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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



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).



(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.
References in periodicals archive ?
The instructor who asks the class, "What is a discriminative stimulus?" hopes that the question will generate an intraverbal response of "A discriminative stimulus is .
Learning about a discriminative stimulus that was a consistent predictor of the relationship between an instrumental response and an outcome was found to be context dependent when training was conducted within a context that was informative to solve an alternative discrimination (group I), but not when training was conducted within a non-informative context (group NI).
Advantageously, the timeout ribbon procedure has certain set characteristics (e.g., a reinforcement rich time-in, a conspicuous discriminative stimulus, targeting low-intensity inappropriate behaviors) and empirical support.
During the Pre period, the tank and the plane were presented without the discriminative stimulus for 4 s (see top panel of Figure 1).
The control of appetitive instrumental responding does not depend upon classical conditioning to the discriminative stimulus. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section B: Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 33, 21-31.
The registers in the phase of assessment seemed to have a predominance of point-event categories (mainly discriminative stimulus and reinforcement) while there were hardly any verbalizations with informative, instructional and/or motivational contents.
The mand is a discriminative stimulus for the listener, who reinforces it because of the past conditioning history.
Both procedures are similar in implementation: the presentation of the discriminative stimulus, paired with the delivery of an instructional cue with a specified delay to the controlling prompt.
In addition, punishment has side effects and through even one trial respondent conditioning, a formerly salient discriminative stimulus can now serve as a setting event for the pain of the betrayal.
Consider a trial with set size 1: The experimenter says "2" and the subject responds with "2." This can be interpreted and symbolized in the usual way in terms of the three-term contingency: The experimenter's response "2" is a verbal discriminative stimulus ([S.sup.DV]) that occasions the verbal response "2" ([R.sup.V]).
These results suggested that the presence of a communication card may function as a discriminative stimulus for a specific topography of manding, but that training with the card did not inhibit the use of other mands when the card was absent.