Unit 2 Psychology AS Summary (AQA)

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Individual Differences
Defining and Explaining Psychological Abnormality
The biological approach suggests that we are born with individual differences and
abnormalities. There are 4 different types
1. Infection
We are familiar with the idea of bacteria or viruses causing psychical illness such as flu. It seems,
though that infection can also give rise to mental illnesses. Indeed the flu has been linked to
schizophrenia. Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease caused by micro-organisms was identified in
the 19th century as causing brain damage.
2. Genes
Important new genetic research has highlighted the possibility that some people may be genetically
at risk of developing a mental disorder but so far the only strong evidence relates to conditions such
as schizophrenia and bipolar depressions. It has been demonstrated, for example, that a first degree
relative or someone suffering from schizophrenia has approximately a 10% chance of developing
schizophrenia. In order to investigate genetic links, researchers carry out family, twin and adoption
3. Brain Damage
Abnormal behaviour may occur if the structure of the brain is damaged in some way. Once disease or
brain damage has caused mental deterioration, there is little that can be done to stop it. An example
of a brain damaging disease is Alzheimer's. Excessive use of alcohol and drugs can damage the brain
cells and may result in mental disorders. Korsakoff's syndrome is a profound impairment of memory,
most commonly caused by alcohol abuse.
4. Biochemistry
During the 20th century, the medical profession has increasingly learned more about the role played
by biochemistry in mental disorders.
NEUROTRANSMITTERS are chemicals which transmit nerve pulses from one nerve cell to the next.
These are thought to be out of balance in the nervous systems of individuals with certain
psychological disorders.
HORMONES are chemical messengers released by the pituitary adrenal system. These have also
been implicated in the origins of some mental disorders. For example, people who suffer from
depression are often found to have higher than normal levels of the hormone cortisol.
Positive Evaluation of the biological approach Negative Evaluation of the biological approach
The measurements are direct and are measured The approach is reductionist. It doesn't take into
by highly accurate and reliable machinery which account other factors such as the environment in
increases the validity of the results. which an individual is bought up in that could
affect their behaviour. Pavlovs dogs' research
contradicts this approach.

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The cognitive approach suggests that all behaviours are a result of irrational thoughts
and early experiences.
Irrational thoughts and errors in logic from a piece of evidence lead to mental health issues.
Irrational thoughts are when an individual feels that what he is doing is nothing worthwhile. If he feels
under pressure he may quit college as he is scared of failure. This maladaptive thought could lead to
depression and the individual not getting any work etc.…read more

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The behavioural approach to abnormality simply suggests that abnormalities are
because of the environment we are bought up in and that we learn them. The assumption is that
everybody is born with a blank slate (know nothing) and we learn how to behave from others and
the environment also has an influence.
The behavioural approach suggests that maladaptive thoughts and dysfunctional behaviours such as
phobias, depression or anxiety are a result of Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning and Social
Learning explained in detail below.…read more

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Operant Conditioning
B.F. Skinner (1938) coined the term operant conditioning; it means roughly changing of behaviour by
the use of reinforcement which is given after the desired response. Skinner identified three types of
responses or operant that can follow behaviour.
· Neutral operant's: responses from the environment that neither increase nor decrease the
probability of a behaviour being repeated.
· Rein forcers: Responses from the environment that increase the probability of a behaviour being
repeated. Rein forcers can be either positive or negative.…read more

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For example, a child may observe that their mother is afraid of spiders. According to
this explanation the child will then "copy" this behaviour and develops a phobia of spiders too.
Positive Evaluation of the behavioural approach Negative Evaluation of the behavioural approach
Behaviours are learnt through seeing others This approach is reductionist as it reduces
being rewarded and punished for their actions. If complex human behaviour to one thing that they
the individual sees someone getting rewarded h learn behaviours and phobias.…read more

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If the id's impulses override the ego, this can lead to violent tendencies, pleasurable acts and
uninhibited sexual behaviours. However, if the moral side of the super ego dominates, the individual
may be unable to experience any sort of pleasure.
According to Freud a child goes through a series of stages where the id looks for gratification in
different bodily areas called the erogenous zones.…read more

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A painful, anxiety or guilt provoking A person who is involves in a car
Repression thought is kept from the conscious accident has not memory of the
mind incident.…read more

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This means displaying a positive self-concept and a sense of identity. If an individual displays this,
Johoda would argue that person is demonstrating a healthy mental attitude.
Personal growth (focus on future and self actualisation)
Maslow (1968) first proposed the idea of self-actualisation, which essentially means the fulfilment of
one's potential (for example intellectual, artistic, athletic). According to this criterion, mental health
problem ensue when we are prevented from this fulfilment.…read more

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Deviation from Social Norms
All societies have accepted standards of behaviours although they differ from culture to culture.
Sometimes these are written laws and some can be unwritten such as queuing up in a line when
waiting to purchase tickets. Individuals who go against these norms are considered different and
abnormal by society. A good example is laughing when being told someone has died.
Positive Negative
Obviously it isn't very good as it doesn't have Social norms change with time, something done
any positive evaluations.…read more

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Those diagnosed with depression or
schizophrenia may be mentally ill but can function
adequately and could lead a normal life.
Biological Therapies
Electroconvulsive Therapy Strengths Weaknesses
ECT involves passing small This is an alternative when The treatment has side affects
electric currents through the everything else fails such as which may cause people to
brain. Electrodes are placed medicine. If nothing else works rethink whether they want to
above each temple.…read more



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