Stimulus generalization is a concept in psychology that refers to the tendency of a stimulus similar to the original conditioned stimulus to elicit the same response as the original stimulus. It occurs when a response learned to a specific stimulus occurs in the presence of similar stimuli that were not specifically trained.
Here are some examples of stimulus generalization:
A rat is conditioned to press a lever to receive food. If the lever is changed to a slightly different shape, the rat may still press the lever as if it were the same one.
A person is conditioned to feel anxious when they see a red square. They may also feel anxious when they see other shapes or colors that are similar to the original red square.
A person is conditioned to like a certain brand of chocolate. They may also like other chocolate brands that are similar in taste and texture.
Stimulus generalization can have both positive and negative consequences, depending on the situation. For example, it can be helpful for individuals to generalize learned skills to new situations, but it can also lead to irrational fears or phobias.