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What is a phobia?
· A phobia is an example of an anxiety disorder.
· Anxiety disorders give a continuous feeling of a fear and
anxiety which is disabling and can impose on daily
functioning.
· Phobias essentially have a definite, persistent fear of a
particular object or situation. This stimulus, for example a
spider or snake, will provoke an immediate response, which
may be similar to a panic attack. The person may experience
physical symptoms such as a shortness of breath or
palpitations, and will feel intense terror and may begin to
lose control. If the fear of the object results in a person's
everyday life being disrupted the anxiety disorder may be
diagnosed.…read more

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Behavioural explanation
· The behaviourist approach assumes that all behaviour is
learned through the environment in which we are in and
therefore a phobia is learnt due to how the environment
responds to a stimuli. This approach argues for the nurture
side of the nature/nurture debate. The cause for phobias is
made through classical conditioning which can be seen in
the study of Little Albert by Watson and Rayner (next slide).
· The behaviourist approach follows classical conditioning
and shows how a phobia is maintained, through operant
conditioning, which involves both negative and positive
reinforcement. Operant conditioning shows that if someone
is rewarded e.g. given a hug for showing a phobic reaction,
they are likely to carry on the behaviour in order to reap the…read more

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Watson and Rayner, study of
classical conditioning
· Aim: To see if it is possible to induce a fear of a previously
unfeared object, through classical conditioning.
· Methodology: A case study was created on Little Albert when
he was 8 months old. Little Albert was in a hospital
environment as he was a child of a `wet nurse'. Little Albert
has no fearful reactions to a rat, a rabbit, a dog, a monkey, a
mask with hair, or cotton wool. However he reacted
violently when a suspended steel bar was hit by a hammer ­
the IV for this study.
· Procedure: The experiment started when Little Albert was 11
months old.…read more

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Watson and Rayner
continued...
· Procedure: Albert's baseline reactions to the stimuli were
noted.
· Session 1: As Albert reached for a rat presented to him in a
lab, the steel bar was struck and this procedure was
repeated.
· Findings: First time steel bar was struck, Albert jumped and
fell forward. Second time, Albert began to whimper.
· Session 2: Rat was given to Albert on its own with no noises.
Then the rat was given three times, each with the loud
noise. Followed with rat given on it's own, given two more
times, with the loud bang and finally the rat was given on its
own (seven presentations with the rat and noise).
· Findings: After five paired presentations, Albert
immediately cried when he saw the rat alone.
· Session 3: Toy blocks were used as a neutral stimuli ­ they
didn't cause fear in Albert. Presentations were made of the
rat then other objects such as a rabbit, dog and Santa Claus
mask with breaks with the building blocks to calm Albert…read more

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...
- Session 3 findings: The blocks were played with happily by
Albert but the other stimuli produced negative responses of
crying and crawling away from the stimuli. Little Albert
showed less negativity to the cotton wool showing that a
fear had been transferred into other objects.
- Session 4: 5 days later Albert was presented with rat on its
own. Response was weak so it was decided to `freshen up'
the response to the rat and condition the dog and rabbit.
- Findings: Albert cried and crawled away from the objects
showing the fear response had been conditioned.
- Session 5: One month later Albert was tested with various
stimuli; these included the Santa Claus mask, the fur coat,
the rabbit and the dog.
- Findings: Albert continued to show fear reactions to the
stimuli, sometimes crying and crawling away.…read more

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Comments

MrsMacLean

Thanks, this is so detailed and comprehensive. really helpful guide

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