The Orienting Response: Importance of Instructions

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Abstract

A lack of agreement exists among studies of electrodermal habituation in schizophrenia. One explanation for the intractable discrepancies observed concerns the likelihood that there exists intersubject variability in the significance patients attach to stimuli. This possibility is encouraged through the administration of vague and uninformative instructions. A more controlled and sensible procedure, which allows habituation to be measured with greater ecological validity, involves providing subjects with an absorbing alternative task on which to focus their attention after being specifically instructed to ignore the habituation stimulus to the best of their ability.

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