Behaviourist Approach

  • Behaviour that can be observed and measured
  • Behaviourists tried to maintain control and objectivity with research - lab experiments
  • Classical conditioning - Pavlov
  • Learning through association
  • Pavlov - dogs could be conditioned to salivate to a bell, asociated with food
  • A neutral stimulus (bell) can elict a new learned respone (conditioned response) through association
  • Operant conditionig - Skinner
  • Learning an active process - humans and animals operate on their environment
  • Positive reinforcement - recieving a reward for a certain behaviour e.g. a star chart for cleaning
  • Negative reinforcement - animal/human avoids something unpleasant e,g, a rat learning that pressing a lever leads to avoidance of electric shock
  • Punishment - unpleasant consequence of behaviour e.g. being shouted at for talkingin lesson
  • Positive and negative reinforcement increase likelihood of repetition of behaviour - punishment decreases likelihood of repetition
  • Skinner's boxes
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Behaviourist Approach - Evaluation

  • Scientific Credibilty
  • Behaviourism bought the language and methods of natural science into psychology by focusing on measurement of observable behaviour in lab settings
  • Behaviourism influential in developmnt of psychology as a scientific discipline, greater credibility and status - emphasised importance of scientific processes e.g. objectivity and replication
  • Real-Life Application
  • Principles of cnditioning applied to real-world behaviours and problems e.g. operant conditioning token economy systems
  • Classical conditioning applied to treatment of phobias - require less effort from a patient
  • Mechanistic View of Behaviour
  • Animals sen a passive and machine-like responders to environment - little or no conscious insight into behaviour
  • Other approaches emphasise importance of mental processes
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Social Learning Theory

  • Social learning theory proposed different way of learning - observation and imitation of others within a social context
  • Learning occurs directly, through classical and oprant conditioning but also indirectly
  • Vicarious reinforcement - indirect learning to take place an individual observes the behaviour of others
  • Learner may imitate behaviour but imitation only occurs if behaviour is seen to be rewarded rather than punished i.e. vicarious reinforcement
  • Learner observes a behaviour but observes the consequences of a behaviour 
  • Role of Mediational Processes - focuses on how mental factors are involved in learning
  • 1. Atention - the extent to which we notice certain behaviours
  • 2. Retention - how well the behaviour is remembered
  • 3. Motor reproduction - the ability of the observer to perform the behaviour
  • 4. Motivation - the will to perform the behaviour, often determined by rewards/punishments
  • The learning and performance of behaviour need not occur together
  • Identification - people likely to imitate behaviour of people they identify with (role model)
  • Person becomes a role model if they are seen to possess similar characteristics or are attractive/ have higher status
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Social Learning Theory - Evaluation

  • Importance of cognitive factors in learning - classical and operant conditioning cannot ofer an adequate account of learning on their own
  • Humans and many animals store info about the behaviour of others and sue this to make judgements whether or not to perform certain actions
  • SLT a more comprehensive explanation of human learning by recognising the role of mediational processes
  • Over-reliance on evidence fom lab studies
  • Many of Bandura's ideas developed through observation of young children in lab settings
  • Lab studies criticised for contrived nature where ppts may respond to demand characteristics
  • Research may tell us little about how hildren actually learn agression in everyday life (Bobo doll)
  •  Underestimates the influence of biological factors
  • Bandura makes little links to impact of biological factors on social learning - boys more aggressive than girls in bobo doll experiment, may be explained by hormonal factors e.g. testosterone levels
  • Important influence on behaviour notaccounted for in SLT
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The Cognitive Approach

  • Internal mental processes can and should be studied scientifically - investigates areas ofhuman behaviour neglected by behaviourists
  • Theoretical and computer models - one way to study internal processes = theoretical models
  • Information Procesing Approach - suggests info flows through cognitive system in a sequence of stages
  • Computer models - suggesting similarities in imfo processessing in cognitive processes and computers
  • Models use concepts of a central processing unit, coding and the use of stores which hold info
  • The role of scema - cognitive processing affected by a person's beliefs/expectations
  • Schema - packages of ideas and info developed through experience - act as a mental framework for interpretation of of incoming info recieved by the cognitive system
  • Babies born with simple motor schema for innate behaviours e.g. grasping, sucking
  • Shema become more detailed with age - allows us to process lots of info quickly and prevents us from feeling overwhelmed by environmental stimuli
  • Schema may distort our interpretations of sensory info - perpetual errors
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Emergence of Cognitive Neuroscience

  • The scientific study of the influence of brain structures on mental processes
  • Mapping brain areas to specific cognitive functions
  • Brain imaging techniques e.g. fMRI and PET scans - scients able to systematically observe and describe neurological basis of mental processes
  • Scanning techniques useful in establishing the neurological basis of some mental disorders
  • Development of mind mapping techniques - brain fingerprinting - could analyse brain wave paterns of eyewittnesses - determines whether they are lying in court
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The Cognitive Approach - Evaluation

  • Scientific and objective methods - cognitive approach always employed highly controlled and rigorous methods of study in order to enable researchers to infer cognitive processes at work
  • Lab experiments - produce reliable, objective data.
  • Emergence of neuroscience has enabled the 2 fields of biology and cognitive psychology to come together - study of mind established a credible scientific basis
  • Machine reductionism - computer analogy criticised by many
  • Machine reductionism ignores the influence of human emotion and motivation on the cognitive system - how this may affect our ability to process info
  • Research has found that human memory may be affected by emotional factors
  • Application to real-life - cognitive psychologists only able to infer mental processes from behaviour they observe in their research
  • Cognitive psychology can suffer from being too abstract and theoretical
  • Experimental studies of mental processes are often carried out using artificial stimuli that may not represent everyday memory experience
  • Cognitive processes may lack external validity
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The Biological Approach

  • Suggests that everything psychological is at first biological - must look at biological structures and processes within the body to understand huma behaviour
  • Biological perspective - the mind lives in the brain, all thoughts, feellings and behaviour ultimately have a physical basis
  • The genetic basis of behaviour - behaviour genecists study whether behavioural characteristics are inherited in the same way as physica charachteristics
  • Twin studies used to determine likelihod that certain traits have a genetic basis by comparing concordance rates between pairs of twins
  • If monozygotic twins are found to have higher concordance rates than dizygotic twins this would suggest a genetic basis - MZ twins share 100% of each other's genes, DZ twins only share 50%
  • Geontype and Phenotype - genotype = genetic make-up, phenotype = way genes are expressed through different characteristics
  • The phenotype is affected by envronmental factors - much of human behaviour depends on an interaction between inherited fctors and the environment
  • Evolution and behaviour - natural selection, main principle is that any genetically determined behaviour that enhances an individual's survival will continue in future generations
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The Biological Approach - Evaluation

  • Scientific methods of investigation - to investigate genetic and biological basis of behaviour the biological approach makes use of a range of precise and highly scientific methods
  • Include scanning techniques such as fMRIs and EEGs, family and twin studies and drug trials
  • Advances in technology = possible to accurately measure biological and neutral processes in ways not open to bias - based on reliable data
  • Real-life application - increased understanding of biochemical processes in the brain has led to the development of psychoactive drugs that treat serious mental illnesses e.g. depression
  • Drugs aren't always effective but have revolutionised treatment fo many
  • Strength as it means sufferers are able to manage their condition
  • Casual conclusions - offers explanations for mental illness in terms of the action of neurotransmitters in the brain
  • Evidence comes from studies showing a particular drug reduces symptoms of a mental disorder - discovering an association between 2 factors doesn't mean that one is a cause
  • Limitation because the biological approach is claiming to have discovered causes where only an association exists
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The Nervous System

  • A specialied network of cells in the human body and is our primary internal communication system
  • 2 main functions - to collect, process and respond to info in the environment and to co-ordinate the working of different organs and cells in the body
  • Divided into central nervous system and peripheral nervous system
  • CNS is made up of brain and spinal chord - brain is the centre of all conscious awareness. The cerebal cortex is highly developed in humans and is what distingishes our higher mental functions from those of animals - brain divided into 2 hemispheres
  • PNS transmits messages, via millions of neurons, to and from the CNS. The PNS is further sub-divided into: autonomic nervous system and somatic nervous system
  • Auonomic - governs vital functions in the body e.g. heart rate, digestion
  • Somatic - controls muscle movement and recieves info from sensory receptors  
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The Endocrine System

  • Glands and hormones - endocrine system works alongside the nervous system to control vital functions in the body
  • Various glands in the body produce hormones - they are secreted into the bloodstream and affect any cell in the body that has a receptor for that particular hormone
  • Most hormones affect cells in several organs/entire body, leading to many diverse and powerful responses
  • Endocrine and ANS working together: Fight or Flight
  • When a stressor is percieved the first thing that happens is the hypothalamus triggers activty in the sympathetic cranch of the ANS
  • The ANS changes from its normal state (parasympathetic) to the pysiologically aroused (sympathetic)
  • Adrenaline is released from the adrenal medulla into the bloodstream - adrenaline triggers physiological changes in the body which creates physiological arousal necessary for the fight or flight response
  • Once threat has passed, parasympathetic branch returns the body to its resting state
  • Parasympathetic branch works in opposition to sympathetic branch
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The Structure and Function of Neurons

  • 100 billion neurons in the nervous system (80% located in the brain) - transmit signals electrically and chemically, provide nervous system with primary means of communication
  • 3 types of neuron: motor, sensory and relay
  • Structure of a neuron - vary in size, but all share basic structure
  • Cell body (soma) includes a nucleus containing genetic material
  • Branch-like structures called dendrites protude from cell body - carry nerve impulses
  • Axon carries impulses away from cell body down the length of a neuron - axon covered in a fatty layer of myelin sheath, protecting axon speeding up electrical transmission of the impulse
  • If myelin sheath was continuous this would have the reverse effect and slow down the electrical impulse - myelin sheath segmented by gaps called nodes of ranvier - speed up transmission of the impulse by causing it to jump across the gaps
  • At the end of the axon there are terminal buttons - communicate with the next neuron in the chain across the synapse
  • Electric transmission - when neuron is in resting state, inside of cell is negatively charged compared to the outside
  • When a neuron is activated by a stimulus, the inside of the cell becomes positively charged for a split second - action potential, creates electrical impulse
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Synaptic Transmission

  • Neurons communicate with each other within groups (neural networks) - each neuron is seperated from the next by the synapse
  • Signals within neurons transmitted electrical - signals between neurons are transmitted chemically across the synapse
  • Electrical impulse reaches end of the neuron (presynaptic terminal) - triggers the release of nerotransmitter from tiny sacs called synaptic vesicles
  • Neurotransmitters are chemicals that diffuse across the synapse to the next neuron
  • Once neuron crosses gap, it's taken up by the postsynaptic receptor site (dendrites of next neuron)
  • Each neurotransmitter has its own specific molecular structure that fits perfectly into a post-synaptic receptor (lock and key)
  • Neurotransmitters have either an excitatory or inhibitory effect on neighbouring neuron    
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really brilliant , can you make some for social , memory , atachment pls new specification AQA Pyscology



This is really helpful! Thank you! :)



Great help! nice one






rly good



So bloody helpful! I got an A on my mock using just this! Thanks so much for uploading :) 



could do with some spelling corrections, but very helpful



thank you

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