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displacement activity

noun, Animal Behavior
1.
a behavior performed out of its usual context and apparently irrelevant to the prevailing situation, as eating when an unknown individual approaches, tending to occur when appropiate behaviors, as attacking or fleeing, are in conflict or obstructed.
Origin
1945-1950
1945-50
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for dis placement activity

displacement activity

noun
1.
(psychol) behaviour that occurs typically when there is a conflict between motives and that has no relevance to either motive, e.g. head scratching
2.
(zoology) the substitution of a pattern of animal behaviour that is different from behaviour relevant to the situation, e.g. preening at an apparently inappropriate time
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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