Psychology- Phobias


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  • Created by: Sam
  • Created on: 03-04-10 20:11

What is a phobia?

A Phobia is an IRRATIONAl and PERSISTENT fear that means we try and avoid it

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Different things to have a phobia of

Fear of open spaces

Fear of spiders

Fear of confined spaces

Fear of heights

Fear of foreigners

Fear of school

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Classical conditioning

This theory says that we learn our phobia from being conditioned to not like it over and over again

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Pavlov's dog

Pavlov's dog was conditioned to salivate when a bell was rung...

Dog was shown food...salivated

Dog heard response

Dog was shown food AND heard bell...salivated


Dog heard bell...salivated

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Little Albert

Little Albert was a baby who was conditioned to cry when shown a white rat

Little Albert plays with white response

Little Albert hears a loud bang...cries

Little albert plays with white rat AND hears a loud bang...cries


Little Albert plays with white rat...cries

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Evaluation of Little Albert experiment

Was Considered unethical...due to the fact that they had psychologically harmed the small child AND the fear was generalised

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A fear can be generalised to other similar objects...

e.g. Little Albert (white rat)..fear generalised to other white fluffy things..(teddy bear, cotton wool etc.)

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Just as a fear can be can also be unlearnt! This is called extinction

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Operant Conditioning

This theory suggests that phobias are learnt through the consequences of our actions...this is called REINFORCEMENT and PUNISHMENT

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Positive Reinforcement

When the behaviour brings pleasant consequences for the individual they are likely to repeat the behaviour

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Negative Reinforcement

When the behaviour stops something unpleasant then this is called Negative reinforcement

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Avoidance Learning

This is when the person tries to stay away from the thing that they dislike

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If someone dislikes going into public becaue of a lack of self confidence then when they are around people it brings a negative feeling for them that feels somewhat like 'punishment' this strengthens there dislike and may create a phobia

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Evaluation of classical conditioning

What behaviour can be conditioned?


Why does learning occur?

Two stimuli have been presented together

How certain is behaviour?

Stimulus always produces response

Can new behaviour be created?


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Evaluation of operant conditioning

What behaviour can be conditioned?


Why does this learning occur?

Because of consequences of behaviour

How certain is behaviour?

Behaviour probable but not certain

Can new behaviour be created?


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Alternative explanations


That we are sensitive to those things that our ancestors would have been prepared for danger that could be dangerous. it also occurs if the person has little or no experience of the situation that they are in.

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Social learning theory


A child watches her older brother's behaviour when he finds a spider in the bath.


The child sees a spider and imitates the behaviour of her brother, is comforted by mother


When the little girl copies her brothers actions, she is consoled by her mother.

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Evaluation of alternative theories for phobias

These theories can determine why people would get a phobia without coming into direct contact with the feared object or situation.

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Psychoanalytic theory and phobias


This contains the sexual and agressive energies that we are born with, these instincts are buried in our unconscious. this desire needs to be satisfied immediatly


starts developing around 3 years old, we begin to realise that we cannot have all of our needs satisfied, but still tries to get it. The role of the ego is to control the urgent demands of the id and the restraints of the superego.


develops around the age of 6, is the moral part of our personality, lives in our unconscious

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Psychoanalytic ego relating to phobias


Is where we force the memories of distress or conflict into our unconscious, where they remain unresolved. for example, the fear of agraphobia (fear of open spaces) may be because the child was left alone as a child. this distress has been repressed.


Is where we transfer our negative feelings (such as aggression, jealousy or fear) onto something that will not harm us. for example: a psychoanalytic explanation for xenophobia could be that the individual hated his father so, because he was unable to express this feeling to the father, the fear was displaced to foreigners. the individual feels as if he can express his feelings to foreigners more than he can to his father


In which unacceptabe feelings are attributed to someone else, ^^ might project his feelings onto foreigners and now sees them as people who are fearful and harmful.

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Evaluation of Psycholanalytic theory of phobias

Freud's theory can explain the powerful emotions that people experience with a phobia. This theory can also explain why people can be phobic of objects or situations without direct experience of it.

However, because the conflicts are in the unconscious, it means that it is not possible to be sure that these are the causes of phobias.

It also fails to exlplain why other people who may have been left alone as a child or who hatd there father's have no phobias.

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lina sama


thank you, this helped.



print in fours!!!

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