Classical conditioning systematic desensitization essay - 1130 Words

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Classical conditioning/ systematic desensitization essay

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Text Preview “Use classical conditioning principles to explain the development of phobias, and describe how systematic desensitization can be used to overcome fears and phobias. Illustrate with examples.” This essay explores the practices of classical conditioning and systematic desensitization in relation to phobias and fears. John Watson proposed that the process of classical conditioning was able to ‘’explain all aspects of human psychology’’. Classical conditioning is the form of learning in which one stimulus is paired with another so that the organism learns a relationship between the stimuli. Systematic desensitization, also known as graduated exposure therapy is a type of behaviour therapy used to help overcome phobias and other anxiety disorders. There are 3 stages of systematic desensitization: first the identity of an anxiety must be found and this encourages stimulus hierarchy. The second step is the learning of relaxation or coping techniques to help them through the anxiety. Once the individual has been taught these techniques and skills, they are then used in the third step to react towards and overcome situations in the established hierarchy of fears. The target of these steps is for the individual to learn how to cope with, and overcome the fear of the hierarchy. Phobias can be acquired through classical conditioning by pairing a neutral stimulus with something that really causes pain. One of the most famous examples of classical conditioning was Watson and Rayner (1920) experiment in which a fear response was conditioned in a young boy known as ‘Little Albert’. The child initially showed no fear of a white rat. However, any time that Albert went to touch the creature, a researcher struck a steel bar with a hammer producing a loud noise causing Albert to cry. This pairing was repeated several times and by the end the child would cry when the rat was present with or without the noise. Albert showed intense fear the moment the rat came into view. This led him... Show More

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