Alternatives To The Medical Model

  • Created by: livvvx
  • Created on: 20-03-19 14:20

The Behaviourist expl of MI

Behaviourist psychologists believe:

  • The mind is 'tabula rasa' - a blank slip
  • All behaviour is learned, including abnormal behaviour
  • Learning occurs through classic conditioning, operant conditioning and vicarious learning
  • Behaviour that is learned can be unlearned.

Classical conditioning- is when two previously unrelated/ neutral stimuli are associated together so one is automatically 'paired' with the other.

Operant conditioning- is where we learn to associateb a behaviour with its consequences and so our behaviour becomes 'shaped' 

Positive reinforcement- is where a reward strengthens behaviour making it less likely to recur.

Punishment- is where an adverse consequence weakens behaviour making it less likely to recur

Negative reinforcement- is where behaviour is strengthened because it stops something unpleasant from occuring.

Vicarious learning- is learning through observation. We see others being rewarded or punished and learn from that.

SLT- observation and imitation.


The behaviourist expl propses that depression is due to :

  • a lack of reward (pos reinforcement)
  • An excess of unpleasant experiences (punishments)
  • Both lack of rewards and excess of unpleasant experiences 

This expl particularly considers the link between depression and major negative life events e.g. getting sacked from job. The strongest predictor of depression is neg life experiences. Lewinsohn et al (79) support this expl as they found that depressed people receive fewer pos reinforcement and are likely to have more unpleasant experiences than non-depressed people. In particular they appear to lack approval from others, and lack companioship.

The behaviourist expl further considers that depression can be shaped by operant processes. Depression may be reinforced if it initially leads to a great deal of sympathy and thus reward. However, this sympathy from others tends to wear off and so interactions with others can become negative and punishing. 


Classical conditioning involves learning an association between a neutral stimulus (e.g. dentist) and an unconditioned stimulus (e.g. pain). The fear response generalises to the previously neutral stimulus (now a conditioned stimulus) Thus, phobias may be learned through classical conditioning.

Operant conditioning may also be relevant here. Phobias may also be influenced by neg reinforcement- avoiding the phobic object or situation brings relief so a reward is gained by removing something unpleasant.

Vicarious learning- can also explain how phobias are transmitted- monkeys have had phobia induced by watching TV clips of another monkey who has a phobia- it may also partly explain why depression for example, runs somewhat in families. This may not be genetic but could be a learned response to certain situations.

Watson and Raynor (1920) - Little Albert 

Albert was presented to a neautral stimuli (, monkey, dog, rabbit, white rat) then whenever he reached for the rat there was a loud bang which resulted in Little Alber crying. The rat became associated with the loud bang which resulted in Albert's fear of white rats and anything furry (generalised). Therefore, behaviour can be learned through classical conditioning with an association of a neutral stimuli and an unconditioned stimulus.

Evalutation of the Behaviourist approach to MI



No comments have yet been made