Avoidance Learning

Avoidance learning is an individual response in order to avoid an unpleasant or stressful situation; also known as escape learning.

In a common laboratory experiment conducted to demonstrate avoidance learning, a rat is placed in a confined space with an electrified floor. A warning signal is given, followed by an electric current passing through the floor. To avoid experiencing foot shock, the rat must find an escape, such as a pole to climb or a barrier to jump over onto a nonelectric floor. At first, the rat responds only when the shock begins, but as the pattern is repeated, the rat learns to avoid the shock by responding to the warning signal. An example of human avoidance learning in humans is when a person avoids a yard where there is an aggressively barking dog; this learning is intensified in people who have been bitten or attacked by a dog.

See also Aversive conditioning ; Behavior modification ; Classical conditioning ; Operant conditioning ; Punishment ; Reinforcement ; Skinner, B. F.



Coulter, Jeff, and W. W. Sharrock. Brain, Mind, and Human Behavior in Contemporary Cognitive Science: Critical Assessments of the Philosophy of Psychology. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2007.

Domjan, Michael P. The Principles of Learning and Behavior, 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2009.

Haselgrove, Mark, and Lee Hogarth. Clinical Applications of Learning Theory. Hove, UK: Psychology Press, 2012.

Haykin, Simon S., and Simon S. Haykin. Neural Networks and Learning Machines. New York: Prentice Hall/ Pearson, 2009.

Miltenberger, Raymond G. Behavior Modification: Principles and Procedures. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012.

Schachtman, Todd R., and Steve Reilly. Associative Learning and Conditioning Theory: Human and Non-Human Applications. London: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Yates, Aubrey J. Biofeedback and the Modification of Behavior. London: Springer Verlag, 2012.