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Stimulus Generalisation and Stimulus Discrimination 3

Stimulus Generalization and Stimulus Discrimination

Stimulus generalization

Stimulus generalization and stimulus discrimination are usually used by brands in the aim of gaining additional customers. Stimulus generalization occurs when a brand emulates or uses same or similar packaging design for most or all of its products with the aim of expanding the brand’s goodwill to all products under its product line. Based on these customers who are royal to one product are more likely to be loyal to the other product with similar packaging design since they may be deceived by the packaging (Baum 2005). In instances when competing brand applies similar package design as that of an already established brand it usually doing so in the hope of attracting or deceiving the consumers who are loyal to the other brand.

Based on my visit to the supermarket the brands I identified to be using stimulus generalization are Parle Marie vs. Britannia Marie gold biscuits. Parle Marie and Britannia Marie gold are two well established brands in the market. Customers who are not very keen when buying products may confuse between the two brands of biscuits. The two biscuits are a clear example of stimulus generalization in their packaging design (Staddon 2003). Based on the picture below the two brands have similar visual representation of the biscuits and wheat has also been used in the packaging. The two logos the biscuits are similarly placed. Based on the picture the two also uses similar colors that are; red and yellow though they are used on opposite sides of the packets. The only difference between the two is in the font used in labeling the biscuits.

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Stimulus Discrimination

Stimulus discrimination on the other hand is when an already existing brand or a new brand in the market uses a new or different packaging design so as to totally distinguish itself from its competing brands. By doing so the brand will stand out from its competing brands (Staddon 2003).

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Also during the visit I was also able to identify two brands that apply stimulus discrimination in marketing their products to their customers. Harry ice creams and Peter ice creams are two ice cream brands in Australia. The two brands have used different packaging designs so as to attract their customers (Mazur 2006). Based on the different packaging designs their customers will be able to differentiate the products. Harry’s uses a pink can for its packaging while Peters uses a purple different one. Based on these it is very unlikely for the customers to confuse between the two kinds of ice creams. Those who are used to buying each brand will ultimately buy it and thus will always leave out the other brand. Their logos are also different and thus offering a more differentiating factor between them (Staddon 2001).

Based on the above discussion, it is clearly evident that stimulus discrimination and stimulus generalization can be viewed as a two sided coin. Thus, in regard to this the more generalized the product is, the less stimulus discrimination that will occur and vice versa.


Baum, W 2005, Understanding behaviorism: Behavior, culture, and evolution, Blackwell Publishers, Malden.

Mazur, J 2006, Learning and behavior, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.

Staddon, J 2001, Adaptive dynamics – The theoretical analysis of behavior, The MIT Press. London.

Staddon, J 2003, Adaptive behavior and learning, Cambridge University Press, New York.