‘Behaviourists Explain Maladaptive Behaviour in Terms of the Learning Principles That Sustain and Maintain It. Discuss This Statement and Show How a Behaviourists Approach to Therapy Is in Stark Contrast to a Psychoanalytic One’

Topics: Classical conditioning, Behaviorism, Operant conditioning Pages: 7 (2672 words) Published: May 12, 2013
This essay has 2462 words
‘Behaviourists explain maladaptive behaviour in terms of the learning principles that sustain and maintain it. Discuss this statement and show how a behaviourists approach to therapy is in stark contrast to a psychoanalytic one’ Behaviorism was originally founded by John B. Watson who believed that behavior had the means to be measured, trained and changed (1913) The Behavioural theory is firstly based on experiment and secondly by describing how human behaviour is learnt through principles and rules. Maladaptive behaviour is when an individual is unable to adjust to situations; psychologists use this term to describe patterns of emotional disturbance. Both behavioural and psychoanalytic psychologists use this in different ways. The behavioural theory is based on two main factors being biological drives such as primitive needs and sex drive and what is learnt. The three main principles in the behavioural theory are Stimuli, response and conditioning. Behaviour is believed to be a conditioned response to an environmental stimulus. Individuals are obliged to react to stimuli using their senses such as seeing and hearing. There are short lived unlearned behaviours such as suckling and unlearned grasping. Responses are overt and implicit, learned or unlearned. Response can be foreseen if stimuli are available and stimuli can be predicted from the response. Unlearned responses are automatic such as breathing heavily and perspiring when running. Unlearned behaviours are conditioned soon after birth. Learned responses are due to conditioning and habit forming. Innately, unconditioned stimuli produce response for example looking away from bright light. Outcomes are Dependant on how a response has been conditioned for example a young child may learn to be fearful of a dog or have interest in one. Behaviourist state that learned behaviour is a result of training or conditioning and nothing instinctual. There are two main types of conditioning in the behavioural theory, theses being classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning uses association to develop a new behaviour. Stimuli are paired to produce a new learned response. Classical conditioning involves three stages, each stage the stimuli and response are given scientific terms. The first stage in this process is collectively named ‘before conditioning’. In this stage the unconditioned stimulus produces an unconditioned response. This is a natural response and has not been taught. The second stimulus is a neutral stimulus, this stimulus does not produce any response until it is paired with the unconditioned stimulus an example of this could be a flu virus (UCS) creating a response of of being sick (UCR). During conditioning being the second stage the neutral stimulus is associated with the unconditioned stimulus, this stimulus now becomes the conditioned stimulus. This stage may take a long time as the unconditioned stimulus must be associated with the conditioned stimulus on a number of occasions for learning to take place. For example food could become the conditioned stimulus would be associated with the flu virus which is the unconditioned stimulus. After the conditioning being the final stage is where the conditioned stimulus has now produced a conditioned response. For example the conditioned stimulus of food now produces the conditioned response of being sick. Ivan Pavlov was the first to put this theory into place. Pavlov’s dogs (1902), Pavlov believed that dogs had some responses that they didn’t need to learn, during this experiment the dog would salivate when they saw food. In this case the unconditioned stimulus is the food and the unconditioned response is the salivation. During the experiment Pavlov and his assistants noticed that the dog would salivate with any action associated with the food. Pavlov used a bell as neutral stimuli, on its own the dog wouldn’t respond. During the experiment every time he fed...
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