AS psychology Unit 2 revision

  • Created by: Michaela
  • Created on: 27-04-14 04:26

Biological Psychology-1

Key words:

  •   Stressor: a situation or stimulus imposing demands on an individual
  •  Transaction model: a model of stress that defines stress as an imbalance between perceived demands and their perceived coping resource
  •   Primary appraisal: the person assesses the situation to identify threats or demands-outside first –what is the stress?
  •  Secondary appraisal:  person appraises their ability to cope with a threatening situation- inside second-how can I deal with the stress
  • Neuron: the basic unit of the nervous system. Cells specialized to conduct electrical impulses
  • Action potential: nerve impulse. Pulses of electrical activity conducted along the neuron-represent coding of information in the nervous system -Nerve impulse
  • Dendrites: part of the neuron that that are short processing paths connecting to the cell body. Nerve impulses triggered here
  • Axon: part of neuron- elongated process running up the cell body
  •  Axon terminal: end of neural axon- presynaptic terminal (PST) axon terminal leading into the synapse
  •  Synapse: tiny gap separating the PST of the neuron and the post synaptic terminal of the following neuron-transmission is activated by chemical neurotransmitters
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  • Neurotransmitter: chemical stored in PST. Nerve impulses activate the release of the chemical into he synapse where they diffuse over to the postsynaptic membrane and combine with receptors
  • Postsynaptic membrane:  the neural membrane on which synaptic receptors are located. Neurotransmitter combines with transmitters making it more likely for the impulse to occur on the post synaptic neuron
  •  Synaptic receptors: molecules that combine with the neurotransmitter molecules locate don the postST in a lock and key fashion
  •  All-or-none principle: applied to nervous systems-the principle that under given conditions the response of a nerve or muscle fiber to a stimulus at anystrength above the threshold is the same: the muscle or nerve responds completely or not at all.
  • GABA: synaptic neurotransmitter involved in action of anti-anxiety drugs -valium
  • Dopamine: synaptic neurotransmitter involved in the action of antipsychotic drugs used in schizophrenia
  • Noradrenaline: hormone released from adrenal gland increase heart rate and blood pressure- also a neurotransmitter
  •   Serotonin: synaptic neurotransmitter involved in the action of antidepressant drugs
  •   Central nervous system: made up of brain and spinal cord
  • Spinal nerves: bundles of neuronal (mainly axons) processes travelling around the body .Come form spinal cord. Carry sensory info to CNS and motor command out to muscles and glands. Make up the peripheral nervous system (PNS)
  •  Sensory pathway: pathways in spinal nerves running from the sensory receptors to the CNS carry sensory info
  •  Motor pathways:  in spinal nerves – carry out commands to muscle and glands
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Seyle (1956) 1st noticed the body’s stress response

·       Noticed rats’ enveloped ulcers on the lining of their stomach after being given a course of injections-wondered whether it was the stress of the injection or the stuff being injected. Found it to be the stress of the injections and began to map out body’s physiological response to stressors.

·       Any stimulus producing the physiological stress response is a stressor- response based definition of stress

·       Stimulus based view of stress- certain events or stimuli by their nature can be defined as stressful

·       Both ignore individual differences such as phobias (one person may find a spider terrifying whilst the other may not ) and responses to events differently

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Led to the current approach formed by Cox and Mackey (1978) and Lazarus and Folkman (1984) –Transactional model placed emphasis on individual differences through the use of primary and secondary appraisal (perception)

·       Appraisals are based on perception of ourselves and world aorind us – ‘When an imbalance exists between perceived demands and perceived coping sources then a state of stress exist- definition of stress

·       Transactional model shifts the focus from actual demands and coping resources to perceived demands and coping resources –acknowledging the people perceive the world in different ways

·       Pg 139 for transactional model

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The body’s response to stress: the nervous system

