Evaluate The Learning Approach To Phobia Study

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A phobia is an overwhelming and unbearable fear of something, such as an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. Phobias are a lot profounder than fears. In my essay I will be looking at a scenario of a woman called Amy with an extreme phobia of birds and how we can explain her fear looking at different psychological theories that explains learnt behaviour.
In the learning approach to Psychology it is assumed that humans are born as ‘Tabula Rasa’ (a blank slate) and our environment around us that shapes our behavior, rather than it being innate. This means that Amy will have developed a phobia of birds, rather than being born with one.
The learning approach is a behaviorist theory and only observable behaviour’s are studied. The theory
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It occurs when two stimuli are repeatedly paired together, one being an unlearned stimulus and the other a neutral stimulus. The neutral stimuli eventually will produce the same reaction as the unlearned stimuli. Ivan Pavlov had been investigating the saliva reactions in dogs. He conducted a study where he noticed that dogs salivated not only when food was placed in their mouths but also when stimuli associated with the food (a bell) was presented. Pavlov identified that the dogs had formed an association between the two stimuli, that it was an example of classical conditioning. A problem with this study was the fact that we can not generalize it to humans. Watson and Rayner rectified this in a later study using a young boy named Little Albert. At the age of nine months old, Little Albert was showed a variety of stimuli including a white rat, a monkey, a rabbit and burning newspapers. Watson and Rayner observed the boys’ reaction to the stimuli and found he showed no fear in relation to them. The next time Albert was exposed to the rat the researched made a loud, unpleasant noise which made Albert cry. Eventually, Albert would cry just in the presence of the rat. After this observation ‘Watson and Rayner wrote "The instant the rat was shown, the baby began to cry. Almost instantly he turned sharply to the left, fell over on [his] left side, raised himself on all fours and began to crawl away so rapidly that he was…show more content…
A researcher named Burrhus Frederic Skinner thought he would develop the idea of operant conditioning. He suggested than we act in regard to consequences (reward or punishment) in which we actively learn. He suggested there are 3 types of these consequences of behavior; positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement and punishment. Positive reinforcement is receiving a reward for acting in a certain way. An example of this could be getting a school prize for performing well in your exams, because of the reinforcement of the prize, the student will try to perform well every time. Negative reinforcement occurs when we act in a way that avoids an unpleasant consequence (e.g. not being late to a meeting because you do not want to be perceived as rude). Punishment is an unpleasant consequence that comes from the way we act. For example, gaining a detention for arriving late to lessons. Punishment decreases like probability that behaviour is likely to be repeated. Whereas, in positive and negative reinforcement the chances are you will repeat the behaviour. Skinner’s conducted research in the form of a lab experiment. He used a hungry rat that was placed in a cage that had been especially developed for the purpose of the study and was named Skinner’s box. In the cage was a button and a food dispenser. When the rat pressed the button food would appear in the dispenser. The animal soon learned that
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