This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: centage
Treatment Elevated 25.5% One-Year
Ratio Generalized anxiety disorder 3.0% 2:1 Specific phobia 8.7% 2:1 Variable Elevated 19.0% Social phobia 7.1% 3:2 10–20 years Elevated 24.7% Panic disorder 2.8% 5:2 15–35 years Elevated 34.7% Obsessive-compulsive disorder 1.0% 1:1 4–25 years Elevated 41.3% 0–20 years Source: Ruscio et al., 2007; Kessler et al., 2005, 1999, 1994; Wang et al., 2005; Regier et al., 1993. girl was terrified of running water. For years family members had to hold her down to
bathe her. When she traveled on a train, friends had to cover the windows so that she
would not have to look at any streams. The young woman had apparently acquired a
phobia through classical conditioning.
In conditioning terms, the entrapment was an unconditioned stimulus (US) that understandably elicited an unconditioned response (UR) of fear. The running water represented
a conditioned stimulus (CS), a formerly neutral stimulus that became associated with entrapment in the child’s mind and came also to elicit a fear reaction. The newly acquired
fear was a conditioned response (CR).
US: Entrapment → UR: Fear
CS: Running water → CR: Fear
Another way of acquiring a fear reaction is through modeling, that is, through
observation and imitation (Bandura & Rosenthal, 1966). A person may observe that
others are afraid of certain objects or events and develop fears of the same things.
Consider a young boy whose mother is afraid of illnesses, doctors, and hospitals. If she
frequently expresses those fears, before long the boy himself may fear illnesses, doctors,
Why should one or a few upsetting experiences or observations develop into a longterm phobia? Shouldn’t the trapped girl see later that running water will bring her no
harm? Shouldn’t the boy see later that illnesses are temporary and doctors and hospitals
helpful? Behaviorists believe that after acquiring a fear response, people try to avoid what
they fear. They do not get close to the dreaded objects often enough to learn that the
objects are really quite harmless.
Behaviorists also propose that specific learned fears will blossom into a generalized
anxiety disorder when a person acquires a large number of them. This development is
presumed to come about through stimulus generalization: Responses to one stimulus are also elicited by similar stimuli. The fear of running water acquired by the girl in
the rocks could have generalized to such similar stimuli as milk being poured into a glass
or even the sound of bubbly music. Perhaps a person experiences a series of upsetting
events, each event produces one or more feared stimuli, and the person’s reactions to
each of these stimuli generalize to yet other stimuli. That person may then build up a
large number of fears and eventually develop generalized anxiety disorder. How Have Behavioral Explanations Fared in Research? Some laboratory studies have found that animals and humans can indeed be...
View Full Document