Sample Essay On Phobias And Addiction

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Addiction, Behavior, Schizophrenia, Phobias, Psychology, Water, Learning, Extinction

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/09/14

Phobias and addictions are two poignant complexities that are real in our society, and they are affecting the people’s behaviors in the society. The crippling behaviors related to phobia and addictions engulf people in the society and prevent them from living a normal and productive life. Phobias are constant extreme illogical fears of situations or things by an individual. On the other hand, addiction is the dependence on something either an activity or substance. Nonetheless, individuals are not born with addictions and phobias, they are learned or acquired in certain ways (Kowalski and Westen, 2011). The learning of addiction and phobia is through operating and classical conditioning.
Phobias can be developed through classical conditioning also known as respondent conditioning, while addictions can be acquired through operating conditioning. Classical conditioning is a phobia learning that has been studied analytically. In classical conditioning, an individual develops a phobia from a past experience and this phobia is built on a repeated outcome. An individual may have a bad experience on something or a certain situation, which later on brings fear in their lives in the future. For instance, when children start learning how to swim and one of them drowns in the water, they will have a phobia for water. The fear of water started when one of them drowned in water while swimming, which constitutes classical conditioning. The children’s phobia is a natural occurring reflex, while the water is the environmental stimulus that triggered the phobia in the children. Phobias tend to generate from our environment and the people we live with for instance, parents, siblings, and the society at large.
In operating conditioning, also known as instrumental conditioning, one develops an addiction depending on the end result, and the behavior is controlled by the environment. Addiction occurs when an individual indulges in a repeated response which causes a certain effect on him/her and leads to dependence, because that response will be needed continually in the individual’s life (Comer, 2005). For instance, one maybe addicted to a gambling behavior because in the end, there is a reward, or addicted to drugs because the end result is that they will feel high. Addictions and phobias concur because of how they are developed; one begins with a phobia before becoming addicted to something.
While operating and classical conditioning may have connections like modifying behavior and using extinction, they also have dissimilarities. The difference between classical conditioning and operating conditioning is that one is the opposite of the other. In classical conditioning, phobias are learned from the past experiences while in operating conditioning, addictions are developed depending on the environment and the outcome of the addiction. Therefore, in classical, one develops a phobia from long-ago experiences and it involves a natural stimulus that matches ups with a response. While in operating conditioning; an individual develops a behavior depending on the end result whereby, one associates with a certain behavior depending on the result. Another notable difference between the two is that operating conditioning centers on voluntary behaviors whereas classical conditioning focuses on unintentional behaviors. In operating conditioning, one becomes an addict of something because he/she wants to, but in classical conditioning, it is involuntary because it is triggered naturally. In operating conditioning, the operant forms a relationship between the stimuli and the outcome, while in classical conditioning, there is a relationship between the two different stimuli.
Extinction is the slow and regular weakening of a conditioned response, for instance in phobias and addictions. Extinctions occurs both in classical and operating conditioning when dealing with addictions and phobias. For instance, in the case of classical conditioning, when a conditioned stimulus that was creating phobia is presented alone without the unconditioned stimulus, the conditioned responding steadily stops (Kowalski and Westen, 2011). For instance, children who fear water are exposed to water all the time and the phobia disappears because they have nothing to fear about, since they get used to the water at some point. Extinction in classical conditioning occurs when the victim is sure that there is no reason for fear of anything because the conditioned response is weakened.
In addition, addictive behaviors that are learned through operating conditioning can be eliminated through extinction. In operating conditioning, when a behavior has been previously reinforced, there will be no addictions because one knows the good and the bad sides of the behavior, therefore addiction stops. In addition, extinction will occur when the addict feels that the action or the reward of his/her actions are not satisfying (Kowalski and Westen, 2011). For example, when a person is addicted to drugs, it reaches a time whereby the desired high feeling is not met by the drugs and the individual is forced to stop taking drugs thus the behavior is stopped. Extinction in operating conditioning refers to where there is no reinforcement for the addiction, and thus, the addiction behavior cannot be maintained. In addition, the link between the supporter and operant is broken completely thus stopping the addiction.
In conclusion, phobias and addictions are some of the emotional difficulties experienced in the society. A phobia is an abnormal fear of something while an addiction is being dependent on something. Operating conditioning influences how addictions are developed while classical conditioning affects how phobias develop. Operating and classical conditioning are developing approaches, but the disparity between them is that one is the opposite of the other. Nonetheless, extinction is achievable in both learning styles and both learning styles work hand in hand.


Kowalski, R. and Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Comer, R. J. (2005). Fundamentals of abnormal psychology (4th ed.).New York: Worth.

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Sample Essay On Phobias And Addiction. Free Essay Examples - Published Sep 14, 2020. Accessed June 28, 2022.

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