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Definition of 'Pavlovian'

Automatic, predictable, and conditioned behavior, pertaining to the classical conditioning experiments conducted by the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov.
"The children's Pavlovian response to the school bell was to quickly line up and head to class."

Detailed Meaning of 'Pavlovian'

It describes a reflexive or involuntary reaction that occurs in response to a specific stimulus due to prior conditioning. In Pavlov's famous experiments, he conditioned dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell by repeatedly pairing the bell with food. Eventually, the dogs began to associate the bell with food, and they would salivate upon hearing the bell alone, even in the absence of food. Hence, the term "Pavlovian" is often used to describe any response that is learned through association and becomes automatic or instinctual. This adjective can be applied to both human and animal behavior and is often used to illustrate the power of conditioning and the influence of external stimuli on our actions and reactions.


Examples of 'Pavlovian' in a Sentence

1. The sight of the ice cream truck triggered a Pavlovian reaction in the neighborhood kids, who immediately ran towards it.
2. Whenever the alarm clock rang, his Pavlovian instinct kicked in, and he automatically reached over to hit the snooze button.
3. The Pavlovian experiment demonstrated how easily humans can be conditioned to associate a neutral stimulus with a specific response.
4. The Pavlovian training method involved rewarding the dog with treats every time it obeyed a command.
5. As soon as he smelled freshly baked bread, a Pavlovian response made his mouth water.
6. The Pavlovian conditioning had such a strong effect that even the mere mention of the word "test" caused anxiety in the students.

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Origins & Etymology of 'Pavlovian'

The adjective 'Pavlovian' derives its etymology from the renowned Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, who conducted groundbreaking research on classical conditioning. Ivan Pavlov's surname became synonymous with the concept of automatic, predictable, and conditioned behavior through his influential experiments with dogs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Classical conditioning involved pairing a neutral stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus to elicit a conditioned response, and the term 'Pavlovian' emerged to describe this type of learned, reflexive behavior. Over time, 'Pavlovian' has transcended its original scientific context and has become a part of everyday language to describe any behavior or response that is automatic, predictable, and conditioned, thanks to the lasting impact of Ivan Pavlov's research.


How to pronounce pavlovian (audio)


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