Origins of Psychology

Wundt was first person to call himself a psychologist and believed it could be studied scientifically.


In controlled environments, he would present participants with a sound/image and would get them to describe inner processes they were experiencing (thoughts/feelings/emotions). He would then compare responses to gain understanding and generate theories about perception/other mental processes.

(-) Considered unreliable as highly subjective, not reliably reproducible, and results vary from person to person

(-) Can't be aware of everything in our minds as actual processes unobservable

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Emergence of Psychology as a Science

Psychology seen as scientific and empirical (based on evidence).

Two key assumptions:

1. Behaviour is caused by something

2. Once we know the cause, we can predict the behaviour in a situation 

(+) Objective and reliable so easier to replicate, and can show finding are not a fluke and we can be more certain that results are accurate

(-) Controlled environments ensures accuracy but lacks ecological validity meaning that results may not apply to real life as results were found in artificial/unrealistic setting

(-) Can't investigate all aspects of human mind scientifically as we can't empirically measure thoughts and only look at behaviour, so scientific method isn't appropriate for all psychology

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Behaviourist Approach

The behaviourist approach believes that people learn through behaviour, by operant and classical conditioning. Operant conditioning is learning by punishment and reinforcement, and classical conditioning is learning by association.

Four key assumptions:

 1. We are born a blank slate

2. We learn from experience

3. Only observable behaviour should be measured scientifically

4. It is valid to study animals

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Classical and Operant Conditioning

Classical Conditioning:

  • Unconditioned stimulus >>> Unconditioned response
  • Neutral stimulus >>> No response
  • Unconditioned and neutral stimulus >>> Unconditioned response
  • Conditioned stimulus >>> Conditioned response

Operant conditioning:

  • Positive reinforcement - adding something pleasant, more likely to repeat behaviour
  • Negative reinforcement - take away something that's unpleasant, more likely to repeat behaviour
  • Positive punishment - adding something unpleasant, less likely to repeat behaviour
  • Negative punishment - taking away something pleasant, less likely to repeat behaviour
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Pavlov (1927)

Key study

Originally studying dogs digestion/ salivation in response to food. Pavlov and assistants would introduce variety of edible and non-edible items to measure amount of saliva. He then found out that any item/event the dogs associated with food would trigger salivation. This shows that the brain learns to see the conditioned stimulus as a "signal" and links a reflex to it.

  • Stimulus generalisation - when the person/organism that is being conditioned learns to associate similar stimuli with conditioned stimuli and displays the conditioned response
  • Timing - if time between conditioned stilumus and unconditioned too long, learning will not occur
  • Extinction - when behaviour that was previously conditioned no longer provides a response
  • Spontaneous recovery - re-emergence of a previously exinct conditioned behaviour after a period of time
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Skinner (1948)

Key Study:

Kept rats hungry in a cage. When rat pressed button, food was released (reward) and rat repeated behaviour (positive reinforcement). If button not pressed, rat given electric shock (punishment) and rat shocked until button was pressed again (negative reinforcement). Rats quickly learnt to use button to stop shocks. Light came on before shocks, so rats pressed button straight after light appeared (negative reinforcement). Found that continuous reinforcement were most effective to establish response, but partial reinforcement most effective for maintaining response.

  • Continuous reinforcement - response reinforced every time
  • Partial fixed interval - given at timed intervals, fairly low extinction resistance
  • Partial fixed ratio - reinforcement given for fixed number of responses, fairly low extinction resistance
  • Partial variable interval - time interval varies, high extinction resistance
  • Partial variable ratio - number of times between reinforcement varies, most resistant, very high extinction resistance
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Behaviourist Evaluation

(+) Has led to development of treatments for phobias. Systematic desensitisation works by creating non-fearful association with phobia object/situation, eliminating learnt anxious response.

(+) Evidence for operant conditioning from Skinner's research. Scientific evidence supports classical and operant conditioning. Skinner's experiments conducted under controlled conditions. Cause and effect relationship was established between the consequences (reward/punishmen). This shows that the brain is able to learn through consequences. 

(-) Because in lab conditions, lacks ecological validity.

(-) May not be able to be applied to humans. Many psychological and physiological differences between people and animals. Therefore findings of animal research may not be relevant to human behaviour.

(-)Does not consider influence of thoughts or cognitive processes (not observable). It is likely our thoughts affect how we behave. Therefore approach doesn't give complete explanatin for behaviour and could be considered reductionist.

