The Behavioural Model of Abnormality

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  • Created by: tiacoles
  • Created on: 29-03-16 16:16

Behaviours are all learnt

Behaviourists argue abnormality is learnt the same way all behaviours are learnt - classical and operant conditioning. 

Classical conditioning can be used to explain the development of many abnormal behaviours, including phobias and taste aversions. 

Phobias can be created when the natural fear response is associated with a particular stimulus. 

  • Watson and Rayner experimented with 11 month old 'Little Albert' producing fear of a white rat by association it with a loud, scary noise. 
  • Taste aversions are often created if you're ill after a certain food or drink. Its taste will become a CS, producing a CR of nausea. 

Operant conditioning is learning from the consequences of actions. Actions which have a good outcome through positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement will be repeated. Actions that have a punishment will not be repeated. 

  • Maintaining phobias - anxious feelings around phobic stimuli cause avoidance. This prevents the anxiety, which acts as a negative reinforcement. 
  • Bulimics feel guilt and


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