Individual differences

Key points for phobias and OCD

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  • Created on: 06-05-11 19:57
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Stress Response Disorder = abnormal
Fight or Flight Out of Order
Anxiety - Disorders

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Diagnostic features of
1. Intense, persistent, irrational fear a particular
object, event or situation.
2. Response is disproportionate and leads to
avoidance of phobic object, event or situation.
3. Fear is serve enough to interfere with everyday
life.…read more

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Types of PHOBIAS
SPECIFIC PHOBIAS, of animals, events (flying),
bodily (blood), situations (enclosed places).
SOCIAL PHOBIAS, of social situations, public
speaking, parties, meeting new people.
AGORAPHOBIA, of public crowded places (not open
spaces), of leaving safety of home
All phobias are more common in women than men,
in particular Agoraphobia.
Social Phobia is most prevalent in adolescence
and Agoraphobia in middle age.…read more

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Biological explanations of
PHOBIAS - Evolution
The Theory - Biological Preparedness Seligman (1971)
Fear of harmful animals and situations would provide an
evolutionary advantage and therefore be passed on by
natural selection.
The Evidence ­ Most people rate as most fearful those
animals which move unpredictably and are slimy.
Cook & Mineka (1990) found it easier to condition
monkeys to fear toy snakes than cuddly teddies.
Ohman (1996) found it easier to condition
humans to fear snakes rather than flowers.…read more

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Biological explanations of
PHOBIAS - Genetics
Theory ­ Genetics could explain why some individuals
inherit the condition. Specific (but not Social) phobias seem
to run in families to some existent but this behaviour could
be learnt by imitation.
Twin Studies could separate nature from nurture.
Shields & Slater (1969) showed concordance rates
of MZ (identical) twins to be higher (49%) than that
of DZ (fraternal) twins (4%). Only 45 pairs of twins!
Evaluation: Concordance rate would have to
be 100% if entirely genetic.…read more

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Biological explanations of
PHOBIAS - Vulnerability
The Theory - Eysenck (1967) suggested that some people
are born with a more reactive autonomic nervous system.
The Evidence ­ Eysenck designed a personality
test to measure stability / instability and predicted
that unstable individuals would be more likely to
show an anxiety disorder. Problems with this are ...
·Difficult to show if instability is caused by hypersensitive
nervous system or if anxiety disorder has affected ANS.…read more

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Biological explanations of
PHOBIAS - Evaluation
These theories are all compatible and
are supported by evidence but ...
· The evidence is subject to alternate explanations and can
be criticised methodologically (lack ecological validity etc)
· The theory does not explain why individual people develop
a phobia of particular objects / situations.…read more

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Behavioural explanations of PHOBIAS
1 ­ Classical Conditioning
The Theory ­ Watson (1920) claimed that most emotional
responses including fear of objects are learnt by C.C.
The Evidence ­ He demonstrated a "rat phobia"
in little Albert by pairing a loud bang (UCS) with
a white rat (CS) the fear response was
generalised to similar stimuli ­ ??
Evaluation ­ Does not show that "real life" phobias happen
this way.…read more

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Behavioural explanations of PHOBIAS
2 ­ The Two Process Theory
Mowrer (1947) the original learnt fear is maintained by
operant conditioning. The relief felt by avoiding the phobic
object is reinforced by "avoidance learning".
The Evidence ­ DiNardo's findings that more than half of
those people bitten did not develop a phobia of dogs.
Evaluation ­ Could explain specific phobias but
does not work so well with Agoraphobia &
Social Phobia.…read more

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Behavioural explanations of PHOBIAS
3 ­ Social Learning Theory
Bandura (1986) showed that modelling and observational
learning provides a better explanation for many behaviours.
Mineka (1984) found that monkeys could develop snake
phobias just by watching another monkeys fear.
Could explain children learning to fear some objects from
their parents or role models but in most cases of phobias
there is little evidence of this.
Despite this emphasis on behaviour to
understand phobias in humans we
need to what is going on their minds.…read more


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