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Biological approach Assumptions:
Human behaviour is strongly influenced by our genetic make up and
our genetic inheritance.
The central nervous system is essential for thought and behaviour to
take place. Structure of the brain can explain behaviour and thought.
Chemical processes in the brain are responsible for psychological
functions in the brain. An imbalance of these chemicals can cause certain
The brain and the mind are the same. Some argue the brain is physical
and the mind is mental.…read more

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Evolution ­ refers to the change over
successive generations of the
characteristics/ make-up of a population.
In a species an animal will develop a
characteristic that will give it an
advantage over survival of the fittest.
These characteristics are innate e.g.
rooting reflex.
Genotype ­ refers to a person's genetic
make - up. The autonomic nervous system maintains homeostasis. Is
involuntary and controls the fight/flight response.…read more

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Method Strengths Weaknesses
Neurosurgery- manipulating Allows precision and Ethical issues
the brains structure ­ control
Cause and effect
ablation and lesion
Damage to brain
Electrical stimulation- Less harmful than Most research is
microelectrodes inserted to surgery done on animals and
brain to stimulate neurones therefore can't be
More ethical
Chemical stimulation-used
before operation
Post mortems-usually used Provides a greater Difficult to obtain
on people with long term understanding of rare control and brains
illnesses afflictions
Cause and effect
EEG-recording electrical Safe and…read more

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Ways to investigate genetic basis
of behaviour
Behaviourist approach
The behaviourist
approach believes that all
behaviour is learnt from the environment, and it is extreme on the nurture side.
Behaviour is learnt through stimulus response association or as a result of
Psychology is scientific and should be studied using empirical methods, to ensure it is
Psychology should be the study of observable behaviour and not internal, mental
processes as these cannot be directly observed or measured.…read more

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Humanists would argue
against this.
It is reductionist and over simplistic because the principle of learning do not account
for spontaneous behaviour that has not been observed or reinforced within their
It is difficult to generalise results from animal learning to human behaviour because
we are more complex than animals and we have language and emotions influencing
our behaviour.
The behaviour approach ignores other factors that may influence our behaviour,
such as the mental processes involved in learning for example memory / attention.…read more

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Pavlov's Dog
Watson and Little Albert
Thorndike and the `puzzle box' Skinners Rat box…read more

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Social learning theory Assumptions:
Behaviour is learnt through observation and imitation.
Modelling is copying behaviour of people with whom we identify.
Identification with someone involves a desire to be like them and
therefore leads to a desire to imitate them.
Reinforcement can be vicarious, we learn through observation of the
consequences for other of their actions.
Medicating cognitive factors are involved these occur between
stimulus and response like memory and thinking.…read more

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Bandura's theory of observational learning has four conditions that he said were essential
for effective modelling to occur.
Make sure you know the difference
between observational learning and
operant conditioning.
In observational learning, if a child
observes a model being punished they
will acquire a memory of this
behaviour which may or may not be
replicated at a later date. However, in
operant conditioning, punishment
extinguishes the behaviour.
Albert Bandura (1963)
Demonstrated how aggressive
children may have learned by
imitating a model.…read more

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Cognitive approach Assumptions:
The cognitive approach adopts the use of scientific, experimental methods to measure
mental processes.
The cognitive approach states that much of our behaviour is affected by conscious mental
processes so it concentrates on investigating how individuals can learn to solve problems
and the mental processes that exist between stimulus and response.
Humans are like human processors and like the mind to the operation of computers
where information is coded, stored, retrieved and response in an output.…read more


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