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Behavioural Approach to Abnormality

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By amcb33
Words 489
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The behavioural approach believes all behaviour is learnt through conditioning, there are two types of conditioning. Classical conditioning is learning by association. This can be used to explain abnormal behaviour and used to treat it through systematic desensitisation (Wolpe) which is based on the ideas behind classical conditioning. Classical conditioning can explain abnormal behaviour through the study of ‘Little Albert’ in which experimenters taught Albert to associate a white rat with a loud banging sound that led to Albert developing a rat phobia. They also believe abnormal behaviour can be the result of operant conditioning when you learn by reinforcement/ reward. For example, if a child showed fear of a dog and parent rewarded the child with a treat the child would repeat the same behaviour in order to get rewarded which could then develop into a phobia. Abnormality, according to behaviourists, can also be explained through vicarious conditioning ‘social learning’. This is when people learn by imitating or observing role models. For example, for some young girls their role model may be older female celebrities who are thin and often complimented on their figure. Young girls may aim to lose weight to imitate their role models which could develop into eating disorder.
The behavioural approach to abnormality does not place blame on the person with an abnormality which means they are not stigmatised but the ethics of this approach are debatable as it could be placing blame on the parents or society. Additionally, this approach only focuses on symptoms a client displays rather than the underlying causes; for example with a phobia treatment attempts to make the client unlearn it, not explain or find out why the phobia exists in the first place. When this issue, the psychodynamic approach to abnormality is the only approach that attempts to treat the cause. They…...

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