Some Everyday Examples

Pavlovian principles may be plausibly applied to daily life, as the following examples illustrate.

Couples sometimes refer to a certain tune as "our song." A plausible interpretation is that Pavlovian conditioning has been at work. The favored tune may have been popular and repeated often at the time of the couple's courtship and marriage. The tune has since become a CS that evokes a variety of pleasant feelings associated with initial love.

A baby-sitter notes that giving a young child a blue blanket in the absence of his mother markedly reduces his irritability. Most likely, the blanket has been sufficiently associated with the soothing actions of his mother (US) and now functions as a calming stimulus (CS).

An adolescent steadfastly avoids the location where he was seriously injured in an automobile crash. He says that just thinking about the highway makes him nervous. The location doubtless contains a number of conditioned aversive stimuli that now trigger unpleasant feelings (CR) and avoidance.

After a bitter divorce, a woman finds that the sight of household items (CS) associated with her former husband is terribly upsetting (CR). She reduces her resentment by getting rid of the offending items.

A wife often places flower arrangements in her husband's den. The flowers (CS) now bring him a measure of comfort (CR) when she is away on trips.

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