In second order conditioning next to a CS1 + US also a CS2 + CS1 association is learned so that also CS2 will cause a CR. Is the order in which the stimuli associations are learned (CS1 + US and CS2 + CS1) relevant for the strength of the CS2 -> CR association?

To make an example: A student gets a bad grade in an exam (CS1) and due to a extremely negative response of his / her parents (screaming, punishment = US) the student develops a fear response to exams in general (single trial fear conditioning; the response "exam -> fear" was learned). Does the student already responds with fear to any stimuli (CS2) which signals a upcoming exam although this association was learned earlier before the fear conditioning? Is it necessary that the association CS2 + CS1 is learned after the CS1 + US association or doesn't it matter?

Explanation of the abbrevations: In classical conditioning a association between an unconditioned stimuli (US) and a conditioned stimuli (CS) is learned so that the person also responds with the response to the conditioned stimuli which he / she has previously shown to the unconditioned stimulus. The classical example is Pavlov's experiment with a dog. A bell was ringing (CS) whenever food was presented to the dog (US). After a while the dog salivates (CR) whenever the bell rings (without presenting the food). Thus the response "bell -> salivation" was learned.

In second order conditioning next to an association of an unconditioned stimulus (US) and a first conditioned stimulus (CS1) also an association of a second conditioned stimulus (CS2) with the first conditioned stimulus (CS1) is learned. Thus the person / the animal also responses with a conditioned response (CR) similar or equal to the unconditioned response (UR) to the second stimulus even though that the association CS2+US was directly presented before.


closed as unclear what you're asking by Robin Kramer, mfloren, Yvette Colomb, Seanny123, Chris Rogers Jul 21 '17 at 22:49

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    $\begingroup$ Could you please clarify your question a little bit? What do the abbreviations mean and why are you interested in this topic? $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer Jul 21 '17 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ The abbreviations are: Conditioned Stimulus, Unconditioned Stimulus, Conditioned Response. $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Jul 21 '17 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @RobinKramer. I'm confused how your example maps onto your original question. What is CS1 and CS2 in this case? Are you trying to learn whether people anticipate possible bad outcomes? $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Jul 21 '17 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @RobinKramer I have extended my question and I have explained all my abbreviations. I hope now it is clear what my question is. Would you consider to reopen it, please? $\endgroup$ – Stephan Kulla Jul 31 '17 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ The question makes sense if you are familiar with the standard abbreviations in associative learning literature. CS1 is the cue most proximal to the US. CS2 is the cue next most proximal to the US. So the order of relations is CS2 -> CS1 -> US. However the stimuli are normally trained in different sessions, so that CS1-US training may take place before or after CS2-CS1 training, depending on the choice of the experimenter. The OP is asking does it make a difference which order training occurs in, and the answer is yes (ceteris parabis). Since the question is closed I can't fully answer it here $\endgroup$ – sometimes_sci Mar 31 '18 at 4:32