Notions about the influence of environmental context on behavior are briefly reviewed and criticized. In contrast to the traditional view that a context is merely a compound CS, to be treated in learning theory in much the same way as simple CSs, we propose that contexts are superordinate to such CSs. Within this hierarchical relation, a context both contains and predicts CSs. This approach to environmental context derives from cognitive map theory (O’Keefe & Nadel, 1978), and predictions based on that theory and the present extension are offered for several conditioning paradigms.
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