THE EFFECT OF STRESSOR LEVEL GRADING ON THE STIMULUS SEEKING BEHAVIOR OF RATS DIFFERING IN EMOTIONAL REACTIVITY. 1
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A natural disaster - such as a flood - is a sequence of events: swollen water level leading to the flooding of homesteads - primary stressor and later environmental consequences - secondary stressor syndrome. In order to be valid, an experimental model must ensure similarity of the stress-evoked behavioral symptoms. The most frequently administered behavioral tests measure exploratory behavior in the broad sense (the authors used the following test battery: self-exposition chamber, open field and elevated cross-maze). The authors also included emotional reactivity in the experimental design in order to test the idea that lower emotional reactivity alleviates the consequences of stress and therefore acts preventively. Reduced emotional reactivity and increased stressor intensity additively contribute to increased exploratory behavior. A main handling effect is found for most indices of emotional behavior. The proposed experimental model seems to meet two important criteria: it has face validity and it evokes very clear behavioral consequences, ones which are universal for most indices of exploratory behavior.
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