Behavioural Approach to Abnormality - Unit 2 (AQA)

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Behavioural Approach to Psychopathology
Abnormal Behaviours are learnt in the same way that all behaviours are learnt, through:
Classical Conditioning
Operant Conditioning
Social Learning
What `Behaviourists' Argue:
Behaviour is learned from the environment ­ The symptoms of psychological disorders
arise because the individual has learned self-defeating of ineffective ways of behaving
Emphasis is on observable behaviour as opposed to emotion, thinking, physiology etc.
Mental Disorders can be treated by behavioural therapies ­ maladaptive behaviours
can be unlearned and replaced with more adaptive behaviours
Fears and Phobias may be learnt through classical conditioning ­ If a stimulus is
coupled with an unpleasant experience then this stimulus will elicit fear
Emphasis of approach is on the environment and ignores role of Biology or any internal
thoughts or feelings
Learning can take place through classical conditioning, operant conditioning or `social
learning' ­ Imitating someone else
Classical Conditioning:
Classical Conditioning can be used to explain the development of many abnormal
behaviours (Phobias, Taste Aversions)
In case of very intense emotion ­ may only need one coupling of fear to be established
UCS -> UCR
UCS + CS -> UCR
CS -> CR

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Little Albert (Watson & Raynor 1920):
Aged 9 months
Exposed to series of stimuli (White rat, rabbit, monkey, masks, burning newspaper) ­
Boys reactions observed ­ Boy initially showed no fear of objects
Next time boy exposed to white rat ­ Watson made a loud noise (CS) ­ After repeatedly
pairing the white rat and loud noise ­ Albert became to cry after just seeing the white
rat (CS/CR)
Stimulus Generalization occurred ­ After conditioning ­ Albert feared a wide range of
white and furry…read more

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Social Learning:
When we observe and then model behaviours, attitudes and the emotional reactions of others
We observe others being `abnormal' and then copy this behaviour
Bandura (1961) ­ Bobo Doll:
Children aged 3-6 (36 boys, 36 girls) ­ assigned to 3 groups
Two groups were exposed to either observing an adult being aggressive with a Bobo doll
or with an adult not being aggressive to a Bobo doll
The control group was no exposed to any observations
Children who observed the violent adult, themselves…read more

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Systematic Desensitisation (Phobias) ­ Fear Hierarchy:
Reverses (counter-conditioning) to replace the maladaptive response to a situation with
another healthier response
Create a `fear hierarchy' ­ most feared at top (hold spider) ­ least feared at bottom
(picture of spider)
Put in situation of least feared event = anxious
Encouraged to use Deep muscle relaxation technique
Relaxation & Anxiety can happen at same time ­ Become relaxed and calm (Reciprocal
Inhibition)
Repeated until feared event is only linked with relaxation
Processes completed through all of fear…read more

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