The influence of classical conditioning can be seen in emotional responses such as phobia, disgust, nausea, anger, and sexual arousal.
– A familiar example is conditioned nausea, in which the CS is the sight and/or smell of a particular food that in the past has resulted in an unconditioned stomach upset.
– Similarly, when the CS is the sight of a dog and the US is the pain of being bitten, the result may be a conditioned fear of dogs.
As an adaptive mechanism, emotional conditioning helps shield an individual from harm or prepare it for important biological events such as sexual activity.
– Thus, a stimulus that has occurred before sexual interaction comes to cause sexual arousal, which prepares the individual for sexual contact.
For example, sexual arousal has been conditioned in human subjects by pairing a stimulus like a picture of a jar of pennies with views of an erotic film clip.
Similar experiments involving blue gourami fish and domesticated quail have shown that such conditioning can increase the number of offspring.
These results suggest that conditioning techniques might help to increase fertility rates in infertile individuals and endangered species.