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Discuss psychological explanations of one anxiety disorder

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Discuss psychological explanations of one anxiety disorder (30 marks) Phobias are an example of an anxiety disorder and the psychological explanations of these are cognitive, psychodynamic, behavioral and social factors. The Behavioral, Psychodynamic and social factors of the psychological explanation will be discussed in greater detail. Behavioral explanations say that all behaviour is learnt whether it is normal or abnormal and this approach has been applied to humans and animals. There are three theories that make up the behaviorist approach, which are classical and operant conditioning, Social Learning and information transmission. Classical conditioning is concerned with a classical, neutral and conditioned stimulus and the fear is due to a learnt association. Operant conditioning is involuntary behaviour reinforcement and punishment, by rewards or attention given. Evidence for this is Little Albert, who developed a fear of white rats and anything else white after been conditioned by a loud noise been produced when he played with the rat. Barlow and Durand found that 50% of driving phobics had had a traumatic driving experience and Keuthan found that half of all phobics could not remember a bad experience. ...read more.


Also the outcomes cannot be applied to every phobia i.e. claustrophobia therefore it is limited. Information Transmission is the last theory for the psychological explanations of phobias. This is when fear producing information about the phobic object leads to the development of the particular phobia. Ost (1985) described the case of a woman who was a severe snake phobic. She had been told repeatedly about the dangers of snakes and had been strongly encouraged to wear rubber boots to protect herself. Consequently she wore the boots wherever she went. However Merckelbach (1996) argued on the basis of the evidence that claustrophobia or fear of enclosed spaces rarely occurs as a result of Information Transmission. The Psychodynamic approach is based on the Id, Ego and Superego, the conflict between the Id and the Superego and also childhood trauma. Freud proposed that phobias are defenses against the anxiety produced when pulses of sexual instinct are repressed and forced into the unconscious. Little Hans is a key study in this theory, because he had a phobia of horses. ...read more.


discovered that most of phobics experienced danger events, which were considered to be future effects. This research is limited as data was collected after the event so the memory may be distorted or false. Also the research cannot be generalized to every phobia. Parental Rearing styles are another explanation in terms of social factors and there has been research to show that these play a key role in phobias. Gerisman et al (1990) reviewed parental rearing styles in anxious patients. Social phobics and agoraphobics were lower than normal controls in parental affection and higher in over protection. This research is also limited because it is based on memory, cause and effect can't be inferred, it can't be generalized to all phobias and it didn't consider individual differences when the normal control was found. In conclusion I can see that from discussing some of the psychological explanations of phobias in greater detail, that there is a lot of evidence to explain the development of phobias. However it is noticed that despite the evidence provided by these explanations they do have their limitations. Therefore more research still needs to be conducted in order for an overall more reliable explanation to be produced. Rebecca Johnson Miss Hall 25/10 ...read more.

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This answer is an interesting one, because a lot of what it has to say is fairly accurate, although some errors in communication lead to poorly explained psychological theories, weakly contextualised evaluation and a lack of explicit focus on the ...

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Response to the question

This answer is an interesting one, because a lot of what it has to say is fairly accurate, although some errors in communication lead to poorly explained psychological theories, weakly contextualised evaluation and a lack of explicit focus on the question commands. There is every indication (to someone who has studied psychology) that the candidates possesses the knowledge required to answer this question fairly well, but the written expression is unclear and makes little sense in the wider picture - the information presented could not be understood by someone who did not know what points to look for in an answer like this.

Furthermore, the structure is very bad, and limits the comprehension quite a lot. There is an introductory paragraph and then a mammoth paragraph with no clear purpose other than to outline the approach's views on learning phobias, but these should be separated and should not feature analysis (which they do) as it confuses the reader and disrupts the fluidity to see (quite poor) analysis in the middle of explanations, and thus the information presented merges into other pieces of information and becomes a challenge to read. The subsequent paragraphs are more clearly presented and have clear purposes, but at A Level it is expected candidate's write with far better clarity than that which is seen here.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is broad, but quite unbalanced in parts. The evaluative points are not clear due to poor paragraphing and a mix-up in the order in which the information is presented. But where the evaluation is it is fairly good. The candidate makes a good attempt at discussing how certain aspects of the research are either good or bad but fails to go to adequate depth that they become comprehensible to those who have not studied the studies they cite. The explanations of the studies are brief, and their purposes unclear, hence it is hard to gauge whether the study is appropriate or appropriately evaluated. "Kliener and Marshall (1987) found that 84% of agoraphobics reported family problems in the months before their panic attacks." is not effective analysis, as there is no clear indication as to what was studied; who/how many was/were involved; or what Kliener and Marshall were looking for or how they went about it. In-depth detail is not required when evaluating studies, but a fair explanation is, such as "Milgram's study into obedience to authority" or "Loftus' study into the effects of weapon focus on the accuracy of memory recall".

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is fair with regard to spelling, but punctuation and grammar are substantially weaker. As mentioned in the above review, the candidate needs to consider re-paragraphing this essay and re-ordering the information they include. Some aspects of sentences lack clarity and cohesion and have certain words omitted and so this must also be accounted for and rectified.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 30/08/2012

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