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Escape Theory

Definition

Escape theory refers to the tendency for people to engage in behaviors to avoid an unpleasant psychological reaction. Whereas the common use of the term escape suggests physically removing oneself from a physical location (such as escaping from prison), escape theory is used to describe behaviors that enable a person to flee from negative perceptions of the self. Escape from the self may help a person temporarily avoid a negative psychological reaction, but the behaviors that follow from a motivation to escape from the self are frequently undesirable.

History and Background

Social psychology has a long history of examining the consequences of how people view themselves for their behavior. People construct and interpret meaning based on how well their identity falls short of, meets, or exceeds expectations ...

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