1.1 Behaviourists believe that all
behaviour is learned and that
includes abnormal behaviour
1.1.1 Learning occurs through the
processes of conditioning or
126.96.36.199 Behaviours can be
unlearned, which is the
method used for treatment.
2 2. Explanations
2.1 Classical conditioning
(learning by association)
2.1.1 We learn by associating things
together. Classical examples include
Pavlov’s dogs and Little Albert.
188.8.131.52 Pavlov’s dogs learned to associate a
bell with food so that eventually the
sound of the bell alone would cause
the dogs to salivate.
184.108.40.206.1 Little Albert learned to associate a white
rat with loud and frightening noises so
that after a few days anything white and
furry would evoke a fear response.
2.1.2 In this way, according to
behaviourists we can learn
undesirable or strange
responses to all sorts of
situations. The most
common application of this
aspect of behaviourist
psychology is to the
explanation of phobias.
220.127.116.11 This approach offers a simple and
testable theory of learning. However it
is seen as far too simplistic. It may offer
an explanation of phobias but how can
you learn delusions, depression or
hallucinations by association?
18.104.22.168.1 Even in the case of phobias it is often not possible for people to think of
any incident like this that may have triggered the phobia in the first place.
22.214.171.124 Struggles to
explain why we
acquire phobias for
quicker than others.
2.2 Operant conditioning
(reward and punishment)
2.2.1 If we’re rewarded
for a behaviour we
are more likely to
repeat it in future, if
we’re less likely to
do it in future.
2.2.2 Abnormal behaviour is therefore caused by
people reinforcing inappropriate behaviour
making it more likely to be repeated. For
example a panic attack gets the child attention
making it likely to be repeated.
126.96.36.199 It does concentrate on current events
rather than childhood, but according to
this approach removing the
punishment or providing reinforcement
should stop abnormal behaviour.
3 Social Learning Theory (Modelling)
3.1 The idea that we acquire behaviour by copying others. It also has elements of
operant conditioning since it recognises the importance of vicarious conditioning.
If a person is observed behaving in a certain way and is then rewarded for their
behaviour then the observer is far more likely to copy that behaviour.
3.1.1 Mineka et al
188.8.131.52 Showed monkeys video footage of other monkeys who were
clearly frightened of snakes. When exposed to snakes it was
found that the observers had also developed a fear of snakes.
3.2.1 It takes complex human behaviour and attempts to explain it away in very
simple terms often using laboratory experiments that lack ecological validity
3.2.2 Another frequent criticism is that
behaviourists only consider surface
characteristics or symptoms
3.2.3 They do offer reasonable
explanations for phobias and even
for eating disorders but there
attempts to explain depression and
particularly schizophrenia have not