Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

pp 746-748

Conditioned Inhibition

  • Douglas A. WilliamsAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Winnipeg Email author 


Inhibitory conditioning


A conditioned inhibitor conveys information that a possible future event is less likely than it would be otherwise. In a conditioning experiment, the presence of an inhibitory conditioned stimulus (CS−) may identify the trials on which an excitatory conditioned stimulus (CS+) will not be followed by the unconditioned stimulus (US). In the real world, a patient may be encouraged to use a talisman as a safety signal that no harm will occur outside the therapist’s office.

Theoretical Background

Some of what we have previously learned may not be applicable in other places and at other times. Perhaps the best studied example of this caveat is conditioned inhibition, a term introduced by I. P. Pavlov (1927) to describe the objective circumstances and mechanistic processes involved in the suppression of a well-conditioned behavior. In one classical conditioning experiment, he taught a hungry dog to salivate at the ...

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