synoptic essay - unit 4 - AQA psychology spec A

synoptic element.

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  • Created on: 26-05-10 11:32
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To what extent is human behaviour shaped or controlled by external forces
Human behavior is the collection of behaviors exhibited by human beings and influenced
by culture, attitudes, emotions, values, and genetics. The behaviour of people falls within
a range with some behaviors being socially acceptable (norm), and some outside
acceptable limits.
There have been many controversial debates, such as nature vs. nurture debate which
attempt to explain human behaviour in the form of genetics and environment. Is our
behaviour controlled through the effect of genes or the environment? Many research
studies have been carried out that support both sides of the arguments so it's difficult to
decide which one is a better explanation.
Behavioural psychologists believe that our behavioural aspects originate only from the
environmental factors of our nurture. So according to nurture debate genes do not control
our behaviour but the environment. All behaviours are the result of learning through
classical or operant conditioning and social learning.
A famous case study on aggression by Bandura (1963) explains that behaviour is learnt
by observing others and then imitating it. Bandura's study was a lab experiment. He
carried out the experiment using a life sized bobo doll. Children were showed two video
clips. 1) An adult acting aggressively towards the doll, hitting and punching it. 2) An adult
acting aggressively towards the bobo doll and being awarded. After watching the video,
children were left alone with a bobo doll in a room. Children who watched the second
video, in which the adult is awarded, acted more aggressively towards the doll. Children
who watched the first one acted aggressively as well. This suggests that behaviour is
learnt through vicarious reinforcement or direct experience. However, behaviour only
becomes part of an individual's behaviour when it is directly reinforced.
Although behavioural debate focuses on learning, even learning has a genetic basis.
Nature debate states that the ability to learn relies on appropriate neural mechanisms.
Research supporting this is by Quinn et al (1979). Mutant fruit flies with one crucial gene
missing cannot be conditioned.
Biological explanations are supported by many research studies. One of the main studies
that show aggression has a biological cause is twin studies. McGuffin and Gottesman
(1985) found a concordance rate of 87% for aggressive behaviour for MZ twin pairs,
compared with 72% for DZ twin pairs. However, it indicates that family environment exerts
an important influence on antisocial or aggressive behaviour. This supports the
importance of genetic factors, but also shows the significance of environmental factors.
Another external force which can alter human behaviour for a brief period of time is
deindividuation. Deindividuation is the situation where antisocial behavior is released in
groups in which individuals are not seen or paid attention to as individuals. Essentially,
when a person is in the group and deindividuation occurs, the person is no longer acting
as the individual. Therefore, what would normally inhibit the actions of a single person
acting in a social setting and conforming to social norms is removed. The result is
antisocial behavior.

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Khadiija IQbal

what grade has this essay received? :) 

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