Behavioural Approach to Phobias + Treatment

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  • Created by: Darblu07
  • Created on: 18-05-16 11:30

The Two Process model

  • Mowrer (1960) - phobias are acquired by classical conditioning and then continue because of operant conditioning
  • Acquisition by classical conditioning
  • Involves learning to associate of initially have no fear in with something that triggers a fear response. 
  • Little Albert - rat became a conditioned stimulus which produces a conditioned response through continues association with loud noise. 
  • Maintenace by operant conditioning. 
  • Responses required by classical conditioning usually tend to decline over time. 
  • Long lasting phobas is the result of operant conditioning. (Mowrer).
  • Takes place when behaviour is rewarded or punished. 
  • Reward - increase frequency of behaviour. Negative reinforcement - is an individual avoids a situation that is unpleasive.
  • Reducation in fear reinforces avoidance behaviour (desirable consequence) = phobia maintained. 
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The Two Process model - Evaluation

  • Good explanatory power
  • It explains how phobias could be maintained over time and this has important implications for therapies because it explains why patients need to be exposed to the feared stimulus. 
  • Once patient is prevented from practising avoidance = reinforcement declines. 
  • Incomplete explanation of phobias
  • Bounton (2007) - evolutionary factors probably have an important role in phobias but the two-factor does not mention this. 
  • Example: we easily acquire phobias of things that have been a source of danger in our evolutionary past. 
  • Problem - it shows there is more to acquiring phobias than simple conditioning. 
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Treating Phobias

  • Systematic Desensitisation
  • Behavioural therapy to gradually reduce phobic anxiety through principle of classical conditioning. 
  • The anxiety hierarchy - a list of situation related to phobic stimulus that provoke anxiety arrange in order from least to most frightening. 
  • Relaxation - therapist teaches the patient to relax deeply as possible.
  • Exposure - patient is exposed to the phobic stimulus while in a relaxation state (moving up the hierarchy)
  • Flooding
  • A phobic patient is exposed to an extreme form of a phobic stimulus in order to reduce anxiety triggered by that stimulus.
  • Flooding stops phobic responses very quickly - patient quicky learns that the phobic stimulus is harmless. 
  • Patient may achieve relaxation - have become exhausted by their own fear response.
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Treating Phobias - Evaluation

  • It is acceptible to patients (Systematic Desensitisation)
  • Those given the choice of either SD or Flooding prefers SD - it doesnt cause the same degree of trauma as flooding. 
  • SD Includes some elements - relaxation procedures which are pleasant.
  • It is effective 
  • Gilroy et al - 42 patients treated for spider phobas in 3 45mins sessions of SD and other group treated through just relaxation.
  • After treatment - SD group were less fearful than the relaxation group.
  • Flooding is traumatic to patients
  • It is unethical but that pateitns are often willing to see it through the end. 
  • Time and money are sometimes wasted preparing patientns only to have them refuce to start or complete treatment.
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