April 7, 2013
Dr. Pamela Allen
Just as basic behaviors are developed through operant and classical conditioning, so are addictions and phobias. Establishing the differences of classical conditioning, operant conditioning, how phobias and addictions are related, and the following extinctions of both conditions are what will be discussed.
Phobias and Addictions through Classical and Operant Conditioning
We have learned that classical condition is a learned behavior and operant conditioning is an inherent behavior. Likewise, addictions and phobias can be learned or inherent. For example, if a child grows up in a household in which they witness his or her parents abusing drugs, he or she will have learned that drug abuse leads to addiction either by observation or participation. On the other hand, hearing about drug abuse can lead an individual to take on the act themselves and inversely or inherently become addicted. The same principles ring true for phobias. An individual may witness someone suffering from fear and automatically associate the external stimuli to fear. Therefore, they have developed a learned phobia. However, there are some situations which, without external cues, a person can develop a legitimate fear or phobia to something that naturally scares him or her.
Classical and Operant Conditioning
Classical and operant conditioning are different, but can be similar in different situations. Understanding the development of phobias and addictions can help in distinguishing between classical and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is a learned behavior that is taught. This goes back to Pavlov’s experiment. Pavlov (1849-1936) studied the digestive system of dogs and how the dogs responded to different situations. Over the...