Psychology: Addiction - Learning Model

Just something that I used

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  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 03-05-12 10:54


The learning model sees addictive behaviours as:

·         Acquired habits learnt through SLT

·         Things that can be unlearned

·         Not “all or nothing” different degrees of behaviour

·         No different from other behaviours

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Classical conditioning

Classical Conditioning

Where a US (being with friends) = UR (relaxed)

If US+CS (smoking) =UR (relaxed)


 The individual has learned that smoking can provide the same rewards as the US, basically no longer need to be with friends just the cigarette.

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classical conditioning continued

(Wilker, 1948) – people who have given up smoking, no longer addicted but go back to the US they feel withdrawal symptoms or if they go somewhere associated with smoking.

Once addiction is established – withdrawal symptoms occur if behaviour not done

Any behaviour that reduces these withdrawal symptoms will act a negative reinforcer and the addict will continue that behaviour.




Reductionist– claims that behaviour is due to simple responses and ignores social and cultural factors for addiction.


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Operant conditioning

Operant conditioning depends on the consequences of actions.

Behaviours are more likely to be repeated if they are rewarded in some way.

Positive reinforcement = where the reward is desirable e.g., approval of friends.

Negative reinforcement = where the reward is the removal of an unpleasant consequence eg, relief from withdrawal symptoms

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Socail learning theory

Social Learning theory

According to SLT we do not need to experience the consequences of behaviour but we can observe how others can –Bandura

This can be done by

1.       Parents

2.       Friends

3.       Co-workers and many more

This can cause things like smoking, drinking alcohol and gambling to look more attractive to a person.

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SLT cont

Initiation: Happens through observations of positive outcomes from drug taking

Maintenance +relapse: (Marlatt & George, 1984) there could be cues that trigger positive memories which make someone want to continue or relapse.

Socail learning theory acknowledges the importance of cognitive behaviours  in addiction, the research into it about the validity of the research was inconclusive (Tiffany,1999)

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Issues with Operant and Classical

Issues for operant and Classical

They account for some aspects of addiction but they do not take sufficient account of the fact that humans are thinking beings and do not respond to simple stimulus response, like animals do (Pavlov’s dog study cannot be generalise for humans)

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