Approaches in Psychology


Cognitive approach

- focused on the importance of our internal, mental processes e.g. thoughts, perception - and the effect these have on our behavior. How the brain inputs, stored and retrieves info (like a computer) e.g. the multi-store model

schemas (mental framework of beliefs) which help us organise and interpret information, based on previous experiences. Become more detailed over time

- prevents us from becoming over faced with info. However, may lead to distortion by using irrelevant schemas, leading to perceptual errors e.g. in eyewitness testimony. 

- neuroscience aims to find how brain structure influences and map mental cognitive functions e.g. fMRI's and PET scans

- e.g. Braver - found when p's used central executive, more activity in prefrontal cortex.

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Cognitive approach A03

(+) scientific methods, using lab studies shows high control over extraneous variables producing reliable and objective data. neuroscience - enabled biology and cognitive psychology to work together, gaining scientific credibility e.g. Baddley's study on LTM

(-) machine reductionism - comparing the human brain to a computer, ignoring the influence of emotions and motivations, which may have a causal effect on our behaviour e.g. anxiety

(-) genetic factors not considered, which are influential to mental disorders, e.g. schizophrenia

(+) real life application - lead to the development of CBT which is effective in treating mental illnesses and anxiety, no side effects, unlike drugs. Also, lead to cognitive interview - increasing the accuracy of recall and less wrongful convictions.

(-) application to everyday life - abstract and theoretical, as only able to infer the thoughts which influence behavior. experiments which test this use artificial tasks in a lab setting, reducing the external validity.

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Psychodynamic approach

- Freud states all behaviour can be explained in terms of the inner conflicts of the mind. The unconscious mind (parts we are unaware of)  mostly makes up our mind, containing repressed thoughts, which are often disturbing and threatening.

structure of personality (tripartite):

-Id -biological part (instincts and drives) which is present from birth. motivated by the pleasure principle, which demands instant gratification of needs/ selfish

-Ego   develops at 1-3yrs (anal) and is motivated by the reality principle - mediating the conflicts between id and superego. uses defence mechanisms to achieve this (unconcious strategis e.g. repression/ denial/ displacement.

-superego   develops at 3-5 (phallic) and is motivated by morality principle - punishes the ego with feeling guiltly for the wrong doings

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Psychodynamic approach

psychosexual stages:              UC= unresolved conflict during the stage, need to overcome to move to the next stage.

 - oral (0-1yrs) - pleasure gained via mouth e.g. mother's breast. UC= oral fixation e.g. smoking, biting nails, critical     

- anal(1-3yrs) - pleasure gained via anus e.g. withholding/expelling faeces. UC= perfectionist/ obsessive (anal retentive) or messy/ thoughtless (anal expulsive)       

- phallic(3-5yrs) - pleasure gained via genitals (Oedipus/Electra complex). US=  phallic personality e.g. narcissistic/reckless/ possibly homosexual.

- latency(5-puberty) - earlier conflicts are repressed. no fixation.

- genital - sexual desires come into consciousness alongside puberty. UC= difficulty forming heterosexual relationships.

the mind:                                                                                                                                               - the conscious - part we are aware of, contains ego

- the preconscious - cannot access without effort, contains the super

unconscious - cannot be accessed at all, contains id.            

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Psychodynamic approach AO3

(+) high explanatory power - major psychological influence on the subject as well as western thinking

(-)lacks falsifiability - cannot be empirically tested and therefore disproved as happens in the unconscious. named 'pseudoscience' - fake science

(+)practical application - psychoanalysis, dreams and hypnosis can be analysed. the primary forerunner of other therapies.

(-)case studies used - (little Hans) cannot be generalised to the wider populations, as atypical findings, considered unique. However, case studies are highly detailed and recorded.

oedipus and Electra complexes                                                                                                         Oedipus (boys) - develop incestual feelings for mothers and so murderous hate for their father, as they stand in their way. They then fear castration anxiety, so repress their incestual thoughts. Leads to the boy identifying with their fathers, adopting gender roles and moral values.

-electra - have penis envy and so desire their father's and have hate for their mothers. Give up this desire and instead replace with wanting a baby(identifying with their mothers in the process.)

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Introspection - Wundt

- founder of the first lab study in 1879. strict conditions, standardised procedures.

- introspection meaning looking into yourself, referring to the process of observing and examining your own conscious emotions and thoughts. A first experimental attempt to study the mind.

- isolating the conscious minds structure is called structuralism

(-) Watson (behaviourism) criticised for being subjective and therefore hard to produce general principles.

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Humanistic approach

- an approach which highlights that people are self-determining - have free will about how they act. Aims to understand humans are subjective and is not a deterministic approach like the others.

- We are active agents who determine our growth, choices aren't determined by biological or external factors, but recognises that these may influence us. 

- self - actualisation is the desire to grow psychologically and fulfil our potentials (capable of.) It is the highest level in Maslow's hierarchy of needs: in order to move up, the current need/ level has to be met and can then grow.

1. physiological needs (food/sleep) 2. safety and security 3. love and belongingness 4. self-esteem 5.self-actualisation.

-Rogers said that for personal growth, the view of the self must be broadly similar/ have congruence with (the aim of Rogerian therapy) to their ideal self (who they long to be), otherwise, self-actualisation cannot happen. To help this, he developed client-centred therapy.

- Issues often from childhood, by parents giving conditions of worth e.g. 'i will love you if...' e.g. may experience worthlessness. Roger tries to give this unconditional positive regard through therapy, as well as genuineness and empathy

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Humanistic approach A03

(+) not reductionist - holistic approach says that subjective experiences can only be understood when looking at the person as a whole. Increases the validity of the approach, as humans considered within the real-life context 

(+) lead to Rogerian therapy and Maslow's hierarchy of needs - both which have revolutionised counselling techniques and are used throughout education, health and social work - all aimed to improve our self-views and everyday life.

