The Use of Conditioning to Create or Eliminate Phobias

Conditioning, or “a basic kind of learning that involves associations between environmental stimuli and the organism’s responses”, can be used to modify behavior. Studies and experiments have shown that conditioning can be used to create or eliminate phobias. One way to condition a child who is unafraid of a busy road is to use classical conditioning In this example, you could use something that the child is already afraid of to train her to be afraid when crossing the street.

For example, the parent could use a loud noise (unconditioned stimulus) to produce fear (unconditioned response) whenever the parent and child cross the road (neutral stimulus) together.

This will cause the child to eventually become afraid (conditioned response) of crossing the road (conditioned stimulus). While this approach would be effective in causing the child to become afraid of crossing the road, the best way to train her to use caution when crossing the street is to use operant conditioning (punishment and rewards) rather than classical conditioning.

T0 condition the child who is afraid of dogs, you could use counterconditioning. According to our textbook, counterconditioning is the “process of pairing a conditioned stimulus with a stimulus that elicits a response that is incompatible with an unwanted conditioned response”.

In this example, the conditioned stimulus is the dog and the unconditioned response is fear. To overcome the child‘s fear by counterconditioning, you would identify an unconditioned stimulus (such as a favorite toy) that would cause the desired unconditioned response (desire to play).

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Next, you would pair the unconditioned stimulus with the conditioned stimulus (the neighbor’s dog). At first, you should keep the dog at a distance from the child so the child doesn’t associate the toy with a scary dog. As the child becomes less fearful of dog, you should bring it slightly closer until the child is able to play with the dog instead of the toy.

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The Use of Conditioning to Create or Eliminate Phobias. (2023, Jan 10). Retrieved from

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