Topical Blog Week #8 (Due Thursday)


What I would like you to do is to find a topic from what we have covered so far in class that you are interested in and search the internet for material on that topic. You might, for example, find people who are doing research on the topic, you might find web pages that discuss the topic, you might find youtube clips that demonstrate something related to the topic, etc. What you find and use is pretty much up to you at this point. But use at least 3 sources.

Once you have completed your search and explorations, I would like you to say what your topic is, how exactly it fits into the chapter, and why you are interested in it. Next, I would like you to take the information you found related to your topic, integrate/synthesize it, and then write about it. At the end, please include working URLs for the three websites.

Once you are done with your post make list of the terms and terminology you used in your post.

By integrating/synthesizing I mean to take what your read/experienced from the internet search (and from chapter 1 if you like) organize the information into the main themes, issues, info, examples, etc. about your topic and then write about the topic in your own words using that information. This is hard for some people to do - many students write what we refer to as "serial abstracts." They are tempted to talk about the websites rather than the topic proper. They will talk all about website #1, start a new paragraph and talk all about web site #2, start a new paragraph and talk all about web site #3, and then write some kind of conclusion. Serial means one after the other...This what you DON'T want to do!

At first it is a real challenge to get out of the habit of writing "serial abstracts," but I assure you once you get the hang of it it is much easier to write using the integration method. And besides this is the way researchers and scientists write their technical reports and findings - many of you will have to be able to do this for other classes and for jobs that you may eventually be hired for so now is a good time to learn this skill. At this point don't worry about a grade, worry about doing your best to have fun with the topic and then integrate it into your own words to share what you found and now know. We will work on citing the sources later....

Let me know if you have any questions.


I chose to find videos that deal with extinction. Extinction is dealing with a target behavior that was once reinforced, but is no longer reinforced. The person emitting the behavior varies the way they emit the behavior so they get reinforced, but with extinction it doesn't work with any way they try. We talked about extinction a while back in section 1.3 and 1.4. I am very interested in extinction because I love looking at the examples, and seeing the same functional. They look different on the surface, but they act to get the same response, and I think it's very interesting why it doesn't work. I am also very interested in this because this will help me for when I am a mom later on in life and trying to incorporate establishing operations in them. I can look at extinction for this.

In all of the following videos, they deal with extinction. In the first video clip I chose to show a clip from American Iodol. A lot of the contestants on American Idol have been told previously how good of a singer they are and reinforced them to follow a singing career, and when they got to American Idol they were punished for their singing. This clip shows for example that they were once reinforced by their faimly for the behavior they exhibited, but American Idol judges are trying to elicit a response from the singer, and cause the behavior to be extinguished. The other two clips also show extinction because in all of the clips the people are emitting different ways to get the people's attention, and none of them are working. This will then cause the behavior to become extinct. These videos are all quite funny, and I think extinction is a pretty funny thing. Extinction messes with our minds, because we are no longer reinforced for something we were once reinforced for.

The final clip I presented represents extinction the best. The men try all different ways to get the women into their car, and all of the different attempts don't work and this becomes very adversive to the men. This causes they men to try a different approach with the next set of women, and this fails too. The best part is that they didn't give up, but they soon will when every attempt they try doesn't get reinforced.

extinction, target behavior, reinforced, emitting, emit, functional, establishing operations, punished, elicit, extinguished, adversive

After reading about Watson and his Little Albert study I decided that I would look into Watson a little further. We all learn about Watson and how he was one of the first behaviorists and he conducted the Little Albert Studies. However, few people know that after Watson was forced out of his academic career for having an affair with a lab assistant that he found a very successful career in the world of advertising. In Oct of 1920 Watson was asked by John Hopkins University to resign his position there due to his affair. This was a significant event because at this point Watson was a well-respected psychologist, but this illustrates how seriously society took divorce in this time period. After losing his position at John Hopkins Watson decided to head to New York City to sort out what he was going to do now that he was going to be unable to get an academic position. A friend helped him out and got him a position at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. However, his initial position was not a glamorous one as he was going door to door doing market research. He was lucky enough to receive a recommendation from Edward Titchener and was hired on to a full time position that gave him a salary of 10,000 per year which was 4,000 more than he was making at John Hopkins. Watson being the scientist that he was spent a summer being a clerk to try to understand the mind of the consumer a little better. Watson understood that he had been in the educational system his entire life and that he did not know much about the consumer. After the summer Watson brought his newfound knowledge of consumers and his vast knowledge of human behavior to the advertising world. He soon discovered that consumers were buying products based on the image of the product, which leads him to create one of the pillars of modern advertising “sell the image”. He first used this technique to help sell Ponds Cold Cream by getting the Queen of Spain to do a testimonial ad for it. Ponds saw an increase in sales after this advertising campaign. Watson was still not done with his contribution to the advertising community; he created what would be considered the first infomercial. The purpose was to create a need for a product where no need existed. He did this by conducting a half hour radio broadcast informing the people on a specific issue such as dental hygiene and saw that sales would go up afterword. After this breakthrough he became the Vice President of J. Walter Thompson and was making 50,000 a year in 1928, which was increased to 70,000 in 1930. Watson was now making considerably more than his 6,000 a year academic salary. This story of Watson’s advertising career helps relate back to our class because it shows the behavior modification is present throughout many aspect of our daily life. It also shows us that Behavior Modification is not limited simply to the academic world, but the business world as well. Watson used his vast knowledge of behavior to help sell products and made a very lucrative career out of it.

The topic I have chosen is Systematic Desensitization. I’m very interested in this topic because I really think that everyone has a specific phobia and they are ridiculous and can be a huge, and sometimes embarrassing, burden in life. I think that with the use of systematic desensitization, we can truly help people get back to a state of “normalcy” and help them to live a more productive life. This is truly something that I would like to, someday, be a part of. Also, I’m a Certified Yoga Instructor and deal with Progressive Muscle Relaxation almost every day, so I found this very interesting. I believe that this topic fits nicely into the class because it was, not only a vocabulary word in the chapter, but I believe that it will fit in with the future. How we punish and reinforce people all depends on the person themselves, and people’s individual fears can have a huge role in that. For example, a child may be reinforced with a toy of the TV Claymation character Gumby. However, if I were given that toy, I would think I was being punished due to the fact that I’m afraid of Claymation. Systematic desensitization could have taken care of that for me though and then I would hopefully, find the toy as a reinforcement again. It could really make a world of difference.
When I first began looking at information on this topic I came across a site that more fully discussed how systematic desensitization works. I was initially unaware that the clients must fully learn to relax and be able to control their emotions before they are able to even visualize their fear. Not only that, but clients must be able to develop scenarios in their heads from least to most feared. There are also a lot of different parts when it comes to learning how to relax yourself. First, the client must be aware of their breath and learn to breathe very slowly. When a person becomes anxious their breathing quickens and they begin “thoracic breathing” from their chest. This type of breathing can result in making the person dizzy, increase their heart rate, and make their muscles tense up. This explains a lot as to why the initial anxiety is the first thing that people need to be able to rid themselves of.
Next, the clients start into the progressive muscle relaxation. Do to my association with yoga I had known a lot about this before, but I had never thought about using it in anything other than yoga and for anxiety ridden clients. When a person goes through progressive muscle relaxation they must be as comfortable as possible in a quiet, relaxing state. The client will then flex and relax muscles in their body. Something that I was unaware of was that the real breakthrough that progressive muscle relaxation makes for people is that it helps them interpret the distinctions between a tense and relaxed muscle, so they can strive to constantly be in a more relaxed state, especially when stressed.
Visualization is also a key part of relaxing oneself during systematic desensitization. A client must be able to calm themselves down by visualizing themselves in a peaceful place, as a peaceful person. This allows them to reach a fuller state of mental and physical relaxation.
Something else that a client who is going through systematic desensitization should do is, create an anxiety hierarchy. This will allow the client to more easily visualize the events in which they are afraid of and more easily overcome them. Not only should they be able to emit a writing behavior of their situations but they should visualize the events in detail, but they should be able to grade and pair them together with an anxiety level.
The video that I have included below was fantastic for me to view. It elicited a thinking behavior, and I understood more fully what systematic desensitization was. It’s not simply a cognitive behavioral procedure, but it really gives someone the feeling of being in control of their lives. It doesn’t use punishment and there’s no chance of the client feeling satiation. It’s a controlled process. The video also made me realize that when the client visualizes, touches, or sees a picture of what they are afraid of, although it’s a milestone in their progress, but they will be repeating the step until they are completely relaxed while doing it. It’s not a “one and done” process.
Terms: systematic desensitization, emit, punish, reinforce, progressive muscle relaxation, elicit, cognitive behavior, satiation

the topic i chose to discuss is Trial and Error and we tend to "stamp in/stamp out". I chose this topic because i personally find it very interesting that we use this procedure everyday, and often times, more than once without even realizing it. This topic fits into this chapter because it was used by Edward Thorndike in many of his experiments. I first wanted to start off my research by looking up exactly what trial and error is and what we use it for overall. Bascially, trial and error is a process one would encounter when they are given multiple chances to emit a variety of behaviors to find the desired outcome; although we tend to not use this technique when we only have one shot. For example: Trial and Error would be frowned upon in cases which an organism is operating on another, or a person is diffusing a bomb, etc. Trial and Error are most often used in nearly any situation from: homework, starting a car, cooking, learning to tie a shoe, etc. The "stamp in/stamp out" of information comes into effect while we are emiting the different behaviors; we stamp out anything thaat failed to give us the desired outcome and we stamp in the target behavior that lead us to success. I decided to use a common clip that many people have seen, particularly fans of the show, from Family Guy when stewie is standing by Lois' bedside and keeps trying to get her attention. This is an example of trial and error because he starts off with calling her lois and sees that she isn't responding, so he then moves on to mommy then momma and so on;he finds that none of the names are working so he rules out the chance of him using the wrong as a reason for her ignoring him, so he remains persistent in hopes that she will finnaly react and notice him and she eventually does. So now he knows for next time that all he has to do is keep trying in order to reach the desired target behavior. Although Trial and Error would be considered a good process to use since we pretty much use it every day, it can have its disadvantages as well. Theres a disadvantage in that, you cant use it on everything; one would have to be able to afford making the mistakes without it ruining the experiment overall since this techniqes does involve emitting several behaviors in order for the right one to be the renforcer. One would also argue that using Trial and Error is very time consuming so you won't always see the results right away until you found the right behavior needed and, depending on the situation of course, it can be a waste of materials (more likely in medical testing than everyday life) due to the fact that we are testing and retesting over and over again.




Terms: Emit, Organism, Target Behavior, Reinforcer

I researched the psychologist John B. Watson because I was interested in his behaviorist ideas and also a little concerned about the ethical implications of the little Albert experiment. I found that the child we know as little Albert had a brain defect, and Watson misrepresented the boy’s health, and so I am even more enraged. The nine month old child apparently was really Douglas Merritte according to a 2012 article in American Psychologist. The child died at the age of six and apparently suffered from hydrocephalus from infancy. Although his parents still could have given informed consent for the experiment, Watson should have revealed the child’s brain health at the time he revealed his findings. Who knows, maybe the experiment and the repeated loud noises could have made his condition worse or created suffering because of the fluid on his brain.
I am also skeptical about Watson’s theory that humans react to stimuli in the same way as Pavlov’s dogs. B.F. Skinner also denied that the mind or emotions determine our behavior. Although both of these psychologists have more expertise than I do, I cannot help but believe that a human who knows he or she is being reinforced to change behavior could resist the conditioning effort. If not, why can’t we solve substance abuse and other destructive behaviors by subjecting the individual to operant conditioning. The idea that humans are “biological machines” and do not consciously act, but rather only react to stimuli is abhorrent to me. My interest in psychology comes from a belief that every person is unique. The science fiction notion that a group of people exposed to the same stimuli would behave in the same way seems to me just that – fiction. Within any one group of people, the word ”smile” may result in a conditioned blink, but some would be irritated at the intrusion of the camera, others would revel in the attention and others would be reminded of a relative or friend who always took pictures. The blink is interesting, but the other reactions inform psychologists about the make-up, needs and experiences of the individual.
Even while we are reacting to stimuli, we have the power to know why we do it, to modify our reaction, and to take responsibility for our actions. Our brains have the capacity to overcome conditioning. Watson’s 1913 speech at Columbia itself was a reaction to criticism of psychology as subjective and interpretive. Watson argued that psychology was objective and predictable and did not depend on psychologists’ evaluation of actions and behavior in the context of human experience. Yet, in his little Albert experiment, he failed to have objective criteria for the infant’s responses. When the infant crawled away, Watson interpreted that response as fear without accounting for other possible circumstances. Although I understand that infants may be more likely to reflexively respond to stimuli as a biological machine, I disagree that older humans can be studied as dogs or less intelligent creatures.,%20Karen%20E%20A%20Critical%20Analysis%20of%20John%20B%20Watson-Original%20Writing.pdf here is a video about little albert and Watson

After reading about the studies about fear I decided to do further research about Watson and Little Albert. This was in section 3.4 and it interested me because I wanted to learn more about the experiment and what became of Little Albert.

