stimulus(redirected from stimulus generalization)
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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).
V. I. MAKSIMENKO