12.5 Multiple Psychological Functions of Stimuli

Any stimulus or event has multiple psychological and perceptual functions, and these functions are not set in stone. They vary and change depending upon the setting and a person’s history of interacting with the stimulus.

A burger with fries on a plate, demonstrating sample psychological functions of stimuli.
Food typically has reinforcing functions for hungry organisms, and most will work to obtain it.
A stimulus in the field with a stop sign.
A stop sign has discriminative functions for most drivers: it lets them know when they should stop their vehicle.
A baby sleeping in a blanket, demonstrating sample psychological functions.
A cute baby often has emotional functions for many people, and makes them feel happy, warm, and perhaps protective.
A death sign on a fence.
An electric shock usually has aversive functions, and most organisms will work to escape or avoid it.
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