Extinction: The Role Of Awareness In Classical Conditioning
This question has been the source of much debate, and there seems to be no clear consensus.
Types of Awareness In order to properly understand the conflicting views, it is important to first clarify what awareness means in the context of classical conditioning. There are two basic types of awareness, external awareness and self awareness (Gorn, Jacobs, & Mana, 1987). External awareness. In a situation of classical conditioning, one form of external awareness is contingency awareness, which is the knowledge of a relationship between the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli (Gorn et al., 1987). Self awareness. Self awareness builds on contingency awareness. A subject is considered self-aware if he realizes that his behavior is a conditioned response to relationship between conditioned and unconditioned stimuli (Gorn et al., …show more content…
Those that propose that awareness does not play a role in conditioning point to the behavioral roots of conditioning theory, arguing that cognitive processes can not play a role in what is a purely behavioral mechanism. If any form of awareness is present, they say, classical conditioning is not occurring (Shimp, 1991). To respond to those that say that classical conditioning cannot occur without awareness, they cite chemotherapy-induced taste aversions as a case of classical conditioning where awareness is not present. Patients undergoing chemotherapy (US), which causes nausea (UR), often develop aversions (CR) to foods eaten before a chemotherapy session (CS). Because the source of the food aversions remained a mystery for many years, it is apparent that the patients lacked both self awareness and contingency awareness (Gorn et al.,