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Behavioural Model of Abnormality. EVALUATION (Ao2). Advantages & Limitations.

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advantages limitations
Advantages & Limitations
  • Advantage 1: Behavioural approaches, especially when combined with cognitive approaches, have proved very effective in treating clients with phobias and other neurotic disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorders. They are less successful with more serious disorders such as schizophrenia and psychosis.
  • Advantage 2: There is also the advantage that therapy can focus directly on the client’s maladaptive behaviour. There is no need to refer to the client’s previous history or to his medical history. Behaviourists believe that changing the behaviour from maladaptive to adaptive is sufficient for a ‘cure’.
  • Limitation 1: One limitation of the BM is that only behaviour is considered. The thoughts and feelings of cognition are not taken into consideration. However, a human being is much more than a bundle of behaviours, and thinking and feelings need to be considered. Behavioural therapy may change the behaviour without resolving the underlying causes of that behaviour.
  • Limitation 2: The BM ignores possible medical causes of abnormal behaviour. For example, we know that there is a genetic element in anorexia, that the lack of glucose can deepen depression, and that excessive dopamine is linked with several mental disorders. It is likely that the Behavioural Model takes too narrow a focus of what constitutes human psychology. Humans are more than rats in Skinner boxes.

Evaluation of the Behaviourist Approach

  • + Treatments can be effective as they have practical application.
  • Reductionist: The approach ignores the role of biological factors and suggests that humans are simple mechanisms at the mercy of stimulus-response behaviours
  • + The approach is concerned with the present symptoms rather than concentrating on the past.
  • Only treats the symptoms and not the causes
  • + Scientific and empirical support through experiments. This means it has been objectively measured.
  • Large amount of supporting research is based on animal studies which can’t be generalised to humans.











activity explaining mental illness using the behavioural model
Activity: Explaining mental illness using the behavioural model
  • Work in Pairs and Use Classical conditioning, Operant conditioning, and Social learning theory (modelling) to explain the development of Anorexia Nervosa. (write down your explanations).
  • List at least one strength & one limitation of using the behavioural model to explain the abnormal behaviour ‘Anorexia’.
behaviourist approach ao 2
Behaviourist Approach (AO2)

Name and outline 2 supporting points and 2 criticisms of the approach


Support: 1) Focuses on Behaviour 2) Focuses on Functioning

Criticism: 1) Ignores causes of behaviour 2) Reductionist


Explain each criticism in more detail….


Apply the behaviourist response to the criticism that it ignores causes of behaviour (using keyword ‘However’)