Model answers for AS psychology PY1 :) Behaviourist, cognitive and psychodynamic approaches DETAILED MODEL ANSWERS...for good grade!

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  • Created on: 02-04-11 21:50

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Behaviourist Approach
Q1) Outline two assumptions of the behaviourist approach. (4 marks).
The role of the Environment-
Behaviourists assume we are born as a `Tabula Rasa' meaning blank slate, and all our
behaviour is acquired through exposure to the environment. Who we become and how we
turn out will depend on the stimuli in our environment and our response to them.
Behaviourists assume that both `good' functional behaviour and `bad' abnormal behaviour
can be acquired through this exposure to the environment. Stimuli can include things like
praise from parents which increase the likelihood that we will repeat the behaviour. Other
stimuli such as punishment might reduce the likelihood of behaviour being repeated-thus
the environment shapes our actions.
Operant Conditioning-
Skinner recognised that learning can occur through the consequences of behaviour. If a
reward is given for doing something then that behaviour is more likely to be repeated and
this is called positive reinforcement. An example of positive reinforcement would be getting
a present for doing well in an exam. If something unpleasant stops when we perform a
desired behaviour then the behaviour is more likely to be repeated and this is called negative
reinforcement. An example of negative reinforcement would be curfew ending after you
have done well in an exam. If punishment occurs after a piece of behaviour then that kind of
behaviour is less likely to be repeated. An example of punishment might be having to stop
an activity you enjoy after doing badly in an exam. So, the consequences of behaviour are
important in learning the behaviour.

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Q1b) Describe the Social Learning Theory Aggression. (8 marks).
The behaviourist approach was extended by Bandura who developed the social learning
theory. The social learning theory suggests that we learn not only by conditioning but also by
observing others. The social learning theory has been used to explain aggression.
We learn aggressive behaviour by observing others. We are more likely to observe the
aggressive behaviour of a role model. An example of a role model is an older sibling.…read more

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Q2) Describe how the behavioural approach has been applied Aversion Therapy. (12 marks).
According to the behaviourist approach mental disorders have been learned through operant
and classical conditioning and so can be unlearned. Aversion therapy uses the process of
classical conditioning so that patients can unlearn abnormal behaviour such as alcoholism.
When Pavlov conditioned his dogs they learnt to respond to the sound of a bell.…read more

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One of the strengths of the behaviourist approach is that it has practical applications. This is
because treatments have come from the approach that are widely used and are particularly
effective for phobias. One of the reason therapies are effective is because they concentrate
on the here and now.…read more

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The Laboratory Experiment-
Behaviourists believe we can understand behaviour by carrying out scientific study in
laboratory conditions. An assumption of the approach was that all behaviour is shaped by the
environment we are exposed to, so, through experimentation we can change the
environment and see what its effects are on behaviour.
The lab experiment is used by behaviourists because it allows empirical (observable)
measurements to be made in a highly controlled setting.…read more

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Behaviourists conduct some of their research on animals to find out about learning.
Behaviourists may think it is a good idea to use animals because they can be easily
manipulated. Some people also believe animals and humans are quite similar so we can
generalise the findings in humans.
Animals can be easily manipulated in laboratory settings unlike humans. A common
technique for conducting animal research is to use a `Skinner box'.…read more

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Q1) Outline two assumptions of the Psychodynamic approach. (4 marks).
Internal Conflicts-
Freud claimed that there are three parts to the personality; The ID, Ego and Superego. He
suggested that there is often an unconscious conflict between the ID and the Superego. The
ego tries to balance these two parts. When this balance is not achieved abnormal behaviour
may result.…read more

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The psychodynamic approach stresses the importance of early childhood experiences on
later personality development. Freud argues that every child passes through the 5
psychosexual stages and that if a child gets fixated (this is due to too much pleasure) during
developmental stage this will determine their adult personality.
During the first psychosexual stage the Childs ID is focused upon the mouth as the child is
breast fed and weaned.…read more

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Dream analysis is based on the importance of the unconscious. Freud suggested the mind has three
parts; the conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious. He said the mind is like an iceberg-much
of what goes on inside the mind lies under the surface and that painful experiences may be
repressed into the unconscious mind which can result in abnormal behaviour.…read more

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A strength of the psychodynamic approach is that it does not blame the person for their
illness as it reminds us that experiences in childhood can affect us throughout our lives
without us being aware that it is happening.
Some experiences in childhood may be so emotionally painful that the only way the child can
cope is by repressing the memory of these experiences into the unconscious.…read more


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