WJEC AS Psychology Approach's

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Biological Approach
1a) Outline the two assumptions of the Biological approach (4):
There are two biological assumptions. One is the function and structure of neurons
governs behaviour. The nervous system is made up of cells called neurons. There are three types of
neurons: motor, sensory and inter neurons. They send messages around the body by
neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. An imbalance in neurotransmitters can cause
disorders like schizophrenia.
Another assumption is that the function and structure of the brain governs behaviour. The
brain is split into two halves: left hemisphere and right hemisphere. Each hemisphere governs
different human behaviour. For example, the left controls language. The brain is covered by the
cerebral cortex and split into four lobes: parietal, frontal, occipital and temporal lobe. If the structure
of the brain is damaged it will influence our behaviour i.e. loss of vision, brain damage.
1b) Describe Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome (8):
General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) was developed my Selye as he discovered hospital
patients suffered from a range of similar symptoms regardless of their illness. He investigated how
rats responded to stressful stimuli. He found out that despite of the type of stressor used they all
responded the same way, which led him to believe there is a non-specific response in the body
when stress is put upon it.
Selye created GAS to explain how the body responds to stress. It is split into 3 stages: alarm
stage, resistance stage, exhaustion stage. In the alarm stage the hypothalamus works with the
sympathetic pathways of your autonomic nervous system to increase heart rate and blood
pressure. Also the endocrine system is activated. The adrenal medulla releases the hormone
adrenalin. This allows you to fight/flight the stressor. If the stressor is removed the body activates
the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system and the body returns back to normal. If
the stressor is still present it moves into the resistance stage.
In the resistance stage the pituitary glands releases ACTH which in turn stimulates the
adrenal cortex to release cortisol and adrenocortical hormones. If the stressor is removed the body
returns to normal, if not the body moves to the exhaustion stage.
Selye noticed if animals were stressed for too long they would become ill and die, as he
believed our resources depleted. However, human resources don't deplete. If we are stressed for
too long our immune system shuts down causing us to become ill.
2) Describe how the Biological approach has been applied in Psychosurgery (12):
One of the biological assumptions is that the function and structure of the brain governs
behaviour, therefore if behaviour is abnormal it can be changed by psychosurgery which alters the
structure of the brain. Psychosurgery localises certain areas of the brain which causes a specific
effect on behaviour. Psychosurgery is a surgical procedure that is performed on the brain. It was
originally used to relieve distress and anxiety on patients with disorders like clinical depression.
There are many forms of psychosurgery i.e. pre-frontal lobotomy, transorbital lobotomy,
cingulotomy and capsulotomy.
In the 1950's Moniz created the pre-frontal lobotomy. This involved drilling a hole on each
side of the skull and inserting an instrument which destroyed nerve fibres and separated the frontal
lobe from deeper underlying structures.
Later, Freeman designed the transorbital lobotomy. It was originally used on unstable and
violent individuals. It firstly involved an electric shock to render patients unconscious. Then an ice
pick was inserted under the eyelid and up into the brain and thrust about to destroy the pre-frontal
areas of the brain.
Nowadays we use cingulotomys and capsulotomys on people with severe depression,
anorexia and OCD. A cingulotomy involves a gamma knife which makes tiny lesion/cuts in the brain
tissue to destroy some of the nerve cells. MRI scans are used to ensure accuracy. A capsulotomy
involves inserting probes through the top of the skull and down into the brain. The heat from the
tips of the probes burn away tiny portions of tissue.
Psychosurgery was reported to be about 60% successful. However, it did cause many side
effects like death and paralysis. It is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of psychosurgery as a few
operations are carried out. Cosgrove and Rauch reported a 56% effective rate for cingulotomys and
67% after a capsulotomy.
An alternative to psychosurgery is deep brain stimulation. Surgeons thread wires through
the skull and are embedded to the brain which is connected to a battery pack implanted in the
chest. The batteries produce a high frequency current that interrupts brain activity.

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Evaluate two strengths of the Biological approach (6):
One strength of the Biological Approach (BA) is that it is scientific as it only uses observable
and measurable evidence. The approach carries out experiments such as Selye's research. By using
scientific methods and only looking at observable behaviours, the approach gains objective results.
Also laboratory experiments are controlled so they can be easily repeated (improves reliability).
Finally biological theories can be falsified so it doesn't obtain subjective theories.…read more

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One of the behaviourist assumptions is that we are born a blank slate (tabula rasa) and we
learn how to behave through our environment. We learn through processes such as classical
conditioning, operant condition and the social learning theory. Classical conditioning involves
learning through association. Operant conditioning involves learning through consequences
(rewards/punishments). The environment also gives us role models which individuals observe and
imitate (social learning). By manipulating one individual's environment we can change their
behaviour.…read more

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Simple or specific phobias can be effectively treated with SD- Wolpe (1988) claims that
`80-90% of patients are either apparently cured or much improved after an average of 25-30
sessions'. However it isn't successful with more serious disorders, such as schizophrenia. Research
found that SD is successful for a range of anxiety disorders. McGrath et el claims that about 75% of
patients with phobias responded to SD.
An alternative to this therapy is `Flooding'.…read more

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After repeating this a few times, he found out that when the dog heard the bell, it
would salivate.
The strengths of use animals are that it has been successfully applied to human behaviour.
Also animals have less emotional involvement. Weaknesses are that there is an issue of
generalisability and creates a major problem. Also ethical issues are raised by animal research.
Animals cannot consent to taking part; they have no right to withdraw.…read more

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B, our thoughts and beliefs, have a bigger impact on C (the way an event affects us)
than A.
REBT aims to get the client to recognise their beliefs about an event (B) are irrational. If a
client recognises their thinking is irrational the therapist can then challenge the irrational thoughts
and help the patient to replace them with a more rational explanation. This is D- disputing irrational
beliefs and E- effects of disputing the event, of the ABC model.…read more

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Within cognitive psychology case studies of brain
damaged individuals, e.g. HM (1966), gives researchers unique insights into the working of the mind.
HM suffered from permanent memory loss as a result of brain surgery. Research highlighted that the
hippocampus is implicated in short term memory. The research also supported the idea of separate
memory stores, as HM could remember events before the operation.
Strengths of case studies is that the data gained is rich in detail; qualitative data.…read more

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Freud stated several ways that could increase the effectiveness of
dream analysis: the therapist should ignore the obvious connections into a dream and work out
what different parts of a dream symbolise by using free association. This is where the patient
expresses thoughts that come to the mind when thinking about a certain part of a dream. There are
several interpretations of a dream but the most suitable one will consider the dream within the
context of the patient's life.…read more



Hey what grade did you get on the unit 1 exam? :)


I got a high B :)

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