Psychodynamic Approach - AS Psychology (Edexcel)


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Psychodynamic Approach
Case studies ­ Study one unique individual or small group and gather in-depth, detailed and rich
data. They use many research methods such as observations, questionnaires and interviews. Case
studies are a research method. They gather qualitative data.
Freud's case studies ­ Gather in-depth, detailed data about an individual. He used methods such as
free association, dream analysis and slips of the tongue to uncover unconscious wishes and desires.
Freud's case studies are therapeutic. They gather qualitative data.
Strengths of general case studies
High in validity as they gather in-depth, detailed, rich data about one unique individual from
a number of sources. They are in their natural setting so are ecologically valid.
Triangulation(more than one method) is used to gather data making it more scientific,
valid and reliable.
Weaknesses of general case studies
Low in reliability ­ Not easy to replicate. A different researcher might get different results.
Hard to generalise ­ The person studied is unique and a similar situation may never be
Strengths of Freud's case studies
They are research methods as Freud drew conclusions about his theories from them but they
were used in therapy, where psychoanalysis cured the person.
Valid ­ Evidence comes directly from the individuals so it measures what it's supposed to
Weaknesses of Freud's case studies
They were carried out on neurotic patients, so the sample is biased as the participants were
all mentally ill in some way.
Unscientific/subjective ­ Involved a lot of interpretation. His concepts are not measurable.
A spearman's rho test is carried out if what is being tested is a relationship, the level of
measurement is ordinal or interval/ratio, and the type of design is a correlation. The critical value
needs to be lower than the actual value to be significant.
Strengths of correlational designs
Little manipulation of variables.
Strong correlations can suggest ideas for research.
Weaknesses of correlational designs
Lack validity because at least one of the variables needs to be operationalized making in

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No cause and effect relationship can be established.
Longitudinal studies ­ Follow a set of participants over time, using methods such as observations,
experiments or survey. E.g. study of children through to adulthood.
Strengths of longitudinal studies
Useful for looking at developmental trends
They use the same participants so participant variables will not give bias results.
Weaknesses of longitudinal studies
Participants may not want to continue or may move away. Those remaining may share
characteristics meaning the findings are biased.…read more

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There are 3 aspects of personality ­ the id, the ego and the superego.
The id ­ Instinctive part of the personality present from birth. Operates on the pleasure principle.
The ego ­ Rational part of the personality. Its aware of the demands of the id and the outside world,
and it makes the decisions. Operates on the reality principle.
The superego ­ Operates on the morality principle. An embodiment of parental and social values.
Superego consists of ego ideal and conscious.…read more

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There are problems generalising from Freud's sample as they tended to be neurotic patients.
Freud's theory stops at adolescence and doesn't explain development in adulthood.
Unlike Erikson's theory which says we carry on developing into old age.
The unconscious can't be measured using scientific methods.
Dream analysis is subjective and can be interpreted differently by different researchers.
Biological theory explains development using concepts of genes, hormones and brain
Freud over empathised the sexual nature of children's development.…read more

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Hans feared horses as they represented his father. The fear of black on the horse's mouths
and things in front of their eyes represented his father with moustaches and glasses,
reinforcing the idea that Hans was afraid of his father.
Little Hans displaced his fear of his father on to horses which reminded him of his father.
The horse biting him in his dream can represent castration anxiety.…read more

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Case study so gathered qualitative data that was thorough and valid.
Axline gathered data from a number of different sources, increasing the validity and
Case study so cannot be repeated and so reliability cannot be checked.
Hard to generalise because Dibs is a unique individual.…read more


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