Role of intertrial interval following an escape or avoidance response in bar-press avoidance

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In three experiments, rats learned bar-press avoidance as a function of the intertrial interval following an escape or an avoidance. The general hypothesis is that the length of these intervals affects bar-press avoidance differentially, depending on whether an avoidance follows an escape (avoidance/escape) or an avoidance (avoidance/avoidance) on the previous trial. Specifically, it is proposed that short escape ITIs will facilitate avoidance/escape and avoidance/avoidance, while avoidance ITIs will have no effect on avoidance responding. The results tend to support this hypothesis. The shorter the intertrial interval following an escape, the higher the probability of both measures: avoidance/escape and avoidance/avoidance. No effect of avoidance interval was found on avoidance/avoidance. Unpredictedly, however, it was found that in comparison to a very short intertrial interval following an avoidance (0.5 sec), relatively long intervals (5 and 45 sec) facilitate avoidance/escape. These results were interpreted as mainly reflecting nonassociative factors such as shock-produced activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-237
Number of pages18
JournalLearning and Motivation
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1980

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by a fund from the Israel Academy of Science, Branch for Basic Research, and by the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Haifa, Israel. The writing of this manuscript was supported by Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan. The author wishes to thank Julayne Madsen, Ted Landau, Keith Stanovich, Abraham Horwitz, Oded Israeli, and Harvey Durdick, who read the manuscript and made helpful suggestions. Address reprint requests to Sam S. Rakover, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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