  •      Nerve impulses (action potentials – unit of  info processing) start at the dendrite  and the travel across axon and along axon
  •     Synapse:
  • 1. An electrical impulse travels along an axon.
  • 2.  This triggers the nerve-ending of a neuron to release chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
  • 3.   These chemicals diffuse across the synapse (the gap) and bind with receptor molecules on the membrane of the next neuron
  • 4. The receptor molecules on the second neuron bind only to the specific chemicals released from the first neuron. This stimulates the second neuron to transmit the electrical impulse.
  •  Nerve impulses either occur or they don’t- all or nothing principle
  • The purpose of a synapse is tp allow for info processing
  • In order to cross the synapse enough nerve impulse must meet at the presynaptic terminal in order to stimulate enough neurotransmitters to be released. If only a few arrive the impulse will not continue as the postsynaptic membrane does not fire.
  • Dopamine/serotonin are examples of neurotransmitters
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Organization of the nervous system

  •    Involves the use of sensory and motor pathways in order to obtain sensory info and control bodily functions.

 Key words:

  • Autonomic nervous system(ANS): part of the PNS concerned with the regulation of internal structures and systems-vital in maintaining physiological regulation
  •  Brainstem: the pons/medulla and midbrain regions + ANS-used for vital physiological functions
  •  Homeostasis: regulation of constant internal environment.
  •  Sympathetic nervous system (SNS):a branch of ANS-sympathetic dominance leads to bodily arousal and preparation for energy use
  • Parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS):one branch of the ANS –PSN dominance leads to a pattern of physiological calm
  • Hindbrain contains medulla/pons/cerebellum
  • Forebrain: enables higher cognitive and emotional functions- diencephalon/ limbic system/basal ganglia/cortex
  • Cerebellum: involved in coordination of movement-damage results in loss of motor coordination
  •  Diencephalon: contains thalamus and hypothalamus
  • Thalamus: relays sensory input form the sensory pathways on to the cortex (part of the diencephalon) 
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Stress pathways 

  • Purity-adrenal system (PAS): one of 2 key pathways involved on body’s response to stress. Hypothalamus stimulates the release of adrenocorticotrophic (ACTH) hormone from pituitary gland into bloodstream. ACTH travels to the cortex of adrenal gland and triggers release of cortisol
  • Sympathomedullary pathway: one of 2 key pathways involved on body’s response to stress. Activated by the hypothalamus nerve pathways of sympathetic branch of ANS stimulate the adrenal medulla to release adrenaline and noradrenaline in the bloodstream

The Brain

  •   Divided into hindbrain, midbrain and forebrain.
  • Pons/medulla/midbrain are classified as the brain stem which is basically a continuation of the spinal cord with sensory and motor pathways carrying info from higher brain centers
  •     Diencephalon contains thalamus and hypothalamus- thalamus relays sensory info ascending up through the spinal cord and the brainstem to cortex. Hypothalamus lies ta base of brain-controls pituitary gland and autonomic systems –involved in many of the body’s physiological responses. Stimulated to activate PAS and SMP.
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Cerebral Hemisphere

  •  High level of cognitive and emotional function at work here-3 major systems make up this hemisphere:
  • Limbic system: includes hippocampus and amygdala –involved in learning, memory and emotions
  • Basal ganglia: related to movement and motor control
  •  Cerebral cortex: thin layer of neurons covering the forebrain-planning/language learning/consciousness and personality. Divided in frontal/parietal/temporal/occipital. Sensory/motor and cognitive spread across

Key words

  • Limbic system: interconnected structures of the forebrain with major roles in emotion and memory-amygdala/hippocampus
  • Hippocampus: structure of the limbic system-used in memory and emotional processing
  • Amygdala: in the limbic system-used in emotional processing
  • Basal ganglia: system that is interlinked to structures in the forebrain-used in movement and damage to the area can cause Parkinson’s disease
  •  Motor cortex: region of the cortex vital in controlling movement
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  • Sensory cortex: regions of cortex where input from the sensory receptors are analyzed-vision and hearing have their own specialized cortical area
  • Association cortex: regions of cortex where high levels of cog. And emotional functions appear-associated with the frontal lobe
  •  Cerebral asymmetry: sensory and motor functions are found on both sides of the brain-some functions are confined to one side such as the control of language which is locate don the left side of the brain
  • Stress

    ·       Appraisal of a situation requires perception and evaluation of previous experiences – appraisal therefore requires cortex and parts of the limbic system.

