Deutsch: Generalisierungsgradient / Español: Gradiente de generalización / Português: Gradiente de generalização / Français: Gradient de généralisation / Italiano: Gradiente di generalizzazione /

Generalization gradient is defined as a graphic description of the strength of responding in the presence of stimuli that are similar to the SD and vary along a continuum.

In psychology, a generalization gradient refers to the gradual decrease in the strength of a conditioned response as the similarity between the original stimulus and other stimuli increases. Put simply, the more similar a new stimulus is to the original one, the more likely it is that the learned response will generalize to it.

Here are some examples of generalization gradients in psychology:

  1. Pavlov's dogs: In the classic experiment by Ivan Pavlov, dogs were conditioned to salivate in response to the sound of a bell. As the sound of the bell was gradually changed by varying its tone, pitch, and volume, the dogs' conditioned response weakened. This weakening of the response with increasing differences in the stimulus is an example of a generalization gradient.

  2. Phobias: People who develop a phobia to a specific object or situation may also experience fear in response to similar stimuli. For example, someone who is afraid of spiders may also experience fear when they see other insects that are similar in appearance.

  3. Discrimination training: Discrimination training is a process in which an individual is trained to respond differently to similar stimuli. For example, a child might be taught to recognize the difference between a square and a rectangle by being shown examples of both and rewarded only when they correctly identify the square. As the child becomes better at discriminating between the two shapes, the generalization gradient between them will decrease.

  4. Addiction: Individuals who develop an addiction to a substance may also experience a conditioned response to cues associated with that substance, such as the sight or smell of drug paraphernalia. As the similarity between the original stimulus (the drug itself) and the associated cues decreases, the strength of the conditioned response may also weaken.

In all of these examples, the generalization gradient describes the relationship between the original stimulus and other stimuli that are similar to it. The extent to which a response generalizes to these other stimuli depends on the degree of similarity between them and the original stimulus.