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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
Before our studies, in a widely accepted model of inflammatory pain, the formalin test, it was demonstrated in adult awake rats that the nociceptive stimulus formalin induced activation of the HPA axis and increased concentration of ACTH and corticosterone [9,13,19].
The fact that all of these pain resopnses are associated with the application of the aversive, nociceptive stimulus of tissue damage/irritation means that they can be considered as unconditioned and conditioned respondent behaviors (Flor & Hermann, 2004; Hollis, 1997; Reynolds, 1968) (e.g., grimacing, muscle tension, release of substance P), escape--avoidance behaviors (Vlaeyen, 2003) (e.g., limping, lying down, taking pain medications), and/or generalized emotional behaviors (Skinner, 1953; Sidman, 1962) (e.g., crying, yelling, fear of pain).