Before reading more about Watson I emitted the behavior of looking up the definition of fear. According to fear is "a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; concern or anxiety; something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension". So fear is aversive but has its uses evolutionarily speaking. Now for the information about Watson and Little Albert.

Little Albert, or Albert B., was raised in a hospital environment because his mother was a wet nurse there. His environment was sterile and with little to fear in comparison to children raised outside of the hospital. His physical development was spot on. However, Albert was lethargic and unemotional--most likely due to his environment. It was for these reasons that Albert was chosen for Watson's experiment because Watson believed that this experiment would do little harm to him emotionally. Albert, I discovered, is the only child who Watson did this experiment with. When Albert was nine months old he was put through a series of emotional test to see if he would respond with the target behavior of fear. Albert was introduced successfully to a white rat, a rabbit, a dog, a monkey, masks, wool, and more. At no point did emit the emotion of fear. In order to get the target behavior out of Albert one experimenter distracted him while another stuck a steel bar with a hammer. When first stuck Albert was simply startled. The second stimulation caused Albert to startle and puckered his trembling lips. When the third stimulation occurred Albert began to cry. An Stimulus-Response bond had been made. For the first time the researchers were able to elicit the target behavior out of Albert. The researches then paired a neutral stimulus--white rat--with an unconditioned stimulus--clanging noise--and succeeded in classically conditioning Albert to fear not only the rat but to any fluffy animal. I discovered that this conditioning occurred over weeks as to not upset or disturb Albert and the used blocks to show that Albert only feared the animals. Albert was emitting stimulus generalization. They also tested the importance of the timing of the noise and the animals and the antecedent or context of the experiment. The experiment continued for months. When Albert was about a year old the experiment was stopped for one month and Albert went back to his normal routine at the hospital. At one year and twenty-one days old Albert was reintroduced to the experiment. When presented with anything fluffy Albert emitted the target behavior of showing fear. When presented with blocks Albert played with them normally. After this experiment Albert was taken to the hospital and no further tests were done. No de-conditioning occurred.

But what became of Albert? After years of looking Little Albert was finally found. Little Albert's real name is Douglas Merritte. Unfortunately, Douglas died at the age of six after acquiring hydrocephalus--an accumulation of serous fluid within the cranium also known as water on the brain. Because of this, researchers were unable to determine if Douglas grew out of his fear of furry objects.

Terms: de-conditioning, target behavior, elicit, emit, Stimulus-Response bond, stimulus generalization, antecedent, context, unconditioned stimulus, neutral stimulus, classical conditioning,

systematic desensitization.
One Thing that we have talked about recently in our behavior modification class was that of systematic desensitization. I thought this was very interesting and I really like learning about phobias and the different phobias people have. I don’t necessarily think that everyone has a phobia, but I do believe that everyone has something that makes them uncomfortable or elicits anxiety that doesn’t have a clear cut reason of why. I actually have a huge phobia of heights. I will avoid talking elevators that have a clear backing that lets you be able to see how high in the air you are. Or I will become full of anxiety just seeing a high location on tv or on a movie. I know many other people have situations like mine with heights. What makes me really want to learn more about systematic desensitization is that it can be used to help people with these problems. They can learn to deal with these issues and make a sense of calm and having a normal life. I would like to try some of these myself to help me relax when I am extremely anxious. Joseph Wolpe was the person that actually developed this idea. He made them for the treatment of people who suffer from anxiety related disorders and phobias. “Systematic desensitization usually starts with imagining yourself in a progression of fearful situations and using relaxation strategies that compete with anxiety.” is the concept he thought of. The desensitization starts with ith imagining yourself in a progression of fearful situations and using relaxation strategies that compete with anxiety. Once you can manage the anxiety in an imaginary setting you would be able to conquer the anxiety in a real physical setting. The goal of the process is to become gradually desensitized to the triggers that are causing distress. The desensitization actually happens in three steps. “(1) training the patient to physically relax, (2) establishing an anxiety hierarchy of the stimuli involved, and (3) counter-conditioning relaxation as a response to each feared stimulus beginning first with the least anxiety-provoking stimulus and moving then to the next least anxiety-provoking stimulus until all of the items listed in the anxiety hierarchy have been dealt with successfully.” ( Learning to relax is a very important part in Desensitization. Deep breathing helps with the relaxation. Short and shallow breaths while you are feeling anxious will make it worse depriving oxygen and carbon dioxide to the body this can also contribute to you having a panic attack.

The topic I decided to look into a little more was the Conditioned Emotional Response. We discussed this in terms of the Little Albert study and how his fear was a created behavior. The loud sound elicited the fear response in him. Then was also looked at systematic desensitization in order to reverse that fear or emotional response. I thought this topic was interesting. To think that our fears are created is so odd to me, but I just want to learn more about it.

When looking into this topic more, I learned that it's not necessarily just fear that can be created, but it can also be laughter or happy feelings. In the second link, the example it gave was receiving mail from a friend makes you feel warmth and love inside. It's a good feeling, but it is a feeling that is learned. If you receive bills in the mail, you probably won't be experiencing a warm and fuzzy feeling. The warmth and love you receive is a reinforcement to keep writing back and have that feeling again. I always write e-mails to my grandma, and I feel so good when she sends me one and the feeling I get as a consequence of receiving her e-mails reinforces me to emit the behavior of writing back to her because it is so pleasurable. This is a learned or conditioned behavior. In the youtube video the child laughs every time the mother makes a certain noise. This would be similar to children laughing once the find you after going PEEK-A-BOO!! It's something that they learn, and once it is learned they laugh every time!

The first link is about dogs and the fears they have. They believe that many of the fears in dogs are caused by genetics, but some are also learned based on the training that the owners give. If owners reinforce an aversive behavior by laughing, that can create bad habits in the dog. When wanting to get a dog to stop a behavior that was previously reinforced it is bad to start punishing them for it. If you used to reinforce the behavior and then stop that's extinction, and would be most effective, but the behavior is always there and may come back, which would be spontaneous recovery. It is possible to counter condition the dog by practicing conditioned emotional response. The dog however will still relapse on occasion.

I learned a lot more about conditioned emotional responses and how they can be used to manipulate behavior. I will most likely raise children and maybe have animals in the future. I want them to enjoy life and experience happiness, so if I can learn how to elicit certain behaviors from them that would enrich there lives, than I have done my job.

Terms: Conditioned Emotional Response, elicit, Systematic desensitization, emit, reinforcement, pleasurable, extinction, spontaneous recovery, punishing, aversive

Prior to eliciting to read more about Edward Thorndike I did not have a very good perception as to exactly all Thorndike did. With getting a new puppy I thought what a perfect thing to research more about. After emitting researching online I found that Thorndike’s theory was that animals that were rewarded from a response, then the response is learned. If not rewarded, the response would gradually disappear. His experiments were placing animals into cages, they then would have to emit to pushing buttons or pulling strings to release them from the cage, then would be rewarded, which would bring about a pleasurable response and continue to be repeated. Eventually once placed in cage, the animal would elicit the behavior almost immediately knowing they’re going to be rewarded in the end. With that being said, this means that the stimulus response being followed by a pleasurable experience, that “stamps in” the response. The response that is followed with an aversive response those would be “stamped out”. The theory was called the law of effect.

Thorndike’s Theories
The Law of Effect is defined as a response to a situation in which is followed by a pleasurable reinforcement, which in turn the response is continued to be strengthened. Responses that are followed by an aversive reinforcement the response will then be weakened.
The Law of Exercise is shown when the response is continued through repetition then the responses will be strengthened. When it is not repeated then the responses are weakened.
The Law of Recency is demonstrated when the most recent response is shown to occur.

This was a great example of an experiment conducted by Thorndike that shows the theories that were discussed above.

tERMS: Law of Recency, Law of Exercise, Law of Effect, response, aversive, elicit, emit, reinforcement, pleasurable, stamped in, stamped out.

Systematic desensitization is a behavioral method that helps people conquer their phobias. It fits into the chapter because it relates to the Little Albert experiment. Watson never had a plan to desensitize Little Albert from the fear that he conditioned him to have and systematic desensitization is a method that could be used. It is interesting to me that someone can get over a phobia using systematic desensitization and I wanted to know how it works in more detail.

Systematic desensitization works best when dealing with phobias that develop from personal experience rather than a phobia that has an evolutionary component like being afraid of animals or of heights but can be used for extreme fears as well as phobias. The goal of systematic desensitization is to reduce to ability of certain situations to elicit anxiety. Each situation must be confronted while in deep relaxation. It is important to know some methods of relaxation; one that was interesting to me was progressive muscle relaxation. It works by making a certain area of the body tense for about 5 to 10 seconds then letting the muscles relax and focusing on how the muscle feel while relaxed. It takes practice but after a while you will be able to relax certain muscles on a moment’s notice.

Systematic desensitization can be successful by completing three steps. The first is to relax but you have to be proficient at a relaxation technique that makes you the most comfortable. In order for it to work the situation has to be vividly imagined. The second step is to construct an anxiety hierarchy ranking each situation from least anxiety inducing to most anxiety inducing. The goal of the last step is to make an association of relaxation with the anxiety causing situation. While in deep relaxation you picture the anxiety causing situation which after a sufficient amount of sessions will be paired with relaxation. Each session of desensitization should not last more than 30 minutes and it is ideal to have a session once a day, five times a week. After completing the steps above it is important to actually go out and emit the aversive behavior that is causing the anxiety.
Terms: elicit, systematic desensitization, emit, aversive

For this week’s topical blog, I chose to research John Watson. As a marketing and psychology double major, I hope to enter the field of marketing research and analytics someday and Watson was a pioneer of applied marketing research so I personally identify with him. I also think the Little Albert study was revolutionary and very interesting so I thought it would be great to look into him a bit more.

The Little Albert study clearly and without a doubt proved that people operated similarly to animals in the sense that we could be “trained” to be fear or like something. Little Albert felt no fear of the white rat or any of the other animals he encountered and was overall a calm child. Once the loud, startling noise was introduced, Albert began to associate the scary noise with the introduction of the animals. What was once a Neutral Stimulus (the animals) has now become a Conditioned Stimulus, which caused the Conditioned Response of fear.

“He [John Watson] began studying the behavior of children, as well, concluding that humans were simply more complicated than animals but operated on the same principles. All animals, he believed, were extremely complex machines that responded to situations according to their "wiring," or nerve pathways that were conditioned by experience. In 1913, he published an article outlining his ideas and essentially establishing a new school of psychology. It was new because Watson disagreed with Freud and found the latter's views on human behavior philosophical to the point of mysticism. He also dismissed heredity as a significant factor in shaping human behavior.” ( Watson believed that if you can Condition a dog, you can condition any human being. All you need to find is the right reinforcer or punisher. Although I think the Little Albert study was highly unethical, it did shed some light into the behavior similarities that humans and animals emit.

As I was researching Watson, I came across many quotes focused on the Little Albert study because that is a famous study that all introductory psychology students know. I really wanted to only cover the Little Albert study a bit because it was covered in the text and it’s a such a well-known study that it seems silly for me to research something I’ve learned about before. For this reason I chose to delve into Watson’s life after he marries Rayner and leaves John Hopkins. After Johns Hopkins, Watson entered the field of advertising, opening an advertising firm in New York City and applying behavioral psychology principles to the field of marketing. He also firmly believed in conducting market research in order to fully understand the consumer.

Watson began his advertising career as a shoe salesmen, working his way up to Vice President of J. Walter Thompson, which was the number two largest advertising firm in the U.S. at the time. He applied behavior modification principles to the field of advertising and using reinforcement to make advertising more effective. He is also known for being one of the pioneers in using the promise of a reinforcer as a reinforcer itself. We often see diet pills that will cause you to lose weight, skin care products that will make you glow, and drinks and vitamins that will give you instant energy. All of these things are common place in today’s marketing industry but this was not always so. Watson is the one we have to thank for this. Watson also brought back the use of testimonial advertising, although he didn’t create it.

Overall, I identify closely with Watson and advertising because it is my goal to work in the field of advertising, using the knowledge of psychology to create the most effective advertisements possible.

