THE CONDITIONING OF VASOMOTOR RESPONSES
When attention is called to some social lapse and a blush comes to the cheek of the indiscreet person, people ordinarily say, "Oh, he is embarrassed," and accept that as an explanation of the blushing. It is obvious that calling attention to the faux pas has somehow caused the blush, yet why should this particular effect have been produced rather than some other? The special problem of the present chapter concerns the manner in which such reactions come under the control of particular kinds of stimuli and become established as significant aspects of an individual's behavior.
Blushing or paling of the facial skin is called an "involuntary" response, since most people cannot say or think, "I will cause my cheeks to blush" (or to pale) and directly bring about the reaction. In contrast, after some training early in life, the individual can say or think, "I will move my finger," and thereupon produce that movement. The latter response is called a "voluntary" reaction because it can be regularly produced by the thought of making it. However, one cannot classify responses as being intrinsically either voluntary or involuntary. The term "involuntary action" is typically applied to responses which are not usually subject to control by words or thoughts or by any other stimulation which the individual can produce at will." But it is possible that almost any such response can be made subject to this voluntary control if the person has had the appropriate combination of experiences or the right kind of training. For instance, only the exceptional individual can think, "I will move my ear," and directly do so. But through appropriate training, a number of subjects in an experiment by Bair1 learned to make that response a____________________
Bair J. H. The Practice Curve. Psychological Review Monograph Supplements, 1903, No. 19.