Approaches and Perspectives A2 Psychology

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  • Created on: 19-05-13 18:18

The Cognitive Approach

Assumptions: The main assumption of the cognitive approach is that behaviour can be largely explained in terms of how the mind operates. Cognitive processes may be due to nature (e.g. development of language) or nurture (e.g. which language is used) - as shown in Savage-Rumbaugh's study.

Strengths: The use of laboratory experiments (scientific), usefulness, quantitative and qualititative data

Weaknesses: The use of laboratory experiments (low ecological validity), reliance on self-report, deterministic, can be reductionist

Studies: Savage-Rumbaugh, Baron-Cohen, Loftus and Palmer, Griffiths, Gudjohnsson and Bownes, Kohlberg, Yochelson and Samenow, Loftus

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The Behaviourist Perspective

Assumptions: The majority of all behaviour is learned from the environment after birth, so behaviour is therefore determined by the environment.

Strengths: A lot of quantitative data, practical applications, usefulness, evidence for the nurture aspect of the nature/nurture debate

Weaknesses: Use of animals, artificial conditions, deterministic, reductionist, severe lack of qualitative data, ethics 

Studies: Watson and Raynor, McGrath, Lewinsohn, Bandura, Skinner, Pavlov, Seligman

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The Developmental Approach

Assumptions: Behaviour in adulthood can be affected by experiences in childhood, and development takes place over a lifetime. Developmental changes are a result of inherited factors and their interaction with life experiences, and therefore are a result of nature and nurture.

Strengths: Nature and nurture, longitudinal, qualitative and quantitative data, controlled conditions

Weaknesses: Longitudinal, lack of generalisability, may focus greatly on childhood only

Studies: Samuel and Bryant, Freud, Bandura, Savage-Rumbaugh, Farrington, Kohlberg

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The Individual Differences Approach

Assumptions: Behaviour which deviates from the norm is considered abnormal. The differences between people may be due to nature or nurture and they may be explained using other approaches. Believes everybody to be unique.

Strengths: Usefulness, practical applications, qualitative and quantitative data, longitudinal, controlled conditions

Weaknesses: Lack of generalisability, ethnocentric results, ethics, may be descriptive but only offer ideas as explanations

Studies: Thigpen and Cleckley, Rosenhan, Griffiths, Baron-Cohen, Yochelson and Samenow, Brunner

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The Physiological Approach

Assumptions: All that is psychological is first physiological, and all behaviour has a biological basis. 

Strengths: Very scientific, substantial evidence for nature, technology gives reliable results, controlled conditions, quantitative data, reductionist, free from cultural bias

Weaknesses: Reductionist, controlled conditions = lack of ecological validity, technology can be expensive

Studies: Sperry, Dement and Kleitman, Maguire, Raine, Brunner

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The Psychodynamic Perspective

Assumptions: Human development is a dynamic process. Early experience is very important for it shapes personality and relationships. Psychosexual stages are fixed and invariant - experience during the stages affects later behaviour.

Strengths: Qualitative data, longitudinal, practical application of psychodynamic therapy

Weaknesses: Ethnocentric/non-generalisable samples, deterministic, no way of testing whether the assumptions are true, reliance on self-report

Studies: Freud, Thigpen and Cleckley, Yochelson and Samenow

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The Social Approach

Assumptions: All behaviour occurs within a social context even when nobody else is physically present. An individual's behaviour is largely affected by situational factors.

Strengths: Can provide explanations for a great many phenomena, usefulness, scientific methods, observations, qualitative and quantitative data

Weaknesses: Snapshot studies, unrepresentative samples, ethnocentric samples

Studies: Milgram, Piliavin, Reicher and Haslam, Asch, Nemeth and Wachtler, Moscovici, Waxler-Morrison, Farrington, Sutherland

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