Redirected behaviour – What is it and why is it important?

What is redirected behaviour, and why is it important? When the normal route is blocked, behaviour may be redirected towards another goal. Such redirected behaviour can both be a welfare sign and a welfare solution.

Redirected behaviour

The normal path of behaviour may sometimes be redirected towards something else. For example, when a curious animal like a ? is motivated to investigate the surroundings and root in soil, it may redirect its behaviour towards other ??? in a barren pen. Such redirected investigative behaviour may thus lead to tail biting. Similarly, when you are having trouble at work, you may be inclined to retaliate. However, when this is not possible, you may be redirect your aggression. For example, you may be ? at ?, or you may temporarily be a more avid sportsman.


Animals are not always free to do as they please. When a normal route is blocked, some behaviours may be redirected towards another goal. Redirected behaviour is generally indicative of reduced welfare, i.e. negative experiences. However, it may also provide a solution so as to prevent more serious adverse consequences. In this way, redirected behaviour may both be a sign and a solution of an underlying welfare problem.

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4 Responses to Redirected behaviour – What is it and why is it important?

  1. Marc says:

    Is there a difference between humans and animals in redirected behaviour?

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  2. Marc says:

    At first sight, redirected behaviour appears to be the behavioural equivalent of cognitive dissonance. In cognitive dissonance a person may counterfactually match his/her beliefs to what he/she wants to be the case. Is redirected behaviour similarly irrational?

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    • Con Notation says:

      No, I don’t think so. Though it may be irrational to beat your wife or dog, it is not irrational to divert frustration into sports. Even when not fully effective, it may be most sensible to avoid being impulsive and use a strategy of redirection to accomplish this.

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  3. Marc says:

    Can redirected behaviour be a virtue? In other words, is it possible to use behavioural redirection as a rational means to transform an immoral inclination into a morally praiseworthy act?

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