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Outiline And Evaluate The Behavioural Model Of Abnormality

542 words - 3 pages


The basic assumption of the Behavioural Model is that all behaviour is learnt. This can happen in 3 ways: - Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning and Social Learning.
Classical Conditioning is ‘learning through association’ e.g. a phobia of small spaces may develop when someone has been frightened having been trapped in a lift. They associate fear with small spaces. As demonstrated by the study on little albert by Watson and Rayners 1920. Before conditioning the loud noise was the unconditioned stimulus and led to fear and crying as an unconditioned response. The white rate was a neutral stimulus and there was no response. During conditioning the loud noise paired with the white rat let to fear and crying ...view middle of the document...

This is shown through the Bobo Doll studies by Bandura and Ross. In the study 3 groups of children watched a video in which they witnessed and adult aggressive towards a Bobo doll but with different consequences. Later on they were put in the same conditions each group reacted the same way they had witnessed the adult. However, the group that didn’t react as they has seen the adult punished began to behave like the other groups when they saw them being rewarded.
Classical conditioning has scientific research to support it and provides a good explanation for phobias and it credited by psychologists in the real world. Observational studies are also supported by scientific research however, The Bobo Doll study was not a reaction to a real person as such it is difficult to fully generalise to the real world. The behaviourist model is deterministic as it suggests people cannot change their behaviour. However, it focuses on the behaviour as such it does not label or stigmatize like the biological model.
The behavioural approach can provide a convincing explanation that some mental disorders are learnt e.g. someone who is on a diet is complimented which rewards them and reinforces the dieting. Taken to the extreme this can result in anorexia. This illustrates Operant Conditioning.
The behavioural approach is reductionist because it tries to reduce complex behaviour to simple learning processes and does not take into account a human’s ability to think and influence what happens to them.
Another problem with this approach is that it explains all behaviour as a learning process i.e. the way we are brought up and live our lives ( nurture ) it therefore does not take into account the contribution made by genetic inheritance or chemical imbalance (Nature). Sometimes this can be important e.g. it is known that there is a link between genetics and schizophrenia.

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