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Classical Conditioning - Watson and Rayner (1920)

Aim: Emotional response of fear could be conditioned in a human being. 

Method:                                                                                                                                  -Albert was 11 months old.                                                                                                      -Like a white laboratory rat and had no fear of any white furry objects.                                          -In the conditioning trials the rat was shown to Albert, as he reached for it, a metal bar was hit very hard with a hammer, behind Albert's back. This was done several times. 

Results:                                                                                                                                  -After seven times, the rat was presented again, Albert screamed and tried to get away.                -Did this even though the bar was not hit by the hammer and there was no loud noise.                  -Albert screamed when he was shown a Santa Claus mask and a fur coat. 

Conclusion: Showed that fear response could be learnt and even very young children could learn in the way suggested by classical conditioning. 

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Evaluation of the study Watson and Rayner's

-It is not a very ethical thing for the researchers to do to a small child. 

-This study involved one child and maybe the researchers needed more evidence that fear can be learnt in this way. However, the study certainly seems to fit with what you might already know about any phobia that you might have. 

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Operant conditioning - Law of effect

Learning that takes place be chase of the consequences of behaviour.
Type of learning was investigated by Thorndike (1911) during his studies of the problem solving abilities or animals. He designed a puzzle box into which he would place a cat. The task for the cat inside the box was to escape. Inside the box there was a loop of string attached to a latch. When the string was pulled, the latch would lift and the door would open.
Thorndike showed that a cat was placed in a puzzle box would learn to pull a string to escape from the box. When it was first placed in the puzzle box, cat moved around the box and by accident the string would be pulled and the latch would be lifted. This would happen each time the cat was placed in the box. However, after about 20 trials, he noticed that the cat began to escape very quickly. Suggested that the cat had learnt to escape from the box by trial and error learning. It was ten pleasant consequence that encouraged the cat to pull the string rather than produce any other behaviours.
He proposed a hypothesis:
'If a certain response has pleasant consequences, it is more likely than other responses to occur in the same circumstance'
Known as the Law of effect.

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B F Skinner

Introduced the idea of reinforcement to the Law of effect. Said all behaviour is learnt from the consequences of that behaviour (called this operant conditioning because the animal or human produces a behaviour that is voluntary, so it operates on the environment). Consequence of the particular behaviour produced by the animal or human will be to either increase or decrease the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated.
He would place a hungry rat in the box & the rat would produce a variety of actions such as sniffing, exploring & grooming. By accident it would press the lever and a pellet of food would immediately drop into the food tray. Every time the lever was pressed the behaviour of 'lever pressing' was positively reinforced by a food pellet.
2 kinds of reinforcement, one being positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement but they have the same effect: to increase the likelihood that a particular behavior will be repeated. Sometimes there would be an electric shock through the floor of the Skinner box. When the rat pressed the lever the shock would switch off = negative reinforcement.
Punishment is different from reinforcement because it does not encourage the desired behaviour, it just stops one unwanted behaviour. A child, who is punished by having colouring pens taken away for writing on the wall, is very likely to find another object to scratch the wall instead.
Reinforcement can be used to teach complex behaviours in animal&humans (behaviour shaping) - broken down into small steps. Eg: bird playing ping pong involves, moving towards the ball, touching ball with its beak, hitting the ball, then hitting ball towards another bird. - one reward at the end.

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Conditioning procedures

Classical conditioning is concerned with the process of associating a new stimulus, like a bell, with a reflex response, like salvation. Ring a bell & dog salivates then we have built up a new learning & established a conditional stimulus - conditional response (CS-CR), bond or connection. Order to understand how we treat phobia's, it is important to recognise that a phobia is a fear respond that has gone wrong. Normal reflex is: DANGER - FEAR UCS - UCR
When someone has a phobia, there fear response is something that could cause or has little or no danger such as:
Person with a phobia, their fear response is no longer the automatic response to danger or threat. It is something that has little or no danger.
eg: spiders (anarchnophobia)
In order for this fear to be made, spider must have been present when something scar happened.

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-person is exposed repeatedly & rapidly to the thing they fear; they are flooded with thoughts & actual experiences.
Eg: someone with a fear of spiders would have to imagine a spider & maybe visualise one running across the floor (thoughts) & then would have to hold an actual spider in their hand (actual experience).
-quite simple. The person has to unlearn the connection between the stimulus and the fear response: the CS - CR bond has to be broken. Most people with a phobia avoid or run away from the feared object. However, flooding prevents escape. People learn that their anxiety levels start to drop the more times they are exposed to their fears. Flooding removes phobia when a person realises they are not in danger & this happens quite quickly.

