Definition of generalization psychology
Generalization is the process or tendency within the classical conditioning. This refers to the inducing of the conditioned response (CR) in the presence of the similar stimuli but not the conditioned stimuli. Let me clear the generalization psychology defination with an example. If a child is conditioned to be afraid of a large white rat then the rat is the conditioned stimuli (CS) here and fear is the conditioned response (CR). Now if the child is shown a similar looking white toy that is not the same CS, then as well the child will show the same conditioned response. This shows that the response is same despite the difference of the conditioned stimuli (CS).
Examples of stimulus generalization
Let’s have some clear understanding of the generalization psychology definition. Humans and even other animals as well show different responses to different things and fear is the most common among all conditioned responses by the humans.
Imagine that a little child is watching Animal Planet on TV where a black mamba is devouring a little mouse. Such kinds of scenes are quite common in the jungles. This snake works as the conditioned stimuli in the subconscious mind of the child and the conditioned response is fear.
So will the child be afraid when he will see a lack snake in the garden? The answer is yes. This is the classic example of the definition of generalization psychology. The response may include the increased heart beat, dilation anxiety etc. And this happens every time when the child sees any black snake not necessarily a black Mamba. This action is called stimulus generalization.
This happens to everyone. A person who is afraid of snakes doesn’t really care about the size, shape and color of the snake while giving the same conditioned response. The reaction comes naturally whenever he sees snakes. But isn’t there any way to discriminate this?
Generalization psychology and discrimination
The process of stimulus generalization may occur in classical conditioning and in case of operant conditioning as well. But the can be taught to discriminate as well. According to the definition of generalization psychology, conditioned response is natural when conditioned stimulus is present. Now if the subject is taught to respond different to different conditions, it will e ale to discriminate. For example a dog runs to his trainer hearing a particular whistle. And it does the same with every whistle. Now if the dog is trained to respond differently to different whistles, it will be able to discriminate. The same can be applied to any object.