Terms: neutral stimulus, conditioned stimulus, condition response, condition, reinforcer, punisher, emit, reinforce

After emitting a reading behavior on Pavlov’s and Watson’s classical conditioning, I became greatly interested in this model. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physician and researcher did a lot of important work studying the digestive system, and even won a Novel prize for his work in 1904. Despite this Nobel Prize, Pavlov is best known for his development of a model for describing a basic non-conscious instinctual type of learning called classical conditioning. Pavlov first thought of this model when he was studying digestion in dogs. In his experiment, a dog is hooked to a mechanism that measures the amount that the dog salivates. A tone sounded just before a dog is given meat powder, and the meat powder elicits the dogs to salivate. After several trials like this, conditioning occurs where the dog salivates just to the bell alone. What’s happening is the dog learns to salivate to the sound of the bell. This is relatable to your mouth watering at the memory of a favorite food. Pavlov used this relatively simple experiment as a model for describing much of the autonomic and unconscious learning that occurs in daily life. Pavlov’s four basic components in this classical conditioning model were the unconditioned stimulus, the conditioned stimulus, the unconditioned response, and the conditioned response. The unconditioned stimulus is the stimulus that naturally elicits the target response like a reflex, which, in this case is the meat powder. An outside example of and unconditioned response is an eye blink, since we have no control over it and it is a basic function of our bodies. The conditioned stimulus is the stimulus that comes to elicit the target response of salivating. In Pavlov’s experiment, the conditioned stimulus is the tone, because before, it was just a neutral stimulus. The unconditioned and conditioned responses are most often the exact same behavior. For example in Pavlov’s experiment, they are both salivation. Both the conditioned stimulus (the tone) and the unconditioned stimulus (the meat powder) both elicit salivation after conditioning.
I came across an amusing video on that demonstrates this model of classical conditioning. In this video, a college student in psychology is attempting to classically condition hi roommate. In this experiment, the neutral stimulus is a button that emits a sound saying, “That was easy.” The unconditioned stimulus is an air gun, and both the unconditioned and conditioned responses are flinching. The student is attempting to condition his roommate to flinch upon hearing the emitted, “That was easy” sound. After a few trials the student succeeds the neutral stimulus of the sound button becomes the conditioned stimulus and elicits a flinching behavior in the roommate after the sound is emitted.

Terms: Emit, elicit, classical conditioning, neutral stimulus, unconditioned stimulus, conditioned stimulus, unconditioned response, conditioned response, target response, Pavlov, Watson.

I thought desentization was a very interesting topic of study and wanted to learn more about such material. Someone already did systematic desentization but I want to focus more on if desentization truly work and is perminant. It fits in this chapter because in the little albert experiment it was unsure if albert could have actually been desentized for the future. Watson actually never planned to do it but he had ideas that it may possibly be done. I am intrested in desentization because I always wondered about peoples phobias and if they truly do become partial to their past fears and if it really goes away in their lives or more likely it just is ignored but the fear always remains. I myself have a slight phobia of messy rooms and am truly confident that would never change.

What my research did was prove to me that desentization did actually work on many levels. It can be applied to many aspects of life and is continuously being excerted on us and the environment without us even thinking about it. One way this is done is due to the mean world syndrom. We are so used to violence in the world today; from tv, video games, and the news. We do not realize that we are becoming desentized from it. In one of the videos I watched it shows clips of people seeing the violence in person and it having no great effect on the person. They see it as a social norm and not a elicit emotional responder. The people emited no shocking behavior even to someone being run over!
Another similar research video I noted was how people can desentize pets and animals in a good way. One video shows a women giving her dogs treats around loud noise so they assocciate the postivive stimulous with the adversive sound making it a classical conditioned response to be desentized from the loud noise because it elicits food.
A horse is desentized of scary objects by simply being put through a obstical course of objects making the horse become submerged in the scary objects conditioning the horse to be used them.
Desentization is a working force in nature and cannot be refuted as a fack thing. It is apparetn that my fear of dirty rooms will probably never go away but if someone were to present a postive stimulous with it I may become less aware of the room and more likely to be focused on the pleasurable stimulous.

Terms: desentiation, systematic desentization, positive stimulous, negative stimulous, pleasurable stimulous, stimulous, elicit, emit, elict, conditioning, classical conditioning, submerged, mean world syndrome, phobias, little albert experiment, watson,conditioned emotional response, adversive

I found some information on the rewards center in the brain and how stimulating it can affect reinforcement. I heard a little about it in another class and I thought it was interesting can tie in with a lot of concepts from behavior modification.
I found a few videos on YouTube that discuss what I’m referring to. They all show that an electrode is implanted in a mouse’s brain and the mouse is placed in a skinner box where it is conditioned to emit the behavior of pressing a lever, which is the reinforcer. The mouse will continuously stimulate the rewards center of the brain or what is thought to be the nucleus accumbens. The mouse is on a continuous schedule of reinforcement because it is always being reinforced for pressing the lever. The two men that came up with this study were James Olds and Peter Milner. When they did this study they found that the rats would continue pressing this lever even when they were deprived of food and water. The mice never experienced satiation which basically says they were never full of stimulating the rewards center. This experiment was also done on a woman that suffered from clinical depression. The doctor implanted an electrode in her brain and she was allowed to choose when she would be reinforced or when she was going to push her button. She did this repeatedly and although they did not show the effects of this overtime I would be concerned that she would become addicted to this kind of positive reinforcement. It is shown that drugs activate the rewards part of the brain which is also activated when we are craving foods. That would explain why people are never satiated when they are addicted to drugs and why some people have such a hard time controlling their eating habits too. A lot of people will purchase their drugs before they will purchase things to eat or drink though. Another thing that the studies found going with this deprivation of food is that the rats will endure some pretty aversive punishers to get to the lever to be reinforced. The shocks were a type of positive punishment because they were added to decrease the likelihood that the rats would cross over and push the lever. They also found that the rats would brave stronger shocks to get to the lever for reinforcement than would rats that were suffering from food deprivation. Learning about the biological reinforcers of things like addiction and over eating by stimulating rewards parts of the brain can help us modify people’s behaviors. Once we figure out a way to overcome those positive reinforcers we can focus more on the psychological aspects of behavior modification.

Terms used: Skinner box, conditioned, emit, reinforcer, continuous schedule of reinforcement, reinforced, deprivation, satiation, positive reinforcement, punishers, positive punishment, behavior modification, aversive

I decided to do more research on classical conditioning. I chose classical conditioning because Watson and Skinner drew upon what Pavlov discovered to help form Behaviorism as we know it. As I have in previous posts, I want to pick on children again.

Classical Conditioning was discovered by Ivan Pavlov. He discovered that dogs can be taught to salivate (an unconditioned response) to a trained stimulus (conditioned stimulus). We all know that a dog will emit a salivating behavior when elicited by the stimulus of food (unconditioned stimulus). Pavlov discovered that you can pair a stimulus that does not elicit an unconditioned response (neutral stimulus) with the unconditioned stimulus of the dog food. After repetition of pairing of neutral and unconditioned stimulus, the subject will emit the unconditioned response to the neutral stimulus. Thus the unconditioned response becomes conditioned (learned) to be emitted when the neutral stimulus occurs because the neutral stimulus has become a conditioned stimulus.

Since we know that we can condition behavior, thanks to our pal Pavlov and contributors along the way, I redirect out attention back to kids. I chose three youtube videos depicting various behaviors that I find to be related to classical conditioning. The first video depicts something that I extremely dislike: children throwing tantrums in the store. This video is not enjoyable to watch, but it brings up a lot of issues to be discussed. First of all, I don't believe that shopping centers (malls, convenience stores, grocery stores, etc) are unconditioned stimuli for kids. But what occurs is that we love our children, and we like to reward them. So one day we take them along while shopping, and because they were so well behaved, we bought them a toy of their choosing. Now buying a child a toy at the store is like giving someone heroine. They are instantly hooked. The child has now learned that going to the store means that they might get something desirable. Prior to that fateful day, going to store meant a long boring trip with mom or dad. But now going to the store has become a waiting game...let's see if I can get a toy if I behave really well again. But then as parents we decide that we can't teach our children to expect a reward every time they behave in the store, so we don't buy them anything this time. Maybe this goes off without a hitch. But the next time you go to the store, your child thinks: maybe mom/dad forgot that they buy me a toy when I behave at the store. So they ask for a toy and you say "not this time". Again the child accepts the response. But now the child does not know when he/she will be rewarded at the store, but meanwhile the store has become a more and more enticing stimulus. The child knows that the store has an infinite amount of goodies just for them. So the next time at the store the child has decided to take a stand. He/She asks for a toy and you say no and they act like the child in the first video. This is the critical moment in which the parent must establish power. The parent has to be resilient and say "no", or the child will have gained the upper hand. This is the time in which a child learns whether or not throwing a tantrum will result in a desirable or undesirable consequence. In the first video clip the mother chooses that the child will not receive a book when he tantrums. She is extinguishing his behavior, and not reinforcing it because she does not buy the book he wants. What this shows is that we, as parents, have a great responsibility to teach our children the types of behaviors that we clearly desire for them to emit. In the second video I interpreted that the parent had taught their child to say the f-word whenever the child heard the car horn. Funny? Yes. Cute? Yes. Classical Conditioning? Yes. But this shows how creative we have to be about teaching behaviors. Part of tantrums in stores is teaching children that stores are not neutral stimuli. It is easy for us to miss that there are stimuli all over the world vying for our children to emit certain behaviors. Thus, while we can teach our children to swear when we honk our car horns, we also teach them to throw tantrums, and a lot of the other behaviors they emit.

I really like the third clip because it shows how little time it can take to condition a child to behave some way. Within minutes of pairing the cell phone ring with the interaction of the spray bottle and the girls face, the girl became conditioned to the ring tone. It only took minutes. This is why I believe that the store is like heroine for a child. The contents within the store are so excessively reinforcing that it only takes one desirable interaction to initiate the process that leads to tantrum behaviors. (start at 2:52, although the whole thing is pretty funny...maybe unethical...)

terms: classical conditioning, Watson, Skinner, Pavlov, unconditioned response, conditioned response, unconditioned stimulus, conditioned stimulus, neutral stimulus, emit, behavior, elicited, repetition, desirable, undesirable, response, consequence, extinguishing, reinforcing

I have chosen to emit the behavior of finding the behavioristic approach of classical conditioning. We know that the basis is the elicitation of a target behavior, which in time will be emitted by the subject. I am interested in it because behavior is a strong part of why we act the way we do.

In the first clip off of the show Two and a Half Men, the main characters are sitting in a bar named Pavlov’s. In a short concise explanation, the bartender will ring a bell which elicits a target behavior by the patrons to bark and then take a shot. One character, played by Charlie Sheen, tells his brother why he was doing this behavior. His brother then follows the behavior. The environmental influence of the normality of this behavior is a reassurance for his brother, and Charlie. Although I believe extinction would happen when reaching home or another environment. Showing not only the importance of the target behavior that was elicited by the bartender but the influence of those we trust, and the environmental norms being presented, thus emitting conformity. So teaching a behavior is just a part of classical conditioning, but the environment is also an influence and plays part in the conditioning of the subject.

The show Big Bang Theory, is a television show with great displays of behavioristic demonstrations,in this particular clip Sheldon reinforces his roomate with his knowledge of football by answering his roommate’s questions about it, and removing the aversive of having to find terms used in a book (Demonstrated from 1:00-1:17).

The last clip is of two people in an office, the one is at the computer and every time it makes a noise he offers the other a potato chip. After while the trained subject is reaching for the chip that is not offered and then questioned by the other on why he acted this way, thus extinguishing the reinforcement, thus making the behavior aversive for him and leading to eventual extinction of learned behavior.

In conclusion I find this topic relevant because as stated above, is a part of why people behave the way they do. I also know notice the relevancy in real life situations in all contexts. Whether people know it or not, they have classically conditioned someone at some point in their lives, the most obvious would be parenting. Watson, Pavlov, and Skinner were certainly intelligent enough to realize the importance of it and figure out the relevancy of it in human behaviorism.

Terms: Classical Conditioning, Emit, Elicit, Behavior, Pavlov, Skinner, Watson, Reinforcement, Aversive, Extinguish, Extinction.

The previous readings served as an establishing operation, increasing the likelihood that I would be interested in further researching practical uses of psychology as it relates to helping the human condition. I find the use of behavior modification as a tool to help people pleasurable because I attribute high intrinsic value on the helping of others.

For further research in this, I chose art therapy. I became interested in art therapy after reading an art therapy book that included many helpful exercises and was inspiring, and also, because I am an art major. Art Therapy focuses on eliciting the behavior class of creating art as a therapy. To put it in terms of the ABC’s, a person goes to an art therapy Clinic, which serves as discriminate stimulus, because the person knows that their artistic endeavors will be reinforced in the Clinic setting. The role of the art therapist is to elicit the art making from the individual, who will be reinforced with pleasure.

