The role of awareness in Pavlovian conditioning: empirical evidence and theoretical implications

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2002 Jan;28(1):3-26.


This article reviews research over the past decade concerning the relationship between Pavlovian conditioning and conscious awareness. The review covers autonomic conditioning, conditioning with subliminal stimuli, eyeblink conditioning, conditioning in amnesia, evaluative conditioning, and conditioning under anesthesia. The bulk of the evidence is consistent with the position that awareness is necessary but not sufficient for conditioned performance, although studies suggestive of conditioning without awareness are identified as worthy of further investigation. Many studies have used inadequate measures of awareness, and strategies for increasing validity and sensitivity are discussed. It is concluded that conditioning may depend on the operation of a propositional system associated with consciousness rather than a separate, lower level system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Awareness*
  • Blinking
  • Conditioning, Classical*
  • Humans
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Reproducibility of Results