The behavioural approach to explaining phobias

  • The behavioural approach to explaining phobias:
  • AO1:
  • The two-process model:
  • Mowrer argued that phobias are learned by classical conditioning and then maintained by operant conditioning, i.e. two processes are involved. 
  • Classical conditioning involves association. The unconditioned stimulus (UCS) triggers a fear response (UCR), e.g. being bitten creates anxiety. The neutral stimulus (NS) is associated with the UCS, e.g. being bitten by a dog (the dog previously didn't create anxiety). The neutral stimulus now becomes a conditioned response (CS) producing fear (which is now the conditioned response - CR). The dog becomes a conditioned stimulus causing a conditoned response of anxiety/fear following the bite. 
  • Watson and Raynor showed how fear of rats could be conditioned in 'Little Albert". Whenever Albert played with a white rat, a loud noise was made close to his ear. The noise (UCS) caused a fear response (UCR). The rat (NS) didn't create fear until the bang and the rat had been paired together severl times. Albert showed a fear response (CR) every time he came into contact with the rat (now a CS). There was then a generalisation of fear to other stimuli made. For example, Little Albert also showed a fear in response to other white furry objects including a fur coat and a Santa Claus mask. 
  • operant conditioning takes place when our behaviour is reinforced or pinished. Negative reinforcement - a individual produces behaviour that avoids something unpleasant. When a phobic avoids stimulus they escape the anxiety that


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