Chapter 9 discusses the topics of escape and avoidance. The concept of avoidance behavior was interesting to me. Avoidance can be defined as performance of a behavior which prevents an aversive stimulus from occurring. The author states that escape is the easier of the two to understand and researchers generally show more interest in studying avoidance. The two-process theory shows that there are two distinct steps to avoidance behavior. First, an individual is classically conditioned to a fear or anxiety response to a conditioned stimulus (CS). Then, operant conditioning takes effect in which avoiding that same stimulus is negatively reinforced by a reduction of fear or anxiety.
But what if the CS are memories and thoughts? In the "and Furthermore" section in the textbook on pages 346-347 the author talks about the idea of repression as avoidance. It suggests that the classically conditioned response of fear to the stimulus of traumatic memories will cause the operant conditioning, that avoiding these types of thoughts by removing them from conscious awareness will negatively reinforce the repression. I never thought that something like repression would be learned the same way that Pavlov and Skinner taught their animals.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
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