When And Why Does Habituation Occur?


Habituation may be a decrease in response to a stimulus after repeated presentations. For instance, a replacement sound in your environment, like a replacement ringtone, may initially draw your attention or maybe become distracting.

Over time, as you become familiar with this sound, you pay less attention to the noise, and your response to the sound will diminish. This diminished response is habituation.


To know how habituation works, it is often helpful to look at a couple of different examples. This phenomenon plays a task in many various areas, from learning to perception.


Habituation in Exposure Therapy:

Exposure therapy uses habituation to assist people in overcoming their fears. 

For example:

A person who is scared of the dark might begin by simply imagining being in a dark room. Once they need to become habituated to the present experience, they’re going to expose themselves to increasingly closer approximations to the important source of their anxiety until they finally confront the fear itself. Eventually, the individual is often habituated to the stimulus so that they did not experience the fear response.


What Are The Characteristics Of Habituation?


Habituation doesn’t always occur in the same way, and there are a variety of things that will influence how quickly you become habituated to a stimulus. A number of the key characteristics of habituation include:


Change: Changing the stimulation’s intensity or duration may end in a reoccurrence of the first response. So if that banging noise grew louder over time or stopped abruptly, you would be more likely to note it again.

Duration: If the habituation stimulus isn’t presented for an extended enough period before a sudden reintroduction, the response will once more reappear at.

Full-strength: So if that noisy neighbor’s loud banging (from the instance above) were to prevent and begin, you’re less likely to become habituated to it.


Frequency: The more frequently a stimulus is presented, the faster habituation will occur. If you wear that very same perfume a day, you’re more likely to prevent noticing it earlier whenever.


Intensity: Very intense stimuli tend to end in slower habituation. In some cases, like deafening noises, sort of a car alarm, or a siren, habituation will never occur (a car alarm wouldn’t be very effective as an alert if people stopped noticing it after a couple of minutes, for example).


Why Habituation Occurs?

Habituation is an example of non-associative learning; there is no reward or punishment related to the stimulus. You are not experiencing pain or pleasure as a result of that neighbor’s banging noises.

So why can we experience habituation? There are a couple of different theories that seek to elucidate why habituation occurs:


Comparator theory of habituation suggests that our brain creates a model of the expected stimulus. With continued presentations, the stimulus is compared to the model and, if it matches, the response is inhibited.


The Dual-factor theory of habituation suggests that there are underlying neural processes that regulate responsiveness to different stimuli. Our brains decide that we do not get to worry that banging noise because we’ve more pressing things on which to focus our attention.

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Men Znow
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