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Social Learning Theory Approach

Two more key assumptions:

1. Mediating process occurs between stimuli and responses

2. Behaviour is learnt from observing other and the punishment/reinforcement they get, and then imitating

  • Modelling - someone is influential on an individual. If individual imitates behaviour it is called modelling
  • Imitation - indiviual observes beaviour and copies it
  • Idenification - extent that an individual relates to model that he/she is similar to (e.g. same age, gender, etc). Behaviour more likely to be imitated
  • Vicarious reinforcement - observing positive consequences of model's behaviour, making imitation more likely
  • Role of mediational processes - internal processes between observing behaviour and imitating it or not

Mediational processes (Bandura 1977): 

Attention (observing behaviour), Retention (forming memory), Reproduction (imitation depends on whether possible or not), Motivation (if rewards outweight costs, individual more motivated)

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Bandura et al. (1961)

Key Study:

Aimed to examine role of model on influencing aggressive behaviour in children, and examine whether sex of model influenced same sex/ opposite sex to different degree. In lab conditions, 36 boys and36 girls aged 3-6. 1/2 put into rooms one at a time and observed agqressive role model for 10 minutes i.e. hitting bobodoll, shouting, etc. Other 1/2 put into rooms one at a time and observed non-aggressive role model for 10 minutes. Children then shown attractive toys they weren't allowed to play with. Taken into room with range of toys (aggressive and non-aggressive toys, observed for 20 minutes and rated the extent they imitated model.

Found that children who observed aggressive role model displayed more aggressive responses. Boys were more aggressive than girls. Greater level of imitation if role model was same gender as child. In conclusion , observing an aggressive role model has an affect on behaviour and this behaviour continues after a delay.

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Mediation Processes

Mediational processes (Bandura 1977): 

Attention (observing behaviour), Retention (forming memory), Reproduction (imitation depends on whether possible or not), Motivation (if rewards outweight costs, individual more motivated)

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(-) SLT only shown in short term in the study, does not show whether behaviours were retained, and if so how long.

(-) Issues with validity as children may be aggressive towards bobo doll aas that was what it was made for.

(+) Procedure is replicable as it was a standardised procedure and instructions were used, allowing replicability.

(-) Unethical to experiment on children that could possibly lead to long lasting damage (aggression/violence).

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Social Learning Theory Evaluation

(-) However, cognitive processes are not directly observable unlike behaviour, so difficult to take scientific approach or to measure empirically and objectively.

(+) Supported by research. Bobo doll experiment supports SLT because successfully shows aggressive behaviour among children as result of observing aggressive role model and hows it's imitated after delay. However, could be criticised that effects only shown short-term and children may be showing demand characteristics.

(+) Real life application. Could explain why people smoke as result of exposure to role models e.g. people smoking receiving praise in form of popularity. Therefore principles have been successfully applied to increase understanding of behaviour and could in theory change health related behaviours.

(-) Cannot explain if no apparent role models, behavour may be innate rather than learnt e.g. cause of delinquency may not be exposure to deviant role models, but that young people who possess deviant values seek out peers with similar attitudes and behaviours instead. Therefore causality problem which suggests nature can influence nurture.

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Cognitive Approach

Key assumptions:

1.Internal mental processes can and will be studied scientifically

2. The mind works like a computer

3. Mental processes that occur between stimulus and responses must be ackowledged

Studying internal processes:

  • Studies the way we deal with information from environment and experiences
  • Attention (selecting information), Thinking (using information to solve problems), Memory (storing and retreiving informtion)
  • Through processes cannot be studied directly, as they are unobserble. Therefore they must be studied indirectly and inferences made about what cognitive processes have occured based on behaviour
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Role of schema

  • Schema is a cognitive framework; collection of ideas about a person/situation that is formed through experience.
  • Helps us understand and predict the world around us, and guide expectations of how we behave in situations. Also organise and interpret information to make sense of new information, and take shortcuts when interpretting large amounts of information.
  • However, can cause us to focus only on preexisting ideas, excludes information that does not follow preexisting ideas. Fills in missing gaps about person/event/thing, and helps develop stereotypes.
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Brewer and Treyens (1981)

Key Study:

Aimed to study the effect of a preexisting schema on memory.

  • Laboratory experiment
  • Participants taken into room they believed was the experimenter's office and told to wait (30-50 seconds)
  • Once they left office, they were asked to write down everything they could remember about the room

Found that most participants remembered schematic objects (e.g. stapler, typewriter, etc). Many recalled unexpected items not linked to office schema (e.g. skull). Some recalled things that weren't in the room but should have been (e.g. books, telephone). This shows that schema can affect the things we remember and can distort our memory.

