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Changing Behavior Case Study Analysis

1378 words - 6 pages

Changing Behavior Case Study Analysis

In this case study, I am going to examine a patient with a fear of public speaking who wishes to understand and change this behavior. The patient has been terrified of speaking publicly for her whole adult life. This fear has affected her school work, as a major part of her studies revolve around a groupthink mentality. Her behavior, as a result of the fear, has caused her to drop classes and lose out on making potential friends or important contacts in her field. Overall, this fear has negatively affected her education and her future career will be jeopardized if this type of behavior persists. The patient wishes to resolve any issues that may be ...view middle of the document...

Since the patient currently associates negative emotions, or fear, with public speaking, this is likely why she is experiencing bad results; withdrawing from courses based on the amount of group interactions and speaking involved. Further, classical conditioning occurs when someone sees or hears something and their sense produces some aspects of fear. This will make them to develop the same kind of fear against the same thing. In this case, it is likely that sometime while the patient was growing up, she might have witnessed people failing to deliver speeches according to the expectations of their audience. This experience might have forced her to have the same perception that she might not be in a good position to offer what other people might be expecting of her. Luckily, classical conditioning can help people overcome fears as well as acquire them by forming a positive association. Even so, classical conditioning is more than forming an association; it is an involuntary, physiological response. However, classical conditioning can face extinction, where the learning is undone and this can happen naturally or through some form of therapy.
The next theory I will explore is operant conditioning. Unlike classical conditioning, operant conditioning is based on the belief that only external causes of behavior should be considered when explaining behavior and learning. It negates the belief that internal thoughts and motivations would help in learning a new behavior. For the patient, this means, her fear of public speaking could be caused by external factor such as the environment, and not triggered by a stimulus. For example, unlike in classical conditioning, where the patient may have witnessed someone failing while delivering a speech, she might have observed someone in her life that had a fear of public speaking, and as a result, the same fear was inflicted in her. Or, perhaps, she herself had failed at giving a speech and was made fun of.
In operant conditioning therapy, there are consequences which shape the behavior of people, including, reinforcement, and punishment. Reinforcement is a process of increasing the frequency of a behavior by presenting a stimulus shortly after the display of behavior; in this case public speaking. The event that intensifies the likelihood of the behavior to be repeated is called a reinforcer. There are two types of reinforcers, positive and negative.
Positive reinforcers are used after the display of a certain behavior, meant to act as a favorable stimuli to strengthen the probability of a behavior by adding something desirable. This might not work in the patient's case, considering how extreme her fear is. Simply rewarding her for doing something might not be the best approach, because the fear runs deeper than her need for a reward. However, when she gives a speech successfully, the reward of a standing ovation or cheering crowd might be a desirable reward.
Negative reinforcers, on the other hand, is...

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