Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Nelson F. Smith


A review of the literature on response prevention substantiates that the technique is effective in reducing fear in adult rats. However, the effectiveness of response prevention in reducing avoidance behavior in young rats has not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of response prevention on avoidance behavior in young rats and also to evaluate the persistence of fear reduction as a result of response prevention.

Thirty young (24 and 25 days old) albino rats were randomly assigned to receive or not to receive response prevention or to act as control subjects without any avoidance training. The subjects from each treatment condition were tested for fear retention at 0, 1, 3, 9 and 27 days after the treatment phase. Fear was assessed on two dependent measures: approach latency and time spent on grids.

Results revealed that the response prevention treatment was effective in reducing avoidance behavior. These results are consistent with the major findings in the area of response prevention in adult rats. However, the effectiveness of response prevention in young rats was not as durable as it is in adult rats. The results also revealed that the young rats forgot the traumatic learning experience after the third testing interval. This result supports the literature in the area of the retention function for fear in young rats.



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