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Ethical implications of flooding.

-the person loses their right to withdraw; for the treatment to work they have to stay.
-stressful procedure: psychologist has to judge how much distress the person should undergo before stopping the treatment. Difficult to protect & avoid harming someone who is being flooded.

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Systematic desensitisation

-treatment of phobia's is based on the idea that people cannot be anxious and relaxed at the same time. As a person with a phobia cannot be afraid and relaxed at the same time, the fear response is replaced by feeling relaxed instead. 

Treatment works in the following way.

-person with phobia is taught how to relax themselves (may involved listening to music and relaxing their muscles.                                                                                                                          -Conduct a hierarchy of fears that contains the things that they are afraid of in order from least frightening (word 'spider') to most frightening (havings a spider in my hand).                                   -Person relaxes and then gradually works through the hierarchy of fears, relaxing after each feared event is presented.                                                                                                                   -Person only moves up the hierarchy if they have been relaxed at the previous stage.                     -Final stage is to be relaxed at the 'most frightening' event. 

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Practical applications of Systematic desensitisati

Treating a fear of balloons involves the following: 

-person taught to relax, breathing deeply and calmly.                                                                   -Constructs the hierarchy of fears in five stages:                                                                          1) Word 'Balloon'.                                                                                                                    2)Squeaky sound of balloons being touched.                                                                              3)Picture of balloon.                                                                                                                4)Real balloon.                                                                                                                        5)Holding a balloon. 

-Person is exposed to stage 1 and must be completely relaxed while the word 'balloon' is repeated.  -Therapist then 'squeaks' a balloon out of sight of the person while the person relaxes.                    -Therapist moves gradually through all the next stages until stage 5 is achieved.                           -No more fear of balloons, just a relaxed person. 

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Ethical implications - systematic desensitisation

-Treatment used when the therapist believes that flooding would be too stressful for the person with a phobia. Children are treated with this method.                                                                          -Therapist works with the person and together they decide on how quickly the person should move through the hierarchy.                                                                                                               -Person takes an active role in the therapy and can always withdraw from a stage if they feel uncomfortable and they can then practice relaxing again.                                                             -No deception because the person knows exactly what is happening.                                             -Ethical treatment for phobia's. 

-Takes longer than flooding to remove a phobia but it is a very effective treatment.                         -Cost more as there are often more sessions of therapy. However, most therapists and their clients  prefer this method of treatment. It is much less anxiety-arousing and much less stressful for the person undergoing treatment. 

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Aversion Therapy.

classical conditioning can be useful in the treatment of behaviour problems.                                    Some therapists think that behaviour problems result from faulty learning and therefore that 'bad' behaviour can be unlearnt. A technique that has been used to help people who suffer from addictions like drug and alcohol dependency is called aversion therapy. The aim of the therapy is to get the patient to develop an extremely negative reaction to the drug or alcohol using the vomiting reflex. 

Emetic (UCS) --- Vomiting (UCR)                                                                                           Alcohol (CS) + Emetic (UCS) --- Vomiting (UCR)                                                                 Alcohol (CS) --- Vomiting (CR) 

Emetic is specially designed so that it only procudes the vomiting reflex when the patient drinks alcohol. (drink lots of that you will be sick and you will not be able to stop the vomiting). Patients desire for the alcohol decreases and the addiction can be overcome. Do not think that people who drink a lot are sick anyway so this treatment would not work. The emetic makes people sick immediately when they swallow the alcohol.                                                                             Therapy can be more effective when it is used along with other support.                                     Unpleasant experience for the person and there are many ethical issues raised by this kind of treatment. 

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Evaluation of Aversion therapy.

Aversion therapy is used for some individuals who have serious behavioural problems. 

-It can be extremely unpleasant for the person who has the treatment.                                          -Ethical issues: balanced against the possible benefits to the person. 

It is not always sucessful overtime. People find that it reduces it for a period, unless they have additional support, they are likely to go back to their addictive behaviour once the treatment stops. 

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Token Economy programmes.

There are many things that can act as rewards or positive reinforcers. 

Primary Reinforcer: a reward, such as Food and Water - ESSENTIAL.

Secondary Reinforcer: a reward such as Money or a token - something that someone can exchange for a primary reinforcer.

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Evaluation of token economy programmes

-improvements in the behaviour and self care of patients who have been in hospital for a long time.
-criticised: patients focus on the rewards rather than wanting there own behaviour to improve, change may not last in the outside world.
-if the reward is not immediate then the association between the reward and action is lost, which means that the behaviour is not being reinforced.
-ethical issues.

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