(+) Laboratory conditions means IV was controlled and results more valid

(-) Laboratory experiment means lack of ecological validity and results may not be applicable to real life

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Role of Theoretical Models

Theoretical models are simplified representations of mental processes during tasks. Usually boxed diagrams showing parts of the mind.

Input - Input comes from environment via senses and is encoded/transfered to memory e.g. a man sees old lady struggling to reach biscuits in supermarket and encodes this info.

Processing - Once information encoded it can be processed e.g. man makes decision from his processing/understanding of info that old woman needs help and that he cna help her.

Output - Behavioural response e.g. man asks lady if she wants help and reaches for biscuits.

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Emergence of Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Aims to find biological basis for mental processes/cognitive functions.
  • Combines psychological diciplines but mostly cognitive psychology and neuroscience
  • Main focus is biological basis for thought processes

Methods to investigate emergence of cognitive neuroscience:

PET scans - captures images of activity of brain after radioactive tracers have been absorbed into bloodstream. Tracers attach to glucose/sugars, and since glucose is principle fuel in brain, it's possible to see active areas of brain using radioctive glucose at higher rate than inactive areas.

fMRI scans - brain scanning that uses magnetic field and radio signals that monitor blood flow. Activity has greater blood oxygenation and flow, so specific areas can be linked to specific abilities.

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Key Study

Maguire et al (2000):

  • Hippocampus plays major role in short term memory and navigation. Aim of study was to see whether changed could be detected in brains of London taxi drivers.
  • Researchers compared MRI scans of 16 male taxi drivers and 50 male non-taxi drivers.
  • Found that hippocampus of taxi drivers was significantly larger, indicates this area is associated with navigation. Hippocampus volume correlated positively with amount of time as taxi driver.

(+) Provided quantitative data relating to volume and size of hippocampus allowing correlational analysis

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Cognitive Approach Evaluation

(+) Approach led to successful therapy (CBT to treat OCD and depression). Fact that CBT is successful indicates that dysfunctional behvaiour can be linked to faulty thinking processes. Therefore supports cognitive approach and demonstrates how it has been applied to other areas of psychology.

(+) Use of scientific methods e.g. Brewer and Treyens (1981). Experiments use thorough methods for collecting and evaluating evidence to reach accurate conclusions. Therefore researchers establish cause and effect relationships as conslusions are not subjective like introspection, and are more valid.

(-) Can be criticised for oversimplifying complex processes and ignoring aspects of human experience. Fails to recognise differences in processing between computers and the human mind. Comparison of people and computers is therefore humanistic.

(-) Reliance on inferences are a weakness. Assumptions bout mental processes may be inaccurate/flawed. Therefore undermines validity of approach.

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Biological Approach

Key approaches:

1. Genetics influence behaviour

2. Behaviour evolves in the same way as physical characterists through evolutionary adaptation

3. The brain is the main element of the central nervous system (CNS) in explaining behaviour and is the origin of how the world is seen and acted upon

4. Chemistry of the body has an effect on our reactions to the environment (hormones and neurotransmitters)

Influence of genes on behaviour:

  • Heredity is the passing of physical and mental characteristic onto the next generation through genetic inheritance
  • Offspring inherit genes from both parents which provide instructions about physical/mental development
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Genotype and Phenotype

Genotypeis the genetic make up of an individual and occurs at conception. Provides genetic code for an individual's development and dictates characteristics such as eye/hair colour.

Phenotype is the product of genotype interacting with environment e.g. genotype may dictate maximum height but environment (nutrition) dictates actual height, therefore actual height is the phenotype.

Researching genotype and phenotype:

  • Individuals born with 23 pairs of chromosomes - as these are out genotype, research suggects our genotype has a significant effect on our development and behaviour
  • Researchers use twins to determine the effect of genes
  • MZ twins (monozygotic twins are identical from one zygote) and DZ twins (dizygotic twins are non-identical from two zygotes)
  • Useful to compare Mz and DZ twins as if behaviour hs a strong genetic basis, it should be more prevalent in MZ twins as they share 100% of their genes while DZ twins only share 50% of their genes
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Concordance Rate

  • Concordance rate is the % chance that if one twin has a characteristic then the other will too
  • This doesn't only mean twins, it also meaans mother/daughter, uncle/nephew, etc. It can also be one person paired with a random unrelated person
  • Gottesman (1991) conducted research into concordance rate of schizophrenia and found MZ twins had concordance rate of 48% and DZ twins had concordance rate of 17%
  • If psychological trait was entirely due to genetics, concordance rate would be 100% in MZ twins as they shre 100% of their genes.
  • However it's rare to find high concordance rate such as 90% which suggests psychological traits are usually a mix of genotype and phenotype.
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Evolution and Behaviour

