AQA Addiction Revision Guide

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A2 Psychology Revision
The Psychology of Addictive Behavior

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Biological Models of Addiction
McGue (1999) found that genes contribute to the development of alcohol dependence, with heritability
estimates from 5060% for both men and women.
Noble et al (1991) found that the A1 variant of the DRD2 (Dopamine Receptor) was present in more
than 2/3 of deceased alcoholics. Those with the A1 variant appear to have fewer dopamine receptors
they then turn to drugs and alcohol to increase their dopamine levels ­ compensating for the
deficiency.…read more

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Synoptic Psychology is a science. stimuli, reducing their desire for an artificial
Synoptic Deterministic, Reductionist.
Cognitive Models of Addiction
Initiation ­ Individuals think that the drug is helping with their current problems. Research indicates
that these drugs are specifically chosen for their effects (e.g. alcohol reduces anxiety).
Maintenance ­ Individuals then think the drug is managing the problem.…read more

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Evaluation of The Expectancy Theory
Strengths Limitations
Leigh (1987) found that the more favourably This theory does not explain why addicts
people evaluated the impairment effects of experience a loss of control (which is
drinking, the greater their overall alcohol use. presented in all other theories). It only focuses
on the consumption of the drug.
Synoptic Expectations are culturallybias.…read more

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The Learning Models of Addiction
Initiation ­ A behaviour is repeated if it is rewarded in one of two ways through positive
reinforcement (a desirable consequence e.g. feeling relaxed, increases the level of dopamine) or
through negative reinforcement (the removal of unpleasant consequences e.g. withdrawal symptoms).
Griffiths (2009) also said gamblers become addicted because of physiological rewards (e.g.
adrenaline), psychological rewards (e.g. nearmisses), social rewards (e.g. peer praise) and financial
rewards.…read more

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Initiation ­ This involves the use of secondary reinforcers. An unconditional stimuli (e.g. sitting with
friends) produces an unconditional response (e.g. feeling relaxed). If this unconditional stimuli is then
frequently paired with an conditioned stimuli (e.g. smoking), then it too will start producing an
conditioned response (e.g. feeling relaxed), as the individual has learnt that the conditioned stimuli
(e.g. smoking) produces the same effect as the original unconditional stimuli (e.g. sitting with friends).…read more

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Maintenance ­ According to West (2006) drugs have both positive and negative effects, this creates
an approachavoidance conflict (the drugs motivate users to seek the drug, while they also want to
stop taking the drug). Addicts can also learn through classical conditioning to associate other stimuli
with the drugs.
Relapse ­ If after a period of abstinence, the user comes into contact with one of the cues, there is an
increase likelihood of relapse occurring.…read more

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Socioeconomic Status and Nicotine Addiction ­ Research into smoking trends in the UK, found
that smoking was associated with social and economic disadvantage, with poorer smokers tending to
smoke more.
Smoking In Pregnancy ­ Buka et al (2003) collected data from 1,248 pregnant women aged 17 to
39, using blood samples measuring nicotine levels. It was found that children of heavier smokers were
no more likely to try smoking or to smoke regularly than children of light smokers.…read more

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Research has found that low selfesteem may cause people to behave in self defeating ways to
escape self awareness (e.g. drinking to increase confidence). Taylor (2007) analysed a sample of
over 800 boys over a nine year period and found that those with low selfesteems when they were
aged 11 have a higher chance of being addicted at aged 20.…read more


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