Phobias and Addictions
What makes a person scared of heights? What makes one person scream when they see a snake and others scream when they are stuck in a small space? Why does a person develop an addiction to drugs, sex, or video games? Operant and classical conditioning are two different types of conditioning that can help answer those questions. Extinction can also lead to the reversal of these conditioned traits.
Classical and Operant Conditioning
“Classical conditioning refers to learning in which an environmental stimulus produces a response in an organism” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p193.). Classic conditioning occurs when an innate reflex to a stimulus is associated with separate neutral stimulus due to exposure. For example, when an individual hears a loud noise they have an innate reaction to cover their ears. If they work in an environment where every load noise is preceded with a flash of light, the individual, depending on the circumstances, may cover their ears when they see a flash of light. This covering of the ears would be considered a classically conditioned response. Another area of conditioning that plays a part in everyday life is operant conditioning.
Operant conditioning is “learning to operate on the environment to produce a consequence” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p193.). Operant conditioning is the thought that our actions occur and then produce a result. Then, based on the result, we attempt to repeat that action or stop the action to produce or do away with the result of that action. The main distinction between operant conditioning and classical conditioning is that operant conditioning holds to the fact that our action happens first; in classical conditioning the stimulus or event happens before our action. Due to the nature of classic conditioning, our phobias often are a direct result of classic conditioning.
Phobias and Classical Conditioning
A phobia is defined as “an irrational fear of a specific...