One of the principles of art therapist that people are often deprived of creative outlets, and this has aversive psychological effects. They believe that the actual behavior class of making art is therapeutic. Letting yourself be creative is an unconditioned response to high emotions. It is unconditioned because it has the effect of freeing the emotions and reducing stress. Children naturally draw, or scribble, or make pictures out of dirt. No one told them it was fun. In fact many people told them not to do it. Consequently, many people have become conditioned to hold creativeness inside.

To further the helpfulness of art therapy the therapist could pair the art with other soothing or peaceful stimuli to condition a link between art and relaxation.

As a treatment for pre-existing conditions art therapy is often used as a coping method. It also says it can be used to increase self-awareness. The behavior modification part, is that a person learns to use the creative process as a means to deal with stress, instead of other harmful ways. It seems to be very tied up in the emotional response aspect of a behavior, in less than the actual consequence.

physical consequence, being the making of an art work, is not as much the focus, as it is not an art class where students are taught to emit the behavior of making ‘good art’ or pictures. I like that the focus is not on making good art because that makes art therapy more accessible to people. Especially, in this world, where on of the most frequent jokes we hear in the class room is “I’m not an artist, I can’t even draw a straight line” among other self-depreciating jokes about one’s own artistic abilities. This in itself is a conditioned response, when most people have to draw something, and further adds to the problems, that art therapy seek to lessen.

Other aspects of art therapy involve looking at and interpreting pictures, color and its relation to mood, and personal involvement in one’s art. AS I understand it, art therapy has become much more popular in recent years, although there are still those who disapprove of it, and it is not universally respected.

Overall I would be interested in learning more about art therapy and further researching some of the actual techniques used.

establishing operation, elicit, pleasurable, aversive, discriminate stimulus, intrinsic value, reinforement, unconditioned response. emit, emotional response,

Reading this weeks blog topic illicited the desire to further research B.F. Skinner and his baby box. I was interested in finding out how those babies that were brought up with this method of child rearing turned out later in life and how it affected them. After emitting the behavior of reading several articles I found some interesting information that was not previously mentioned in our readings.

After reading the section about Skinner's baby box, which he personally called "baby tender", I thought it was a great idea and wondered why it didn't gain more recognition and become more marketable to the public. After reading some additional articles I think I found out why. After publishing his finding in a 1945 Ladies Home Journal under the tittle "Baby in a Box" many people misunderstood his invention. Many people had previously heard of Skinner from his findings on opperant conditioning in which he performed behavioral experiments on pigeons in what he called his Skinner Box. Many people saw the picture in the article of a baby in a glass box and assumed it was along the same concept, in that he was performing behavioral experiments on his newborn daughter. They also thought that he locked her in said box for up to two and a half years. All of these claims were far from the truth.

Perhaps the most extreme claim was that Skinner's daughter Deborah, who he had created the box for, grew up to become psychotic and eventually sued Skinner for child abuse, lost, and committed suicide. These claims were made in a book by Lauren Slater titled Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century. These claims have also been proved false by Deborah herself, who stated that she grew up as a happy baby and had no complaints about being raised in Skinner's baby tender. In fact, in 1994, a researcher tracked down fifty people who had been raised in the same fashion and the results showed positive marks all around. Perhaps the main reason this great child rearing invention is not mass produced is that it cannot be patented, in that you cannot patent a small room. It is a shame though because I feel this could make many parents lives a lot easier and a lot of babies more happy.

This video was just a good background on Skinner and his first Skinner box in which he trained pigeons.

Terms: Emit, Illicit, Opperant Conditioning, B.F. Skinner, Baby Box

My Topic: Systematic Desensitization

Systematic desensitization is a topic that was discussed in chapter 3.4. This topic fits into the chapter in that it is a form of behavior modification. The goal of systematic desensitization is to decrease an aversive response to a particular object, situation, animal, or any other anxiety or panic attack provoking instance. This particular therapeutic intervention is used to modify an individual’s response in order to strengthen or increase the individual’s quality of life.

I am interested in this topic, because this particular intervention in therapy is used a lot with confronting an individual’s phobia. Throughout the psychology courses that I have taken thus far in my academic career, phobias have always been a topic in psychology that has always been an interest to me in learning more about. I have watched a couple of episodes of “My Extreme Animal Phobias” on Animal Planet where this technique is used, and it is truly fascinating how powerful of a technique it is.

Systematic desensitization is a technique that was developed by Joseph Wolpe in the 1950s. This particular technique was founded on the basis of classical conditioning in behavior modification. Throughout my research online, it became evident that there are specific steps to this technique and it is imperative that each step be completed successfully before forging ahead into the more serious steps in the process.

In the beginning of this technique, the trained professional helps the individual learn to use some sort of relaxation technique when imagining the fearful situation in order to confront and manage the anxiety and panic response. The individual learns to relax the tensed muscles as well as to manage their breathing into deep breaths. The trained professional’s goal is to have the individual elicit this technique when confronted with their fear instead of emitting the aversive anxiety attack. After mastering the relaxation, the individual is instructed to list the fears of the particular situation in a hierarchy from least to most distressing. After establishing the hierarchy, the trained professional and the individual approach each step cautiously. Before the individual is allowed to move onto the next step in the hierarchy, they must master the relaxation technique in the current step and be able to decrease the response of eliciting the anxious response when confronted with the discriminative stimulus, and instead being able to approach the stimulus with a relaxed demeanor.

Systematic desensitization is mainly used in "in vivo" exposure in that the individual faces the aversive stimulus in a real-life situation. More currently, the exposure to the stimulus can be done through virtual reality on a computer or through some other form of simulation.

As is evident through the understanding of phobias and this kind of exposure, this form of intervention should only be used under the supervision of a trained professional due to the likelihood of panic attacks being the response to the exposure.

As far as the success rate of systematic desensitization as a technique in intervention, it has a high rate of success. The individuals who have a desirable response to this form of intervention, the likelihood of them resuming a more manageable quality of life is increased.

The video that I have chosen to provide as a source for understanding this topic, is a clip from the show “My Extreme Animal Phobias” on Animal Planet. The guy that is shown in this video has an extreme phobia of Pit Bulls. This particular video clip shows the more intense parts of the hierarchy used in this technique in that he is in the final stages of this intervention which is in vivo exposure to the phobia.

The interesting part of this type of technique is that the individual at the beginning of the intervention has one set of ABC’s, and then the modification of the behavior leads to having a completely different set of ABC’s as a consequence.

For example, the guy in the video that I provided fears pit bulls. The initial ABC’s are as follow:

A (Antecedent) = Pit Bull

B (Behavior) = Seeing a picture of a Pit Bull

C (Consequence) = Tensed muscles, extreme anxiety, and he can’t even look at the picture.

After completing the steps of systematic desensitization, it is a completely different ball game:

A = A Pit Bull approaching from a short distance

B = Implements the relaxation technique

C = Allows himself to pet the Pit Bull

As you can see, the antecedents are at different stages in the technique, but the behaviors that are elicited in response are drastically changing the consequence into a more desirable outcome. This truly shows how powerful behavior modification is in changing the way people behave.

Terms Used: Systematic desensitization, discriminative stimulus, stimulus, elicit, emit, response, antecedent, behavior, consequence, aversive, classical conditioning, behavior modification.

Systematic Desensitization

Systematic desensitization fits into the chapters because it is discussed in chapter 3 section 4 understand Watson. It is a behavioral approach method that helps individuals overcome certain phobias and fears in their lives. Personally, I find this topic extremely interesting because I have several relatives that have had phobias of driving and actually say a psychologist that helped them overcome their fear by using this method. For them emitting the behavior of driving had caused them extreme stress and anxiety due to past driving experiences that were not pleasant, including accidents.

I think one of the important things that I learned from researching the topic was that people that have phobias tend to have lost control of their fear and it is really important for them to regain that control mentally, cognitively, and physically. Sometimes systematic desensitization is also called graded exposure. And basically the process of going through is to help people gain that control back through a series of steps to no longer fear whatever it is they are feeling is aversive. Sometimes phobias can be disabling and it can interfere with day to day things that people want/need to do. Often times, people have reason to let go of their phobias because they need to gain control over their fears in order to carry out important daily events.

Along with control, an interesting part of systematic desensitization is motivation. motivation is an interesting part of why people want to gain control over their phobias, they can either be intrinsic or extrinsic. Either the person has finally admitted to themselves that they want power in their own life and they want to overcome their phobia, or they are effect those around them by their phobia as they want to change it for the sake of others.

Another important part of overcoming phobias is the techniques used to get past them. One of the most important techniques used by psychologist are relaxation techniques. usually fears paired with high anxiety and panic disorders so it is important to calm a person down that is fearful because most of their fears are accompanied by tension and muscle contractions. It is important to practice deep breathing and to be completely relaxed when trying to overcome a fear that is disabling.

Overall it was interesting to get some more insight on systematic desensitization because it is clear to see that it very much a technique from behaviorist perspective. Because it focuses so much on behaviors and modify a fear through a process of behavioral techniques.

3 sources:

Terminology: systematic desensitization, behavioral approach method, phobia, emitting, control, graded exposure, aversive, motivation, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, relaxation techniques, anxiety, panic, modify, behavioral techniques.

My topic is John B. Watson and his work for behaviorism/ classical conditioning. I am interested in the environment vs. hereditary debate in psychology. This relates to the chapter because it talks about work done it Watson’s time. I believe the work Watson’s elicited in his Little Albert experiment and behaviorism to be relevant to anything in life, especially behavior modification.
Little Albert is the famous aversive experiment done by John B. Watson. All of the sources given explain the experiment the same way. Watson brought Albert animals that he was not fearful of and after doing so he would elicit an adverse noise when Albert reached for the animal. This causing Little Albert to emit fear when seeing these animals. This helped prove Watson was correct about being able to control a persons’ behavior similar to Pavlov had elicited with the dogs. Little Albert was conditioned to become fearful of the furry animals. As in classical conditioning the stimulus would be the pets, and the loud aversive noise. The conditioned response is that Little Albert was fearful when seeing the fur/animals. As discovered in the video generalization is a term that can be applied in the Little Albert study. As he emitted the behavior of fear upon seeing the animals or because he was fearful of the coat it is generalized to fur.
Watson believed that his Little Albert study was successful because to him, fears are learned not inherited; which lead him to popularize a famous theory. John B. Watson is known for popularizing the term behaviorism after publishing his article "Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It.” The last source also discusses how Watson explained that psychology had failed and that the social sciences should focus on the study of observable behavior. This created a phenomenon in the spread of behaviorism. Watson was mostly concerned with stimuli as he worked off of Pavlov’s classical conditioning as said in the second article.
Terms: elicited, aversive, emit, conditioned, classical conditioning, conditioned response, generalization. the experiment behaviorism article

After reading the chapters I've become very interested in learning more about Watson's behavioral experiment with Little Albert. I really enjoy learning about this experiment specifically because it's unbelievable how much you can condition someone to not like something. I thought the behavior was a little ridiculous at first because Little Albert was not frightened by the animals. But as the experiment when on the child became more and more frightened because of the noise associated with the animal. Then the scary mask and coat even frightened him.

These websites explain the experiment in more detail. The experiment was very creative and strange at the same time because who would of thought that by creating a noise to go along with the animal would scare the child. Watson elicited the noise whenever Little Albert went to reach for the animal or when the animals would appear. By the end of the experiment Little Albert knew that the noise was associated with the furry animals. Bringing in other factors of the experiment scared Little Albert also because he didn't know that the noise was part of the experiment, he thought that it was because he was reaching for the animals. The noise was loud so Little Albert was clearly frightened by it.

The experiment was to see if Little Albert could be conditioned to be scared of the furry animals that were coming close to him. Then the loud noise was elicited to condition him to be afraid when they came close to him. This experiment was similar to Pavlov's experiment because he conditioned the dog to salivate whenever he heard the noise because he knew food was coming. Watson's experiment conditioned Little Albert to be frightened when he saw the furry animals because the noise was coming soon after.

This experiment was genius. I would have never thought by ringing a loud bell would frighten him so much and make him not like the furry animals anymore. It's pretty cool that it did this though because it shows that people can be behaviorly conditioned to be used to the action that was causing the noise. I liked this experiment because it was interesting and different.

Terms: behavior, consequence, elicited, antecedent, conditioning.

