I primarily believe in the biological perspective. However, on the topic of causes of phobia, I find that I favor the behavioral perspective. Among the major reasons for favoring the biological perspective overall include the fact that the perspective is very scientific. Biological perspective has its tenet the basic assumption that psychology should be treated as a science and thus it should be studied scientifically. Biological perspective therefore utilizes scientific methodologies such as lab experiments, correlation studies, and twin research studies, naturalistic observations among other methods to arrive at its conclusions.
Use of scientific methods further enhances the reliability and validity obtained from these studies. Consequently, biological perspective provides psychologists with stronger evidence for whatever assertions that are obtained from the studies. Biological perspective is also supported by many empirical studies, which support various biological theories (Wood & Ellen, 1999). Finally, the high applicability of biological perspective to other areas such as biology and cognitive studies to contribute to evolutionary psychology has further impacted positively on my confidence in the applicability of biological perspective in psychology.
However, on the topic of phobia, I favor the behavioral perspective. Behavioral perspective on phobia is supported widely in psychology. For instance, the classical experiment conducted by Marting Seligman contributed to our understanding of phobias by associating aversive stimulation to phobia for certain pictures. In the classical experiment, Marting Seligman found out that it was possible to establish phobia of pictures of frogs and snakes through two to four shocks and phobia to flowers for higher levels and series of shocks (Wood & Ellen, 1999). Phobia in this instance was evidently resulting from a behavioral reaction to the shocks. Support for the behavioral perspective in explaining phobia may also stem from the fact that persons develop fears for situations or things that are not within their control.
Most phobias are in fact based on presumptions that the things that cause phobia are beyond the control of the individuals who experience phobia. For instance, phobia of public speaking may result from an individuals feeling that he or she is unable to be in control. Also, the feeling of total helplessness that exists in clinically-established panic disorders contributes to the phobia the crisis that develops in these patients resulting to the inability to control the fears and therefore resulting to the patient’s avoidance of staying or visiting places that they fear they may be embarrassed (American Psychiatric Association).
Another factor that has contributed to favoring behavioral perspective on the issue of phobia is the evidence that traumatic events are major contributors of phobia. This is especially evident in traumatic events that are slightly higher in women than in men. The result of negative social experiences triggers a behavioral response and such triggers may include embarrassment, rejection by ones peers and so on and aggravated by poor social skills, feeling inferior, lack of assertiveness and low-self esteem, all which are behavioral responses (Wood & Ellen, 1999).
Evidence of the role of such aggravating factors in contributing to phobias has contributed to the behavioral treatment of phobia. Other evidence for behavioral perspective in regard to phobia is the evident behavioral response that is manifested b patient who experience phobia. For instance, individuals with social phobia have problems eating in places that other individuals are present, avoid using public restrooms or even checking in other person’s presence (Wood & Ellen, 1999).
The cultural aspect associated with phobias is further evident that behavioral perspective rather than biological perspective is the best perspective in explaining phobia. For instance, there exists a type of phobia that is evident in Japan but not in other cultures. The phobia called taijin kyofusho is a type of phobia where a patient suffers from extreme fear of offending other parties. Consequently, the phobia is marked by extreme piety, meekness and respect in social places thereby interfering with the patients normal functioning in the society (Hall, 1997). Such individual live in fear that the may embarrass or offend other person due to their social behavior. Considering that no biological explanation exist for the differences in phobias across different cultures as explained above, there are enough reasons to suggest that phobia is better explained by the behavioral perspective.
Finally, the success of behavioral treatment is further indication that behavioral factors over biological or and other approach support the position that behavioral perspective is the best explanation for the causes of phobias. Behavioral treatment is in fact regarded as one of the most successful intervention in phobia treatment. Trained therapists are able to assist the patients to learn to control their physical manifestations of behavior of fear through a gradual process that aids the patients to confront their fears. Such treatment is based on the classical conditioning techniques, where the patients response is seen as a reflex towards stimuli that is not dangerous and conditioning involves changing the reflex pattern towards the non-dangerous object that are sources of phobia. The basis of these treatments is behavioral in nature and it is based on the assumption that continued exposure to the non-harmful stimuli will create confidence in individuals on the non-harmfulness of the sources of phobia thereby leading to effective responses. This occurs in safe and controlled settings.
Flooding is one example of behavioral treatment. In this treatment, the patient is immersed in the fear reflex until the reflex disappears by itself. By keeping the patients in the fear situation long enough, the patients are able to see that the dreaded consequences do not occur thereby resulting to reduced fear. Since some patients are unable to handle flooding, counter conditioning, which is a classical conditioning behavioral approach is used as alternative treatment. This involves substitution of the fear response with relaxation response in the presence of the phobia stimuli. When introduced in a step by step systematic fashion, a patient is able to respond to treatment and thereby resulting to systematic desensitization (Hall, 1997). Such evidence has contributed to my belief that the best explanation for phobia is not biological but behavioral.