The Behavioural Approach to Abnormality - Key Info!

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  • Created by: Lizzie M
  • Created on: 25-05-13 18:57
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All behaviour is learned and we are born blank slates.
· Believe behaviour is all that should concern psychology ­ there is no need to analyse the
mind etc. (can use as point against psychoanalysis?)
· Behaviourist psychologist explain all behaviour (and so abnormality as well) in terms of
Basic Principles:
Only behaviour is important, these can be external (e.g. OCD behaviours) or
internal (e.g. feelings). As external behaviours are more observable
behaviourists tend to focus on these.
Abnormal behaviours are learned via conditioning or social learning ­ all
behaviour is determined by external events for behaviourists, and so abnormal
behaviours are no different from normal ones in the ways they are learned.
They use the learning theory to explain disorders which are mainly behavioural
(avoidance during phobias).
Learning environments ­ These may reinforce problematic behaviours. Society
provides children with deviant/maladaptive models we can identify with and
imitate e.g. drug taking if this is associated with reward from peers - operant

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Behavioural Treatment ­ Systematic Desensitisation (SD)
An individual may learn that their feared stimulus is not scary is they could reexperience the
feared stimuli however anxiety prevents them doing this. This is overcome by introducing the
phobic stimulus gradually. SD enables patients to overcome their anxieties by learning to
relax when around the feared stimulus, as relaxation and fear can never be felt at once.…read more

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Patient eventually builds up
to feared situation and masters it using relaxation techniques.…read more


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