October 27, 2014
Introduction Phobias and Addictions are behavioral issues that affect every aspect of our society. In this paper it will be discussed how phobias can be developed through classical conditioning, how addictions can be developed through operant conditioning, distinguish between classical and operant conditioning, and explain what extinction means and how it is achieved in both classical and operant conditioning.
Phobias Developed Through Classical Conditioning “A phobia is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger, but provokes anxiety and avoidance (Mayo Clinic, 2014, pg.1).” A phobia can last for a long period, causing the person to have a mental or physical reaction that can affect their life and ability to work or have a social life. These phobias can range from a person being afraid of speaking in public to having a phobia or fear of snakes or flying. “Classical conditioning is a type of learning that had a major influence on the school of thought in psychology known as behaviorism. Behaviorism is based on the assumption that learning occurs through interactions with the environment (Cherry, 2014, pg.1).” A famous example of classical conditioning to fear is John Watson experiment of the white rat in a child named Little Albert. The way that phobias are developed through classical conditioning is of the use of a neutral stimulus such as dog. The person initially does not have a fear of the dog at the beginning of the experiment. Then there is an introduction of an unconditioned stimulus, which triggers a natural response. This could be a loud cymbal such as the one that was used in the experiment conducted by Watson. By constantly combining the dog with the unconditioned stimulus, the dog is now the conditioned stimulus came to resemble the fear response which is now the conditioned response. Phobias can form through classical conditioning; just by a person having a bad experience with a dog can lead to them having a phobia towards all dogs.
Addictions can be developed through Operant Conditioning According to Psychology Today, “addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health.” Operant conditioning, or sometimes called instrumental learning is the way in which the results of behavior affect the possibility of that behavior being repeated. There are two types of reinforcement that can happen through operant conditioning, which are positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is when the drug is given as a reward for doing something good. It is known that if a positive reinforcement follows a behavior, the more powerful its effect will be on that behavior and the more likely the behavior is to be repeated. The negative reinforcement is when each time a person receives a signal; they will perform an operant response, which is the drug in order to avoid a negative response. For example, a cocaine addict will take the drug (perform an operant response) in order to avoid the withdrawal symptoms and the associated physical and psychological discomfort that will occur if they do not take the drug. These operant procedures are also at work in developing an addiction. Once the body develops a tolerance through repeated exposure, the addiction becomes negatively reinforced by removal of aversive withdrawal symptoms, making addictive behavior more likely to occur.
Distinguish between Classical and Operant Conditioning Classical and operant conditioning is two important concepts to behavioral psychology. Even though both classical and operant conditioning are used in