Behaviourist explanation of dysfunctional behaviour

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  • Behaviourist explanation of DB
    • Classical conditioning
      • Learning through association
        • For example, someone with a phobia might learn to associate something negative with a different factor
          • This could be small spaces and a difficulty to breathe - resulting in claustrophobia
      • Pavlov: dog shown food - then shown food with bell - then just heard the bell - dog salivated
        • This is because the dog had to learn to associate the bell with food
    • Operant conditioning
      • Learning through reinforcement
        • Rewards determine which behaviours are learned
      • Skinner
        • Rat stood on lever in 'Skinner box' that released food pellets - eventually learned that sitting on lever would result in a reward
        • Same can be said for for dysfunctional behaviours: bad behaviour = attention = reward
          • For example, schizophrenics gain attention from mental health nurses for delusional speech (Iman and Krasner)
    • Social learning theory
      • OCD - ritualistic behaviour is modelled to the individual, for example through a friend or family member making sure all their pens are facing the same direction, so they begin to copy it thinking it is normal
    • Watson + Raynor
      • Aim: to see if a conditioned response could be created in a previously normal child
        • Participant: 'calm' 9 month old, Albert
          • Procedure + findings: Albert had a fear response to an iron bar being struck behind his head
            • Shown rat alone - then rat and loud noise - then rat - then rat and loud noise. He then cried when he saw the rat alone.
              • In the next session, Albert played with some toys, but cried and moved away from stimulus materials (rat, rabbit)
                • Following this, he was brought back after 5 days and showed a weaker fear response. The fear was reintroduced to him.
                  • Continued to show fear after a month
                    • Conclusion: phobias can be induced by classical conditioning


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