Pseudoconditioning refers to a phenomenon in psychology where an individual exhibits a conditioned response without actually undergoing any conditioning process. It involves the perception of a correlation or association between two stimuli that may not genuinely exist.


In pseudoconditioning, a subject may show a response to a neutral stimulus as if it were a conditioned stimulus, even though no prior classic conditioning took place. This reaction typically occurs due to the mere exposure effect, where repeated exposure to a stimulus may lead to a perceived association or significance between stimuli.

Factors influencing Pseudoconditioning:

Several factors can influence the occurrence of pseudoconditioning:

  • Perceptual priming: Previous exposure to a stimulus can result in heightened sensitivity or attention towards similar stimuli, causing a false perception of conditioning.
  • Expectancy: If an individual expects a certain response or association, they might perceive pseudoconditioning based on their own preconceived notions.
  • Mere exposure: Frequent exposure to a neutral stimulus can enhance its likability or perceived familiarity, leading to the assumption of conditioning.
  • Contextual cues: Environmental cues present during the exposure to the neutral stimulus can create an illusory connection to an unconditioned stimulus, leading to pseudoconditioning.

Differences from Classical Conditioning:

Pseudoconditioning differs from classical conditioning in the absence of genuine associative learning between the conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus. In pseudoconditioning, the observed response is based on perceptual or cognitive factors, rather than a learned relationship associating the two stimuli.

Applications and Research:

Pseudoconditioning has been extensively studied and utilized in various psychological experiments to understand the complexities of stimulus perception and associative learning. It helps researchers differentiate between genuine conditioning responses and those influenced by perceptual biases or sensory processes.