Increased Responding to Female Stimuli as a Result of Sexual Experience: Tests of Mechanisms of Learning

Michael Domjan, Chana Akins, Danny H. Vandergriff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Sexual experience increases the response of males to stimuli provided by female conspecifics in a variety of species. The mechanisms of learning involved in this type of phenomenon were explored in two experiments with Japanese quail. The results indicated that instrumental conditioning with copulatory opportunity is not necessary for the acquisition of responding to female cues, and responding is not facilitated by learning about the location of the female. However, the response of males to female stimuli (as well as to arbitrary stimuli associated with access to a female) was enhanced by the presence of sexually conditioned contextual cues. Substantial levels of responding also occurred to female stimuli in a context where the subjects never encountered a female quail before. This latter outcome is consistent with the possibility that stimuli from a female become directly associated with sexual reinforcement during the course of sexual experience. Similar forms of learning may be involved in the effects of sexual experience on the response of mammalian species to female odours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-157
Number of pages19
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section B
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 1992

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Requests for reprints should be sent to Michael Domjan, Department of Psychology, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712, U S A . e-mail: Domjan@UTXVMS.Bitnet or Domjan@Psyvax.Psy.UTexas.Edu. The research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH 39940.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology (all)
  • Physiology (medical)


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