  • Biological psychologists believe psychological characteristics like intelligence and aggression were adaptive and were passed down through ancestor's genes because it helped them survive and reproduce. 
  • It may be that aggression is an adaptive behaviour as it made ancestors more successful at hunting, better protection for family and territory, and successful when competing against other males for females.
  • Also an aggressive male may have been more likely to survive (natural selection) and more attractive to females (sexual attraction).
  • This means aggressive individuals were more like to be successful in passing on their genes.
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The Nervous System

The brain is made up of the cerebrum and cerebral cortex. The cerebrum is about 85% of the brain and split into two hemispheres, and each hemisphere is made up of four lobes. The cerebral cortex is outside the cerebrum and is responsible for 'higher order' functions such as thought and language.

The four lobes:

The four lobes of each hemisphere are the frontal lobe (thinking, memory, behaviour and movement), parietal lobe (language and touch), temporal lobe (hearing, learning and feelings), and occipital lobe (sight). Below the hemispheres are the cerebellum (balance and coordination) and brain stem (breathing, heart rate and temperature).

Left hemisphere:

Responsible for analytic thought, logic, languge, science, and maths.

Right hemispheres:

Responsible for holistic thought, intuition, creativity, art, and music.

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Neurons and Neuroscience

Neurons are nerve cells that transfer info between NS. Neurochemistry is the biochemistry of the CNS, particularly the brain. Neurotransmitters travel through cerebral fluid sending messages between neurons.

Neurons are made up of dendrites, soma, nucleus, mycelin sheath, axon, and terminal buttons.

  • Excitatory neurotransmitters trigger nerve impulses in receiving neurons and stimulating the brain into action
  • Inhibitory neurotransmitters inhibit nerve impulses to calmbrain and balance mood
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Biological Approach Evaluation

(+) Use of scientific methods e.g. brain scans, blood tests, etc. They are objective, reliable and likely to be accurate, meaning approaches relies on evidence.

(+/-) Argues that nature determines behaviour, not nurture, as genes programme our behaviour. BUT does allow for some influence from environment (e.g. phenotypes)

(+) Practical applications. Biological approach has led to greater understanding of role neurotransmitters in mental illness and drugs have been developed. Therefore approach has benefitted lives of many people

(-) Reductonist. Reducing complex human behaviours down to simple biologiclaa processes is oversimplification as potentially many interacting factors that work together to produce behaviour

(-) Evolutionary theory is speculative. It's not based on hard evidence and cannot be scientifically tested or proven, therefore undermines validity of approach

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Psychodynamic Approach

Three key assumptions:

1. Believes origins of behaviour lie in the unconscious mind - behaviour results from psychological rather than physical cause. Assumes problematic and challenging behaviour can only be addressed by accessing unconscious mind

2. Instincts/drives motivates our behaviour and instincts fall into two drives: Eros - Life instincts, linked to sex, basic survival (hunger, pleasure, reproduction), energy created called libido, behaviours associated with life instinct include love, cooperation and other prosocial actions. Thanatos - Death instincts linked to aggression, concluded people hold unconscious desire to die but life insticts weaken this wish. Is also the drive of aggression, ******, destruction, violence, self-destruction, death

3. Childhood experiences are influential in determining behaviour, that most psychological development occurs before 6 years old, and experiences during this time are crucial to development

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Id, Superego, Ego

Structure of Personality:

  • Id (Birth - 18 months/insticts) - irrational, primative part, operates solely in unconscious and contains libido. Operates according to pleasure principle and demands immediate gratification regardless of consequences. Child-like, selfish and hedonistic (focuses on self).
  • Ego (18 months - 3 years/reality) - conscious, rational part, operates to reality principle, mediates between impluse demands and reality. Delays id's drive for pleasure until appropriate opportunity to satisfy demands, ensures balance between id and superego as if either become dominant it could affect behaviour/mental health.
  • Superego (3-6 years/conscious) - Sense of  right and wrong, operates to morality principle,helps form moral code. Conscience is internalism of of societal roles, causes guilt, holds someone back from behaving 'wrong'. Ego-ideal is what someone strives for, probably determined by parental standards of good behaviour.
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The Unconscious, and Structure of Personality

The Conscious, preconscious and unconscious:

