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Behaviorist and Learning Aspects of Personality
Pages 6 (1506 words)
Assignment 1 Fear, sometimes to the extent of phobia, can be the result of classical conditioning. For example, if a loud noise (which naturally elicits a fear response) is consistently paired with a fear-neutral stimulus (like the sight of a triangle), then the neutral stimulus will come to elicit the fear response.
Extinction is a characteristic of classical conditioning in which the association between the stimulus and learned response is weakened every time the stimulus (triangle) is presented without the associated unconditioned stimulus (loud noise). However, the persistence of learned fear makes it unlikely that it will dissipate over time due to the self-strengthening mechanism described above. To treat learned fear and phobias, extinction must usually be employed in a behavioral therapy paradigm. A process known as systematic desensitization is one of the most successful and commonly used procedures for treating phobias. These intense and irrational fears can take many forms (fear of dogs, snakes, open spaces, cheese) and are quite resistant to natural extinction effects. Along with the self-sustaining theory, phobias may retain their power because people tend to do everything they can to avoid the eliciting stimulus. Extinction cannot occur without exposure to the stimulus. Systematic desensitization addresses these issues directly. In order to allow extinction to occur, systematic desensitization ensures exposure to the unpaired conditioned stimulus, but does so in a gradual manner to minimize the fear response and eliminate self-sustainment of the phobia. The process is carried out in three parts (Foa, 2010). ...
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