    ·       Stress can be generated internally activating the stress respnse

    ·       Stressful situation is identified –signals sent to hypothalamus –activates pituitary –adrenal system + sympathomedullary pathway 

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The body’s response to stress

  • Appraisal –demands on sensory processing systems such as hearing and vision and evaluation of previous experiences – involves the hypothalamus/amygdala and cortical centers. Situation appraised as potentially stressful and the hypothalamus is alerted –activating the PAS and SMP
  • The pituitary-adrenal system- the hypothalamus is activated and stimulates the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) form the pituitary gland. ACTH travels to the adrenal cortex and stimulates the release of hormones called corticosteroids into the bloodstream- this results in increased release or mobilisation of energy reserves (fatty acids and glycogen) this is in the form of raised glucose levels and fatty acids

·       Raised levels of corticosteroids over a sustained period suppresses the immune system

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1.     The sympathomedullary pathway- hypothalamus commands the ANS centres in brainstem to activate SNS pathway to adrenal medulla The activation of the sympathetic branch stimulates the adrenal medulla to release the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline into the bloodstream. Adrenaline is known as an arousal hormone, and noradrenaline has similar effects.

·       The SNS has a direct link to the cardiovascular system-increase in heart rate an blood pressure – the effects are sustained by adrenaline and noradrenaline which act on heart muscle and blood vessels by constricting them which result in oxygen being pumped rapidly to muscles allowing for increased physical activity

·       if the stress responses are repeatedly activated, the heart and blood vessels begin to suffer from abnormal wear and tear. For example, increased blood pressure associated with sympathetic nervous system activation can lead to physical damage in the lining of blood vessels and increase the likelihood of heart disease.

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Evolutionary reasons:

·       These systems were required in order to allow energy expenditure in times of stress related emergencies to stressors such as predators – zebra needing to run faster to avoid a lion

Habitual results of stress response:

·       Fight-Flight-Flock-Fright –****

·       However in modern times the stress response is mal adapted to the high paced high stress lifestyle that requires an effective chronic stress response that it is not adapted for.

·       It is essentially a false alarm


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Selye’s general adaption syndrome: model that looks at the body’s response to stressors

  • Alarm: (stress-response- systems activated) HPA and SAM are activated. The body is prepared for energy expenditure, ready to respond to the perceived threat.
  • Resistance: if the stressor remains, our bodies can adapt to the situation and cope in a normal way, arousal levels are still higher than normal
  • Exhaustion: (chronic stress) after long-term exposure to a stressor our bodies will eventually be unable to cope with the situation and we may develop a stress related illness eg. ulcers, depression, cold, CHD
  •   +Supported by a lot of scientific research
  • -Only describes one response to stress, neglects the fact that the body reacts to stress differently depending on how the stressor is perceived by the person
  •  -Ignores individual differences – some people don’t get stressed easily (see later notes on hardy personality) – what’s stress to one person isn’t to another
  •   Ignores the cognitive elements of perception and appraisal
  •  Much of his work was base don rats and a narrow range of stressors.
  • Now thought that stress related illnesses are not cause by exhaustion but rather by chronic levels of stress hormones that lead to illness
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Key words:

  •    Pituitary gland:  just below the brain -Controlled by the hypothalamus-releases many hormones that that control many activities of other gland
  •    Adrenocorticotropic hormone: hormone released by the pituitary gland. Stimulates the adrenal cortex to relapse corticosteroids
  •  Adrenal cortex: part of the adrenal gland-release corticosteroids into blood
  • Adrenal gland: located by the kidneys (2) made up of the cortex and the medulla.
  •   Corticosteroids: hormone released form the adrenal cortex part of the stress responses – cortisol and corticosterone
  •  Adrenal medulla: part of adrenal gland /under the control of the SMP and it release adrenaline and noradrenaline into blood stream as part of the stress response
  •   Adrenaline: hormone released form the medulla acts on heart and circulatory system to increase HR and BP
  •  General adoption syndrome (GAS): Seyle’s model of the body’s response to stress. Consists of 3 stages
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Stress related illness and the immune system (complex network of interacting components that provides the body’s defenses against pathogens.