  • Conscious mind - part of mind we can access
  • Preconscious mind - lies below surface, made up of thoughts that may surface at any point, many memories reside here (accessible but not forefront of thoughts)
  • Unconscious mind - will not easily surfce and may never do so, contains drives/instincts that motivate behaviour and are unaccessible, traumatic/unpleasant memories remain here and are not accessible but still drive behaviour.
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Defence Mechanisms

Ego protects itself with defence mechanisms that reduce anxiety. Anxiety weakens the ego which is needed to mediate the id and superego. Operate unconsciously and distort reality so anxiety is reduced. Use of defence mechanisms stops individual becoming aware of unpleasant thoughts or feelings associated with traumatic situation.

The three types of defence mechanisms:

  • Repression - unpleasant memory pushed into unconscious and non-accessible so cannot cause anxiety. No recollection but still affects behaviour
  • Denial - refuse to accept reality of unpleasant situation, reduces associated anxiety. Person may believe situation is not negative or never happened
  • Displacement - strong emotion expressed onto neutral person/object. Reduces anxiety by allowing expression of that emotion

Defence mechanisms my cause disturbed behaviour if overused e.g. repressed thoughts may have powerful effect on behaviour which cannotbe controlled until brought into conscious awareness. In childhood, ego not developed enough to deal with traumas and therefore often repressed. Later in life, thoughts could manifest if similar situation experienced which could result in depression.

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Psychosexual Stages

Oral (0-18 months) - Pleasure and satisfaction from mouth, mouth how they express early sexual energy.Fixtions caused by child weaned from mother too early or late, or feeding patterns erratic. Fixations lead to orally passive (dependant, passive, gullible) and orally aggressive (dominating, aggressive). Orally fixated individuals more likely to smoke, bite nails, chew pencils. Anal (18-36 months) - Beginning of ego development, child aware of demands of reality and need to please demands of others. Pleasure derived from anus by expelling/withholding faeces, stage coincides with potty training. Fixations caused by love of using potty, overly keen (anal expulsive) or anxious using potty (anally retentive). Anally retentive are orderly, neat, rigid, hate waste, stingy, punctual, possessive, relectant to spend money , and anally expulsive are generous, creative, productive. Phalic (3-6 years) - Sexual energy focused on genitals and on opposite-gender parent. Resolved through identifying with same-sex parent. Phallic personality type is self-assured, vain, impulsive. Conflicts may result in homosexuality, authority problems and rejection appropriate gender roles. Latent(6-11 years) - Sexual desires repressed strongly, libido displaced throughout body. Calm time in development. No complexed to resolve. Genital (12+ years) -Satisfaction from genitals,basis for mature expressions of love. Child becomes adult.

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Oedipus and Electra Complex

Oedipus complex:

Libido energy focuses on genitals, young boy experiences intense sexual feelings for mother. Sees father as rival and wants mother to focus on him. Boy feels threatened by father and experiences castration anxiety. To reduce anxiety, child befriends father and identifies with him.

Electra complex:

Girl realised she does not have a penis and develops "penis envy". Girl blames mother for "castrated state" which creates tension. Girls' earlier libido energy that was directed at mother is directed towards father. Girl sexually desires father and goes through identification process. Girl substitutes desire for penis with desire for baby.

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Little Hans Case Study

Only research evidence that involves a child. Freud only met Hans once in therapeutic setting. Case study mostly based on interviews and observations by Hans' father.

Little Hans had phobia of horses. Freud suggested it developed for several reasons. 1. Hans heard man say "Don't touch the white horse or it'll bite you".2. Once invited mother to touch penis, scared she would leave. Became afraid of being bitten by horse but really afraid of mother leaving. Hans saw cart fall and thought horse was dead. Horse symbolised wish that father would die and loaded cart symbolised mother giving birth. Transfered fear of father to horse; horse's muzzle and blinkers related to father's moustache and glasses. 

