Shock preexposure and the reduced effectiveness of shock

Elizabeth D. Capaldi, Joan Denise Sheffer, Donna M. Viveiros, T. L. Davidson, David H. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In three experiments experience with shock was shown to reduce the effectiveness of shock as a reinforcer or motivator. In Experiment 1 rats were given signaled shock in a box separate from the runway where they were subsequently punished. These rats were less suppressed by shock punishment than rats that had no previous shock experience. In Experiment 2 preshocked rats were less suppressed by punishment and were slower to learn an escape-avoidance response than nonpreshocked rats, whether the preshock was signaled or unsignaled. In Experiment 3 as number of CS-shock pairings increased, fear of the CS decreased as did fear of the context. These results suggest that some central adaptation process produced by experience with shock reduces the effectiveness of shock as a reinforcer whenever shock is used repeatedly. This is independent of other effects, such as context blocking, that can affect responding after shock preexposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-380
Number of pages24
JournalLearning and Motivation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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