Type of stressor

  • General stressors can vary in duration and therefore they have different effects on the individual- Segerstrom and Miller (2004) classified these stressors into:
  •   Acute time limited: studied under lab conditions-include experiences such a public speaking or doing mental arithmetic ( 5-100 minutes)
  •   Brief naturalistic stressors: everyday stressor of limited duration e.g. students taking exams
  •  Chronic stressor: long lasting stressor e.g. caring for dementia patients/coping with a long term illness or being long term unemployed


  •   if the stress responses are repeatedly activated, the heart and blood vessels begin to suffer from abnormal wear and tear. For example, increased blood pressure associated with sympathetic nervous system activation can lead to physical damage in the lining of blood vessels as well as this there is increased amount of fatty acids in the blood leading formation of atheroma (atherosclerosis-the furring up and narrowing blood cells through deposits of fatty materials) which can lead to strokes and heart attacks
  •  Weakened immune system can leave the individual vulnerable to infection or illness
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Immune system:

·       Natural immunity:  Non-specifically attack and ingest invading pathogens e.g. phagocytes cells that surround and ingest foreign particles wherever they encounter them-responds quickly  and is our first line of defence

       Specific immunity: Lymphocytes-more sophisticated than natural as cells are able to recognise invading pathogen and produce specific antibodies accordingly specific immunity develops over days in order to recognise invading pathogens and mobilise sub systems

§  Cellular: Lymphocytes called T (made in thymus gland) cells seek out and destroy any cells recognised as foreign and cells infected with antigens. (Intracellular pathogens)

§  Humoral: B lymphocytes made in bone marrow destroy extracellular pathogens by secreting antibodies that attack and destroy

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Cohen et al (1993)

  • Method –  394 ppts completed a questionnaire designed to measure their general life stress levels and then given a stress index score. They  were then  exposed to the common cold virus
  • Results – Of the 394 ppts, 82% were infected. After one week, people with a higher stress index score had it go on to develop into a clinical cold
  • Evaluation:
  • Indirect study as there is no direct measure of ummune function- however it was supports by Evans and Edgarton (1991) found probability of developing cold correlated with negative event od proceeding days
  • No direct manipulation of IV (index)- cause and effect relationship cannot be confirmed
  •  Does not tell which elemnt on index is most important
  • Infected with a cold0may become more serious
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Effects of stress on the immune system –Kiecolt-Glaser et al

  • Method: natural experiment using 75 medical students. Blood samples taken one month before exams (low stress) and during exams (high stress). Immune system functioning was calculated by measuring t-lymphocyte activity in blood samples. Students were also given questionnaires to assess psychological variables such as life events and loneliness. 
  • Results: T-cell activity was significantly reduced in the second sample of blood compared to the first. And T cell activity was lowest in those who reported high levels of life-events and loneliness.
  • Conclusion: Exam stress reduces immune functioning, potentially leaving the individual vulnerable to illness. Immune function also affected by psychological variables such as stress of life events and feelings of loneliness which could make the individuals more vulnerable to added effect of short term stressors such as exams
  • Evaluation: Not a representative sample – all medical students so low population validity. Was however a natural experiment  - so not direct relationship between cause and effect.
  • Sample – they were all first year medical students –not representative as the group cannot be generalised to other students, ages or groups.
  •  Also, they are volunteers – the sample is therefore biased as volunteers are ‘unusual’ or ‘extra-motivated’ – it lacks population validity, which in turn leads to an inability to generalise.
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Evaluation-Kiecolt and Glaser

