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Vicarious Conditioning

Vicarious conditioning can be defined as learning by observing the reactions of others to an environmental stimulus that is salient to both the observer and the model. The saliency of the stimulus is characterized by its relevance (e.g., fear relevance) and ability to produce emotional arousal. Vicarious conditioning is a particularly important process in observational learning. One effect of vicarious conditioning may be increased imitation of the model by the observer, in that observers imitate successful models. The greater the positive reinforcement of the model's reaction, the more the observer tends to imitate those responses. It is reasonable to suppose that the primary way vicarious conditioning works is through the assumption on the part of the observer that “If I do that, I will ...

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