Stanley Weiss

Dr. Weiss is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at American University in Washington, DC. His current research interests include the stimulus control of behavior, biological constraints on learning, incentive motivation and animal learning models of drug abuse. Dr. Weiss has been honored as a Fulbright Scholar at Pavlov Medical University in St. Petersberg, Russia, a B.F. Skinner Lecturer by the Association for Behavior Analysis, Keynote Speaker at The International Study Group Investigating Drugs as Reinforcers, and Guest Speaker at the 2008 Conference on Odour Detection in Animals in Os, Norway, among others.  He has been organizing and convening the annual Winter Conference on Animal Learning and Behavior since 2002. See Dr. Weiss’s website for additional information about his interests and accomplishments.

Stanley Weiss's Presentations

Differential Reinforcement and the Stimulus Control of Behavior

Presented at the 2015 Art and Science of Animal Training Conference.

A primary objective of psychology is the prediction of behavior.  Operationally, that means what an individual will do in a particular situation can be anticipated.  When this is possible, we have identified, and understand,  the conditions  influencing the individual’s behavior.  The fact that the behaviors of those we interact with seldom surprise us is an indication that they are behaving as expected and therefore under stimulus control.  Imagine what our world would be like if they weren’t.  This presentation will discuss how stimulus control is acquired.  It will progress from simple biologically predisposed reflexive actions to behaviors that are the product of the differential consequences of one’s behavior in different situations.  A simple example:  One learns that they should use different language and manners when speaking to a teacher than to a fellow student. An understanding of stimulus control phenomena and its related processes can help you better understand your own behavior as well as the behavior of other animals.