c. 1300, respounse, "an answer, a reply," from Old French respons (Modern French réponse) and directly from Latin responsum "an answer," noun use of neuter past participle of respondere "respond, answer to, promise in return," from re- "back" (see re-) + spondere "to pledge" (see sponsor (n.)).
The transferred sense, of feelings or actions, is from 1815 in poetry and psychology. The meaning "a part of the liturgy said or sung by the congregation in reply to the priest" is by 1650s. Response time attested from 1958.
1931, from the theories, experiments, and methods of Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936), especially in connection with the conditioned salivary reflexes of dogs in response to the mental stimulus of the sound of a bell (attested from 1911, in Pavloff [sic] method).