The Behavioural approach to explaining Phobias (Classical conditioning…
The Behavioural approach to
(initiating the phobia)
Using the example of water
Unconditioned Stimulus =falling in water
Unconditioned Response = Fear
Neutral Stimulus = Water
The act of falling in water and the fear felt is associated to create a fear of
Behavioural approach suggests we also associate with our phobias in a similar way.
Pavlov did an experiment on dogs and got them to associate the sound of a bell with their food coming and would salivate at the sound of bell.
Pavlov = we learn our behaviour by learning a pattern to know what to expect next.
(maintaining the phobia)
Skinner proposed the idea of operant conditioning when researching behaviour
Little Albert = a baby used to test classical conditioning in humans.
Albert = 11 month old baby = physically and emotionally healthy
Albert = given a white rabbit and cotton wool to play with = no fear = neutral stimulus.
When the rabbit was given back to him he was startled by a loud bang as the rabbit approached him.
Happened repeatedly until Albert developed a phobia of the rabbit and then he was even afraid of the cotton wool.
Albert became scared of all white furry things because of reconditioning.
Maintaining a phobia is done by reinforcement of avoiding the phobia.
negative reinforcement = removing an unpleasant situation = everytime they escape their phobia
Social Learning Theory
If we see our parents or others who we admire acting scared of atn objec
we are more likely to copy that behaviour
Social learning theory = behaviour is learned through observing and modelling
Support for social learning theory
Bandura =people who acted in pain influenced the schema of those who were yet to experience the action.
Not all research has found it possible to condition people to fear a neutral stimulus.
Research into phobics has found that phobics have not always had traumatic prior experiences
Cannot explain all mental illnesses
It cannot explain other forms of mental illness such as schizophrenia.
Some mental illnesses are too complex for this approach to explain
Importance of Classical Conditioning
Therefore the theory of classical conditioning in relation to phobias is possible
People with phobias believe that their phobia is due to past experience
In the Neanderthal days.
Heights, spiders, fire and other potential problems from those times
more likely to be afraid of things that have been around for a long time as they are what our ancestors were afraid of.