Blocking of subsequent and antecedent events
Stimulus competition (e.g., blocking) has been observed between antecedent events (i.e., conditioned stimuli or potential causes), but recent evidence within the human causal learning literature suggests that it could also be obtained between subsequent events (i.e., unconditioned stimuli or potential effects). The present research tested this hypothesis with rat subjects. To avoid confounding the antecedent versus subsequent variable with the affective value of the events involved (i.e., unconditioned stimuli are ordinarily of greater affective value than conditioned stimuli), a preparation was used in which antecedent and subsequent events all lacked affective value during the blocking phases of the study. This was achieved through the use of sensory preconditioning. Blocking of subsequent events as well as antecedent events was observed. The challenge to most associative theories that is provided by blocking of subsequent events is discussed.