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date: 01 October 2023

displacement activity n. 

A Dictionary of Psychology

Andrew M. Colman

In ethology, the substitution of an irrelevant pattern of behaviour for behaviour that is appropriate to a particular situation, especially as a reaction to a conflict of motives. Male stickleback fish stand on their heads and dig into the sand as if building a nest when the impulses of attack and retreat are evenly balanced; fighting roosters often peck at the ground between bouts as though feeding; and humans often scratch their heads or perform self-grooming ... ...

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