Habituation is a term used in the school of behavioral psychology as the simplest form of learning. Habituation occurs as the decrease in the strength of a response after repeated presentation of a stimulus that elicits a behavioral response, for example getting use to a light’s intensity. Constant exposure leads to a decrease in response arousal and therefore this technique is commonly used in therapeutic settings as a basic process used to extinguish various fears.

There are Five Principles of Habituation:

1. Course of Habituation: When a stimulus is repeated, habituation of a response occurs (decrease in sensitivity as a result of an increase in familiarity).

2. The Effects of Time: If a stimulus is withheld for a period of time, habituation decreases.

3. Relearning Effect: If habituation to a stimulus has occurred in the past but is withheld for a period of time and then re-administered, the stimulus will take less time to re-habituate.

4. Effects of Stimulus Intensity: Organisms can habituate to weak to moderate stimuli but very strong stimuli may not result in habituation.

5. Stimulus Generalization: Transfer of habituation occurs from one stimulus to another.

See Also


Classical Conditioning

Ivan Pavlov

John B. Watson


Operant Conditioning



Dyce, J. (2008, July 24). Power Point: Principles of Behavior Change. Retrieved from: http://jamiedyce.com/index.html.