Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Nelson F. Smith


The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the effect of repeated Response Prevention (RP) treatments on the persistence of avoidance behavior using an animal model. Response prevention has been used as a treatment in many laboratory studies to reduce avoidance responding. Although past research shows that one episode of RP facilitates extinction of avoidance behavior when tested once, complete elimination of the avoidance response has seldom been found. In fact, some studies have demonstrated the existence and even recovery of residual fear after a single RP treatment indicated by an increase in avoidance behavior upon repeated testings. It was hypothesized that additional RP treatments would cause greater and more permanent reduction of avoidance responding.

One hundred and twenty Sprague-Dawley male rats were randomly assigned to one of 12 experimental conditions. There were four treatment levels in each of the following groups; Control, (receiving no avoidance training), Response Prevention, or Nonresponse Prevention. The four levels consisted of the following number and length of treatments: one massed level of 36 min, or distributed levels; two of 18 min, or three of 12 min, or four of 9 min. Fear was tested at 0, 1, and 30 days after treatment for all subjects.

Results consistent with previous studies indicated that RP caused reduction of fear. Unlike past findings with repeated testings, there was no increase in fear over the testing intervals for the RP groups. Relevance to therapy analogues was discussed.



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