The Disruption of Biological Rhythms - 8+16 marks

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Discuss research into the disruption of biological rhythms
(8+16 marks)
Exogenous zeitgebers gradually change, allowing our body to adjust.
However, rapid changes can disrupt the natural coordination between
exogenous zeitgebers and our internally regulated rhythms.
Without the synchronisation of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous
zeitgebers, we may find ourselves in situations which are dangerous in
terms of our survival, for example animals may venture dangerously into
the wild, such as rodents straying from their burrows during daylight,
making them easy prey.
In terms of humans, Peter Tripp went 201 hours without sleep in order to
investigate the effects of sleep deprivation on our circadian rhythm sleep
wake cycle. During the experiment, he showed rapid mood changes and was
diagnosed psychotic shortly after, showing sleep deprivation can have
crucial long-term impacts on our biological rhythms and general well-being.
Similarly, Randy Gardner, a 17-year old American student went 264 hours
without sleep. During the study he experienced hallucinations and paranoia.
However, once he had slept for 15 hours at the end of the study he was back
to 'normal', disporting Tripps findings that sleep deprivation can lead to
long-term permanent impacts on our biological rhythms but this does
suggest there are short-term impacts.
These case studies were on sleep deprivation, which may make them
unethical as although participants consented, they may not have really
known what they were letting themselves in for. Also, Tripp experienced
psychological harm as a result of the study, going against ethical guidelines.
Participants' right to withdraw also becomes difficult for example, Tripp
begged for sleep however, due to the nature of the study he was denied this.
There may also be cultural bias as these studies were carried out on
individuals in the US, a Western 24-hour society. Thus we cannot generalise
results to other cultures and impose etic as cultures which aren't 24-hour
societies may show greater disruption to biological rhythms.

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Discuss research into the disruption of biological rhythms
(8+16 marks)
In terms of Randy Gardner's experiment, it does not really support the
debate of psychology as a science as there were no objective measurements
used such as EEG'S. These studies may also lack ecological validity as they
are un-realistic to real life. In real life, we have daily routines such as work
and meal times, yet these weren't present in these studies, making them
difficult to apply results to real life where these routines exist.…read more


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