The Behavioural model of abnormality and treatments

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1. How does operant conditioning apply to: anorexics

  • These people desire to lose weight or have more control of their lives, so not eating is positive reinforcement
  • We experience anxiety around phobic stimuli and avoid them, this prevents anxiety and acts as negative reinforcement
  • These people feel guilt and disgust, so make themselves sick so the removal of those feelings is negative reinforcement
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2. What are behavioural therapies based on?

  • Identification of what reinforces abnormal behaviours and an attempt to change them through conditioning
  • Identification of what reinforces normal behaviours and an attempt to change them through conditioning

3. What does the behavioural model believes?

  • Behaviours are all learnt
  • Behaviours are all innate
  • Behaviours are all assumed

4. What is meant by the behavioural therapy: systematic desensitization?

  • This is used for phobias: 1. the phobic makes a fear hierachy 2. a situation with their least feared event and made to relax 3. fear and relaxation can't happen at the same time 4. repeats until the phobic is only relaxed 5. repeat for whole hierachy
  • The removal of an abnormal behaviour by associating it with unpleasant feelings, for example: alcoholics are given alcohol at the same time as a drug which makes the nauseous

5. What are the strengths of the behavioural model?

  • It's a scientific approach with testable concepts and the associated therapies have proved very effective in a variety of situations
  • It cannot explain all behaviours as it neglects genetics, biology and cognition, the therapies are not effective for all disorders and may be seen as unethic as well as only treating the behaviour not the cause.


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