Social learning theory and phobias


The social learning theory suggests that phobias can be caused by vicarious reinforcement and modelling. 

In an experiment, Coombes et al (1980) let two rats drink from a spout. One rat had been given an injection to make it sick. Later, both rats avoided the drinking spout. The rat which hadn't been sick learned not to drink from the spout because it had seen the other rat being sick. Learning to avoid something unpleasant is similar to learning a fear.

Mineka et al (1984) found that their laboratory monkeys that had grown up in the wild were afraid of snakes. The ones born in captivity were not afraid. Mineka et al thought that the wild-born monkeys had learned their fear by observing adults in the wild. To test this idea, they…


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