Biological Approach

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  • Biological Approach
    • genotype is an individual's genetic makeup which occurs at conception and provides genetic code for how the person will develop
      • the only people who do not have individual genotypes are monozygotic twins
        • monozygotic twins are identical twins
        • dizygotic twins are non-identical twins
      • the complex interaction between nature and nurture affects the way genotype is expressed and developed
    • phenotype is the product of what happens when the genotype interacts with the environment
      • an example of this is someone may have an inherited genetic predisposition to a mental illness but environmental triggers e.g. stress may affect whether the genes are affected
    • twin studies allow psychologists to study the interaction between nature and nurture
      • concordance rates are the % of both twins displaying the same characteristics
        • the expectation is that if a characteristic is inherited there will be a higher concordance rate in monozygotic twins
      • Irving Gottesman
        • concordance rates of schizophrenia in monozygotic twins was 48% but in dizygotic twins 17%
      • Craddock and Jones
        • concordance rates for bipolar in monozygotic twins was 40% but for dizygotic twins 7%
      • Walters and Kendler
        • concordance rates for anorexia in monozygotic twins was 23% but 9% in dizygotic twins
      • concordance rates for mental illnesses in twins suggests genetics do play a role but don't tell the whole story - the closer someone is genetically related to someone with a disorder, the more likely they are to get it
      • twins studies allow us to clearly see if genes have an effect on behaviour
    • the nervous system
      • central nervous system
        • consists of the brain and spinal cord
        • transfers messages to and from the environment and act as the centre from which all physiology is controlled
      • peripheral nervous system
        • sends and receives information to the central nervous system - collects information in terms of temperature, pain and threat
      • sends messages around our body through the use of neurons
        • neurons are nerve cells which transmit impulses in the form of electrical signals
    • the endocrine system works to maintain correct levels of hormones in the blood through the use of glands, especially the pituitary
      • the pituitary gland instructs other glands to secrete hormones when required
        • biological psychologists say the level of hormones in the endocrine system can affect the behaviour of a person
          • hormones are chemicals which travel through the blood
    • the theory of natural selection says any behaviours that ensures survival and reproduction will be passed on to future generations
      • Buss
        • mate choices have evolved because they lead to reproductive success
          • women desire men with resources as it shows they can provide for them and offspring
          • men desire young attractive women as it indicates fertility
    • this approach is bias-free as it is scientific so we can test hypotheses and retest findings
    • research into the role of chemical imbalance in those with depression has led to the development of drug treatments which correct this and minimise the symptoms of depression


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