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The Relationship between Appearance and Fear of Animals.

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Introduction

Deena Maher The Relationship between Appearance and Fear of Animals Introduction Prolonged and excessive fears are classified as phobias, which are a type of Anxiety disorder according to the DSM-IV. When the phobia takes over the persons ability to live a 'normal' life it is classed as a mental disorder, (psychopathology is the study of mental disorders). There are three types of phobias; specific phobias, social phobias and agoraphobia. Specific phobias are fears relating to something specific such as fear of animals, the most common including snakes, spiders, rodents and heights. The five types of specific phobias include; animal type, situational type (eg: planes, lifts), natural environment (eg: heights, storms, water), blood injection - injury type and 'other'. ...read more.

Middle

In terms of operant conditioning the person would find alternative methods such as using the stairs. This follows the theory where the consequence of an action would determine the likelihood that it would occur again. If the outcome of the behavior is positive than it would be more likely to occur again than if it was negative. Positive outcomes are known as reinforcements (there are negative reinforcements where the stimulus is administered or negative reinforcements where an aversive stimulus is removed).A negative outcome is known as a punishment where a positive punishment is when an aversive stimulus is administered and a negative punishment is when a positive stimulus is removed. ...read more.

Conclusion

Bennett - Levy and Manteau (1984) show that people's fear of animals is highly correlated with the appearance and how much the animal differs from the human form. The research also provides implications for treatment and expanded on the basis of the learning theory. The experiment had a lack of 'control' for example, rats were seen as most feared but were perceived as equally ugly and harmful however others may have rats as pets and therefore I do not think this is so relevant. There are also extraneous variables other than the attractiveness of the animal that may affect how fearful someone is, such as how fast it moves, how it feels ie: slimy, past experience and knowledge. ...read more.

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