The topic I chose to research is the topic of cultural differences in punishment. In the text, section 2.3, it discusses the different types of aversive feelings, physical and mental, people who behave undesirably are rewarded with.
In researching, I found some pretty nasty things on punishment. The three subjects I chose were a website showing percentage of parents who slap and spank their children as punishment in differenct countries around and comparable to the US, a video of the CIA interrogating a man who they thought was a terrorist but really wasn't and lastly another website talking about spanking in schools in the US in the past and present.
Punishment cross culturally caught my eye because I am of mixed ethnicities and to see if there were true differences between the way my mother(white) compared to my father (hispanic) punished me as a kid. Neither one of my parents ever really spanked me or my sister that I can remember but it was interesting to find out what else is happening in the world.
This applies to this chapter because the chapter is going in depth about negavite and positive punishment. I think the webistes with the statistics would be great for this chapter because some of the numbers would apply to students in the class. For example, did you know that Latin American parents are four times less likely to use physical punishment on their children than parents in the US or UK? Actually, the US and the UK are the highest in percentage that slap or spank children in this study of countries including:US, UK, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Chile, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Eastern Bloc countries.
This seemed prevelent in the video showing the accuused terrorist being splashed with ice cold water, being forced to stand for days, being shocked, and many other horrible things. Would they have used that type of punishment in other countries around the world, or is the US the harshest?
Maybe it is the way we raise and teach our kids, that hitting is ok when you're right in society. When is it ok to slap a butt and say "good job" instead of a hug. Or a high five for example, a young child might not be able to tell the difference between smacking hands together and smacking a face with a hand. In the last website, I was shocked to see that some school still "swat" kids! Pretty much all of the northern states have banned this but the southern states seem to be going strong.
In conclusion, I have found out that the US is a very physical country when it comes to punishment. We stand further away when talking, sleep in different beds then our spouses sometimes and even complain when our airline seats are too close, but when it comes to telling someone they are wrong, statistically we are the first to react with our fists.
terms: aversive,undesirable, behavior, reward, punishment, positive punishment, negative punishment,

The concept that I decided to research further for this assignment is the topic of extinction bursts. After emitting the behavior of reading section 2.4 a few weeks ago, I became very interested in the extinction process and more specifically extinction bursts.

As we learned in section 2.4, an extinction burst occurs after the process of extinction is employed. Extinction is when an organism that has been reinforced for emitting a target behavior is no longer reinforced for that specific target behavior. The goal of extinction is to extinguish the target behavior so that it will no longer occur. But, often before things get better and the behavior is extinguished, an extinction burst occurs and things get much worse for a period of time. An extinction burst occurs when reinforcement is initially withheld, the behavior that used to lead to reinforcement will occur more often. There will be an increased amount of behavior as the individual tries even harder to obtain reinforcement.

This fits into what we have been talking about because we had a section on extinction and extinction bursts in chapter 2 when talking about operant conditioning. We discussed definitions of each and also came up with examples. The websites that I found gave me more information and examples of this topic so that I could better understand exactly what an extinction burst is. Also, reading the websites of interest elicited a remembering response for me because I was able gain a better understanding of the topic and learn something new and interesting about it.

I am interested in this topic because I see extinction bursts occur almost weekly. I work at a daycare and am also a nanny for a two year old girl. At the daycare we do not reinforce some of the same behaviors that many parents do at home. As a result, children will do whatever they have to in order to be reinforced like they have in the past. The workers at the daycare use the process of extinction to get rid of the undesirable target behaviors. And as a result, extinction bursts occur. After the children realize that they are not going to be reinforced, they get more aggressive and even exhibit variability in their behaviors just to get someone’s attention. So by learning more about extinction bursts, I hope to be able to better understand them when they do occur.

After reading more about extinction bursts, I realized just how often they happen and many of us do not realize that is what is actually occurring. For example, when trying to lose weight, it seems like things go so well for awhile. You eating healthy foods, count your calories, and even work out. But then one day you decide that you will just have a little doughnut and before you know it your diet has been destroyed. Food is a reinforcer and we have become very accustomed to receiving this reinforcer. But when we go on a diet and are no longer being reinforced by sugary, high-calorie foods, we may eventually undergo an extinction burst and eat everything in sight. This has happened to me a few times in the past but I have never thought of it as being an extinction burst. After reading about this example, I realized that extinction bursts happen quite frequently.

I enjoy watching the show The Super nanny from time to time. This show exhibits many good examples of extinction bursts. The children in these shows are so used to being reinforced for picking on their siblings or not staying in their own bed, that they exhibit extinction bursts when JoJo steps in and does not allow reinforcement to occur for those target behaviors. They become aggressive and begin hitting and kicking things as well as adding variability to their behaviors so that they will be reinforced. Although parents often feel like giving up during these times, the extinction burst will eventually end and the process of extinction will have had a positive impact on the child’s behavior.

According to a few articles that I read online, some parents are uncomfortable allowing extinction bursts to occur. But giving in to an extinction burst is one of the worst things that a parent can do because then the child is being reinforced for throwing a tantrum and will continue to emit the temper-tantrum throwing behavior again in the future. By taking a class like behavior modificatiation, or another informative class about manipulating behaviors, I believe that parents would understand extinction bursts much better and realize that extinction is a perfectly acceptable way to manipulate a child’s undesirable behavior that has been reinforced in the past.

On the other hand, there are many parents that do understand that extinction bursts are perfectly normal and good for children to experience. Many parents see extinction bursts occur when teaching a child to sleep in their bed alone for the first time. The child had previously been reinforced for crying and going into their parent’s room because the parents would let the child sleep with them. But when the time comes for a child to sleep alone, the parents no longer reinforce this behavior and just take the child back to their room. The child will continue to emit the behavior of getting out of bed at a greater frequency until they realize that nothing they do will lead to reinforcement of the target behavior. When this occurs, the bed has become a discriminative stimulus and it lets the child know that he or she will be reinforced for staying in their own bed and punished if they do not.

Through further exploration of this topic, I realized just how common extinction bursts are and that the worst thing a person can do is give in and reinforce the extinction burst.

Terms: Extinction Burst, Emitting, Extinction, Reinforced, Target Behavior, Extinguished, Reinforcement, Behavior, Operant Conditioning, Elicited, Response, Undesirable, Aggressive, Variability, Behavior Modification, Manipulate, Frequency, Discriminative Stimulus

The idea I chose was continuous reinforcement. It is a schedule of reinforcement where you are reinforced every time a target behavior is emitted. It fits into this class because if your trying to increase the frequency of a target behavior, you will want to use a reinforcer after every time. I am interested in this topic because continuous reinforcement can be related to many day to day behaviors emitted. I never thought about how many times I was reinforced after emitting a certain behavior because I just expected the consequence to happen. An example I came up with is starting my car. I am reinforced every time it starts because it elicits me traveling to my destination. If for some reason my car does not start, that will be an aversive behavior and disrupt my usual schedule. If the desirable behavior can't be emitted, that is not necessarily going to cause extintion. If my car does not start, I will probably get it fixed and go back to my usual schedule.

My sources all illustrate the concept of continous reinforcement because after a certain target behavior is emitted, they are reinforced. One of my videos demonstrates turning on and off a light switch. Every time the man emits turning on the lightswitch, he is reinforced by the light coming on. When he emits turning off the switch, the light turns off, which is the consequence he expects because he has been continuousaly reinforced in the past. Now say the light bulb is burnt out and when the switch is turned on nothing happens, that is going to cause an aversive reaction. The other video I have is a man shooting baskets. He makes every shot he takes, and by making the basket he is reinforced. When he makes every basket, it elicits desirable feedback from his friends. Continuous reinforcement is only when you are reinforced after each and every time. If the guy were to miss a basket, that would elicit his friends to say something aversive and he would feel bad about missing that one shot.

Continuous reinforcement is best used when first starting to increase the frequency of a certain target behavior. You want to condition the person or animal that after every time a behavior is emitted, they will be reinforced because they will want to increase the frequency to have the reinforcer. It is not common for continuous reinforcement to occur for a target behavior forever. After your dog knows how to sit, you won't give it treats every time it sits down. The ABC's are also applied here because you have a setting, a target behavior, and a consequence you want to elicit with the reinforcer.


Terms:continuous reinforcement, schedules of reinforcement, target behavior, emitted, reinforcer, behavior, reinforced, consequence, elicit, aversive, desirable, extinction, condition, ABC's

I chose emit research on Watonian Behaviorism, or radical behaviorism as it is referred to today, today this term also includes the works of B.F. Skinner. Which I learned is the term that many followers use to describe how John Watson thought that you could nearly make anyone anything that you want by manipulating their behavior and their atecedent. According the the first website mentioned, his views on behavior appealed very much to young people because they felt like he was in a sense simplifying the mess of psychology and answering many unanswered questions of their time. This also elicited, from me, that I needed to find the real pros and cons of this subject and what I found was that the main pro of radical behaviorism is similar to what the young readers found appealing. This theory of behavior modification was easy to explain and understand for younger people because it was considered "scientific" but it was observable, like many of the terms we use now, you can observe a parent using positive punishment versus negative punishment and you can collect data over time and determine which was the most effective.
This also brought about the cons of radical behaviorism, which is why a lot of people consider this idea radical. The main con was that it took away what made humans "human", like their free will and their ability to believe that their cognitions are completely their own. Through manipulation of their atecedent and behavior, Watson and Skinner proposed that we could forsee the consequence that subjects would go through. They also proposed that because we could control the consequence and antecedent, we could manipulate the subject and make sure that they were given the right discriminative stimulus to elicit the target behavior. This still scares many people who love to believe that they have complete free will and that manipulation shouldn't be performed because it takes away that basic human right, as they see it.
They also argue that behavior modification and radical behaviorism takes away people's ability to freely express their emotions. It may cause harm to people once they have been told or realize themselves that they are under the influence and manipulation of others, this would violate current ethical guidelines for psychology.
The main thing that I discovered by emitting the behavior of researching radical behaviorism is that many people are constantly afraid of the power it has, many do not realize that behaviorism and behavior modification happen everyday without anyone's knowledge and, I believe, the more you worry about it the more and more you are letting it control your life, the very thing you are protesting.

Terms: Watonian Behaviorism, radical behaviorism, emit, elicit, manipulate, behavior, antecedent,behavior modification, positive punishment, negative punishment, target behavior, consequence, discriminative stimulus,


I picked the topic of phobias because I find it very interesting. A phobia is a fearful reaction to a situation or object. For example, many people are fearful of snakes. This may be true even though they have never encountered a snake. They may even not like to look at pictures of snakes or see TV programs about them. The fear is irrational because it makes no sense to be fearful of harmless snakes, and it only makes sense to be cautious about snakes that can do you harm. What I find interesting about this phobia is that many people who have it, nearly all of us in some way or another, can admit that the fear makes no sense. Nevertheless, we are fearful. But that is not the only behavior. We also avoid places where we might encounter snakes. At the zoo we may avoid going into the snake house. Or as mentioned before, we might turn off a TV program about snakes. So a phobia is the behavior of fear and avoidance. It is also escape. A person with a snake phobia will run if they see a snake, or maybe even leave a group of friends who start talking about snakes. There are all kinds of phobias. Lists of hundreds can be found on the internet. But just because we can make up a word to describe a phobia doesn’t mean that any person has that phobia. Also, we can have a phobia, like the one of snakes, but if we live in a place where we never have to encounter a snake it may make no difference.

On the other hand, if we are phobic to common things or experiences like elevators, airplanes, riding in or driving cars, going to the dentist or doctor, receiving an injection, etc. then we have a real problem and may need someone to help us with it. One of the videos illustrated an unusual phobia in a young girl named Gabbe. She fears that she will vomit in public. And if she sees someone else vomit she becomes very anxious. This is called emetophobia. This is where behavior modification procedures can help us.

One common technique is systematic desensitization. You learn a relaxation procedure that puts you in a state of deep muscle relaxation, and then you visualize the phobic object, perhaps some safe distance away. Slowly you learn to visualize the object closer and closer until you can stay relaxed but imagine contact with the object. This technique has been around for a long time and we read about it in abnormal psychology class. Another technique we studied was called flooding. In this technique you are flooded with anxiety at 100% all at once. This can be done by direct contact with the phobic object or by imagining direct contact. The idea as explained to us was that the person would extinguish the fear responses. They would slowly die out. The problem is getting a phobic person to agree to do the flooding.

Another technique described was closer to behavior modification techniques that we have studied. It was called reinforced practice. A person would be given an assignment such a just standing near an elevator (or escalator). They would receive reinforcement from the therapist, or the group, or themselves, or all three for doing this. The next step might be to stand inside the elevator. Then ride one floor, etc. They would receive reinforcement for each step that they completed. This is just another way of extinguishing the anxiety that is associated with the phobic situation.

In one of the other videos I chose the therapist, Dr. Wood, describes exposure therapy. He calls one flooding and the other graded. By graded he means you gradually introduce the phobic object in small steps. He creates a hierarchy of the phobic situation and has the person monitor their anxiety level as they work up to the more difficult situation.

