Cognitive Psychology: What Are Social Phobias?

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Phobias are defined as persistent fears or anxieties that are out of proportion to the actual danger or demands of the given situation. They cannot be explained or reasoned, and they are completely out of the person’s voluntary control. This ultimately leads to avoidance of the feared situation and can in some degree be disabling to the person (Morgan, 2003, p.11). Specific phobias include for example a fear of spiders, snakes and heights. Social phobias include fear of social situations and agoraphobia, which is a fear of open or public places. Paradigms provide us different psychological insight that helps us understand how these phobias can form. A paradigm is an agreement within a discipline defining the subject matter to be studied and …show more content…
Ulric Gustave Neisser was considered the father of cognitive psychology after writing his book Cognitive Psychology. “From a cognitive process, fear is fear is related not only to a biological preparation or stimulus response association but also to the attributions regarding the safety and danger of the stimulus; the perception of control over the situation and the attribution made about the bodily alarm signal that the stimulus elicits,” (Arntz, 1995, p. 919). According to the cognitive model, those with social phobias become anxious when anticipating or even contributing in social situations because they think that it is going to make them feel uncomfortable. This leads them to assume they will behave awkwardly or in any other negative way, which could potentially ruin or make them lose their social status. Once this is triggered, these negative thoughts are said to contribute to a series of vicious cycles, which end up maintaining the social phobia (Clark, 1993, p. 225). Those with social phobia, anxious controls and non-patient controls were in a videotaped conversation with a stooge in order to investigate the cognitive model of social phobia. During this video, thoughts and behavior were evaluated. Compared to the control groups, those with social phobia had more negative self-evaluative thoughts, performed less well and systematically …show more content…
Since behaviorism focuses on the actual observable behaviors, it is much easier to explain phobias. The classical conditioning and operant conditioning are key components that help clarify the cause and continuation of phobias. In classical conditioning, one is conditioned to create a reaction towards something that makes them uncomfortable. For example, one who has arachnophobia is conditioned to fear spiders because they had a particular bad experienced it and associated that experience with fear. Operant conditioning is generally the result of classical conditioning. An individual 's response to stimuli or situations is strengthened through positive and negative reinforcement. It is suggested that classical and operant conditioning creates an instance for the acquisition of phobic behaviors; a conditioned fear separated from the natural instinctive fight or flight response necessary for survival phobias (Coelho, 2009, p.

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