Login

Biological Limits on Conditioning: Taste Aversion, the Garcia Effect & Instincts

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Studying Intelligence: History, Psychologists & Theories

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:48 Taste Aversion
  • 1:56 Natural Aversive Stimulus
  • 2:14 Classical Conditioning
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Polly Peterson
How can biological influences affect conditioning? Have you ever had food poisoning? In this lesson, you'll see how natural responses can accelerate or hinder conditioning.

Taste Aversion

Is there a food that you won't eat anymore or a drink you can't stomach? For my husband, it's fish. In college, he spent a few months studying in Indonesia. Living on an island, he was given fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Soon after arriving on the island, he came down with dysentery, which caused him to feel achy and nauseous all the time. Although that was years ago, he still feels sick to his stomach whenever he eats something even vaguely fishy tasting.

You don't need to get sick from the same food more than once in order to develop disgust for it. There's an evolutionarily advantage to taste aversion, since it prevents us from eating something twice that might be toxic.

The Garcia Effect

Taste aversion was first noticed by psychologist John Garcia in the 1950's. He was irradiating rats to see its effect on their behavior, and noticed that rats didn't want to eat the things they'd been fed shortly before being irradiated. Garcia theorized that this was because they were getting nauseous from the radiation. He conducted experiments to directly test this with sweetened vs. unsweetened water: he gave them sweetened water followed by no radiation, mild radiation, or strong radiation. After the experiment, the total sweetened water consumed by non-radiated rats was 80%, mildly radiated rats drank 40% and strongly radiated rats drank only 10% of the sugar water. These patterns were observed after only ONE trial. The radiated rats were conditioned to link the taste of sweetened water with nausea and therefore avoided it. Since it accessed an evolutionarily-advantageous bodily defense mechanism, it was learned right away.

Similarly, if you burn your finger on the stove, you don't have to do it more than once in order to learn not to. Being burned is a natural aversive stimulus, so conditioning is immediate.

Instincts

Natural instincts are another biological factor that can interfere with conditioning.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support