The final video illustrates how people with phobias might interact. It also suggests how phobias might develop. Only a few phobias develop because we have had a direct conditioning experience (such as an actual snake bite). Many phobias develop through modeling. We have learned them from our parents, siblings or friends. In some cases we may even have learned them from the media. If we never have direct contact with the phobic situation they are never deconditioned. Sometimes we may learn the phobia just through someone else describing a situation, like a bad airplane ride.

I liked seeing these videos because, in one way or another, they indicate that phobias are a learned behavior which means through behavior modification they can be unlearned.

Terms; flooding, systematic desensitization, phobias, hierarchy of the phobic situation, exposure therapy, graded exposure, modeling, imitation, phobic, deconditioned, unlearned, learned behavior, reinforcement, extinguish, responses, reinforced practice

Systematic Desensitization

I chose to look up some information about systematic desensitization because I find this to be very interesting. I remember watching a show about it one weekend. I cant remember what the show was called or what channel it was on, but I really liked it. It involved three people and a therapist and they were all trying to get over different phobias they had and the therapist used this technique. I tried to find a video of the show on Youtube, but I couldn’t find one.

This technique is used to treat anxiety disorders and phobias. It is most commonly used by behavioral therapists. The first person to use this was Joseph Wolpe in 1958. The purpose of this is to overcome your phobia by starting small and ultimately reaching your goal. It is best if done with a professional, but it can possibly be done by yourself as well. The first step in this process is to learn a relaxation technique. This could be progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, etc. Once you have mastered a relaxation technique, you create an anxiety hierarchy. You come up with different situations that cause you anxiety about this certain phobia and rate these situations with how much anxiety it causes. There should be about 10-15 different situations. You then pair your mastered relaxation technique with your anxiety hierarchy. You start with the situation that causes you the least anxiety and gradually proceed to higher levels of anxiety. One source mentioned this is like a ladder. You start at the bottom and go rung to rung. At each “rung” you practice your relaxation technique while vividly visualizing you fear. It is important that you become comfortable with each situation before moving on the next situation. If you just do it and be done and don’t become comfortable, then it won’t work. Most people chose to do this type of therapy because their phobias are messing up their lives. Their phobias don’t allow them to do ordinary things that most other people do. For example, being scared of bugs, and this is interfering with you playing with your kids outside.

An example of this type of therapy for someone with a fear of snakes would be as follows: (briefly)
First teach the person deep breathing exercises. Once they have mastered that, then you discuss with them their fears and their thinking behind the fears. Then you show them a picture of snake. Once they become comfortable with just looking at that, then you would have them touch the picture of the snake. After that, then you would discuss possibly seeing a moving snake, on a DVD or something like that. Then discuss possibly going to a zoo and looking a live snake. Then eventually work to actually touching the snake and being comfortable with it.

If done correctly, this is an excellent way to overcome fears and phobias. Its is all about challenging yourself and changing your current mindset.

B.F. Skinner’s “Baby In A Box”,9171,909996,00.html

After learning about B.F. Skinner raising his daughter, Deborah, in a box, I was incredibly intrigued about this story and wanted to research it a little more. I was mostly interested in, while researching this concept, the public’s reaction to his experiment. What I have concluded through my findings is that the public of the time had a lot of misconceptions about the experiment in general. Most members of the community, at the time, knew of Skinner because of his research and experiments with pigeons regarding operant conditioning. There were several rumors surrounding the Baby In A Box experiment, including the statement that he left his daughter in the box for over two years. Of course this was not true, which is why I labeled it a rumor.

The most interesting observation about the baby box is that Skinner’s daughter, Deborah, turned out normally and quite alright, contrary to rumors suggesting she would be psychotic and develop a social phobia.

Not only did Skinner do an experiment regarding boxes with his daughters, he also engaged and created experiments with other things like rats and pigeons, which he would house in things he called “Skinner boxes”. Skinner would apply the same ideas to these animals as he did to his daughter, Deborah. This is why Skinner’s “Baby In A Box” experiment caused so much controversy.

The topic that I decided to do more research on was that of phobias. I talked about phobias a little bit in my reading blog but this assignment allowed me to look into more detail about phobias and why I find them so interesting.

Phobias were discussed in the chapter very briefly and the book mainly talked about systematic desensitization, which is a behavioral method used to overcome phobias. Systematic desensitization is very easy to understand and it basically means gradually increasing the exposure of what is causing the phobia. If a child is deathly afraid of spiders you start by talking about spiders, let them play with a stuffed spider, show them a picture of a spider, show them a real spider at a distance, and then eventually expose them to a real spider. The idea behind systematic desensitization is to gradually increase your level of comfort with the thing causing the fear.

The things that the book didn’t spend time talking about are what phobias are, the different kinds of phobias, and the statistics of phobias. I talked to some of my friends what they thought phobias were and the answer that I got was something that you are afraid of. If this were the case, everyone would be diagnosed with zoophobia (fear of animals), aichmophobia (fear of needles), and dentophobia (fear of having dental work done) at some point in their life. A phobia is not something that we get scared of, it is something that we are terrified of and will do anything to avoid running into a situation involving it. A dictionary definition of a phobia is an unrelenting fear of a situation, activity, or thing that causes someone to want and avoid it. For example if I were to be diagnosed with ophidiophobia (snakes), I would not enter my grandpa’s barn because I know there are snakes hiding in the hay bales or take a walk in the woods because there are snakes everywhere. Being scared of a snake that brushes up against your leg is completely natural and I just want to establish that being scared of something is not exactly classified as a phobia.

There are three different types of phobias that the websites I came across talked about. There are social phobias, agoraphobia, and specific phobias. Social phobias are the most common of the three types and include: fear of public speaking, meeting new people, or any other social situation. Agoraphobia is less common than the other two types and is the fear of being outside. This person will feel extremely uncomfortable about leaving their house and will do everything in their power to avoid it.

Specific phobias are the type of phobia that I am most interested in as is everybody else that I know. Specific phobias contain the common and weird phobias that everyone knows about. There are also very uncommon phobias that the average person has never even heard about. Examples of specific phobias include: fear of driving, flying, spiders, germs, heights, and needles. Some examples of the more uncommon phobias that I mentioned include: fear of the color purple, Jews, an erect penis, things to the left side of the body, and opening one’s eyes. These uncommon phobias can be just as troublesome to the patient as the more common phobias.

One of the websites that I visited included a little section on statistics of phobias and I felt that it was important to the topic of this blog. There is an estimated six million people in the United States living with some form of phobia and most of these begin developing at the age of ten. The site also said that phobias are thought to affect seven to thirteen percent of the population and that women are twice as likely to suffer from a phobia compared to men.

Phobias are a more common aspect of psychology than I originally thought and I found myself spending a great deal of time going through the list of all the known phobias. I believe that phobias tie into the field of behavior modification because the most common cure for phobias involves some form of behavior modification. Doing the research on this topic made me realize how behavior modification can affect nearly every aspect of psychology.

The topic I chose to delve further into was systematic desensitization. This subject fits into the chapter because it is something that was discussed pretty thoroughly, I found interest in it, and decided I wanted to learn more information about it. I focused on the phobia aspect of it, and how people use systematic desensitization to cope and overcome them. I am really interested in this, because phobias can really take over and control people's lives, and I think it's so amazing that there are ways to change people's behaviors and the way they think about the fear and phobia they find so aversive.
In short terms, systematic desensitization is a technique of behavior modification that is used to treat phobias and extreme fears. It is a form of classical conditioning and was created by Joseph Wolpe in the 1950s. Relaxation is used, and there are certain steps one must take to overcome the phobia. According to one of the websites I found,"(the patient) first tightens and then relaxes various muscle groups in the body." Once they have a pretty certain idea of what their body feels like when it is relaxed, they can more easily get back to that stage of relaxation when they feel in stress. Once they figure out the fear or phobia, the therapist then takes the patient through various stages of picturing and thinking about what scares them, and works up to actually having the fear in place in front of them, if possible. This is called the hierarchy of the phobic situation.

This technique is used frequently with people who have the fear of flying. The fear doesn't just go away when someone becomes used to it, because people fly frequently who still find it very aversive and terrifying. According to one of the readings I found, "SD incorporates the exposure, but impregnated with the sensation of self-efficacy, since the patient exposes him/herself to the phobic stimulus feeling that he/she can control the situation." The therapy increases the self control of the patient, having them not rely on the therapist for the comfort.

As mentioned earlier, the therapist takes steps to help the person over their fear, they don't just place them in the room with their fear staring them in the face. A woman in the video I found stated that the therapist might talk about where the phobia comes from, how they think the got the fear, maybe look at pictures, and just really focus on their thinking and try to really change what their thinking is.

After patients undergo the therapy, the results are usually great. People are able to continue on in their lives, and do the things they had been avoiding beforehand. Symptoms are also reduced, and although they may not find their old fear quite desirable, it is not as aversive as it once was before.

Terms used; classical conditioning, systematic desensitization, aversive, desirable, behavior modification, phobia, hierarchy of phobic situation

The topic I have found most interesting in this class is Skinner’s Baby Box. After reading about it for class, I was still unsure about the entire concept. What surprised me more than the behavior of the child was the behavior of the parents. When I babysit, I don’t like leaving the baby in a play pen for long periods of time. I can’t imagine anything would elicit me using a baby box.
All three articles I read talked about how functional the baby box was. Skinner’s invention seemed to solve a lot of problems. The child was safe, warm, and kept out of trouble. It seemed like the ideal arrangement. However, because of Skinner’s other boxes, there was some very negative views of raising a child in a box.
During this time, Skinner had devolved boxes that he used to train animals. Animals would press a lever and food would come out. Many thought that Skinner was using the same principle with his baby box. The article from, which is a website geared for new dads, said that some even claimed that being raised in a box drove Skinner’s daughter to kill herself. She firmly denies this statement. Because of the negative stigma, the idea never really took off. also pointed out some flaws with skinner’s box. The author of this article suggests that Skinner is “turning to many knobs at once”, implying that Skinner did not have a very good control group to compare his daughter too. This is most obvious when discussing something like regular bowl movements. Some children are more regular then others. My nephew will be two this month and I swear you could set your watch by when he tells you he is stinky. This has nothing to do with being raised in a box.
After reading these articles, I have a better understanding of what the baby box was. I still would not choose to use one to raise my child.

I chose to do my topic on Systematic Desensitization because I feel like it is something that can be elicited on us from the time we are born and continuing throughout our life. So what is desensitization and how did it come about. First off, Systematic Desensitization was founded by Joseph Wolpe who based his technique off of classical conditioning and that the emitted behavior is learned, therefore it can be unlearned. In other words the aversive behaviors we have learned to emit can be reversed by desensitization or exposure to the aversive situation.

Systematic Desensitization works best when it is dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, however it can also be used with phobias. To start, systematic desensitization can only work if you acknowledge your fear and reinforce yourself that by going to desensitization you will overcome that fear. Some common beginner tips would be relaxation, getting your body and mind physically and emotionally ready to confront the aversive situation. With anxiety, which usually follows being confronted with a fear, the person has short and choppy breaths. Therefore, before Systematic Desensitizaion it’s also important to practice your breathing and relaxation. I don’t necessarily believe that doing just these things and then being exposed to the averse situation will result in getting rid of the fear, but I do believe they are necessary steps to reaching that accomplishment.

With Systematic Desensitization it is important to break down the fear into small components, what this means take the fear and list what makes you least anxious to most anxious and then work on tackling that fear from least to most, until you get to the actual fear itself. An example of this would be having the fear of being around a pit bull dog because you got bitten when you were a child. First, and the lease fear would possibly be seeing a picture of a pit bull dog, then seeing one in a cage across the room, then walking past one on a lease, so on and so forth until you are able to actually be around the pit bull and possibly touch it.
The thing with Systematic Desensitization after you reinforce yourself you want to emit the behavior of not getting back to that fearful place and to also elicit the techniques learned to other areas of life. We are constantly being introduced to things in our life, and sometimes things can have a negative punishment on a person, therefore we are conditioned to actually reinforce the aversive experience. What would be a good technique to follow is instead of becoming averse to the situation in that moment in time, stop yourself and practice the breathing and relaxation techniques, basically nip it in the butt right then and there. I noticed that some major phobias or fears in which people become anxious about are: fear of spiders, fear of heights, fear of dogs, and fear of social situations. All these fears had to have been learned sometime in our life and I believe how we handle the situation at that moment can determine how we react to a similar situation in the future.

Terms: averse, aversive, systematic desensitization, reinforce, classical conditioning, elicit, emit, emitting,

The topic I chose to research more was B.F Skinner and operant conditioning and specifically, his experiment with the baby box. B.F. Skinner had a system that was based on operant conditioning. This means that an organism, while doing everyday activities is in the process of operating on the environment. While doing various activities and emitting various behaviors, the organism encounters a stimulus known as a reinforcer (which we know all about). A reinforcer has the effect of increasing the behavior occurring. This is operant conditioning. The behavior is followed by a consequence, and the nature of the consequence modifies the organism’s tendency to increase the behavior in the future.