(-)untestable concepts - self-actualisation and congruence are hard to assess and measure as they are felt within, cannot be shown. Short of empirical evidence to support its views. 

(-) cultural bias - ideas of freedom and personal growth are associated with individualistic cultures. Collectivist cultures may not identify so easily with humanistic ideology e.g more focused on interdependence than independence. The approach is a product of its cultural context.

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Biological approach

- behaviour and thinking strongly influenced by biological factors: nervous system, genes and evolutionary factors.

-genetics:- biological characteristics are inherited (intelligence, personality, mental disorders) the same as physical characteristics are e.g. eye colour, height.

- To determine the involvement of genetics, twin studies are used, looking at concordance rates (how likely both twins share a gene) of both monozygotic (100%) and dizygotic twins (50%) - mz expected to be higher for this reason.

- genotype = the genetic makeup of an individual  - phenotype = the physical appearance of the genes (affected by both biological and environmental factors) e.g. PKU (phenylketonuria) - rare genetic disease tested for via heel ***** test after birth. Detected = genotype is controlled through diet, no complications. Undetected = result in learning disabilities, behavioural problems and affected phenotype. shows the interaction between nature and nurture.

- evolution happened as a result of natural selection, advantageous genetic characteristics increase chances of survival and reproduction, increasing frequency of the allele in population = evolution. 

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Biological approach A03

(+)highly scientific - highly precise and accurate methods which increase the approaches validity. This means studies are objective and do not suffer and bias, easily repeatable and so reliable. e.g. fMRI's, EEG's, twin studies.

(+)real life application - increased understanding of the brain and has ultimately led to the development of psychoactive drugs e.g. antidepressants which make life more manageable for patients. However, these have not proved effective for all patients. 

(-)biologically deterministic - views all human behaviour as controlled by internal and biologically caused. This can have wider implications when considering legal action - using genetics as a defence for their actions - leading to more unjustified results.

(-) twin studies do not separate the interaction between nature and nurture, as share the same environment and often treated as the same person. Therefore, results could be an effect of this, as MZ treated moe similarly as look more similar. Also, not 100% concordance usually found, indicating other factors and involved.

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Behaviourist approach

- states all behaviour is learnt from our environment, through observable behaviour - a process which happens in both humans and animals, so can use animal studies.

- classical conditioning:- learning via association. UCS -> UCR, UCS + NS -> UCR, CS -> CR - process is shown by little Albert study (Watson and Raynor) - associated a rat with loud noise, which causes fear. Also shown by Pavlov's dog's - associated bell ringing with food which causes salivation.

- operant conditioning:- maintaining learnt behaviour via reinforcement. Positive reinforcement - rewarding behaviour (good or bad). Negative reinforcement - performing behaviour in order to avoid something unpleasant. Reinforcement increases the likelihood of behaviour being repeated. Punishment - unpleasant consequence of behaviour e.g. being told off.

-shown through Skinner's experiment - 'The Skinner Box' - when rat activates the lever, food is dispensed - quickly learnt to repeat (positive). Was repeated with electric shocks, same found (negative reinforcement).

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Behaviourist approach A03

(+) real life application - CC used in treating phobias, especially in those who have learning disabilities, so lack insight. OC used in token economy, which is used in prisons and mental institutes to reinforce good behaviour. 

(+) supporting evidence - Pavlov, Little Albert, Skinner Box.

(-)animal studies - hard to extrapolate findings, as humans qualitatively different from animals, hard to generalise findings.

(+)scientific credibility - high control, replicable, objective, operationalised studies.

(-)free will not credited - environmentally deterministic, as claims everything we do is a result of observed behaviour. 

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Social Learning Theory

- Bandura agreed behaviour is learnt through experience, however not conditioning. Stated we learn through observation and imitation of others. Focuses on both the behaviour and mental processes involved.

- states vicarious reinforcement (experienced by someone else, but observed) is needed for imitation to occur, and only occurs if reinforcement is positive.

- mediational processes(cognitive factors which influence learning between stimulus and response):-  ARMM, shows learning and performing 

1). Attention - the extent to which we notice the behaviour.

2). Retention - extent behaviour is remembered

3). Reproduction - observer performs observed behaviour

4). Motivation - expect to receive the same reinforcement as observed.

Both learning and performing needed to happen, however not at the same time. May store info and reproduce later. More likely to imitate role models, who we identify with e.g. similar characteristics

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Social Learning Theory A03

(+)supporting evidence - Bandura's Bobo doll study (1961). Lab study of 36 boys, 36 girls (3-6years) American children. Group 1 - shown model (adult) hitting doll with hammer. 2 - shown non-aggressive model. 3 - not shown a model, control group. Later observed playing with the doll, group 1 shown most aggressive. The second study showed an aggressive model with the Bobo doll and then experiencing punishment, positive or no reinforcement. Punishment = least aggressive, then control group, then positive reinforcement = most aggressive.

(-)demand characteristics - expected to behave like the model, therefore lower validity, as in unfamiliar lab study environment - high control, but artificial. Bobo doll also designed to be hit, lowering the reliability of the study.

(-)underestimates biological influences - aggression can be a result of hormones e.g. testosterone and serotonin. Testosterone explains the gender differences found in the results - boys show more aggressive behaviour.

(+)explains cultural differences - explains how cultural norms come about, as children learn from their own gender roles, conforming to the majority behaviour at the time. 

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