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Unformatted text preview: taught to fear objects ComFun6e_Ch04_C!.indd 109 •social phobia•A severe and persistent
fear of social or performance situations
in which embarrassment may occur. •classical conditioning•A process of
learning in which two events that repeatedly occur close together in time become
tied together in a person’s mind and so
produce the same response.
•modeling•A process of learning in
which a person observes and then imitates others. Also, a therapy approach
based on the same principle.
•stimulus generalization•A phenom- enon in which responses to one stimulus
are also produced by similar stimuli. 12/10/09 11:16:15 AM ://CHAPTER 4 University of St Andrews/PA Wire 110 Monkey see, monkey do?
A chimpanzee interacts with and models
behaviors for her young offspring. Although
humans may acquire phobias by either
classical conditioning or modeling, research
indicates that chimpanzees are more likely
to acquire such fears (or other kinds of
behaviors and reactions) through modeling. through classical conditioning (Miller, 1948; Mowrer, 1947,
1939). In one famous report, psychologists John B.Watson and
Rosalie Rayner (1920) described how they taught a baby boy
called Little Albert to fear white rats. For weeks Albert was
allowed to play with a white rat and appeared to enjoy doing
so. One time when Albert reached for the rat, however, the
experimenter struck a steel bar with a hammer, making a very
loud noise that frightened Albert. The next several times that
Albert reached for the rat, the experimenter again made the
loud noise. Albert acquired a fear and avoidance response to
Research has also supported the behavioral position that
fears can be acquired through modeling. Psychologists Albert
Bandura and Theodore Rosenthal (1966), for example, had
human research participants observe a person apparently being
shocked by electricity whenever a buzzer sounded.The victim
was actually the experimenter’s accomplice—in research terminology, a confederate—who pretended to experience pain by
twitching and yelling whenever the buzzer went on. After the
unsuspecting participants had observed several such episodes, they themselves experienced a fear reaction whenever they heard the buzzer.
Although these studies support behaviorists’ explanations of phobias, other research
has called those explanations into question (Ressler & Davis, 2003). Several laboratory
studies with children and adults have failed to condition fear reactions. In addition,
although most case studies trace phobias to incidents of classical conditioning or modeling, quite a few fail to do so. So, although it appears that a phobia can be acquired by
classical conditioning or modeling, researchers have not established that the disorder is
ordinarily acquired in this way. A Behavioral-Evolutionary Explanation Some phobias are much more common than others. Phobic reactions to animals, heights, and darkness are more common
than phobic reactions to meat, grass, and houses. Theori...
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