B.F. Skinner used what is known as “the skinner box” to experiment with operant conditioning. The organism was placed in the box and the mechanism gave a pleasureable reward (such as food) each time the organism emitted a particular behavior, such as pressing a lever or pecking a disk. The operant conditioning chamber was attached to a recording device, and Skinner was able to discover schedules of reinforcement.

Skinner applied this idea to a human being, his daughter Deborah Skinner. She was placed in the box, or “air-crib” that was a glassed in, insulated, air-controlled crib that Skinner thought would revolutionize child rearing and produce happier, healthier children. Skinner thought that the air crib would make rearing children easier on parents. The main concern was keeping the child warm. Usually when rearing a child, you would wrap them in blankets and clothes. Skinner thought that this restricted self-directed movement, and the baby could overheat.
The air-crib was designed with these thoughts in mind. It was basically a large metal crib with a ceiling, three solid walls and a safety glass pane at the front that could be lowered to move the baby in and out of the crib. The floor was stretched canvas. The temperature and humidity was regulated via a control box on top of the crib and clean air was filtered into the crib from below.

The air-crib did not catch on. In fact, it created much public criticism. People did not like the idea of placing a baby in a box like an animal. They also did not like the idea of science replacing a mother’s labor. The controversy also grew into a legend that Deborah went crazy because of her early experiences in the box and she went crazy, sued her father, and committed suicide. These legends are false. Deborah grew up as normally as any other child, and in fact was a very healthy baby. She has talked positively about her childhood and has no issues with her crib.

Terminology: operant conditioning, emit, stimulus, reinforce, behavior, consequence, pleasurable, schedules of reinforcement

For this week's Topical Blog, I have decided to research and discuss Conformity and how it relates to behavior modification. My sociology class just finished covering this topic and I noticed a few parallels between some aspects of conformity and reinforcement schedules. This elicited a curiosity response in me that I wished to pursue.
Conformity is the changing, sometimes temporary, of actions and beliefs to better mesh with a certain group. A person will ingratiate themselves by dressing as other group members do, changing how they talk to sound like they belong to the group, etc. I think that this is due to the reinforcement they either receive or expect to receive from the group in question. They believe that by emitting behaviors that mimic those of actual group members, the group members will see them as a kindred spirit of sorts and accept them. This reinforces the conforming behaviors of the person.
A person might be willing to conform to a group's identity for several reasons. One is that the group has a certain amount of prestige or power associated with it. Another could be family history. Many Greek houses have legacies of members whose younger siblings earn membership as well. All of these reasons act as an establishing operation for the person. Membership to the group is set up as something which will be a salient, pleasurable stimulus.
The main factor of conformity I want to talk about is compliance. Compliance is an act of conformity that is dependent on the promise of reward or the threat of punishment. You will continue to emit a behavior as long as the reinforcement/punishment is offered. Sheldon, of The Big Bang Theory, and his spot are a good example of this. Sheldon will browbeat any other character on the show until they move from his spot on the couch. He is in the apartment when others are present the vast majority of the time. In this way, Sheldon provides continuous reinforcement of the others' behavior of sitting in places other than his. If Sheldon were to become absent, the others would sit in his seat because the threat of punishment would no longer be present. Thus, extinction occurs quickly once the reinforcement is removed.
Terms: reinforcement schedules, reinforcement, elicit, emit, establishing operation, pleasurable stimulus, salient, punishment, continuous reinforcement, extinction.

I chose to emit to finding more information on trace conditioning. I chose this topic because in the text, there was not much information or examples of the different types of conditioning in classical conditioning. Since it was stated in the text that trace conditioning was important, I thought it would be reinforcing to learn more.

Trace conditioning is a part of forward conditioning which is a part of classical conditioning. Trace conditioning is when a controlled stimulus is presented, a trace interval occurs (time occurs before the uncontrolled stimulus is presented) and then the uncontrolled stimulus is presented.

A research article titled "Trace Conditioning and the Hippocampus: The Importance of Contiguity" was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. It has been found that trace conditioning depends on the Hippocampus (a part of the brain that deals with spatial navigation and short term/long term memory. The reason of this is unknown. It has been proposed that since the US is not presented directly after the CS is presented, then the Hippocampus is used to overcome the stimulus discontiguity. However, if this were to be the case, then would you be able to use trace conditioning on someone or something that has a lesion or lesions on their Hippocampus. This is what the researchers were trying to figure out.

Using rats with lesions on their Hippocampus, the researchers discovered that those rats with lesions on their brains were not affected by the trace conditioning. However, it is not prevent those rats to respond to delay fear conditioning.

As a former pre-med major, I found it reinforcing to read about the Hippocampus and its' effects on trace conditioning. You think that in behavior modification, you can modify someone or somethings behavior using one or more of the many techniques. But to know that it is possible not to be able to use trace conditioning on someone or something who has a lesion or lesions or their Hippocampus is quite interesting.

I choose the topic of systematic desensitization because it was interesting to me to see what people do to overcome their phobias and how they do it. This fits into the chapter because it is what we have been talking about in class and have been reading about from the text.

After doing a thorough search of the internet I found some pretty good sources detailing systematic desensitization. Joseph Wolpe was the developer of the new technique. It is used to treat anxiety related disorders and phobias. Some doctors prescribe the method but most of the time it is self-administrated. Like it talks about on this website. People use sufficient repetition of exposure to the phobia to over come their fear. They emit a the behavior that scares them most.

There are other ways to over come phobias. One is called Virtual Reality Therapy. This video: demonstrates how therapy is used. They put patients in a room with the virtual reality equipment, after putting on the glasses the patient is completely vulnerable to the machine and the alternate reality. In the therapy the technician creates an environment testing the patient on their strengths and weaknesses of their phobia.

Another tactic is known as exposure, talked about in this video This tactic involves slowly exposing the patient to the behavior that elicits anxiety in their feelings.

It was interesting for me to read about how people deal with their problems and what they use to overcome their fears and phobias. The virtual reality therapy seems very useful to me and like it helps a lot of people. Overcoming fear may be difficult for people but this seems like a way that can ease them into the situation with out a shock of emotions.

Terms: Systematic Desensitization, emit, behavior, elicits,

Systematic desensitization is a type of therapy that helps people get over their fears/phobias. When we look at systematic desensitization closer, we see that it is a behavioral therapy that involves classical conditioning. There are several steps to systematic desensitization. The most important is learning to emit relaxation. The therapist needs to elicit relaxation from the client. In order to do this, they first need to teach them relaxation skills. I say this is the most important part of systematic desensitization because if the client can’t learn to relax, then they will never become desensitized to his or her fear.

Therapists can teach clients multiple ways to relax. Some clients who only have a fear of something, and not a phobia (a phobia incapacitates someone from his or her life, where as a fear doesn’t) only need to emit moderate techniques. Some of these would include counting backwards from ten, or simply taking a few deep breaths. Other clients, however, have serious phobias that hold them back from emitting everyday, normal behaviors. The fear is so aversive and frightening to these people that some can’t even leave their homes. Obviously in these cases, more serious actions need to be taken. One relaxation technique that many therapists recommend/teach their client is progressive muscle relaxation techniques.

Progressive muscle relaxation is very easy to learn and still very effective. In progressive muscle relaxation techniques you tense up your muscles and then relax them in order to become even more relaxed than what you were before you relaxed your muscles. An example that you may be able to relate to is runners, dancers, cheerleaders, etc. trying to become more flexible. While stretching, they will emit the behavior of squeezing their muscles tightly and then relaxing them in order to stretch even farther. Progressive muscle relaxation is the same thing, only our end goal is to become more relaxed rather than more flexible.

Next comes the phobia part. Systematic desensitization the name describes the therapy for exactly what it is. The therapist systematically desensitizes the patient to their fear. They do this by slowly exposing bits and pieces of the fear to their client. It is just like weaning a baby off of a pacifier. I tried to find a video of this on youtube in order to demonsrate this better and give examples, however I struggled finding a decent clip on their, so I will just tell you about a movie I watched in my Abnormal Psychology class last semester. In the movie, they were trying to desensitize a boy from his fear of dogs. They started by watching a movie about dogs. Then they went to looking at dogs outside the window. Then he went to standing far away from a dog. Then he stood close to a dog. Then he pat a dog. Finally, after eight months of systematic desensitization, he would go to his grandfathers house and play with his grandpas dog every other day.

Systematic Desensitization:

I really enjoyed reading about Watson’s study of Little Albert. I find the whole idea quite fascinating, but I find the work on ridding one of fear even more intriguing. The technical term for this we learned in this section is systematic desensitization. Systematic desensitization is taking something that is feared by an individual and making it less scary to them by conditioning. Though according to the text it was really Mary Cover Jones who worked on desensitizing, as it never was a plan of Watson’s , it is a concept to reduce the fear of something through relaxation techniques in relation to the feared circumstance. In fact, with most common phobias, relaxation techniques seem to be the most common (Source 1).

I am interested in this topic because I would like to work with people who have fears and help them cope with them. I feel that it is something mental health care providers like clinical psychologists often come across and so learning more about the process can benefit me in the future.

Common phobias like fear of spiders and fear of heights generally have the most research on them and hence there are more techniques found to help desensitize the feared object, i.e. the spider. In one article (Source 2) agoraphobia was quite extreme for a woman, but through systematic desensitization she could cope with her fear of spiders. While her fear was quite extreme, the technique did seem to work. Desensitization works best in modify behavior if the phobia is less extreme (Source 1).

Some people have social phobias, like being in front of a large group of people, and hence have high anxiety. For this, increasing their self-esteem is crucial. It seems as though relaxation techniques are used alongside increasing their self-image.

Some common techniques include deep relaxation, relaxation exercises, meditation and o on (Source 1). Sometimes, relaxation just doesn’t cut it, like for the woman in Source 2 with her extreme fear of spiders. I this situation they used humor to help her cope with her phobia. She found that writing about her fear would help her cope and she would begin to write humorous short stories about it. This is just one example of how it’s not solely relaxation that has to be used as a technique in systematic desensitization.

Also in the chapter we talked a bit about animal studies in classical conditioning. This was found more so in Skinners section of the chapter, but I still believe that under the whole idea you can also put animal studies in systematic desensitization. In fact, you can use this concept on your own with your own pets. Source 3 shows how it is used on a pet when clipping toenails. I found this clip extremely useful to my own personal life and also to retaining the terms. I think it is really important to see these terms being emitted in everyday life, especially when they are applicable to us.

Terms: systematic desensitization, behavior, classical conditioning, Watson, Skinner, emitted, relaxation techniques, Mary Cover Jones, Little Albert, conditioning





B.F. Skinner!

I have decided to further my research about Skinner, basically because he is the most far out and interesting Psychologist that I have ever read about! A little bit about Skinner history; Skinner laid the foundation for modern behaviorism and behavior modification as we know it today. Skinner was an inventor, a writer, and a researcher who came to believe in a basic concept that he liked to call social engineering. Skinner also believed that he could make any child, any thing that he wanted them to be if you use the correct behavioral techniques.

Skinner had come up with many theories, these theories had turned into inventions and more theories by different psychologists. A few of the many theories that Skinner had come up with are are operant conditioning, extinction, reinforcing stimulus, extinction, schedule of reinforcements, and continuous reinforcement. Skinner had also brought shaping, systematic desensitization, aversive stimuli, and negative/positive reinforcement into our everyday learning. B.F. Skinner brought what is now known today as behavior modification, along with many other helpful theories in psychology. Operant conditioning is the process of “operating” on the environment, which in ordinary terms means it is bouncing around its world, doing what it does. During this “operating”, the organism encounters a special kind a stimulus, called the reinforcing stimulus, or simply a reinforcer. The “Skinner Box” came from this theory of operant conditioning. A behavior followed by a reinforcing stimulus results in an increased probability of that behavior occurring in the future. A behavior no longer followed by the reinforcing stimulus results in a decreased probability of that behavior occurring in the future, also known as extinction. Another important theory of B.F. Skinner was his ideas of behavior modification. Behavioral modification a therapy technique used to extinguish an undesirable behavior and replace it with a desirable behavior by reinforcement. Behavioral modification can be used for addictions, neuroses, shyness, even schizophrenia. Token economy is almost directly related to b-mod, when you behave how you are wanted too, you are appropriately rewarded with “tokens”, such as poker chips, tickets, notes, etc.

