Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 354, Issue 1, pp 107–118 | Cite as

Animal models of social avoidance and social fear

  • Iulia Toth
  • Inga D. Neumann


Social fear and avoidance of social situations represent the main behavioral symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD), a highly prevalent anxiety disorder that is poorly elucidated and has rather unsatisfactory therapeutic options. Therefore, animal models are needed to study the underlying etiology and pathophysiology of SAD and to verify the efficacy of possible novel treatment approaches. In this review, we describe and discuss the most important paradigms that have been shown to induce social avoidance and fear in rodents, including foot shock exposure, restraint stress, social isolation, social instability, social defeat, conditioned defeat, social defeat/overcrowding, chronic subordinate colony housing, chronic mild stress, maternal separation and social fear conditioning. We also describe some of the behavioral paradigms used to assess social avoidance and fear in rodents, including the social interaction test, the social preference-avoidance test, the social approach-avoidance test, the three-chambered social approach test, the partition test and the modified Y-maze test. We focus on the behavioral alterations these paradigms induce, especially on social interaction, general anxiety and depressive-like behavior given that SAD is strongly comorbid with anxiety and affective disorders.


Social anxiety disorder Social fear Social avoidance Anxiety-related behavior Depressive-like behavior 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioral and Molecular NeurobiologyUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany

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