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Behavioural Approach. Miss Norris. Learning Objectives. By the end of the lesson, you should be able to identify… What the behavioural approach is. What are its key points. What are its evaluation points including strengths and Weakness. Behaviourism.

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Learning objectives
Learning Objectives

  • By the end of the lesson, you should be able to identify…

    What the behavioural approach is.

    What are its key points.

    What are its evaluation points including strengths and Weakness.


  • Set of psychological views which sees the scientific view of observing behaviour. Concentring itself with only what can be seen and measured.


  • Everything we do is learnt (Tabula rasa)

Acquisition of behaviour revision
Acquisition of Behaviour Revision

  • Classical – Learning through association. Making a neutral stimulus a controlled stimulus (ABBA)

  • Operant- Learning through reinforcementeg; punishment, discrimination, generalisation.

  • Social Learning Theory- Learning through modelling and that model being rewarded or punished (vicarious support)

Behavioural approach

Behavioural approaches application to abnormal behaviour

Behavioural approach

Classical –A Good explanation of phobia's or a fear of objects that has been associated at sometime in the past with an anxious response.

  • Eg; Phobic behaviour is an example of escaped avoidance for learning (new behaviours) Can we think of any further examples???

Operant maladaptive behaviour can be rewarded or reinforced
Operant– Maladaptive behaviour can be rewarded or reinforced

May be functional for the individual, but this kind of learning through reinforcement isn’t healthy in the long run

eg; panic attacks with children demanding extra attention can lead to being over nurtured or spoilt.

  • Can we think of any further examples???

Social learning theory we need to take social context into account e g observation of role models
Social Learning Theory We need to take social context into account e.g; observation of role models.

Eg; Kendali + Hammen (1995) said its difficult to distinguish between gentic and SLT.

Task: Discuss in pairs this question?

Is depression, OCD, phobia's genetic or inherited through watching the behaviours? Nature vs Nurture Debate.

Basic principles
Basic Principles

  • Only behaviour is important

    We can only concern ourselves with what we can see or measure, to understand the world. Therefore behaviourist focus on external behaviours. They argue anything else is or could be biased and subjective to the person looking at it.

    2. Abnormal behaviours are acquired

    From whatever acquisition process, such as television, media, parents, peers.

Behavioural approach

  • Role of environment

    The learning environment may reinforce problematic behaviours, eg; avoidance lawyers anxiety, depressive behaviours may elicit help; society may provide maladaptive models as a source of indirect reinforcement.



The behavioural approach can provide convincing explanations of some psychological disorders, including the role of classical conditioning.

Its also lead to successful

therapies being made.


A limited View.

  • Behaviourist approach has been criticised for offered a limited view and not accounting for the reasons for abnormality. However cognitive behaviourists did take the role of cognition into account.

Behavioural approach

Seligman (1970)Suggests we are Bio logically hardwired from a basic instinct to fear certain small dangerous animals, so even thought where not cave men anymore where cant stop the behaviour.

  • Counter Evidence

  • Advantage is that it is open to scientific investigation but research has not always supported the view.

  • Behaviourist examples of Phobia’s have a problem explaining and identifying what traumatic trigger incidents people have to cause certain Phobia's.

  • Most phobia fit specific categories that can be seen as dangerous rather than ‘irrational’

Behavioural approach

  • The symptoms and not the cause

    - It does provide the basis for a range of therapies, their effectiveness is variable and may not provide long term solution. This may be because the treatments are only are only addressing symptoms.

Homework a outline key features of the psychodynamic approach to psychopathology 6 marks
Homework: (a) Outline key features of the psychodynamic approach to psychopathology.(6 marks)

AO1 = 6 marks Outline of features of the psychodynamic approach to psychopathology

Features may refer to assumptions, causes/explanations, concepts of abnormal


• focus on the role of the unconscious in motivating behaviour

• abnormality arises out of unresolved conflicts of childhood, early


• defence mechanisms, repression, tripartite personality, stages of development and fixation