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Stimulus Control

A primary objective of psychology is the prediction of behavior. Operationally, this means that what an individual will do in a particular situation can be anticipated. To the degree that this is possible, the individual is under stimulus control. The fact that people seldom are surprised by the actions of those with whom they interact is an indication that others are behaving as expected. This entry briefly discusses how this stimulus control is acquired. It progresses from simple reflexive actions to those resulting from the differential consequences of one's behavior in different situations. For example, one learns to use different language and manners when speaking to a teacher than when speaking to a fellow student.

The simplest form of stimulus control is those unlearned responses naturally ...

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