Psychological Explanations Of One Anxiety Disorder

1092 words - 4 pages

Psychological Explanations of One Anxiety Disorder

Phobias are an example of an anxiety disorder and the psychological
explanations of these are cognitive, psychodynamic, behavioral and
social factors. The Behavioral, Psychodynamic and social factors of
the psychological explanation will be discussed in greater detail.

Behavioral explanations say that all behaviour is learnt whether it is
normal or abnormal and this approach has been applied to humans and
animals. There are three theories that make up the behaviorist
approach, which are classical and operant conditioning, Social
Learning and information transmission. Classical conditioning is
concerned with a classical, neutral and conditioned stimulus and the
fear is due to a learnt association. Operant conditioning is
involuntary behaviour reinforcement and punishment, by rewards or
attention given. Evidence for this is Little Albert, who developed a
fear of white rats and anything else white after been conditioned by a
loud noise been produced when he played with the rat. Barlow and
Durand found that 50% of driving phobics had had a traumatic driving
experience and Keuthan found that half of all phobics could not
remember a bad experience. Dunado discovered similar results in that
he found that 50% of dog phobics had not had a traumatic experience
with dogs. This research is flawed in many aspects because it does not
explain why only some people develop phobias, it relies on memory,
which could be unreliable, and it is unethical as there is unnecessary
distress to humans and animals. Social learning is the next theory in
the behavioral explanation and this says that modeling, which is
behaviour been learnt by watching other people’s reactions is the
reason for developing the phobia. For example if a child sees its
mother reacting in a fearful way towards a spider they too will react
in that particular way. Evidence for this comes from Bandura who
observed the reactions of fake electrical shocks been given with a
buzzer. Maneeka found that when mothers reacted to snakes in a bad way
the child developed a phobia of snakes in later life. There are demand
characteristics with this research, as the researchers will be
expecting a particular outcome and the people may already have a fear
of a particular object or situation. Also the outcomes cannot be
applied to every phobia i.e. claustrophobia therefore it is limited.
Information Transmission is the last theory for the psychological
explanations of phobias. This is when fear producing information about
the phobic object leads to the development of the particular phobia.
Ost (1985) described the case of a woman who was a severe snake
phobic. She had been told repeatedly about the dangers of snakes and
had been strongly encouraged to wear rubber boots to protect herself.

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