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Describe how the cognitive approach can explain a behaviour/phenomenon. (4 marks)
Describe how the cognitive approach can explain autism.
The cognitive approach assumes that behaviour, in this case autism, can be explained in terms of the
way the mind operates. Baron-Cohen proposes a cognitive explanation of autism. The core problem
is seen as a failure to develop a core cognitive skill: theory of mind skills, which everyone else
develops automatically as we grow and mature. Baron-Cohen argues that having some difficulty in
understanding other people's points of view is the core feature and appears universal amongst
individuals with autism. Autistic individuals have difficult in inferring a range of mental states in others
such as emotions, imaginations, beliefs, fantasies and intentions. The results show that adults with
autism and Asperger's Syndrome were impaired on a theory of mind test despite having normal
intelligence. The autism and Asperger's Syndrome group were significantly less able to cope with the
Eyes Task whilst the Tourette's syndrome group and the normal participants performed identically.
Describe how the cognitive approach can explain language acquisition.
The cognitive approach assumes that behaviour, in this case language acquisition, can be explained in
terms of the way the mind operates. Lock proposes that we acquire language through two key
steps: associative symbol learning and representational symbol learning. Also humans have the
capability of acquiring language by needing no training and being able to provide differential
response on cue. The study by Savage-Rumbaugh demonstrates language acquisition in common and
pygmy chimpanzees. For example, the study demonstrated associative symbol learning and needing
no training in pygmy chimpanzees. But it is only through extensive training with Sherman and Austin
that representational symbol learning was demonstrated. Chimpanzees also use imitation when
Describe how the cognitive approach can explain memory.
The cognitive approach assumes that the mind works in the manner which is similar to a computer:
inputting, storing and retrieving data. The Loftus and Palmer study demonstrates that our memory of
even is not as accurate as we once though because our memory of an event is made up from two
sources. The sources are our initial perception of event gleaned at the time and external information
(after-event information). The way questions are worded as well as leading questions can distort our
memory of an event. In experiments one and two of the study, participants who received the more
severe sounding verb estimated a higher speed estimate. In addition, in part 2 of the experiment 2,
the participants who received the severe sounding verb said more "yes" to the question of "Did you
see any broken glass?"