Behaviourist approach to explaining phobias AO3


Behaviourist approach to explaining phobias AO3

Good explanatory power: 

  • It explains how phobias can be manipulated overtime and this has important implications for therapy because it explains why patients need to be exposed to the feared stimulus - once a patient prevents their avoidance of the feared stimuli then the behaviour ceases and therefore declines. 

Alternative explanation for avoidance: 

  • Not all behaviour is associated with having a  phobia; there is evidence suggesting that some avoidance behaviour is motivated more by positive feelings of safety. The motivating factor in choosing an action is not to avoid the phobic stimulus but to stick with the safety factor. Therefore, this challenges the two process model as it suggests that avoidance is motivated by anxiety reduction. 

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Behaviourist approach to explaining phobias AO3

Incomplete explanation of behaviour:

  • Bouton (2007) points out that evolutionary factors probably have an important role in phobias, like fears of snakes for example - which may have been a source of danger in the evolutionary past, but the two process model theory fails to acknowledge this. 

  • Seligman (1971) explained that biological preparedness is the innate predisposition to acquire certain fears - we are much less likely to form fears of cars for example because they have only existed recently and therefore we aren't biologically prepared to learn to fear them. 

  • This again challenges the two process model theory as there is more to acquiring phobias than simple conditioning. 

Phobias that don’t follow trauma: 

  • Sometimes you form phobias after having a bad experience with the stimuli therefore classical and operant conditioning are a result.  But sometimes you can develop a phobia without having a bad experience. 

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