Unconditioned Stimulus: Examples & Definition

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Intro to Biological Psychology

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

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 What Is an…
  • 0:33 Pavlov & Classical…
  • 0:55 Examples of…
  • 1:50 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

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

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

An unconditioned stimulus produces an automatic, natural reaction. Read on to find out more about unconditioned stimuli and classical conditioning. Then, test your knowledge with a quiz.

What is an Unconditioned Stimulus?

Billy never had any strong feelings towards rulers until he went to live with his grandmother. Whenever he was bad, she would beat him with a ruler. Being beaten made him very upset. Now, as an adult, he feels upset whenever he sees a ruler.

In this example of classical conditioning, Billy gets upset when he is beaten. His reaction to being beaten is natural and automatic. No one has to tell him to feel that way - it is an unconditioned response. The beating, which is the reason he has the unconditioned response, is an unconditioned stimulus, which is simply something that elicits a natural, automatic reaction.

Pavlov and Classical Conditioning

Psychologist Ivan Pavlov first proposed classical conditioning. He ran an experiment in which he rang a bell every time he fed the dogs. After a while, the dogs began to drool whenever they heard the bell, even if there was no food in sight. Pavlov explained that the dogs had learned to associate the bell with the food.

Examples of Unconditioned Stimuli

Unconditioned stimuli can be many different things, both positive and negative. If you see a gorgeous sunset and sigh in contentment, the sunset is an unconditioned stimulus that's causing your sigh, which is an unconditioned response. Consider the following examples:

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 200 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