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Keywords:

  • Classical conditioning;
  • Skin conductance conditioning;
  • First interval responses;
  • Control procedures;
  • Stimulus contingencies

ABSTRACT

This paper was concerned primarily with whether or not the first interval response in classical skin conductance conditioning can be interpreted as a response which occurs at least in part as a consequence of the pairing of, or contingency between, a conditioned stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus. Based on a context in which classical conditioning is seen strictly as a method of inquiry, not as a process, the problems of various control procedures were discussed. It was concluded that with a simple conditioning paradigm the data available to date are sufficiently confounded with differential habituation rates in control-experimental group comparisons that it is difficult to conclude with assurance that the first-interval response does reflect the contingency between the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus. In spite of possible confounding factors, the data obtained in differential conditioning experiments permit the conclusion that the first interval response does reflect stimulus pairing.