The Theories Of Maladaptive Behavior Based On Operant And Classical Conditioning Theories

1538 Words Jan 15th, 2015 7 Pages
The purpose of this essay is to explain the behaviourism perspective for maladaptive behaviour and to assess the usefulness of therapies for maladaptive behaviour based on operant and classical conditioning theories. The behavioural approach hold the view that ‘It is probable that many phobias are true conditioned emotional reactions either of the direct or the transferred type’ (Watson Rayner 1920) This means the approach assumes that all behaviour is the result of a learning process and that mental disorders ranging from obsessive compulsive disorder to schizophrenia are the result of ineffective learning. Focus is given to observable behaviour believed to be a reaction to experience during the process of classical and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning can be shown using Watson and Rayner’s (1920) Little Albert study. This study involved associating a neutral stimulus, a furry rabbit to an eleven month old child with an unconditioned stimulus which was a loud noise. The neutral stimulus rabbit associated with the unconditioned stimulus of fear of a loud noise induces fear of the rabbit which is the conditioned and learned response. Operant conditioning can be shown using the Thorndike’s (1898) law of effect study. This study involves learning responses to a situation by linking behaviour to pleasurable or disagreeable responses. This was demonstrated using a cat trapped inside a box with food nearby. The cat eventually accidentally learned to escape…

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