Phobias and Addictions
Classical and operant conditioning are the two common ways in which people learn behaviors. In has been shown that people and animals learn through making associations between their environments and making choices according to their consequences. The concept that learning is adaptive and shapes behavior forms the fundamental concepts of the behaviorist perspective (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Classical and operant conditioning both plays a part in a person’s individual ability to thrive and function normally and adapt to society. Phobias and addictions can develop through these conditioning.
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Studies have shown that the amygdala can detect fear before a person can see the fear.
A phobia is a type of irrational fear of something that has little or no actual danger to a person. Most phobias are formed from a traumatic experience that has occurred at some point in a person’s life. This can stem from how a person is raised to believe something or an actual fear, such as arachnophobia because of a bad experience.
Extinction in classical conditioning is when the conditioned stimuli are repeatedly presented without the unconditioned stimuli, and then the conditioned response will then disappear. Phobias are approached with an exposure therapy that exposes the person to their fear without any danger to help them overcome that phobia. There have been many studies that show this works in specific phobias. Unfortunately, spontaneous recovery may bring those fears back.
Operant conditioning is the behavior that a person demonstrates through rewards and punishments. B.F. Skinner developed the operant conditioned theory. He believed that one should focus on the external, observable causes of behavior. There are two types of reinforcement that are either positive or negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is the positive outcomes or rewards that are given to a person for displaying acceptable behaviors. While negative reinforcement is the removal of an unwanted behavior through a negative response such as punishment.
Addiction is when a person has become dependent on some type of external stimulus that brings a pleasurable sensation. Addiction can be developed through this conditioning due to the euphoria a person receives when they are “high” or drunk from a substance. This is a feeling that they are unable to attain on a sober level or without the act of the addiction. When the body begins to grow a tolerance through repeated exposure, the addiction is negatively reinforced by removal of aversive withdrawal symptoms. This causes the addictive behavior to reoccur again. Addiction can be as severe as a substance or even shopping depending on the person. Once this person feels the euphoria gained from their addiction they want to continue to feel those highs.
Classical and operant conditioning play a large role in a person’s addictive behavior. Classical conditioning considers the environmental cues that are related to the addictive behavior and these cues create psychological changes in the individual. These cues include withdrawal symptoms and craving for the addiction. The willingness of the addictive behavior that is experienced from a long term drug use or heavy drinker is the operant stage...