Phobic Disorders

HideShow resource information
Preview of Phobic Disorders

First 742 words of the document:

Outline and evaluate 2 explanations of phobic disorders (24)
One way of explaining phobic disorders is through the physiology of a phobic individual this
includes their genetics, biochemistry and evolutionary adaptations. This approach suggests that behaviour
has a biological basis. Genes predispose certain individuals to display fear responses when they encounter
certain stimuli. Technology that allows gene mapping studies to be undertaken has illustrated that genes are
involved in the occurrence of phobic disorders. Kendler et al (1992) found that there was a 24.4%
concordance rate between MZ twins for social phobia compared to 15.3%for DZ twins out of 2163 female
pairs, suggesting that there is a genetic component of phobias. Torgesen conducted a twin study and found
that there is a genetic link in the development of phobic disorders. He found that MZ twins had a 31%
concordance rate for agoraphobia in contrast to the 0% concordance rate found in DZ twins.
Although gene mapping shows that there is a genetic link for the development of phobic disorders,
it also shows that there are other factors involved in determining whether individuals will develop phobic
disorders. If genes where the only factors determining the development of a phobic disorder the
concordance rate in MZ twins would be 100%. This indicates that this explanation is reductionist; this is due
to the assumption that genes are the only factor influencing phobic disorders. This highlights the simplicity
behind the view that genes are the sole influence on phobic disorders.
However research has also shown that phobic disorders also seem to run in families. Studies have
shown that specific phobias run in families. If a first degree family member has a specific phobia it makes
individuals more vulnerable to also having the same specific phobia. Ost et al (1992) supports this
conclusion, he found that 64% of blood/injection phobics had a first degree relative with the phobia
suggesting that there is a genetic component of phobic disorders. However it isn't clear whether the genes
cause the phobia or the phobia is having an effect on the genes. The individual's genes could have mutated
as a result of extreme stress and anxiety caused by the phobia. However Reich and Yates (1998) used
interviews to assess phobics attending a clinic and their first degree relatives attending a clinic and found
that the rates of concordance were higher amongst relatives than non-relatives. In this research it doesn't
specify whether the phobic individuals used in the research all had the same type of phobia. If the phobia
was the same we would expect there to be a high rate of concordance between relatives and non-relatives
because they should have a similar gene that predisposes them to a specific phobia.
Although the research behind the genetic involvement of phobic disorders is strongly scientific
based in lab settings using mainly gene mapping and other tests which are replicable and accurate the
research isn't as strong as it is for other mental health disorders such as schizophrenia where the links
between genetics and the disorder have more clarity.
Another biological explanation is Eysencks diathesis stress model, which proposes that a phobic
disorder may not come about without environmental stressors that trigger the disorder despite genetics,
physiology and neurotransmitters. This model indicates that vulnerability in the form of; genetic inheritance,
physiological brain impairments and chemistry alongside environmental stressor such as; relationship/job
problems, trauma abuse and neglect leads to phobic disorders.
This supports the conclusion that have been made regarding the gene mapping of MZ twins
suggesting that there are other factors influencing the development of phobic disorders apart from the
biology of the individual.
Another explanation provided by the biological approach is the evolutionary preparedness theory
proposed by Seligman (1977). It believes that humans are genetically "prepared" or biologically ready to gain
certain phobias and not others. The phobias that people acquire are those that can be used to aid survival
and response to a threat. In the evolutionary era of adaptation the individuals that feared certain situations
and objects provided them the evolutionary advantage of survival which meant that they could pass their
genes on. This theory concludes that people developed phobias that could be dangerous if they weren't

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

Cook and Mineka (1989) found that it was easier to condition
monkeys to fear snakes in contrast to teddy bears. Garcia and Koelling (1966) found that they could
condition rats to fear thing present in the evolutionary era of adaptation but it was harder to condition them
to fear things that weren't present in the EEA, such as electric shocks.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

The behavioural approach suggests that phobias arise because of classical conditioning, where
people associate neutral stimuli with a traumatic experience. Research has shown that a boy developed a
phobia of vomiting after watching his grandfather dying after vomiting. They found that the boy even
contemplated suicide when he felt nauseous. This supports this models assumption that all behaviour is
learnt through conditioning and past experiences and that phobia can be acquired vicariously through social
learning.…read more

Page 4

Preview of page 4

Here's a taster:

The sample size of participants consisted of only one 11 month old child, this reduces the
generalizability of the results obtained from little Albert because the sample size is very small and also
because the conclusions that were made based on the results Watson and Raynor got from little Albert can't
be applied to adults. The results can't be generalised to anyone apart from 11 month old white males in the
west.…read more



a great essay, very detail and lots of studies 

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all resources »