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Phobia= a persistent and unreasonable fear of a particular object, activity or situation. The fear is
disproportionate to the danger actually posed and usually leads to avoidance of the object,
situation or activity.

A phobia occurs when it becomes maladaptive; interferes with everyday life

The characteristics of a phobia:…

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Explanations of phobias: Behavioural
Classical conditioning
Has been used to explain the acquisition of phobias by demonstrating that the pairing of an
unconditional stimulus (UCS) that caused fear (UCR) with an initially neutral stimulus causes the
neutral stimulus to be feared by the person (conditioning). The neutral stimulus then becomes…

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A classic study by Watson and Raynor demonstrated how a fearful response can be conditioned
through classical conditioning.

Watson and Raynor: Little Albert
Aim To see whether it was possible to create a phobia in a child by using classical conditioning
Method Watson and Raynor used a lab experiment to…

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Evaluation of behavioural explanations
Empirical evidence:
o Watson and Raynor ­ investigated classical conditioning of a phobia with little
o Di Nardo et al ­ In a study of people with a fear of dogs, found that 60% could
relate their fear to a frightening incident with a…

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Explanations of phobias: Psychodynamic
People have unconscious wishes and thoughts that cause unconscious conflict between the ego
and the id.

The ego is threatened by this conflict and fears that the anxiety caused will overwhelm it. This
would result in it not being able to function at all.

This is…

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Evaluation of psychodynamic explanations
Empirical evidence from Freud ­ little Hans

Uses the case study method which produces qualitative data and this gives insight and

As the explanations resolve around an unconscious level in the human mind, this makes
scientific enquiry very difficult; we cannot know directly…

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Psychodynamic Treatments for phobias
Techniques are aimed at confronting fears and lifting the ego defence mechanisms that are in
place to protect them from anxiety.

Insight can be gained into what is unconsciously causing the symptoms.

Various techniques can be used in assessing the unconscious, such as free association and…


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