PSYA2: Abnormality Revision (Behaviorist Approach)

"all behavior is learned through our interactions with the environment (experiences)" 


Abnormal behaviors are learned through Classical C

There are 3 steps to classical conditioning which is one way in which we learn abnormal behavior. The behaviorist approach says that we can learn abnormal behavior by association(classical conditioning). 

Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS)             -> Unconditioned Response (UCR) 

e.g. fear, scream 

Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) + Neutral Stimulus (NS)    ->  Unconditioned Response (UCR)

e.g. spider, fear, scream 

Conditioned Stimulus (CS)                  ->               Conditioned Response (CR)

e.g. spider, scream  

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Abnormal behaviors are learned through Operant Con

The behaviorist approach says that we can learn behavior from consequences of actions (operant conditioning). Consequences fall into two categories, reinforcement and punishment. 

Reinforcement - strengthens behavior and increases the likelihood of a person repeating this behavior.
Positive Reinforcement: a behavior is more likely to be repeated if you receive a reward for it
Negative Reinforcement: a behavior is more likely to be repeated if you remove/avoid something unpleasant

Punishment - decreases likelihood that behavior will happen again (negative behavior = negative consequence)  

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Abnormal Behaviors are learned through Social Lear

We observe the behavior of others, and model their behavior accordingly. 

We can learn different abnormal behaviors this way. Someone may develop anxiety of flying after observing plane crashes on T.V. or a child can grow up anxious about socializing and meeting strangers if they have observed their parents feeling such anxiety in these situations.  

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A limited view 

  • limited (extremely) view of factors that might cause abnormal behavior 
  • role of cognition in onset/treatment of abnormal behavior is ignored
  • behaviorist explanations ignore the role of cognition in the treatment of abnormality 

Counter evidence 

  • approach leads itself to scientific validation BUT its claims haven't been supported by actual research 

Symptoms not cause 

  • sucess of the model comes from the effectiveness of behavior therapies for treating abnormal behavior 
  • therapies dont provide long lasting solutions 
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