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Doing things to the excess or have the feeling that it might be difficult to stop doing something.

Genetic explanations

Looking for addiction, genes that make someone more or less vulnerable to addiction. It may also be harder for people with certain genes to stop behaviour once it starts. Factors that make it easier to become addicted may also be genetic.

Main way of investigating genetic factors is by studying family relationships. Most famous type of study is twin studies

Agrawal and Lynskey (2006) looked at illicit drug abuse and dependence that heritability estimates ranged between 45%-79% - Suggesting that inheritability plays a part.

Noble et al (1991) A1 variant on the DRD2 gene in more than 2/3 of decreased alcoholics, whereas 1/5 of decreased non-alcoholics had the A1 variant on the DRD2 gene.

Blum et al (1991) Children of alcoholics, increased chance of showing A1 variant. People who inherit the A1 variant appeared have fewer dopamine receptors in the pleasure centres of the brain.

Noble et al referred to the DRD2 gene as the reward gene – less receptors less pleasure

A1 variant increases the chances of the initiation of addiction but doesn’t necessarily cause it.

Models of addictive behaviour

1.       Develop the addiction (initiation)

2.       Keep abusing addiction (maintenance)

3.       Reoccurrence of addiction after giving up (relapse)

Neurological explanations of addiction

(neurological – drugs mimic dopamine and trigger reward pathway, people take drugs to get pleasurable feelings.)

·         The central role of the reward pathway is to make us feel good when we engage in behaviours that are necessary for our survival. These behaviours include eating, drinking, sex.

·         When we engage in a pleasurable behaviour, dopamine is released from the ventral tegmental area of the brain.

·         Dopamine is a chemical released to give you a jolt of pleasure, the reward pathway is responsible for making sure you repeat the behaviour wherever possible, connecting to sections of the brain that control memory and behaviour.

·         Hard wiring – FIND THIS OUT

(Neurotransmitter and neuro-adaption – body adapts by reducing number of receptors, more often you take drugs, the higher the amount needed for same feeling in the future.

Behavioural models of addiction

The learning approach suggests that addiction is just a behaviour that is learnt from society. Addictions can be learnt through classical and operant conditioning, similarly these addictions can be unlearned. You can pick an addiction up by watching other people and copying them.

Accidentally associate something with a good outcome – Classical conditioning

Learn that a behaviour bring about a reward – Operant conditioning

See someone else doing behaviour, especially if that person is rewarded – Social learning

Classical conditioning :

Process where an unconditioned stimulus (US) produces an unconditioned response. If the unconditioned stimulus is frequently associated with a conditioned stimulus which will produce a conditioned response.

E.g. Taking drugs is an unconditioned stimulus

Withdrawal symptoms is an unconditioned response

Place of drug purchase is a…


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