses the muscles, the
    decreased level of tension or relaxed state of
    the muscles is pleasant and easily detectable.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Once people have practiced PMR many times, they
    can begin to relax themselves without tensing and
    relaxing each muscle group. Because PMR procedure
    teaches people to control their own muscle
    tension, they can then decrease muscle tension in
    situations in which they are likely to experience
    more tension.
  • To facilitate this process, people often use a
    cue word when practicing PMR and then later
    recite the cue word to help themselves relax.

Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • Another relaxation exercise involves
    diaphragmatic breathing- also called deep
    breathing or relaxed breathing- in which the
    person breathes deeply in a slow rhythmic
    fashion. At each inhalation, the person uses the
    muscles of the diaphragm to pull oxygen deep into
    the lungs.
  • Because anxiety or autonomic arousal most often
    involves shallow, rapid breathing, diaphragmatic
    breathing decreases anxiety by replacing this
    breathing pattern with a more relaxed pattern.

Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • To illustrate this point, think about what
    happens when people are startled or frightened
    Their breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and
    they have trouble catching their breath. A person
    experiences similar sensations when
    hyperventilating. Contrast this with the slow and
    deep breathing from a person about to fall
    asleep, an extreme state of relaxation.
  • To learn diaphragmatic breathing, a person should
    get in a comfortable sitting position and place a
    hand on the abdomen, just below the rib cage.
    This is the location of the diaphragm muscle. On
    inhaling, the person should feel the abdomen move
    outward as the diaphragm pulls the breath of air
    deep into the lungs.

Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • The shoulders should be motionless in
    diaphragmatic breathing. Upward movement of the
    shoulders during inhalation indicates shallow
    breathing in the upper portion of the lungs
    rather than deep breathing into the lungs.
  • Many people believe that the abdomen should be
    pulled in during inhalation. The opposite is
    true The abdomen moves outward when a person
    breathes deeply using the muscles of the

Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • To practice deep or diaphragmatic breathing to
    decrease anxiety, the person sits, stands, or
    lies down in a comfortable position, with eyes
    closed, and inhales slowly for 3-5 seconds until
    the lungs are comfortably filled with air. The
    person then exhales slowly for 3-5 seconds. The
    diaphragm muscle pulls in the abdomen as the air
    is exhaled.
  • On inhaling and exhaling, the person should focus
    attention on the sensations involved in breathing
    (e.g., the feelings of the lungs expanding and
    contracting, the air flowing in and out, and the
    movement of the abdomen).

Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • By focusing attention on these sensations, the
    person is less likely to think anxiety-provoking
    thoughts. Once the person can produce a decrease
    in anxiety by engaging in the diaphragmatic
    breathing during practice sessions, he or she can
    use deep breathing to decrease arousal in
    anxiety-producing situations.

Attention-Focusing Exercises
  • Attention-focusing exercises produces relaxation
    by directing attention to a neutral or pleasant
    stimulus to remove to persons attention from the
    anxiety-producing stimulus. Procedures such as
    meditation, guided imagery, and hypnosis all
    produce relaxation through a mechanism of
    attention focusing. In meditation, the person
    focuses attention on a visual stimulus, an
    auditory stimulus, or a kinesthetic stimulus.
  • For example, the person gazes at an object,
    focuses attention on repetitive mantras (word
    sounds), or focuses on his or her own breathing
    movements. Once focused on the object, mantra, or
    breathing during the meditation exercise, the
    persons attention cannot be focused on stimuli
    that produce anxiety.

Attention-Focusing Exercises
  • In guided imagery or visualization exercises, the
    person visualizes or imagines pleasant scenes or
    images. Once again, this exercise focuses the
    persons attention so that it cannot be focused
    on anxiety-producing thoughts or images. The
    person listens to an audiotape or to a therapist
    who describes a scene or image.
  • The person gets into a comfortable sitting or
    lying position, with eyes closed, and imagines
    the scene. The audiotape or the therapist
    describes sights, sounds, and smells when
    creating the image.

Attention-Focusing Exercises
  • For example, in describing a scene at the beach,
    the therapist might say, Feel the warm sun on
    your skin feel the warm sand under your feet
    hear the waves gently rolling up on to the beach
    smell the sweet scent of suntan oil. If many
    senses are engaged, the person is more likely to
    imagine the scene fully and to displace any
    anxiety-provoking thoughts or images.

Aversive Counterconditioning
  • Some people have strong attractions to activities
    that are self-defeating, dangerous, or socially
    unacceptable such as drug abuse, child sexual
    abuse, or compulsive behavior. Behavior
    therapists can help reduce the attractiveness of
    these things via aversive counterconditioning.
    Therapists arrange to have the CS that elicits
    problematic positive emotions to be followed by
    aversive stimuli, causing the CS to gradually
    lose its attractiveness and become either neutral
    or aversive.
  • This process is called aversive

Aversive Counterconditioning Cont.
  • Aversive counterconditioning is usually
    considered only a stop-gap method with
    temporary benefits that must be coupled with
    positive types of behavior modification to create
    lasting success. By pairing alcohol with
    aversive experiences such as nausea-inducing
    drugs, therapists can help problem drinkers learn
    to find alcohol distasteful during therapy. But
    what happens after people leave therapy and
    return to their everyday lives?

Aversive Counterconditioning Cont.
  • If aversion therapy is not linked with positive
    skills training, many people begin to drink again
    for the same reasons they drank in the past
    They have unhappy marriages, depressing jobs, or
    buddies who like to haunt the local bars. These
    and a multitude of other situations can
    recondition alcohol to be a CS with pleasurable
    associations as effectively as behavior
    therapists had counter conditioned it.