Behavioural explanations and therapies for phobias

Behavioural Explanations for Phobias (AO1)

Phobia = anxiety disorder - linked to fear - avoidence

Irrational - know it`s irrational but still think it

Behavioural apporach has 2 strands - classical conditioning and operant conditioning = Learnt it. Mower uses behavioural approach to explain phobias = 2 process model.

Stage 1 - initiation - how the phobias has started - linked to classical conditioning - association - when we associate a neutral stimulus with a new stimulus. e.g. little Albert 

Loud noise - fear 

Loud noise + rat - fear 

Rat - fear 

Stage 2 - operant conditioning - why it continues 

Maintenence - rewards - both postive and negative- maintain the phobia. e,g, avoidence of a situation, when a phobia occurs - negative reinforcement - escaping the unpleasent situation. 

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Behavioural Explanations for Phobias (AO3)

Individuals can recall the specific time their phobia occurred. 

DiNardo- 60% of people questioned who were afraid of dogs could say when it happened. Therefore, this how there is emprical evidence to support behavioural explanations. 

not everyone 

who has a phobia, has a direct experience. In DiNardos study only over half could say when it occured- not 100% - Therefore behaviourism can`t be the only explanation as to why a phobia develops- limited explanation 

Ignores cognitive factors

could be that its more linked to the cognitive approach. cognitive explains an irrational thought. Therapy is CBT which is effective at removing the phobia. Therefore,cognitive approach may be a better explanation.

Incomplete explanation

ignores evolutionary explanations can easily acquire some phobias that have been around for centuries. e.g.snakes/dark - biological fear inside us.  

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Behavioural therapies for phobias (AO1)

Behavioural approach - learnt phobia, therefore we can unlearn it. Therapy will remove it association. 

Invivo - inreal life 

Invitro - virtual reality 

Systematic Desensitisation (SD)

Can unlearn the phobia-aim is to replace faulty explanation of with relaxation. Can`t feel both at the same time- reciprocal inhabition 

1) Deep muscle relaxation - teach them how to clench and unclench muscles - relaxation techniques.

2) create a fear herachy - least to most fearful.

3) imaging whilst relaxing - move through the hierachy. Cured whwn even te most fearful things they stay calm. 

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Behavioural therapies for phobias (AO3)

Effective for phobias 

McGrath - 75% of people with phobias had an improvement. Therefore, this suggsts that the behavioural is correct as the therapy works.

Only focuses on symptoms not the cause

Teaches people to be calm but it doesnt with the phobia - or where it came from in the first place. Pallative- removing the symptoms not the cause.   

Quicker than other psychological behavioural therapies 

CBT can take months to work. Whereas, this teaches you to relax instantly. whilst it doesn`t tackle the cause, it takes the symptoms away quickly.

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