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Discuss examples of the deliberate alteration of human behaviour: phobias

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Discuss examples of the deliberate alteration of human behaviour Behaviour consists of learned responses to simple stimuli. One example of the use of deliberate alteration of behaviour is with phobias. In the learning approach, phobias are seen as the result of maladaptive learning by classical conditioning. If at some time a fearful, even traumatic, event has occurred then, by classical conditioning the person experiencing this may associate it with anything that was around at the time. Behaviour therapy is the means of treating phobias using classical conditioning. Joseph Wolpe (1958) developed a procedure known as systematic desensitisation that consists of three phases: relaxation training, construction of fear hierarchy and counter-conditioning by pairing the feared object with a relaxation response. ...read more.


The therapist may also model appropriate behaviour, and therefore encouraging and reassuring the patient. Systematic desensitisation aims to extinguish the fear response of a phobia, and substitute a relaxation response to the conditioned stimulus gradually, step by step. This method of treatment is thought to work because it seems impossible for two opposite emotions (like fear and relaxation) to exist together at the same time. Another example which is based on classical conditioning is aversion therapy. This aims to remove undesirable responses to certain stimuli by associating them with other aversive (unpleasant) stimuli, in the hope that the undesirable responses will be avoided in the future. An example of a use of aversion therapy is for the treatment of alcohol abuse. ...read more.


Each time an appropriate behaviour is demonstrated by the inmate, such as making their bed or brushing their teeth, a token will be issued. The more desirable the behaviour, the greater number of tokens given. Token economies have produced improvements in self-care and pro-social behaviour, even in chronic, institutionalised schizophrenics. Paul and Lentz (1977) found token economies more effective than other hospital management methods. Token economies can make the individuals involved dependant on the tokens. Some patients may become mercenary, only producing desirable behaviour if they are going to get a token for it, and there may be serious problems in transferring improved behaviour and skills to the outside world. ...read more.

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