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What is Sensitization Psychology and How It Affects Us?

October 14, 2022    0 COMMENTS


Sensitization psychology, also known as classical conditioning, refers to the psychological process where an association between two stimuli occurs. A classic example of this would be Pavlov’s dogs and their famous dinner bell; every time the dogs heard the dinner bell ring.

They knew that food was coming and salivated at the sound of it. This concept extends to things outside of dinner bells everything from advertising to colors can become associated with people and make them feel specific about what they see or hear.

Types of Sensitization Psychology

It is a field of study that has to do with how we react to stimuli. Some main types of sensitization psychology can affect an individual. The first type, habituation, is when an individual becomes used to repeatedly being exposed to the same stimulus or set of stimuli. This can be good for some people as it can help them get into a routine with their day or helps them sleep better because they’re familiar with what happens at bedtime.

However, there are negative implications, such as anxiety disorders and addiction. The second type, classical conditioning, occurs when one stimulus (conditioned) is paired with another (unconditioned) so that the unconditioned stimulus comes to elicit the same response. For example, if you eat ice cream every time you see your favorite show on TV, then eventually, just seeing your favorite show on TV will make you crave ice cream.

Some examples of this in real life would be Pavlov’s dogs and children associating eating candy with Halloween costumes. Another way this phenomenon could occur in real life would be someone who always gets sick after eating out at a restaurant even though they have not had any food poisoning there before sometimes people have bad luck when they eat out so much. Still, the body associates those two things together.

sensitization psychology

Sensitization Psychology: Exposure Therapy

Sensitization psychology is a type of psychotherapy that involves exposing the patient to triggers to desensitize them. Exposure therapy starts with very low-intensity triggers, such as pictures of people that cause anxiety, eventually working up to stronger ones like being near someone who causes you anxiety. The process can take days or months, depending on the severity of your condition.

An example of this treatment would be for someone who has a phobia of snakes. They would first be exposed to photos or videos of snakes, then gradually work their way up to coming closer and closer to the snake itself until they are comfortable around it. In some cases where one cannot control their environment, exposure therapy can be done by imagining triggering situations.

For instance, if you live in an area with poisonous spiders but don’t have time to do exposure therapy through direct interaction, imagine seeing the spider come toward you every day while imagining what it would feel like.

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Desensitizing Stimuli

The purpose of desensitizing stimuli is to gradually remove a person’s adverse reaction to something they used to find frightening. This process can be achieved by showing the person increasingly more extreme versions of what they were afraid of until they no longer fear it. For example, if someone was afraid of spiders, you could start with a picture or video of a spider on their desk, then move up to holding the spider in your hand for several minutes, then move up again to be under the same spider for several minutes.

The goal would be that eventually, when the person sees a picture or video with just one leg showing from behind an object, they’ll feel nothing at all. Unfortunately, there are some limitations to this technique. First, the person must be able to handle repeated exposures; second, they must want exposure therapy.

Third, they have to believe that whatever they’re exposing themselves to won’t hurt them; fourth, this technique only works when applied early on- if someone has already been traumatized by something which means it affects them negatively even if it’s not as severe now- it will most likely not work.

sensitization psychology

Habituation/Induction Therapy

Habituation and induction therapy are two different treatment approaches that psychologists use to treat phobias. These treatments’ goal is to desensitize the patient’s response to their fear stimulus gradually. Habituation therapy exposes the patient repeatedly to a feared object or situation, while induction therapy confronts the patient with their fear stimulus, in short, intense bursts.

Repeated exposure should eventually lead to habituation or a decrease in physiological symptoms like high blood pressure and rapid heart rate. Induction therapy seeks to create new associations between the fear stimulus and feelings of safety through an intense.

But brief period of confrontation with it. Research has shown that both methods can effectively treat phobias, but they may not be equally effective for all patients.

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Systematic Desensitization

The first step in systematic desensitization treatment for someone afraid of spiders might be to look at pictures or watch movies of spiders. The next step would be holding a toy spider, and the last step would be touching an actual spider possibly with their hand inside a clear container so they can see what they’re doing.

Gradually, each person moves up the hierarchy as they feel comfortable. Exposure therapy: In exposure therapy, therapists may expose people to fear-inducing stimuli by guiding them through it slowly, either by imagining it or in real life.

When people are exposed to fears slowly enough and repeatedly enough. They’ll often become less sensitive to them, similar to how most people stop noticing billboards after a while.


Sensitization psychology is a behavioral therapy that helps people change their response to stimuli. Unlike desensitization, which allows people to feel less anxious or stressed from a stimulus by being repeatedly exposed to it. Sensitization uses the same exposure method but with a different goal in mind. Sensitizing people to specific triggers makes them feel more positive about those triggers.

For example, suppose someone has an irrational fear of getting shots. In that case, they might gradually be exposed to needles to get used to them. And develop new positive associations with needles. Even though this may seem counterintuitive at first glance, studies have shown promising results when using this approach.

For instance, one study found that women sensitized to math showed a much higher success rate in math tests than women who weren’t. The goal is to help people learn how to manage stressful situations and live healthier lives.

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Final Thoughts

Sensitization psychology has much to do with how we respond to sensory stimuli. The more often a person is exposed to a particular stimulus, the more sensitive they become to it. This is true for both good and bad things.

So if you’ve had horrible days later, you might want to figure out what’s triggering them. And if you’ve had perfect days lately, congratulations! You should probably keep doing whatever it was that made those days so great in the first place.

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