Habituation and Sensitization

Your textbook may tell you that habituation is a decreased response to a repeated stimulus, whereas sensitization is an increased response to a repeated stimulus. Have you experienced habituation or sensitization in your everyday life? Consider the following scenarios.

You're sitting in a boring lecture when you notice that the speaker says "okay" after almost every sentence and during pauses. Subsequent "okays" become more and more annoying. This is an example of sensitization. You are experiencing an increased response (increased annoyance) to a repeated stimulus (the speaker's "okays").

Or imagine you moved to the city from the country about a year ago. Do you still notice the street sounds as much as you did when you first moved? Most people would answer "no," because they've grown "accustomed" to the sounds. This is an example of habituation. You experience a decreased response (decreased awareness) to a repeated stimulus (the busy sounds).

Now try a few examples on your own.

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