Discuss the Behavioural Approach to Treating Phobias

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Behavioural approach (12 marks)

This approach has emphasis of behaviour on environment and how behaviour is enquired and primarily concerned with observable behaviour.  The first theory is classical conditioning is learning through association and best explains the development of phobias. The unconditioned stimulus leads to a conditioned response, with a conditioned stimulus leading to a conditioned response. For example, a fear of spiders and associated with another stimulus which creates the phobia. Then there is operant conditioning is learning with rewards and punishments. This theory could leads to anorexia. For instance, if someone losses weight and they are complimented. It’s a reward and they are more likely to repeat it which may lead to eating disorders.  Then there is social learning theory which is learning through observation and imitation. This is when you look at a role models behaviour, if they are being rewarded the individual may go down the same route as the role model is seen as successful (vicarious reinforcement). This theory can also be linked to eating disorders as exposure of young girls to successful thin women in the media. This linked is to pschopathogies because that maladaptive behaviour can also be learnt

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There is strong research support for the role of learning for example, Watson’s study on little albert demonstrated how phobias can be created through the process of classical conditioning - provided strong support

However there is little evidence that severe psychopathology can be caused the same way for example, schizophrenia. This reduces the validity of the approach

Support comes from treatments such as systematic desensitisation which can be effective for treating disorders such as phobias but not for complex disorders like schizophrenia.

The theory is also reductionistic reduces complex psychopathological problems to simple learning and ignores the influence ...

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