Classical Conditioning Principles

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In this assignment classical conditioning principles will be used to explain the development of phobias and also how systematic desensitisation can be used to overcome fears and phobias. Classical conditioning in its basic terms is a type of learning in which an individual learns to link stimuli that predict that a significant event will occur. As individuals we gain much of our behaviour from classical conditioning. For example if we were to have an argument with an individual, we are likely to experience emotional reactions that were encountered at the time of the argument while meeting them again. (Martin, Carlson, Buskist, 2010). The principles of classical conditioning include acquisition, extinction, spontaneous recovery, stimulus generalisation…show more content…
A phobia is a conditioned fear that is markedly inconsistent with the objective threat of the situation. It has been said that the phobia that an individual encounters is due to an exposure to the now feared object earlier in life which caused fear or pain in conjunction with another stimulus which caused the fear of the object to arise. Due to this both the object feared and the stimulus which caused pain or fear can both now cause the individual to become afraid as it has become a learned response. (Martin, Carlson, Buskist, 2010). Fears of certain things like spiders, needles or dogs can be triggered so simply. For example if an individual is afraid of needles the thought of the needle cutting through their skin and the thought of the pain triggers fear. The thought of the needle is the unconditioned stimulus and the fear being the unconditioned response. This fear and distress caused by the unconditioned stimulus occurs both before and during conditioning. However, after conditioning, fear and distress have now been learnt to be felt from both the unconditioned stimulus and the conditioned stimulus which in the case would be the injection. This can similarly be seen through arachnophobia, a fear of spiders, which is a very common fear among a lot of people. The thought of the spider alone can send shivers down the individual’s spine. However it is not just the spider that…show more content…
A behaviour therapy for phobias is systematic desensitisation. This is where the individual is exposed to the feared stimulus gradually in a relaxing environment. For example if an individual had a phobia towards snakes, the way in which systematic desensitisation would take place is perhaps show the individual pictures of a snake in a safe environment and work the way up until the individual is exposed to a real snake. They individual may panic at first but this will wear away as the autonomic nervous system is not able to hold permanent panic. This will enable the individual to become calm in the presence of the feared stimulus. (Kalat,

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