Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Aversive Control in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Kyle C. HorstEmail author
  • Patrick S. Johnson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_73

Name of Concept

Aversive Control in Couple and Family Therapy


Coercion; Punishment


Aversive control refers to the use of aversive events to manipulate another’s behavior. Punishment* is a form of aversive control used to decrease the frequency of unwanted behavior and commonly involves either the presentation of an undesirable consequence (positive punishment*) or the removal of a desirable consequence (negative punishment*). Aversive control may also refer to the use of aversive antecedent stimulation. This process, known as negative reinforcement, typically results in an increase in the frequency of behaviors that allow the individual to avoid or escape from aversive stimulation.

Theoretical Context for Concept

An initial conceptualization of aversive control within psychology was the law of effect, which stated that behavior that led to an “annoying state of affairs” was likely to be weakened (Thorndike 1913, pg. 1–4). Behaviorists – most notably the radical...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California State University, ChicoChicoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State University, ChicoChicoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Brian Baucom
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA