Failure to condition evaluative and electrodermal responses to neutral stimuli by means of prepared cues.

H. Merckelbach, M. A. van den Hout, P. van Oppen

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To test Gray's proposal (1979, 1982) that prepared cues (snakes, spiders) are unconditioned, innate fear stimuli, a classical conditioning procedure was carried out in which a neutral, conditioned stimulus (CS; slides of flowers, mushrooms or apples) was repeatedly followed by a prepared, unconditioned stimulus (US; slides of snakes or spiders). Dependent variables were subjective evaluation of, and skin conductance responses to the CS slides, while respiration was used as a control variable. In one group of subjects (n = 12), skin conductance was recorded from the left hand, whereas in a second group (n = 11) it was recorded from the right hand. No evidence of skin conductance response - or of evaluative conditioning to the neutral CS as a result of its being paired with the prepared US was found. Thus, the results lend no support to Gray's proposal. No differences in skin conductance responses as a function of left versus right hand recording were found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
JournalActivitas nervosa superior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1988

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