Phobias and Addiction Paper

Topics: Operant conditioning, Classical conditioning, Reinforcement Pages: 4 (1321 words) Published: March 28, 2011
Phobias and Addiction
Phobia is described as an unreasonable sort of fear that can cause avoidance and panic (Phobia, 2011), while addiction is defined as a compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance (Addiction, 2011). Phobias and addictions are discussed and explained how they are related to classical and operant conditioning. Research will be shown how phobias are developed through classical conditioning, and how addictions can be developed through operant conditioning. The author will distinguish the difference between classical and operant conditioning as well as explaining extinction and how it is achieved in both classical and operant conditioning.

Phobias are most often brought on by objects or different situations that are not necessarily the cause of fear. For example, heights, small spaces, dark rooms or animals are places or things that someone should have no fear of. These phobias are brought on by past experiences and are known as classical conditioning. Little Albert was taken as a small child and given different objects to play with such as a toy rat, dog, rabbit, Santa Clause mask and a fur coat which he played with without fear. A few days later John Watson, the founder of American Behaviorism and his colleague Rosalie Rayner decided to startle Little Albert by hitting two metal poles together behind Albert’s head while playing with the white toy rat. This caused Albert to be startled and frightened, they did this multiple times as he would grab for the toy rat. Albert was eventually conditioned to fear the toy which formed a phobia. Thirty-one days after testing Albert in the lecture room, he was again tested for his emotional reaction to the white objects. Albert was found to still have negative emotional reactions to all of the animals and object. Studies since Watson and Rayners time have proposed classical conditioning as an explanation for some human phobias. Many such fears are acquired and elicited...
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