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1. any drug, agent, electrical impulse, or other factor able to cause a response in an organism
2. an object or event that is apprehended by the senses
3. Med a former name for stimulant
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



something that excites to action and motivates behavior. The concept of stimulus is characteristic primarily of those trends in psychology that base behavior analysis on the stimulus-response correlation (classical psychophysics and especially behaviorism, as well as neobehaviorism). The term “stimulus” is also retained in some psychological concepts that in essence supersede the stimulus-response correlation. Thus, for example, in the Würzburg school, a task or an awareness of a goal is considered to be a stimulus. In this case, the term “stimulus” is almost metaphorical. Even further from the term’s original meaning is the treatment it receives in the cultural and historical conceptions of L. S. Vygotskii, who established a functional difference between stimulus objects, at which action is directed, and stimulus means, by which action is accomplished. According to Vygotskii, signs serve as stimulus means.

In sociopsychological studies a distinction is sometimes made between motives as internal excitations and stimuli as external excitations to action (see Chelovek i ego rabota [collection], 1967, pp. 38–39).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(control systems)
A signal that affects the controlled variable in a control system.
An agent that produces a temporary change in physiological activity in an organism or in any of its parts.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
In this test session, animals spent 5 min in the conditioning chamber in the absence of the aversive stimulus. Immediately after this test session, the rats underwent euthanasia and the hippocampus was isolated for Western blot (WB) analysis (Figure 1, left panel).
This was either because the physical form may have exerted an additive priming effect on aversiveness (the shock is aversive and the tone is neutral both during the conditioning and the priming phase), or because it could have exerted a subtractive effect (the aversive stimulus in the priming phase is the tone and the neutral one is the shock while, during the conditioning phase, the aversive stimulus was the shock and the neutral stimulus was the tone).
If blocking actually produced an aversive stimulus condition, then punishment effects would have occurred in both experimental conditions (since it was inherent in both experimental conditions).
Learned Learned helplessness refers to a variety of Helplessness paradigms in which the animal is exposed to an inescapable aversive stimulus (e.g., a foot shock).
In phase two of the experiment subjects believed that both their own and the confederate's exposure to an aversive stimulus would be contingent upon rapid responses on a complex task.
Although previous research has demonstrated that some Betta splendens may learn Sidman avoidance when shock is administered as the aversive stimulus (e.g., Otis & Cerfs 1963), research by Hurtado-Parrado (2015) has indicated that Betta splendens do not learn Sidman avoidance when turbulent water disturbance is delivered as the aversive stimulus, even following an extensive numbers of trials.
Social negative reinforcement occurs when an aversive stimulus or situation is terminated by another individual contingent on a behavior and the behavior is strengthened.
Avoidance is defined widely as behavior that allows an organism to prevent or postpone the delivery of an aversive stimulus (Azrin and Holz 1966; Dinsmoor 1954, 1977).
In CAT, however, you present the subject dog with an aversive stimulus that he is often exposed to anyway.
According to Skinner's definition, punishment is a procedure in which responses are followed by either (a) the removal of a positive reinforcer, or (b) the presentation of a negative reinforcer (or aversive stimulus).
This event likely functions as an aversive stimulus. Now imagine encountering that same Monday morning traffic jam after having learned that you just won $10 million in the lottery.
If you're doing counter-conditioning, reduce the intensity of the aversive stimulus to a level where he'll notice the stressor but still take treats.