Behaviourist explanation of abnormality

Behaviourist approach looks at the behaviour of a person in order to explain psychological problems.

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  • Created by: sarah
  • Created on: 03-05-11 10:31

Behaviourist Explanation- A01

Classical conditioning- Behaviour is learnt through a stimulus. A stimulus results in a physiological reaction. Eg Little Albert conducted by Watson and Raynor in 1920. 
E.g Fear of heights - If they feel sick at high places they will associate heights with nausea.  

Operant Conditioning- Skinner(1974) behaviour is influenced by consequences of our actions in + and - reinforcement. 
+ encouraging someone through a reward.
- Encouraging someone by taking away unpleasantness.
E.g Childhood aggression is reinforced, likely to be repeated.  

Social learning theory- Bandura suggests if we watch behaviour we will be able to recall it and replicate it. Motivated by reinforcements we will imitate and repeat behaviour. 
E.g If a child sees a model who is rewarded for behaviour, leads to imitation. Some phobias develope due to seeing someone else respond to the stimulus. 

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Behaviourist Explanation- A02

2 supporting points for behaviourist explanation.

1. Focuses on behaviour- Over comes the ethical issue of being labelled 'abnormal' instead sees the behaviour as adaptive. 

2. Focuses on functioning- If there is no harm to the individual or others, then there is no reason to label them with a 'mental disorder'.

2 criticisms for behaviourist explanation.

1. Ignores the causes- 'symptom situation' ignores the causes of the illness and just looks at the symptoms. 

2. Reductionist- reduces complex behaviours down to narrow terms. Ignores biology, emotion and thinking.

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