Strengths and Weaknesses of the Approaches and Perspectives in Psychology

This is a summary I made for the G544 module with two strengths and weaknesses for each approach and perspective. There are others, but I just chose my favourite, and the ones I thought would be best for getting the higher grades! Some could be used for AS too, but as I've tried to refer to some issues and debates to bring them up to the A2 level, so some may not fit AS too well.

Obviously the points need to be expanded more in the exam, and I have suggested studies which could be used for the contextualisation, which I have taken from core studies and the "turning to crime" studies for G543 Forensics. Depending on what you have studied these may or may not be useful!

Hope this helps, please leaving a rating and let me know what you think :)

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  • Created on: 31-12-12 12:37
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Strengths and Weaknesses of the Different Approaches and Perspectives
Physiological Approach
o Highly scientific, uses measures such as MRI scans (Maguire). This
means that it is objective and replicable, and mainly gathers
quantitative data, which can be analysed statistically.
o Useful applications, such as in understanding sleep disorders like
narcolepsy (Dement and Kleitman), and treating patients with brain
damage (Sperry and Maguire) as it increases our understanding of
the functions of different parts of the brain.
o Reductionist, does not consider other factors such as social and
individual factors, free will, and focuses on nature over than nurture.
o Often has low ecological validity, as many studies are highly
controlled, such as with the use of sleep laboratories. (Dement and
Cognitive Approach
o Useful applications, such as with eyewitness testimony (Loftus and
Palmer), especially when integrated with other fields, such as in CBT.
o Mainly uses lab experiments, and is highly controlled and scientific.
(Loftus and Palmer, BaronCohen) Therefore reliable, can establish
cause and effect, quantitative data gathered which can be analysed
o Reductionist, which is inevitable considering it compares human mind
to a computer. (BaronCohen) Tries to find simple explanations for the
complex human mind.
o Validity of measuring cognitive processes is questionable, you cannot
tell what person is thinking, and it often relies on self report, often
affected by demand characteristics, social desirability bias,
sometimes even people trying to deceive the researcher. (Griffiths,
Yochelson and Samenow)
Social Approach
o Alternates between controlled lab experiments, and field experiments,
with higher ecological validity, in order to validate findings and refine
theories. (Piliavin)
o Highly relevant in explaining phenomena such as Nazism and the
Holocaust. Therefore it has important applications in society in
preventing future atrocities. (Milgram)

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o Limited generalisability ­ specific to the cultural background where it
is carried out. May be ethnocentric and not generalisable to other
cultures. Often lacks temporal validity, cultures change so research
does not generalise over time. Samples are often small and biased,
further reducing generalisability. (Reicher and Haslam)
o Ethical guidelines often broken, such as with deception, in order to
obtain realistic findings.…read more

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o Can be used to explain almost all behaviour, therefore has many
applications, such as in therapy, may explain why it is still in use 100
years later. Has had an enormous impact. (Yochelson and Samenow)
o Idiographic, more humanistic, considers the value of each individual
and acknowledges the exceptions, rather than grouping everyone
together. (Thigpen and Cleckley)
o Much of research hard to generalise, case studies, small samples,
overwhelmingly white, middle class so ethnocentric.…read more


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