McGrath et al (1990) – Behavioural

McGrath, T. et al. (1990) ‘Successful treatment of a noise phobia in a nine-year-old girl with systematic desensitisation in vivo’, Journal of Educational Psychology 10 (1), 79–83);

 

Background

This is the second study we will be looking at from the ‘Treatments of Dysfunctional Behaviour’ section of ‘Dysfunctional Behaviour’, as part of your OCR A2 Health and Clinical Psychology course. It is further categorised into ‘Behavioural.

As the perspective of this study is behaviourist, it is high recommended that you read: About Behaviorism by B.F. Skinner.

Before you read this study, make sure that you have read and are familiar with the Little Albert study by Watson and Raynor (1920) 

Synopsis

McGrath, T. et al. (1990)  – successfully managed to treat a nine year old girl who had a noise phobia.

Aim

To treat a girl with specific noise phobias using systematic desensitisation.

Method and Design

A case study that details the treatment of a noise phobia in one girl.

Participant

A nine-year-old girl called Lucy, who had a fear of sudden loud noises, including: balloons, party poppers, guns, cars backfiring and fireworks.

Procedure

Lucy was brought to the therapy session and told what would happen. Her parents gave consent.

At the first session, Lucy constructed a hierarchy of feared noises.

Lucy was taught breathing and imagery to relax, and was told to imagine herself at home on her bed with her toys.

Findings

At the end of the first session, Lucy was reluctant to let balloons be burst.

By the end of the fourth session, Lucy was able to signal a balloon to be burst 10 metres away.

On the fifth session, Lucy was able to pop the balloons herself.

Over the next three sessions, Lucy was able to pull a party popper if the therapist held it. 

By the tenth and final session, Lucy’s fear thermometer scores had gone from 7/10 to 3/10 for balloon popping, from 9/10 to 3/10 for party poppers and from 8/10 to 5/10 for the cap gun.

Conclusion

It appears that noise phobias in children are amenable to systematic desensitisation. 

McGrath et al (1990) Evaluation

– Reliability – the study is low in reliability because only one participant took part in the study, it would be difficult to generalise the results to other wider populations.

+ Construct Validity – the study supports the behaviourist perspective of learning and the behaviourist method of systematic desensitisation.

+ Usefulness – the research is useful because it shows that it is possible to cure phobias using systematic desensitisation.

References

McGrath, T. et al. (1990) ‘Successful treatment of a noise phobia in a nine-year-old girl with systematic desensitisation in vivo’, Journal of Educational Psychology 10 (1), 79–83);

Further Reading

About Behaviorism

OCR A2 Psychology Student Unit Guide New Edition: Unit G543 Health and Clinical Psychology (Student Unit Guides)

Psych Yogi’s Top Ten Psychology Revision Tips for the A* Student

Summary
Article Name
McGrath et al (1990) - Behavioural
Description
'Treatments of Dysfunctional Behaviour' section of 'Dysfunctional Behaviour', as part of your OCR A2 Health and Clinical Psychology course. Revise 'Behavioural'
Author

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