Biological Approach Revision Notes

Basically answers the questions for the edexcel psych - biological approach. Therefore this should be everything you need, exluding the practicals we did in class.

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  • Created on: 30-05-13 17:00
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Biological Approach ­ Specification ­ Edexcel AS Psych
1a) Define the biological approach showing understanding that it is about the
influence and impact of genes and the nervous system on individual differences.
The biological approach combines biology and psychology to provide
physiological explanations for gender. It focuses on two main assumptions; that
our behaviour is the result of genes and activity in the central nervous system.
It includes methods such as lesion studies, drug testing and lab experimenting.
1b) Define and use psychological terminology appropriately and accurately
including the terms:
central nervous system (CNS) = the brain and spinal cord, this controls
our behaviour.
synapse = small junctions between neurons, where neurotransmitters
are released.
receptor = receives the neurotransmitters when they pass across the
synaptic gap. These are found on dendrites.
neurone = part of the nervous system, which sends and receives
information throughout the body.
neurotransmitter = a chemical messenger that carries information
between neurons.
genes = A unit of heredity which contains DNA. It is responsible for
protein in different cells, which create and instruct our bodies and
Hormones = chemical messengers secreted by cell or gland. Exposure to
hormones, before and after birth, is responsible for physical gender
brain lateralisation = the extent to which each hemisphere of the brain is
involved in different activities. Research suggests that males and
females use different parts of their brain more (male = right side;
spatial awareness and imagery. Female = left side; speech and written)
lesion studies = when surgery is used to disable parts of the brain, to see
how it affects behaviour. Usually on animals.
2a) Describe and evaluate twin and adoption studies as research methods.
Twin and adoption studies look to see how much of our individual difference
are due to genes.
With twin studies, psychologists will look at the concordance rates between
them (the likelihood that if one twin has a trait, the other twin will have the
same trait). If there is a higher concordance rate for MZ twins (100%
genetically similar ­ develop from the same egg) then genes will most likely
be the cause for the trait. However most twins are reared in the same
environment, making it difficult to determine whether the cause is nurture or
nature. Therefore we like to look at twins who are reared apart, in order to
separate the different factors.

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Alternatively we can look at adopted children, to study whether behavioural
traits are the result of nature or nurture. Adoptive children share no genes
with their adoptive children but do share the same environment, and share
50% genes with biological parent but not the same environment. This means
that common traits with the adoptive parents are the result of environmental
factors, and common traits with the biological parents are due to genetics.…read more

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DV) and independent variable (IV) in experiments
the use of control groups
experimental procedures including allocating groups to conditions (eg
randomising) and sampling
levels of measurement.
2d) Describe and evaluate, including strengths and weaknesses, the use of animals
in laboratory experiments in the biological approach.
In psychological research, animals are used in lesion studies and drug testing.
Control groups are often used, to compare animals with brain damage/disease
to those with fully functioning brains.…read more

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Evaluate the use of laboratory experiments in terms of validity, reliability and
Lab experiments are standardised and this means they will have a higher
reliability than other experiments. They are also are conducted in artificial
environments, leading to a lack of ecological validity and a potential lack of
In lab experiments with human participants, then it can result in demand
characteristics and participant variables, both of which will effect the validity
of the results.…read more

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The final pair
determines our gender; in females this pair of chromosomes is XX, in males it
is XY. A Y chromosome must be present for a foetus to develop into a male.
For the first few weeks of pre-natal development every foetus is identical, at
six weeks the gonads begin to develop, later they fully develop into male or
female gonads.
When the Y chromosome is present, SRY (sex-determining region Y) produces
a protein called `testis-determining factor'.…read more

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Brain damage, such as that caused by a stroke, only affects one hemisphere of
the brain. In most cases, this would be more detrimental to males than females;
as in females the unaffected area may be able to take over. For example, in
males the right side of the brain is heavily used for spatial awareness, in
females they use both sides of the brain.
3d) Evaluate the influence of biological factors on gender development including
comparison with explanations from the Psychodynamic and Learning Approaches.…read more

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The study of David Reimer however, contradicts the results of the Daphne
Went case study. He supports the argument that biological factors significantly
influence our gender development. As after an unsuccessful attempt to turn a
male into a female, he reverted to being a male again, due to his pronounced
masculinity. This shows that his biological status was enough to overrun his
female upbringing, something that is seen in the majority of us.…read more

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­ supporting both the nurture and nature sides of the
nature-nurture debate.
4a) Describe and evaluate two studies relating to the Biological Approach. One
must be Money J (1975) Ablatio penis: normal male infant sex-reassigned as a girl,
and David Reimer's subsequent testimony and one other.…read more

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Brenda' had adapted to
the role of female and stated that this was consistent with his theory.
However `Brenda' was considered by everyone who knew her to be a tomboy
who liked to play with her brother's toys and enjoyed aggressive play. She
reported feeling `different' and her teachers said she was generally more
masculine than feminine. `Brenda' was even seen urinating standing up.…read more

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Numerous ethical issues surround this case study. The twins were allegedly
encouraged to pose naked in sexual positions which they said was degrading
Being involved in the case study was alleged to have been a factor in the
mental break down of Brian Reimer, and the later suicide of David. This
demonstrates the psychological harm that both twins suffered.
Gottesman and Shields (1966)
Aim: To investigate the relationship between genetic make-up and
schizophrenia, by looking at the concordance rates of both MZ and DZ twins.…read more



These great! Do you have notes on Learning and Psychodynamic Approach??

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