Skinner's Inventions.
Skinner had a number of inventions, three of my favorite inventions where the “air crib”, the teaching machine, and the operant conditioning chamber (or the Skinner Box). The air crib was invented in an effort for Skinner to help his wife cope with the day-to-day tasks of child rearing. The air crib is an easily cleaned, temperature and humidity-controlled box the Skinner designed to assist the raising in babies. It was designed to make early childcare simpler, by greatly reducing laundry, diaper rash, cradle cap, etc. While still encouraging the baby to more confident, mobile, and healthy. The operant conditioning chamber measured responses of organisms and their orderly interaction with the environment. The third invention that I am going to briefly describe is the teaching machine, also invented by B.F. Skinner! The teaching machine is a mechanical invention to automate the task of programmed instruction. The purpose of the device was to administer a curriculum of programmed instruction. It housed a list of questions, and a mechanism through which the learner could respond to each question, upon being delivered of a correct answer, the learner would receive a reward.

I think that this video is a perfect example of B.F. Skinner and his operant conditioning. It shows an example of pigeons in his Skinner Box. The pigeon was being taught to read, when the word peck came up he would peck and when it said turn the pigeon actually turned! The bird had been conditioned to do these behaviors with food. They would deprive the birds of food based on their weight and food could be used as an automatic reinforcer. The behaviors would be emitted by the desire for food! It worked very well in this example!

Just for fun, I decided to throw in a small example of classical conditioning (original ideas of Pavlov), in this video this girl is going to classically condition her father. She is going to pair her cough (the unconditioned stimulus) with a squirt from the spray bottle (the conditioned stimulus). The conditioned and unconditioned responses are both a wince from being sprayed with the water bottle. She successfully classically conditioned her father because after so many attempts, her father ends up wincing with only her cough alone.

Terminology that I used in my blog: classically conditioning, conditioned stimulus, unconditioned stimulus, conditioned response, unconditioned response, operant conditioning, emitted, air crib, teacher machine, Skinner box, extinction, reinforcing stimulus, schedule of reinforcements, continuous reinforcement, shaping, systematic desensitization, aversive stimuli, negative reinforcement, positive reinforcement, behavioral modification, and token economy.

The topic that I have chosen to do some research on Conditioned Emotional Response. We were elicited to read about this in chapter 3.3 when we were learning about the Little Albert study. I decided to do some research on this topic because it interests me. To think that emotions can be created is very interesting!

From reading through the websites, I found that any emotion can be created through conditioned emotional response but the ones that have a negative consequence are the ones that are most effective. A common example would be lightening and thunder. I can remember growing up with two younger sisters, as soon as the youngest one saw even a little bit of lightening she was in my room and in my bed. She was conditioned to fear the light that comes before thunder because she viewed the thunder as aversive and learned to fear it. It can also be used in a pleasurable manner as well. I have a personal example for this one as well. I randomly receive letters from my Sunday School teacher from when I was in high school. When I get them, I feel very honored that he still remembers me and wants to keep in touch. This emotional response from me elicits me to emit a behavior of writing him back. I like to receive letters, presumably everyone does, but that response elicits me to write him back so that I will continue to receive letters from him.

It is crazy to me to think about the things that I have been conditioned to do whether or not I actually know that I was. Almost all of my fears could actually be traced back to one incident that scared me so badly that I have the same emotional response every time that fear appears. For example, I have a stupid fear of lady bugs. Why? I don't know. I just thought I'd always been afraid of them. While thinking back on conditional emotional response, I realized that when I was younger, every time a lady bug was around they either bit me or was a huge swarm of them. I can understand now why I have a fear of ladybugs.

I also looked into the process of systematic desensitization when applying it to getting rid of fears. It is a good tool that slowly exposes you to your fears so that you can get used to them. It starts off with imagining your fear. After that it breaks it down into small things that you can handle, one at a time until you are ready to face your fear. In my case I may start by imaging being in a room with lady bugs, slowly maybe being exposed to one, then two and gradually maybe let them crawl on me to see that they actually can't harm me. That is really hard for me to imagine right now though, it's giving me the chills. Ick. But anyways, I realized from researching that you can just about do anything with conditional emotional response and systematic desensitization. It is an important part of life that I don't think a lot of people know even exists.

Terms: elicit, conditioned emotional response, negative consequence, conditioned, aversive, pleasurable, emit, systematic desensitization,

I wanted to look up systematic desensitization method on behavior and how is can help people overcome phobias. This fits into the chapter because it has to do with Watson study with Little Albert and how people are conditioned to fear things as well as can be desensitized to something fearful.

Systematic desensitization is used after a person as being conditioned to fear something, and systematic desensitization can change a the aversive feeling they have when they are overly exposed to the aversive variable when it has be come satiated that it no longer is aversive to the individual. I found information describing how this is a exposer therapy that is used as a process used to desensitize a phobia a person has. A example of this would be that a lady has a phobia of clowns she can not stand seeing, or being around clowns. At fist when she sees the clown she freaks out and has to leave the area. After being exposed over and over again to the clown, the phobia and anxiety calms down and she is able to eventually sit down next to the clown without the aversive feeling she use to have.

This is related to Watson study of “little Albert”, he was a child that was conditioned to be fearful of something, and when he was exposed over and over again to the rat and a loud noise the rat or anything furry became aversive to little Albert, he was conditioned through this experiment to fear objects, this was classical conditioning. Watson believed that people are conditioned and learned to fear things.

Terms: systematic desensitization, aversive, emit, classical conditioning, behavior,

Salient Stimuli- 3.2

Salient stimuli are a stimulus that can be easily picked out from other stimuli. When I first read the definition and thought of examples a dog whistle came to mind. It is a stimuli that is salient for a canine, but not for humans. I thought of my hard-of-hearing grandpa also, and that there are things I hear and respond to that he is oblivious to. While a senior in high school I had the opportunity to spend a week in New York City, and being that all of the students on the trip were from rural Iowa we found it hard to ignore the city sounds, especially at night. It occurred to me that sensory adaptation kept the New Yorker from being bothered by all the fuss. I would like to put more time into finding out what the individual differences in salience are, and what other aspects of people’s lives it occurs in.

Frequency of occurrence is one factor I have found to affect salience, although it would not make a difference in cases such as my grandfathers hearing. A watch beeping at each our may start off as salient (and aversive), but soon sensory adaption kicks in and it is not longer noticed.

If a subject receives too much of a stimuli it may no longer be salient. Almost like satiation only instead of eating, hearing.

Terms: Salient stimuli, sensory adaptation, salience, aversive, stimuli, and satiation.

I found taste aversion to be very interesting to me after reading the chapter over Pavlov. Taste aversion is associated with this chapter because of Pavlov and also classical conditioning. Taste aversion is also considered the Garcia affect named after Dr. John Garcia. Conditioned taste aversion is when a subject becomes ill after ingesting something. The subject can emit a behavior of either vomiting, sickness or nauseous. However, the subject can become ill after eating a certain food and making a connection between getting sick and the item of food. For example, if I ate popcorn and then got violently sick afterwards, I would then associate popcorn with getting sick therefor making popcorn look very unappealing. According to Wikipedia, having the capability to develop a taste aversion is considered an adaptive trait that trains the body to avoid poisonous substances (example, poisonous berries) before they can cause harm to our bodies. The study of taste aversion came about when Dr. John Garcia was studying the effects of radiation on rats when he noticed that the rats created an aversion to the liquid that was consumed prior to the radiation treatment. He tested this by giving rats sweetened water heavy radiation, light radiation and no radiation. Dr. Garcia found the rats who were given heavy radiation would drink regular tap water over the sweetened water.

After one association between illness and a certain food, the food may thereafter elicit the response. Not only can aversion be associated with taste, but also with smell. For example, many individuals fear going to the dentist. When someone smells a dental office, the consequence is that it immediately makes the individual feel uneasy, anxious and even scared. The sound of the drilling in the rooms doesn’t help either. Taste aversion is very common in humans. It can be highly correlated with chemotherapy patients who become ill because of the drugs they are given during their treatment. Humans who consume alcohol can experience this first hand. When an individual drinks an excessive amount of alcohol and becomes violently ill will probably say that they never want to drink again, however until that aversion becomes extinct, only then the person will try drinking one more time and accumulate taste aversion once again towards alcohol.

Terms: taste aversion, classical conditioning, Pavlov, emit, elicit, extinct, adversive, consequence.

The topic I emitted the interest to further research was systematic desensitization. Systematic desensitization, according to wiki, is a type of behavioral therapy used in the field of psychology to help effectively overcome phobias, aversive feelings, and other anxiety disorders. I think this fits into the chapter because we got a brief background about it in section 3.4; it stuck my interest so I decided to look further into it. The reason I thought systematic desensitization was interesting is because I think phobias are interesting, and sometimes even quirky. I know a few people that have some major phobias that do control decisions they make in everyday life, so naturally I find it interesting to read up about phobias as well.

During systematic desensitization psychologists teach the individual various different techniques on relaxation such as breathing strategies, they also teach cognitive strategies that are designed to help you cope with anxiety. Another technique used is visualization, this is where the therapist will plant the image of the phobia in your head and reinforce the idea of relaxation, or even show you pictures to elicit a feeling of comfort towards the image and idea of the phobia. The last step that you will eventually work towards in systematic desensitization is exposure to the phobia. When going through systematic desensitization you should expect to go through all of those steps while in treatment.

Terms: Systematic desensitization, emitted, reinforce, elicit, and aversive.

The topic I chose for this week is Negative Punishment.
I am interested in this topic to better understand my upbringing as a child. There were varying degrees of punishments and reinforcements; I have not looked into negative punishments so far. Negative Punishment is the removal of a desired stimulus in an effort to decrease a behavior. An example of this would be taking a child's game system away (assuming they enjoy playing video games) in order to stop and prevent a certain behavior from occurring. As for my video clips, the first one has the trainer removing the dog's freedom by putting him in the dog cage for a period of time as a result of emitting an undesired behavior. Being confined in a small area is typically undesirable and will help decrease the occurrence of the undesired behavior.
Growing up I had my game system taken away a few times, maybe more, or my parents at least tried to take it away. I was prone to getting up in the middle of the night, finding where they hid it and hooking it back up. This happened after I mouthed off to them, didn't do as I was told, etc. I also had my books taken away once because I had a phase where I stayed up all night reading, yeah, maybe not getting a bit of sleep. My parents ended up taking all of my books and hiding them, I found them a few hours later (insert laugh here). How many parents can say they had to punish their kid by taking away their books? Not too many probably. I also had time-outs (removal of freedom), as the child in the second clip shows. Standing in the corner facing the wall; in my case I would be sitting on an uncomfortable chair for ten to twenty minutes, then I'd be on my marry way.
Back in high school I would have my phone taken away if I texted too much or was ignoring my parents while on the phone (being disrespectful). This is shown in the last clip where a girl's phone is taken away for receiving a bad grade in class. Removing the desired stimulus (the cell phone) to decrease an undesired behavior (receiving a bad grade in class).

Terminology: punishment, Negative Punishment, stimulus, prevent, behavior, emitting, occurrence, removal, desired stimulus, decrease, undesired behavior

For this week's serial abstract, I chose systematic desensitization. I chose this because I have always found the subject of phobias very interesting. Covering systematic desensitization is a great way to learn more about phobias and how they can be effectively treated. This tybe of behavioral therapy is also beneficial in other psychological disorders such as anxiety disorders.

Systematic desensitization is explained pretty well by its name alone. It involves gradual and increased exposure to the aversive stimulus in question in attempts to make the stimulus more and more neutral. A phobia is a stimulus that has been classically conditioned to elicit a fear response; the goal of the therapy is to counteract this conditioning gradually. Often times, systematic desensitization therapy begins with the therapist having the patient imagine one or more situations that would elicit their phobia; this is called visualization. During this process, the patient confronts their phobia in their own mind, and this can be just as stressful as the real thing. Another component of visualization involves the patient being able to calm themselves by visualizing a calm and peaceful stress-free environment. The therapist can teach the patient different techniques for deep breathing which is used to counteract the anxiety response of taking quick shallow breaths (thoracic breathing) which can trigger panic attacks and worsen anxiety. Muscle relaxation can also help to calm calm this anxiety, and eventually the patient can work their way up to the real phobia in question.

One recent example I saw of this kind of therapy was featured on an PBS special called This Emotional Life. There were many topics covered, but one of them was phobias. The case documented a female freshman honors student at Harvard who was cripplingly afraid to fly; this made it very difficult for her to be able to visit her friends and family who all lived far away. This was very striking to see because as a Harvard student, she is obviously highly intelligent and this made me realize that anyone can be affected by phobias. In the special, her therapist gradually walked her through the steps of systematic desensitization, until they got to the point when they actually got on the plane together. Whle the fear was always present in her eyes, it was easy to see that the therapy was working. By the time the plane had touched down, she had a much better control of her own emotional response to flying.

Terms: systematic desensitization, phobia, thoracic breathing, anxiety disorders, elicit, visualization, classically conditioned

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