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Phobias, Addictions and Extinction

In: Philosophy and Psychology

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Phobias, Addictions and Extinction
Tricia Stevens
PSY/300
January 21, 2013
Dan Erickson

Phobias, Addictions and Extinction At some point throughout life, all human beings experience phobias and/or addiction. Both can be deeply rooted in a persons mind and are derived through one of two styles of learning; classical or operant conditioning. The development of a phobia through classical conditioning, although not likely logical, can significantly impact every day life, in some cases disabling a person from doing common day-to-day things. Similarly, addictions developed through operant conditioning can be detrimental to a person’s health and well-being. Although both phobias and addictions can be difficult to expel, through extinction, a process of removing the reinforcer, it can be completed (Cherry, n.d.). This essay will explore classical conditioning phobias and operant conditioning addictions and the remedy through extinction for both.
Phobias Through Classical Conditioning According to Merriam-Webster Online (n.d.) phobias are: : an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object. This makes perfect sense considering how a phobia is developed. Classical conditioning is a learning style that associates something (sound, smell, etc.) that historically would have not been corresponded with it. A phobia is likely to be developed through an association to fear. As an example, in the 1920’s John Watson and Rosalie Rayner performed experiments on a 9-month baby, Little Albert, that paired a harmless item, such as a white bunny or white rate with a sound that frightened the baby (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). In this case baby had a response, without any prior learning, to be fearful because of the loud bell being rung directly behind him or what...

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