Describe and evaluate research on two biological rhythms

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  • Describe and evaluate research on two biological rhythms
    • Circadian rhythms
      • Michael Siffre - study on the sleep wake cycle. 1st he spent 61 days underground. He resurfaced in september believing it was August. He then spent 6 months in a cave = resurfaced with rhythms just over 24 hours.
        • This shows that exogenous zeitgebers change and/ or affect our sleep wake cycle.
          • However since even in the absense of external cues he still managed to keep some sort of regular cycle
        • Czeisler - criticised this research for being artificial as he used artificial light when he was awake which was likely to influence and reset the body clock
        • Although this study shows the impact on siffre it has been criticised for being a case study  as it was only carried out on himself so it cannot be generalised as other people may react differently due to individual differences. Also fairly gender bias as he was male and females may react differently - not representative.
        • Investigator bias may have been an issue as he knew what he was looking for in his research and this may have influenced the results and made them artificial.
        • The Behavioural Approach would argue that his first study shows the importance of learning theory - you learn to go to sleep when its dark - and he became unknown of the date because he didnt have those cues.
    • Infradian rhythms
      • Empson - carried out a study showing males infradian cycle. He used 21 male participants who had their body temperature and alertness measured over periods varying from 49 days to 102 days - found that men have a cycle of approximately 20 days long where they have a variation of body temperature and morning alertness.
        • very small sample - may not be very valid as they may of had very similar characteristics- cannot generalise.
        • Gender bias - this was not tested on women so it is unknown as to whether they are applicable to women too  meaning although he may have found evidence for IC it may be both genders which he fails to consider.
        • Need to consider individual differences as they were all from the US creating cultural bias - results may not be the same over  all cultures
    • Both clearly reflect the main characteristics of the cycles but the results need to be generalised with caution - neither have been retested so we cannot be sure findings are valid


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