core theory - behaviourism
- behaviourists assume we learn from our enviroment.
classical conditioning - we learn through association.
pavlovs dogs - unconditional stimulus leads to an unconditioned response; conditional stimulus eventually leads to a conditional response.
operant conditioning - fear through negative reinforcement/punishment.
social learning theory - we learn through observing others.
evaluation of the core theory
- ignore the thinking behind phobias.
- assumes you need direct experience with something to be afraid of it and you dont, indirect is also very powerful.
core study - little albert
- an 11 month old infant was studied and watson and rayner tested on him to see if he was afraid of animals and objects. he wasnt.
- they then paired the presentation of white rat with hitting a steel bar behind alberts head, until he cried.
- many pairing led to albert to see the rat to cry and then fear it (without the noise from the bar).
- it was unethical
- it was small and a biased sample
- it lacks ecological validity.
alternative theory - evolutionary approach
- assumptions (every behaviour we display we do because of survival).
- it is vital for us to be afraid of certain things, e.g. spiders in certain parts of the world are deadly.
- we inherit such phobias, they are instictual.
- we are born with a biological preparedness to be afraid of certain that jeopardise our survival.
- treating phobias that do not pose a risk to our survival are the most difficult to cure.
applications - treating phobias
behaviour therapy - if you can learn a phobia, then you can unlearn it aswell.
flooding - immerse the indvidual in their fear.
systematic desensitization - gradual exposure to the object you are afraid of.
implosion therapy - you imagine the feared object.
key concepts - 5 common phobias
1) agoraphobia - the fear of being in a place or situation where the sufferer feels escape would be difficult or where they feel trapped.
2) social phobia - this is a fear or dread of social situations. it is more than just shyness (sufferers are very anxious about what others may think of them or how they will be judged).
3) school phobia - this is a fear of attending school. it may have something to do with bullying or worried about the welfare of their family.
4) acrophobia - this is an extreme or irrational fear of heights. suffers may experience panic attacks or agitation in high places.
5) arachnophobia - is a specific phobia and is the fear of spiders and other arachnids such as scorpions.