Book Definition:

Any stimulus that produces no conditioned response prior to learning.

In Your Own Words
  • Nothing happens after this stimulus is presented
  • Has no effect until followed by an unconditioned stimulus. Only then can it become a conditioned stimulus.
  • A stimulus which initially produces no specific response.
  • Something that has no effect on you until paired with an unconditioned stimulus. It then will become a conditioned stimulus.


  • Neutral Stimulus
  • Pavlov noticed that when his dog saw food, the dog began to salivate. When he used a neutral stimulus (the tuning fork) it had no effect. He trained his dog to salivate to the noise of the tuning fork by first ringing the tuning fork, then feeding his dog. Over time the dog began to associate being fed with hearing the tone, resulting in salivating when hearing the tone.(NEUTRAL STIMULUS IS THE TUNING FORK)
  • In class on Lemon Powder Day, Mr. Wray would say a word that was neutral to everyone. Every time he said the word, we had to lick the lemon powder. After the acquisition period was over, we passed up the lemon powder and Mr. Wray said the word again. Many people began to salivate. Some even reached their hand to their desk, preparing to lick the lemon powder again. The WORD (specific to your class) would be considered the neutral stimulus.
  • The sound of a doorbell (NS) has no effect on a dog before it is realizes that the doorbell means visitor or possibly intruder. After it learns this it will react the same each time the doorbell is rung.
  • In the Office, the reboot sound of the computer before Dwight was conditioned to put his hand out to get an altoid.
  • The white rat (NS) initially had no effect on Little Albert, but after paired with a loud clang of pipes(UCS) the white rat becomes a conditioned stimulus. It will now have an effect on Little Albert
  • The tune from the ice cream truck before the visualization and salivation from the ice cream being sold.

Additional Resources