Discriminative Stimulus Functions of Drugs: Interpretations

  • A. Charles Catania
  • J. Bruce Overmier


In any study of drugs, it is difficult if not impossible to ignore the fundamental pharmacologic principle that no drug has a single action. Tht, principle is important not only because it is relevant to specific experimental problems but also because it so precisely parallels a principle of overriding importance in the analysis of behavior: no stimulus has a single action. We ordinarily speak of this behavioral principle in terms of the multiple functions of stimuli, and it is illustrated in any experiment concerned with controlling relationships between stimuli and responses. For example, an experiment that deals with an elicitation relationship must be designed carefully to avoid confounding elicitation with the potential reinforcing or discriminative effects of the eliciting stimulus. The principle is also illustrated in the organization of this book, which, in speaking of the stimulus properties of drugs, separates these into discriminative and eliciting and reinforcing properties.


Stimulus Control Stimulus Property Transfer Test Negative Reinforcement Temporal Discrimination 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Charles Catania
    • 1
  • J. Bruce Overmier
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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