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Psychology notes: The key approaches

The Biological approach

Four key assumptions:

1. Behaviour is determined by genetics, brain structure and hormones
2. The CNS especially the brain is essential for thought and behaviour
3. Chemical imbalances can lead to mental and mood disorders e.g. bipolar
4. The Theory of evolution…

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The individual's genotype is the major influencing factor in the development of their phenotype,
but it is not the only one. Phenotype is affected not only by genes but also by the environment.

Genotype + Environment = Phenotype

If identical twins share the same genotype but were separated at birth,…

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You can also study the similarity of twins (effect of genes/environment) by studying separated
If the twins are similar (despite being separated) it supports the role of genes. (Nature)
However, if the twins are different, this supports the role of the environment. (Nurture)

Adoption studies
Studying adopted children is…

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Drug therapy has been developed in order to treat mental and mood disorders.g. Prozac for
depressed patients.

Gender links the chromosomes XY and XX to our behaviour

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The Behaviourist approach

Four key assumptions:

1. Behaviour is learnt through the environment via stimulus-response links
2. All behaviour should be studied in an objective way
3. Animals can be used to investigate psychological principles such as classical and operant
conditioning. These can be generalised through Darwin's theory of evolution.…

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Uses the experimental method

Classical conditioning

Classical conditioning is learning by association. It involves the pairing of a neutral stimulus with an
unconditional stimulus and repeating the pairings repeatedly until learning has taken place.

When there is a time gap between the pairings of the two stimuli, learning does not…

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Operant conditioning

Operant conditioning is learning that occurs through consequences both reinforcement and

It was first investigated by Skinner who believed that psychology should be investigated in an
objective way.

There are two types of reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement provides a feeling of satisfaction that increases the likelihood of a…

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Operant conditioning has been used within prisons and schools (rewards and sanctions). The
token economy system is where prisoners are rewarded with tokens that they can then exchange
for rewards) e.g. telephone calls and cigarettes). The prisoners learn to behave positively so that
when they are released from prison the…

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Vicarious reinforcement = indirect reinforcement. This need not be direct i.e. seeing that
behaviour is reinforced in someone else. E.g. as he cried, he gets to sit on his mum's lap and gets
loads of attention.

This theory acts as a bridge between traditional behaviourism and cognitive theory which also…




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