THE BEHAVIOURAL APPROACH to psychopathology

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Psychology AS level, Unit 2, Abnormality
THE BEHAVIOURAL APPROACH
KEY ASSUMPTIONS:
Abnormal behaviour is learned like any other behaviour
Psychologists are only concerned with behaviour ­ not thoughts and emotions
The same Laws are applied with human and non-human animals
Behaviour is determined by interactions from the environment
CLASSICAL CONDITIONING:
Learning occurs through the pairing of a neutral stimulus and another stimulus that produces a
reflective, automatic response
Eventually the neutral stimulus can produce the automatic response
1. UCS (unconditioned stimulus) ­> UCR (unconditioned response)
2. NS (neutral stimulus) ­>NO RESPONSE = before learning
3. UCS + NS = during learning
4. CS (conditioned stimulus) ­>CR (conditioned response) = phobia
LITTLE ALBERT:
Before conditioning ­ Albert showed no fear towards the rat
During conditioning ­ Rat is paired with unpleasant sound, naturally producing fear response in Albert
After conditioning ­ Albert shows fear of the rat alone
OPERANT CONDITIONING: B.F. skinner
Learning is based on a principal of reinforcement, that is, reward and punishment
If a behaviour is reinforced/ rewarded it is more likely to be repeated
For example, smoking/ drinking makes you feel better which acts as a reward, therefore
you will carry on smoking/ drinking in order to receive this reward
SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY:
People learn by observing the behaviour of others
Learning is more likely to take place if other people are seen to be rewarded for their
behaviour
This is known as vicarious reinforcement
For example, Mineka (1984) found infant monkeys acquired a fear of snakes after
observation of parents
Social learning theory can also be used to explain anorexia
We observe influential role models being rewarded for being thin and we, therefore,
imitate their behaviour

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Psychology AS level, Unit 2, Abnormality
EVALUATION OF THE BEHAVIOURAL APPROACH
STRENGHTS:
1. Convincing explanations for some abnormal behaviour:
It is an effective explanation for phobias
2. Effective treatment
The behavioural model has led to effective behavioural therapies used to treat phobias
Systematic desensitisation
WEAKNESSES:
1.…read more

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