The key approaches - Psychology AQA B

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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 has helped explain how humans have evolved.
Hormones = chemicals within the body that control cells or organs and have been found to affect
behaviour
Genetics = a biological area that focuses upon the role of DNA on our behaviour
It is Highly deterministic
Nature side of the debate
Uses experiments, case studies and twin and adoption studies
Influence of genes
Within most cells in the human body (except red blood cells there is a nucleus. This contains 46
chromosomes (except for sex cells). Chromosomes are made up of a complex chemical called
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The DNA in each chromosome carries information called genes.
Research on the genetic influence of behaviour has often been conducted on non-human species
e.g. rats as they have a shorter gestation period. Psychologists are able to manipulate certain
genes in order to measure the effects on behaviour. Genetic mapping, genetic engineering and
selective breeding programmes have contributed to our understanding of the genetic basis of
behaviour.
Genotype
Genotype refers to an individual's genetic make-up that is the particular set of
genes that the individual possesses.
Phenotype refers to the observable characteristics, or traits, shown by the
individual, for example height, weight or eye colour.

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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, raised in different
environments, one twin may show a completely different phenotype from the other.…read more

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You can also study the similarity of twins (effect of genes/environment) by studying separated
twins.
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 a way of determining whether behavioural traits are the result of
nature of nurture.…read more

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

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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.
4.…read more

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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 take place.
This means that repeated pairings close together are important for learning
If the conditional stimulus is repeatedly sounded without the conditional response, the
behaviour that has been learned will eventually be extinguished.…read more

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Operant conditioning
Operant conditioning is learning that occurs through consequences both reinforcement and
punishment
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
desired response being repeated in the future. E.g.…read more

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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 positive behaviour should continue to occur.
Social Learning Theory
Four key assumptions:
1. Behaviour is acquired through imitation of models
2. Mediating cognitive factors are important in learning
3.…read more

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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
accounts for mental processes.…read more

Comments

Emilie

These are so amazing you are a life saver

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