Approaches in Psychology

  • Created by: ash8642
  • Created on: 17-04-19 17:53

Origins of Psychology

Wundt and Introspection

  • First psychology lab in Leipzig
  • Introduced structuralism
  • Standardised instructions made the procedures replicable
  • Early philosophical roots - Descartes, Darwin, Locke

Emergence of Psychology as a Science

  • Watson and early behaviourists - reject introspection
  • Scientific approaches
    • Behaviourism
    • Cognitive revolution
    • Biological approach
    • Cognitive neuroscience
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Learning Approach: Behaviourism


  • Observable
  • Basic processes are the same in all species

Pavlov's Classical Conditioning

  • Neutral stimulus = no conditioned response
  • Unconditioned stimulus = unconditioned response
  • Neutral stimulus + unconditioned stimulus = unconditioned response
  • Conditioned stimulus = conditioned response

Skinner's Operant Conditioning

  • Are you gaining something (positive) or having something taken away (negative)?
  • Are you more likely to do the behaviour again (reinforcement) or less likely (punishment)?
  • Skinner boxes - rats placed in boxes
    • Press lever = receive a treat = positive reinforcement
    • Electrocuted route = rat learns route without shocks = negative reinforcement
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Learning Approach: Behaviourism


  • Scientific credibility - objectivity and replication helped create psychology as a science
  • Real-life application - token economy used in prisons; focus on the here and now (e.g. treating phobias)
  • Mechanistic - humans are passive responders, mental events not included
  • Environmental determinism
  • Ethical and practical issues in animal studies
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Learning Approach: Social Learning Theory


  • Behaviour is learned from experience, directly and indirectly
  • Observable
  • Basic processes same in all species

Vicarious Reinforcement

  • Observation leads to imitation if behaviour is vicariously reinforced
  • Bandura's 'Bobo Doll' experiment

Mediational Processes

  • Attention
  • Retention
  • Motivation
  • Reproduction


  • More likely to imitate role models you identify with
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Learning Approach: Social Learning Theory


  • Cognitive factors in learning - more comprehensive account of learning
  • Evidence from lab studies - demand characteristics + low validity
  • Underestimates influence of biology - aggression involves hormonal factors (e.g. testosterone)
  • Explains cultural differences
  • Less deterministic than behaviourism (reciprocal determinism)
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Cognitive Approach


  • Internal mental processes can be studied through inference

Theoretical and Computer Models

  • Information processing approach
  • Mind is likened to a computer and applied to artificial intelligence

Role of Schema

  • Beliefs and expectations affect thoughts and behaviour
  • Innate or learned
  • Mental short-cut, leads to perceptual errors

Emergence of Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Biological structures link to mental states
  • Brain imaging used to read the brain
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Cognitive Approach


  • Scientific and objective methods - lab experiments to produce reliable, objective data; credible basis
  • Machine reductionism - ignores influence of emotion (e.g. anxiety and EWT)
  • Application to everyday life - abstract and overly theoretical; artificial stimuli
  • Real-world application (e.g. artificial intelligence)
  • Less deterministic than other approaches
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Biological Approach


  • Everything psychological is at first biological
  • Biological processes - genes, neurochemistry, and the nervous system

Genetic Basis of Behaviour

  • Twins - monozygotic and dizygotic
    • Used to determine likelihood that certain traits are genetic
  • Family studies

Genotype and Phenotype

  • Interaction between nature and nurture

Evolution and Behaviour

  • Natural selection of genes based on survival value, and, ultimately, reproductive success
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Biological Approach


  • Scientific methods - precise techniques (e.g. scanning techniques, family studies, drug trials)
  • Real-life application - psychotherapeutic drugs
  • Casual conclusions - drugs may only be associated with symptom reduction, not causes
  • Deterministic
  • Cannot separate nature and nurture
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Nervous System

  • Central nervous system - brain and spinal cord
  • Peripheral nervous system - autonomic nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic); somatic nervous system (body)

Endocrine System

  • Glands and hormones - hormones secreted into the bloodstream; pituitary is main gland
  • Fight or Flight - sympathetic arousal: pituitary --> ACTH --> adrenal gland --> adrenaline

Structure and Function of Neurons

  • Motor, sensory, and relay neurons
  • Cell body contains nucleus, + has dendrites
  • Axon covered in myelin sheath divided by nodes of Ranvier
  • Positive charge leads to action potential
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Synaptic Transmission

  • Synapse - terminal buttons at synapse, presynaptic vesicles release neurotransmitters
  • Neurotransmitters - post-synaptic receptor site links to dendrites of adjoining neuron; specialist functions
  • Excitation or inhibition - adrenaline is excitatory, serotonin is inhibitory
  • Psychotherapeutic drugs - SSRIs increase serotonin activity
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