Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Author's Response
Domjan et al.: Pavlovian mechanisms

Extensions, elaborations, and explanations of the role of evolution and learning in the control of social behavior

Michael Domjan a1, Brian Cusato a1 and Ronald Villarreal a2
a1 Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712
a2 Department of Psychology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405


Reactions to the target article included requests for extensions and elaborations of the schema we proposed and discussions of apparent shortcomings of our approach. In general, we welcome suggestions for extension of the schema to additional kinds of social behavior and to forms of learning other than Pavlovian conditioning. Many of the requested elaborations of the schema are consistent with our approach, but some may limit its generality. Many of the apparent shortcomings that commentators discussed do not seem problematic. Our schema encourages a broad view of the behavioral consequences of Pavlovian conditioning – including learned modifications of responding to the unconditioned stimulus. Costs and benefits addressed by our schema are the long-range reproductive consequences of learning – not the immediate reinforcing consequences of particular conditioned responses. Our approach allows the evolution of learning to yield maladaptive behavior and can be extended to characterize dynamic social interactions. We clarify that ours is not a homeostatic model involving ideal set points, and we clarify and defend our application of Pavlovian concepts to the analysis of social play.