Learning Model of Addictive Behaviour

  • Created by: Darnell
  • Created on: 07-11-14 14:29

Smoking - A01

Initiation - Social Learning Theory;
-Smoking can be learned through observation and imitation of role models who smoke as we pay attention to those we identify with or have desirable characteristics such as higher status or sophistication.

-Vicarious reinforcement - Remember someone being rewarded for smoking (i.e social validation) or stress relief so individual reproduces behaviour in hope for reward. This can explain why even though individuals may find their own initial smoking experiences unpleasant they will be motivated to persevere as the observation of others makes them expect future enjoyment.
-Direct reinforcement of popularity & attention supplements the modelling.

Maintenance - Operant Conditioning;
-Negative reinforcement - removal of anxiety - individual is more likely to smoke in or before a situation which makes them nervous (i.e a social gathering)

-Postive reinforcement - social validation - conversations started from smoking outside pubs/resteraunts.

Relapse - Cue Reactivity Theory;
-Suggests addicts learn to associate stimuli with behaviours (i.e a smoker associates a work break with smoking). This cue then becomes a conditioned stimuli, with the addictive behaviour being the conditioned response.

-These cues increase the chance of relapse
-Cue exposure creates a 'compensatory conditioned response' where the body anticipates the behaviour and creates a state of disequilibrium creating withdrawal-type symptoms.
-Drive to smoke will significantly increase in the presence of these cues. More powerful or frequent cues lead to greater chance of relapse. 

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Smoking - A02

Evidence for Parental Role Models in Initiation;
-Lader & Matheson (1991) found that children are twice as likely to smoke if parents do
-Doesn't explain outcomes for 1 parent that smokes when the other doesn't, when both parents are smokers but child isn't or why parents with non-smoking attitudes exert more influence than smoking counterparts
-Murray et al (1984) proposed evidence for parental role modelling, showing that a child is 7 times less likely to initiate if parental behaviours are firmly against it,
-Ultimately this suggests that SLT may lack explanatory power in fully explaining smoking initiation.

Evidence for the maintenance of smoking through Negative Reinforcement;
-Baker, Brandon & Chassin found that smokers maintain addiction to remove the anxiety associated with certain situations.
-As suggested by the learning model, smoking acted as a relief from the unpleasant experience of apprehension certain situations provoked.
-Also found that maintenance of smoking was strongly influenced by the reduction of biological withdrawal symptoms. (smokers continued to engage when they experienced biological effects)
-Therefore although the learning explanation goes some way to explaining why an individual may maintain their behavior, a biological explanation is much more credible.

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Smoking - A02

Supporting Research Evidence for Cue Reactivity Theory in Relapse;
-Suggests that stimuli that precede or occur at the same time as the addicitive behaviour will incite the same physiological response as the activity itself.
-This means that certain people or places (NCS) will be strongly associated with cravings (and become the CS) as the smoker would be seeking their 'fix' around said person or place.
-This is why Marlatt and George stress the important role enviromental cues play in the relapse of individuals.
-Because smoking is part of many people's daily life, this means for a smoker, they may be surrounded everyday by numerous environmental cues that create the urge to smoke
-These cues are almost impossible to avoid and Marlatt & George suggest that multiple cues made the possibility of relapse more likely.

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Gambling - A01

Initiation - Social Learning Theory;
-Pays attention to role models - retains the observed gambling behaviour in order to reproduce it

-Motivation to do so can come from direct reinforcement such as monetary win or congratulations from family members
-Gupta et al (1997) suggested that unlike other 'problem' behaviours, gambling was often overtly approved by parents, for example by buying children lottery tickets.
-Vicarious Reinforcement - Seeing others benefit from gambling behaviour makes individual want to participate in it themself.

Maintenance - Operant Conditioning;
-Positive Reinforcement - Monetary (from winning) or Physical (the 'buzz' of betting)

-Negative Renforcement - Escape from boredom or stress in life
-Variable Ratio Reinforcement; Rewards are not received every time for the behaviour, Gamblers are rewarded at random intervals hence the unpredictability and irregularity of winning makes the compulsion to gamble stronger. Not winning on a particular occasion will not extinguish the behaviour but encourage the individual to continue to seek the rewards.

Relapse - Cue Reactivity Theory;
-Addicts may have learned to associate other stimuli with their gambling behaviour (e.g. pub with fruit machine, shop selling scratch cards). These cues have incidentally become a conditioned stimulus.

-If the former addict comes into contact with one of these cues their chances of relapse are significantly higher; the more cues the greater the chance of relapse.
-Cue exposure leads to a 'compensatory conditioned response' where the body anticipates the behaviour and creates a state of disequilibrium experienced as an urge to gamble. Cue-Reactivity theory suggests that if the urges are strong enough it can cause a gambler who is abstinent to relapse into the previous behaviour.

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Gambling - A02

Supporting Evidence for SLT in the Initiation and Maintenance of Gambling;
-Browne & Brown (2001) found students lottery gambling was positively correlated to having friends or parents who were lottery gamblers. This suggests that role models are a factor in gambling behaviour
-Felsher et al. found participants with significant gambling problems perceived higher parental participation in lottery gambling, compared to non-gamblers and social gamblers.
-This demonstrated power of role models in the initiation and maintennce of lottery gambling.
-In study of 1070 Canadian 10-18 year olds, 77% of participants reported being bought scratchcards and 50% being bought lottery tickets by their parents, showing overt approval of gambling behaviour.

Supporting Evidence for Cue-dependent Relapse;
-Robbins (1971) studied veterans who had become addicted to heroin whilst in Vietnam.
-Statistically low relapse rates were explained through classical conditioning.
-Suggested that when they returned home, many of the veterans environmental cues were absent and therefore compensatory conditioned response didn't occur.
-Therefore in relation to gambling, those who minimize exposure to the gambling triggers should be less likely to relapse. This has some important implications for treatment of addictions including Gambling. 

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Gambling - A02

Supporting Evidence for Variable Ratio Reinforcement in Maintenance of Gambling;
-It is a well-established finding that intermittent reinforcement leads to a more rapid, long-lasting acquisition of behaviour that is much more difficult to extinguish.
-Skinner found that the harder animals had to work for a reward and the less predictable the reward was the more frequently and persistently they would commit the reward seeking behaviour. This explains why gamblers persist even when they are losing.
-They have learnt that wins are unpredictable and sporadic (random), therefore they have been reinforced on a variable ratio schedule and keep responding by continuing to gamble.
-Parke et al. (2004) found strong evidence that gamblers do not need to win every time in order to maintain their behaviour.

Application of Cue-Dependent Relapse Theory;
-Many intensive programmes remove the addict from their context to treatment centres.
-Although the individual has the time and resources to assist recovery, they may easily lose their resolve once back in the real world where there are numerous associated cues to their former addiction.
-In Gambling, this could be something as simple as walking past a betting shop or seeing an advert for bingo. This demonstrates the importance for sustainable abstinence, any therapy programme must prepare the individual to avoid and cope with conditioned responses and urges. 

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