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.
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