The Garcia Effect: Definition & Explanation

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Unconditioned Response: Examples & Definition

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

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:08 Dr. Garcia VS.…
  • 0:55 The Garcia Effect
  • 3:16 Importance of the…
  • 4:23 Lesson Summary
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

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Lavoie

Sarah has taught Psychology at the college level and has a master's degree in Counseling Psychology.

Our sense of taste doesn't exist solely for enjoyment; it serves a function in keeping humans and animals safe. Learn about the Garcia effect and how this function of taste is important.

Dr. John Garcia vs. Classical Conditioning

Born in the early twentieth century, American psychologist Dr. John Garcia is best known for discovering exceptions to the process of learning by classical conditioning. This did not go over well with psychologists at the time who believed that the rules of classical conditioning were absolute.

Classical conditioning is a type of learning which uses a naturally occurring stimulus (such as pizza) paired with a naturally occurring response (such as salivation). When paired with a new stimulus (such as a doorbell) over and over, the person learns to associate the old automatic response with the new stimulus (the doorbell causes salivation without pizza delivery). In other words, a person can learn to associate the sound of a doorbell with pizza delivery and subconsciously begin to salivate when the doorbell rings.

The Garcia Effect

In the mid-twentieth century, Dr. Garcia worked for a national defense lab studying the effects of radiation on the brains of laboratory animals. Dr. Garcia's rats were exposed to various sights, sounds and smells while in the radiation chambers. These rats were also given flavored water before being exposed to radiation in the chamber. Dr. Garcia noticed that the rats that became sick from the radiation would later avoid the same flavored water. He realized that these rats subconsciously associated their illness with the water even when the water was not what made them sick. The rats had developed a taste aversion to the flavored water after only one experience of sickness and nausea.

Just as the name implies, taste aversion only develops to a smell or taste of food that was eaten before getting sick. Dr. Garcia found that the rats only avoided the taste that they thought made them sick. Other stimuli, such as sights or sounds, did not produce a similar effect to taste aversion. Dr. Garcia had discovered that taste aversion is an acquired reaction to the smell or taste that an animal is exposed to before getting sick. This discovery was also named The Garcia Effect to honor Dr. Garcia's work. The Garcia effect has since been acknowledged as a survival mechanism of humans and animals, as well as an exception to the rules of classical conditioning.

Let's go back to the pizza delivery example mentioned at the beginning. It's natural to salivate at the smell of pizza, especially when we are hungry. It's not a stretch to think that we could salivate when the doorbell rings, since we know it's dinner being delivered. Can you imagine getting sick later the night of eating the pizza delivery?

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

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 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 risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support