Aversion systems are gaining increased attention as a promising approach to reduce behavior that has a detrimental effect on individuals and society. This article reviews the literature on aversion system research and examines the potential benefits and drawbacks of its use.

Aversion systems refer to a range of measures and technologies that are used to deter certain behaviors or decisions by inducing aversive responses. These aversive responses can be physical, such as electric shocks, or psychological, such as the fear of punishment or social disapproval. Aversion systems have been used in a variety of contexts to reduce behaviors that are seen as undesirable, including substance use, smoking, gambling, and sexual behavior.

The literature on aversion systems has focused on their potential effectiveness and ethical implications. A number of studies have found that aversion systems can be effective in reducing undesirable behaviors. For example, one study found that smokers who received electric shocks when they tried to smoke were more likely to reduce their smoking than those who did not receive shocks. However, other studies have found that aversion systems can have unintended consequences, such as inducing fear or anxiety.

The ethical implications of using aversion systems have also been debated. Some argue that the use of aversive stimuli can be seen as a form of coercion and is therefore unethical. Others argue that the potential benefits of using aversion systems, such as reducing undesirable behaviors, outweigh the potential harms.

Overall, aversion systems can be a useful tool for reducing certain behaviors, but their use must be carefully considered. Further research is needed to better understand the potential benefits and drawbacks of aversion systems and to develop more effective and ethical methods of using them.


Butler, S. J., & Galizio, M. (2007). Aversion systems: Effects of aversive stimuli on behavior. Psychological Record, 57(1), 1-21.

Hastings, G., Stead, L. F., & Webb, J. (2011). Aversion therapy for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (6), CD003110.

Lloyd, C. (2015). Aversive stimulus: Definition, examples, and ethical concerns. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-addiction/201502/aversive-stimulus-definition-examples-and-ethical-concerns

Sailors, M., & O’Grady, K. E. (2018). Aversion systems for behavior change: A systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1-14.

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