Biological Explanations of Phobic Disorders

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Discuss Biological Explanations for Phobic Disorders (8 and 16 marks)
One Biological explanation for phobic disorders is the Evolutionary Approach. This says that some stimuli are more likely to be feared than others eg. Snakes, heights etc. as these are the stimuli that would have been dangerous and fearful to our ancestors in our Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation (EEA). We have adapted to be fearful of these stimuli as potential threats rather than after an event has happened which gave our ancestors the best chance of survival and to pass on their genes. We are also said to be biologically prepared to rapidly learn an association between particular stimuli and fear from the minute we are born, copying the fear response shown in our parents and learning this ourselves.

Ohman and Soares (1994) conducted a study to support the idea that we fear stimuli as a potential threat rather than after an event occurs by showing a group of participants ‘Masked’ pictures (so they could not fully tell what the object was) of Snakes and Spiders. A higher autonomic nervous system arousal was found in those who had a fear of snakes and spiders when they got shown the masked picture compared to when shown the full picture or compared to that of a participant without a fear of the particular animal. This supports the idea that we have adapted to have a fear of a stimuli as a potential threat as participants were more scared when they were not sure of what the picture was than when they knew exactly what it was.

Another biological explanation of phobic disorders is Genetic Factors. This says that it may be that people inherit an over sensitive fear response to particular stimuli causing them to develop a phobia of that fear response. This can be looked into using both Twin and Family Studies. In Twin studies comparisons are made between the individuals in both Monozygotic…...

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