(-) Only met boy once in therapeutic setting and info was forwarded by father, source potentially biased

(-) Freud published ideas about psychosexual stages prior to case study, therefore biased perspective

(-) Seeing horse collapse could cause shock and classically condition him, being cause of phobia and disproving analysis

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Psychodynamic Approach Evaluation

(+) Scientific support for psychoanalytic approach. Fisher and Greenberg (1996) - 2,500 studies nd found support for existence of unconscious motivation and defence mechanisms. Shows many claims of approach have been tested and confirmed using scientific methodology

(-) Gender biased. Freud's views of female sexuality was less developed than views of male sexuality. Despite theories based on sexual development, Freud was content to stay ignorant on female sexuality and how it differs from male. Dissmissing women and their sexuality is problematic, yet he still treated women and his theories were still influential

(-) Approach is culture biased. All victorian era, mostly middle aged, and from same are, so all had similar experiences. Sue and Sue (2008) argue that approach has little relevance for non-western cultures. Western belief that open discussion and insight is helpful in therapy may not apply to other culture like China, who avoid thoughts that cause distress

(-) Lacks validity and reliability. Provides believable explanations but lack empirical research evidence. Theory not scientific, many principles inaccurate.

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Humanistic Approach

Focuses on conscious experience ratehr than behaviour, personal responsibility and free will rather than determinism. Emphasises importance of individual striving towards personal growth and fulfilment.

Four key assumptions:

1. Every individual is unique and should be treated as such (ideographic approach)

2. Individuals possess free will and choose how to behave without being influenced by external forces

3. People should be viewed holistically (as a whole) as by looking at just one aspect, much of what is important is lost. 

4. Scientific method not appropriate to measure behaviour as scientific methods are objective and humans are subjective.

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Free Will and Self Actualisation

Free will:

  • Humanistic approach is the only approach that believes we are in control of our own behaviour rather than lookingat biologcal and environmental causes
  • Free will cannot be seen or observed to hard to prove true or false
  • Humanistic psychologists believe freedom is not only possible, but necessary
  • Free will is a unique human need and form of motivation
  • However there are social rules and laws that restrict whether we act on free will

Self actualisation:

Rogers nd Maslow believed in self- actualisation; Rogers used to describe the drive to realise true potential, Maslow used to describe final stage of hierarchy of needs.

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Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs emphasiseed the importance of personal growth and fulfilment. 

Five stages of hierarchy of needs (from bottom to top):

1. Physiological - breathing, water, food, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion

2. Safety - security of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health, property

3. Love/Belonging - friendship, family, sexual intimacy

4. Esteem - self esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others

5. Self-Actualisation - morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts

Maslow believed that stages need to be met from bottom to top, therefore if first need is not met the others cannot be fulfilled. Drive to achieve full potential means we are workng through these needs in attempt to self-actualise. Self-actualisation is not permanent. Maslow also believed the more basic the need, the more powerfully it is experienced and the more difficult to ignore.

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Focus on Self

Roger suggests we have three selves which need to integrate to achieve self-actualisation. Two main selves - self concept/percieved self (self you feel you are, low self esteem leads to low self-concept) and ideal self (self you wish you were). 

To achieve self-actualisation a person must be congruent. Congruent is when ideal self and actual self are similar/same. Roger's also says to achieve congruence, individual needs unconditional positive regard (loved for who they are and accepted without proving to some else), usually from friends and family.

Conditions of worth are requirements that individual feels they need to meet to be loved (either real or percieved). If individual does not meet expectations, lack of psychological needs (esteem) to reach self actualisation.

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Influence on Counselling Psychology

Major influence of humanistic approach is client-centred therapy. Rogers (1959) claimed psychological problems were result of their conditions of worth and conditional positive regard they receive. He believed with counselling, people could solve their own problems in constructive ways and move towards becoming a more fully functioning person.

  • Client-therapist relationship is important
  • Therapists act as 'facilittors' to help people understand themselves
  • Clients feel comfortable and accepted to ensure unconditional positive regard > leads to honesty and eventual congruence
  • Therapists should be non-directive
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Humanistic Approach Evaluation

(+) Client-centred therapy and other therapies from approach effective. Elliott (2002), out of 86 studies, humanistic therapies showed significant improvement. Effectiveness increases influence of therapy and humanistic ideas

(+) Linked to economic development (Hagerty, 1999). Study of 88 countries, countries in early stages of economic development had lower level needs. Only advanced stages of economic development did esteem and self-actualisation become important. Therefore higher level needs only met once individual achieves most basic needs

(+) Research support for conditons of worth (Harter et al., 1996). Discovered teenagers who feel they must fulfil conditions to gain parent's approval don't like themselves. Adolescents who create false self to be loved were more likely to become depressed and tendency to lose true self. Has implications for parents and significant others to show unconditional positive regard, can help the process of self-actualisation

(-) Hard to testify scientifically and support with empirical evidence. Some therapies have shown personal growth as result of receiving humanistic counselling, but doesn't show how therapy caused these changes. Therefore, much evidence to support approach fails to establish cause and effect between variables and can only provide limited support

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