Date of Award

Summer 1976

Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Ivanoff, John M.

Second Advisor

DeRoche, E.


This paper is a written discussion about a behavioral therapeutic technique known as systematic desensitization. It is common knowledge that the application of behavioral principles is as relevant to education, as it is to the treatment of those with psychological disorders. In recent years, the media has related much about behavioral modification. Operant conditioning is now being implemented by parents, teachers, businesses and therapists. Operant behavior can be strengthened or weakened by manipulating its consequences; whereas, the efficiency of this behavior modification depends on the degree to which we can control the consequences. The desired behavior is then strengthened through positive or negative reinforcement. Desensitization technique is a behavior therapy that has yet received wide-spread acceptance, to those who utilize behavioral techniques. Its theory and methods will be discussed from an educational and psychological perspective. Experiments have shown its' efficacy in various school situations for the management of the emotionally disturbed or handicapped. The literature seems to pin-point a need for further testing of different behavioral techniques as it can be practiced in educational settings. We might begin to think of desensitization as a behavioral technique which purportedly, can produce a reduction of avoidance behavior or anxiety levels. It can therefore have other affects on one's cognitive, emotional or personality functioning in which one may be helped to take a more positive direction.