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Why Extinction Psychology Matters?

October 20, 2022    0 COMMENTS


For most of extinction psychology history, it has been dominated by classical conditioning, which assumes that learning can be broken down into two parts: acquisition and extinction. After an association is learned between two stimuli (like Pavlov’s dog hearing the bell), the learned behavior is said to be acquired. When the association later disappears (because the dog stops expecting food when he hears the bell ring), the learned behavior has been extinguished.

What Is Extinction Psychology?

Extinction psychology is an emerging branch of psychology that focuses on the relationships between extinction and avoidance. The main principle is that when a conditioned stimulus is no longer followed by reinforcement, it will eventually disappear or decrease.

This principle can be seen in experiments involving rats, where rats are conditioned to respond to a specific stimulus with a reward (usual food). The rat stops responding when this reward is no longer given after the stimulus has been presented.

Similarly, if you put out your hand and someone slaps it away from them every time you do this, eventually, you will stop reaching for their hand. These principles are applied differently to understanding human behavior and interactions with objects in our environment.

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Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement reinforces behavior by rewarding it. For example, if you eat all your vegetables, your mom might give you an extra scoop of ice cream. Negative reinforcement reinforces behavior by punishing a specific action or removing something unpleasant or undesirable. For example, if you stop hitting the dog with your shoe when he jumps on the couch, he will learn to stop jumping on the couch to avoid punishment.

Extinction is where there is no reward for a specific behavior, so the animal gradually stops doing that because they are not getting any reward. Animals have evolved to adapt and survive, which means they have learned what behaviors are reinforced. They only do those things that receive some positive consequence- food or protection from predators.

The Stick and the Carrot

Extinction psychology is an essential branch of Neuroscience psychology that studies how animals and people learn to stop performing behaviors that no longer produce results. One example of this process is how parents use the carrot and stick method on their children: the stick method involves using punishment or a negative consequence to stop a behavior.

In contrast, the carrot method uses rewards or positive consequences to encourage a behavior. These are two popular ways to use it to get what they want. The goal is to eventually make it so that there’s not much of a reason for someone to continue with bad habits because good habits will be more rewarding.

For example, your boss might give you a raise if you do something well at work. But if you slack off, your boss may give you less responsibility or cut your hours. The idea is to change someone’s environment, so they have more motivation to do good things instead of slacking off all day.

extinction psychology

How CBT Works in Extinction Psychology?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often used to treat anxiety disorders. CBT works by helping the individual identify their thoughts and feelings, recognize when those thoughts may be irrational, and find healthier ways of coping. It is an active process that requires the person being treated to take part in exercises regularly. For CBT to be successful, it must be applied correctly and diligently over time. One study found that only 31% of patients who completed treatment had sustained benefits after three years.

While this rate is much higher than other treatments, success rates are still low enough to warrant more research into practical methods and long-term effects. At present, there is no way to predict how someone will respond to CBT; factors like motivation and severity of the disorder can all affect whether or not someone benefits from therapy.

Additionally, many therapists don’t have adequate training in cognitive behavioral techniques; sometimes, they’re more comfortable with traditional talk therapy techniques like psychodynamic psychotherapy. A recent study showed that 86% of therapists use at least one form of therapy instead of exclusively using cognitive behavioral therapy.

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT for short, is a psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients understand the connection between their thoughts and feelings. Using this knowledge, the patient can challenge their thoughts to change their feelings. CBT aims to help patients break out of negative thought cycles that contribute to mental health issues. CBT is often used as an adjunct treatment with medication therapy but can also be used as a stand-alone treatment.

Patients diagnosed with depression typically experience four common symptoms: anxiety, sadness, anger, and fatigue. Some people may only experience one of these symptoms, while others might experience all four. Depression may also cause social isolation, memory loss, sleep disturbances, and poor appetite. All of these symptoms may have a significant impact on daily life.

When people are experiencing these effects in their day-to-day lives, they might want to consider seeking professional help to cope with depression because CBT has been found effective in reducing depressive symptoms within 8 weeks when paired with medications like antidepressants.

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How It Relates To Trauma Therapy

Extinction psychology is a theory that relates to how animals respond to external stimuli. The idea behind this theory is that when animals are exposed to an unfamiliar stimulus, they will initially show fear. Still, as they become more familiar with the stimulus, the fear will eventually diminish and disappear altogether. The theory of extinction psychology also applies to humans and how we react to traumatic situations.

When humans experience trauma, they often respond with great fear and anxiety. However, as they grow more accustomed to the trauma-inducing stimuli. Their reactions decrease significantly until, eventually, their reactions are no longer experienced. For example, if someone is assaulted by another individual while walking home one night. They may be very fearful of being outside after dark for some time following the incident.

However, after enough time has passed without any further assaults occurring during nighttime hours. The person may begin walking home alone again without feeling frightened or anxious about what might happen next. Extinction psychologists believe that if someone experiences a traumatic event repeatedly without it resulting. In anything worse than what happened before, those fears can stop affecting them entirely. 

As therapists know well, this understanding can help individuals with PTSD. Who cannot seem to rid themselves of debilitating fear despite years going by since their trauma occurred.

extinction psychology

Final Thoughts

It is a field that studies the effects of removing rewards on the human psyche. It has been proven that people will work to get rewards back if rewards are removed. But what happens when they don’t exist anymore? What happens when there is no goal? The most dangerous time for an individual is when they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

You might do something extreme when you’ve lost your job, home, and any hope for the future. Extinction psychology is essential; it helps understand how humans react under challenging circumstances. When you think about it this way – extinction doesn’t seem so scary.

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