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Addiction and Phobias

Classical conditioning is a form of learning which was first demonstrated by a researcher named Pavlov. Classical conditioning is a form of conditioning called behavioral conditioning which is evident when a stimulant is introduced into someone or something’s life. Pavlov did the research on dogs and he noticed that the dogs responded by salivating every time the attendant came with food and after a while they started salivating when they saw the attendant and then when they heard the sound of the door opening. Pavlov named this type of conditioning first second and third conditioning. A classical conditioning is something which someone has been used to from the first time maybe when they were born. Classical conditioning is the classical base for formation of phobias in a person. It originates from the up bringing and what happened in the past to the person who makes him or her behave in a certain way through a certain stimulus.


Operant conditioning is a good base for addiction and stems from the environment. This is a use of the consequences as a modification of occurrence as a form of behavior. Skinner used this type of conditioning as a study for punishment and reward. According to skinner the behavior caused by the law of effect was called operant conditioning because the behavior of an organism changed or operated on the environment. If the consequence is favorable then the likelihood of it happening again is more than if the consequence was punishment (Mischel, 1993 pg304-308)

Fear and phobia develop in the same classical condition as researched by Pavlov this which happens when you are doing something and then you usually get an attack on the same thing like for instance if you always suffer short breath while using a lift then whenever you are in an enclosed place you will get the feeling of loosing your breath hence making claustrophobia a classical case of classical conditioning. You might associate lifts with breathlessness while in the real case the lift has got nothing to do with it, it is just that you are conditioned or you have conditioned yourself to feel that way. The same case applies to if you got bitten by say a dog when you were young then when you get older whenever you see a dog this will bring back that memory of being bitten by a dog. Phobia develops when you have an experience with something maybe once or repeatedly.

Since operant conditioning is formed through the stimulus of punishment and reward, an addiction can occur when a person starts taking a substance which makes them feel good all the time and as skinner had put it the likelihood of reward happening is much more than the likelihood of a punishment. The more something makes someone feel good the more the person will continue with that same routine hence making addiction possible.

Extinction is when someone puts an end to something. Extinction can occur in both operant and classical conditioning when the introduction of reinforcement is made. It can also occur when a stimulant is reduced in strength or frequency. This can also occur when the pairing is no longer there. In operant conditioning and classical conditioning extinction occurs when there is reward much more than there is punishment. This will always elicit a positive response.

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