Behavioural Model of Abnormality

The assumptions, classical operant conditioning, evaluation.

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Summarry - Key Points

- The Behavioural Model considers environmental conditions.
- Argues abnormality is the result of faulty learning.
- States that people suffer from mental illness due to people behaving in different ways and being exposed to different behaviours.

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How can Learning Affect Behaviour?

Classical Conditioning
- states that we learn through a neutral stimulus, and this stimulus results in a psychological reaction. E.g Little albert, conducted by  Watson and Raynor. The baby liked the white rat, but when they kept making the loud noise when the rat approached albert, he associated it with the rat - so produced a phobia.
Operant Conditioning
- behaviour is influenced by consequences of our actions in positive and negative reinforcement. For example someone who has aneroxia could gain attention "you look skinny!" this is a positive reinforcement, because they are being rewarded for their disorder. A negative reinforcement is if a child does not want to go to school, and is throwing a tantrum, if the parent gives in and says he doesn't have to go, this is 'taking away the unpleasentness' therefore is a negative reinforcement.
Observational Learning
- states that we learn through observing/mimicking other people. We learn through our parents actions, the media and our peers. For example someone who see's skinny models in a magazine, could develop an eating disorder because she wants to be like them.

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Assumptions of the Behavioiural Model

All behaviour is learnt through classical, operant and observational conditioning.
Observational can apply to an abnormal behaviour i.e. a phobia may develop if a child see's the fear in their parent when confronted with a spider. They learn to associate the fear with the spider through observing and mimicking their parent.
Operant condition is learning through the consequences of behaviour. If behaviour is rewarded then it will continue, or even be increased.

The model assumes that the mind is an unnecessary  concept, only observable behaviour is important.

Assumes that an abnormal behaviour can be unlearnt through a range of techniques i.e. for a phobia they would use a technique of taking your fear and showing you the smallest degree e.g. a picture of a spider, and then go stage by stage up until they get to the actual thing.

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+ The concepts in the model are easier to observe and measure than concepts in other models.
+ Experiences people have in life including the forms of conditioning do play a part in the development of mental disorders.
+ By focusing on an individuals experience/ conditioning history, the model is sensitive and aware to cultural and social factors.
+ By assuming that mental disorders are due to environmental factors, it means that the individuals are not held responsbile.
+/- Therapy is often useful but often stressful.
- Hard to test thoroughly as you don't know for sure the details of learning experiences of anyone suffering from a mental disorder.
- exaggerates the importance of environmental factors, ignoring the role of genetics.
- Minimises the role played by internal processes, e.g. thinking/feeling.
- The laboratory studies were mostly taken out on animals, we cannot generalize their behaviour to ours.
- Only a small fraction of disorders depend on the individuals conditioning history.
- it is reductionist.

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