Avoidance learning are learned coping strategies that attempt to prevent exposure to a situation or stimulus that evokes fear. Since the negative feeling of fear is removed when the situation is avoided, avoidance becomes a reinforcing reward (MentalHealth.net). Due to the reinforcement of this behavior being the absence of punishment, avoidance learning is an interesting topic in psychology. An example of avoidance learning is avoiding a yard where there is a barking dog. The avoidance behavior of avoiding a barking dog is stronger in individuals who have been bit by a dog before (Psychology.jrank.org).
Excessive avoidance may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. For example, an individual with social anxiety is likely to avoid large social situations as a coping strategy. Since the avoidance of a social situation takes away their symptoms of anxiety, avoidance is reinforced as their preferred coping method (MentalHelp.net). Additionally, if an individual with social anxiety was experiencing a panic attack in a social situation, leaving the social situation would greatly reduce their symptoms soon after.