AS Psychology B approaches advantages and disadvantages

Key approaches advantages and disadvantages

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  • Created by: Shiree
  • Created on: 07-01-13 18:12

The Biological approach

Strengths:

  • The biological approach uses scientific, experimental procedures in its investigations.
  • It provides strong arguments for the nature side of the nature-nurture debate.
  • The biological approach has had many useful applications, for example drugs to alleviate disorders such as bipolar depression.

Limitations:

  • The biological approach is reductionist. It explains all thoughts and behaviours in terms of the actions of nerves and chemicals.
  • The approach is over-simplistic. It fails to fully appreciate the influence environmental factors can have on behaviour.
  • The approach raises ethical issues, for example genetic mapping. Is it right to artificially manipulate our genetic mapping?
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The Behaviourist approach

Strengths:

  • Behaviourists' use of rigorous, experimental methods of research enhances the credibility of psychology as a scientific discipline.
  • The approach provides strong arguments for the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate.
  • The approach has provided a number of practical applications and techniques to shape behaviour, for example the use of rewards in education.

Limitations:

  • The behaviourist approach ignores the mental processes that are involved in learning unlike the cognitive approach, which views these processes,as important.
  • The approach rejects the possible role of biological factors (nature) in human behaviour.
  • behaviourists view humans as passive learners at the mercy of their environment unlike humanistic psychologists who view humans as active agents.
  • The principles of operant and classical conditioning do not account for spontaneous behaviour in humans.
  • The use of animals in applying laws to humans has been criticised. Surely we are more complex than animals?
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Social learning theory

Strengths:

  • Social learning theory takes into account the cognitive processes that are involved in learning.
  • Social learning theorists use both experimental and non-experimental methods of research, for example Bandura's use of the experimental and observational method when investigating gender differences in aggression.
  • Social learning theory has been applied to many areas of psychology and has provided effective explanations of behaviour, for example acquisition of gender roles.

Limitations:

  • Social learning theory does not fully explain individual differences, that is to say what may be perceived to be reinforcement for one person, may not be for another.
  • Social learning theory does not account for all behaviour. For example, if we learn by observing others, how is it that a person becomes a criminal when they have not associated with and/or observed criminals and their behaviour?
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Cognitive approach

Strengths:

  • The cognitive approach focuses on internal metal processes, unlike behaviourism.
  • The approach uses scientific experimental methods, unlike humanistic psychologists.
  • Models such as the information-processing approach have been effectively used to explain mental processes.

Limitations:

  • Cognitive models have been criticised as over-simplistic, ignoring the complexities of the mind.
  • Humans are viewed as machines with the crude comparison of the mind to a computer.
  • Many cognitive theories are based on performance of artificial laboratory tasks therefore unrepresentative of everyday behaviours.
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The Psychodynamic approach

Strengths:

  • Freud acknowledged the importance of childhood experiences in determining adult personality.
  • Freud's theories offer casual explanations for underlying atypical psychological conditions.
  • Freud's methods of psychoanalysis are still used in psychiatry today.

Limitations:

  • Freud's theories are considered to be unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific.
  • Freud's use of the case study method lacks generalisability.
  • Freud's controversial idea that infants display sexual urges has received enormous criticism.
  • The effectiveness of psychoanalysis as a therapy is questioned in comparison to the proportion of patients who recover spontaneously from atypical disorders.
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The Humanistic approach

Strengths:

  • Humanistic psychologists view the person as an active agent, unlike behaviourism.
  • Humanistic psychologists promote the idea of personal responsibility - free will as apposed to determinism.
  • The subjective experience of a person is of value and importance.
  • Person centred therapy is used by psychologists and counsellors in therapy today.

Limitations:

  • Humanistic theories are hard to falsify. They lack predictive power and are therefore unscientific.
  • In rejecting the use of the scientific method, humanistic theories lack empirical support.
  • Humanistic psychologists over-emphasise the persons ability to change and develop, for example they ignore cultural constraints.
  • Individual emotions and consciousness are difficult to study objectively.
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Comments

Chloe Dickinson

Thank you so much for these, they have really helped summarise the points in detail and have been a great help for my revision!

Chloe Dickinson

Thank you so much for these, they have really helped summarise the points in detail and have been a great help for my revision!

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