The Learning Model of Addiction

HideShow resource information

Social Learning: AO1


  • Observed valued role models indulging in the addictive behaviour and imitating their behaviour

Vicarious reinforcement: seeing valued role models being rewarded for their addictive behaviour makes it more likely we will imitate them

Operant conditioning: AO1

Positive reinforcement: we will learn a behaviour if we are rewarded for it
e.g. Dopamine rush, being a part of a 'cool' group, weight loss

Negative reinforcement: we learn a behaviour if it enables us to avoid negative feelings
e.g. Withdrawal symptoms

Classical conditioning: AO1


Cue reactivity paradigm:

  • Addicts associate environmental cues such as lights and packets of cigarettes/scratch cards with addiction
  • These cues then begin to elicit withdrawal symptoms that lead a smoker to crave nicotine or a gambler to crave the buzz of gambling and relapse 



  • Individual differences in addictive behaviour can be explained by different learning


  • Simplistic view - more than just stimulus response
  • Ignores the convincing biological evidence


  • Biopsychosocial: biological vulnerability interacts with social influences

Application to smoking: 


Lader and Matheson (1991): parents are a major influence on whether children start smoking. Children twice as likely to smoke if parents are smokers

... This shows that observing others has an impact on whether you start…


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Addictive behaviour resources »