Third Order Conditioning

Third order conditioning is a classical conditioning term and is a level of higher order conditioning along with first order and second order. Food is presenting to a dog and it salivates. Then the food is presented along with a neutral stimulus (a tone) and eventually the tone becomes a conditioned stimulus which elicits salivation from the dog without the food. This is first order conditioning.

Second order conditioning would occur when the tone is paired with a light and no food is presented. Because the tone causes salivation eventually the dog with salivate at the presentation of the light only. This conditioned response (the salivation) would be weaker than first order conditioning.

Third order conditioning is just taking this another step and pairing the light with a buzzer. Eventually the buzzer will elicit a conditioned response of salivation from the dog. This salivation will be very weak in comparison to first order conditioning because it is so removed from the unconditioned stimulus (food).

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