  • However, Keicolt-Glaser has carried out research using Alzheimer’s carers and married couples and found similar results – this makes the findings of this study more reliable and is in fact can be generalised to slightly more groups.
  •  It is also a natural experiment; therefore the study has high ecological validity and mundane realism as the situation was real and was not manipulated by the experimenter.
  •  As it is such a natural situation, there is also a significantly smaller chance of participants responding to demand characteristics; it is unlikely that they were able to consciously affect their blood test. 
  •  However, this type of experiment essentially means that no extraneous variables that could potentially affect the results were controlled – therefore, we cannot be sure that the level of stress is what affected immune functioning alone. There are many other factors, including lifestyle and genetics, which were not considered – this questions the validity of the results.
  •   It is also impossible to replicate the experiment and therefore we cannot see if the results found in this study are reliable. L
  •  The findings of this experiment were merely a correlation, therefore it only proves that there may be a relationship between the two co-variables
  • The method used to measure immune functioning has been deemed as inadequate – the immune system is complex -– it is therefore too simplistic and difficult to know whether the immune system is weak from this alone 
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Meta-review of stress research (research method technique in which results form papers studying similar problems are statically analyzed together to provide more reliable over view of findings)

 Segerstrom and miller (2004)

  •   Conducted a meta analysis on 293 studies that have looked ta the effects of different stressors on the immune system-used their categorization of stressors
  •   Acute time limited stressor: leads to an up-regulation (increase in immune function)-logical as natural immunity is the fastest response that would be activated by the immediate onset of stressor
  •   Brief naturalistic stressor:no overall effect in the immune system-depit kiecolt-glaser et al findings.Howveer there was evidence for a shift from cellular to humoral immunity
  •  Chronic stressor: virtually all the natural and specific immunity showed down regulation (reduction in immune function) consistent across genders and ages
  •    Non-specific life events: assessed frequency and intensity of range  of life events over a period of time-overall there were no changes in immune function .However when studies using above 55 old ppts there was a relationship between life event stress and reduction in natural killer cell activity.
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General Conclusions:

  • Clearest outcomes are the acute and chronic stressors which produce a general decrease in immune function –referred to as Global immunosuppression: down regulation of all components of immune system-can be caused by chronic stress.
  • Acute time limited stressors are the stressor that produce fight or flight response and Seyles GAS
  •  Chronic means our immune system is activated beyond the adaptive time frame-changes become less adaptive and global immunosuppression takes place leaving individual vulnerable to illness.
  •   Immune change sin response to stress are not simple- they involve shifts from different types of immunity
  • No general evidence across all studies gender  differences in immunity relative to stress- HW Kiecolt-Glaser did show women showed greater reductions in immune function in response to martial conflict as opposed to men


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Factors that are taken into account when evaluating studies

  •  What stressor and how was it measure?
  •  Where individual differences taken into account?
  • What indicator of immune response was measured?

Chronic stress leading to GIS

·       Hormones released in HPA directly affect immune system- high levels of corticosteroids in bloodstream lead to reduced levels of T lymphocytes and shrinkage in the thymus gland.

·       This has led to corticosteroids being used in medication for autoimmune diseases such as some cancers in order suppress the immune function and prevent cells attacking own cells – HW can leave patient vulnerable to illness

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Life changes and daily hassles

  • *Stress exists only when perceived demands outstrip our perceived resources

  Life Changes and research into it.

  • These are major changes or events in your life that tend to be rare or’ one-off’. They happen rarely and would be considered quite “large”; they require significant change, adjustment or transition and to an individual this can cause stress. Examples include getting a divorce, a death of a relative or a friend, redundancy or a pregnancy.
  •  Stress is seen as part of everyday life. It can be due to everyday hassles or major life event (include marriage, death of a partner, illness, redundancy or moving house-according to Holmes and Rahe events can be rated in terms of life change units and can lead to stress related illness)

Measuring stress

  • Self report questionnaires on frequency of life stress in relation to major life events or minor daily hassles
  •    Self report questionnaire on perceived or subjective stress-“How stressed do you feel?”
  •    Semi structured interview: ppt talks through life stressors and interviewer assesses the impact of these stressors (qualitative)
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Holmes and Rahe (1967) :Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS):A way of measuring the relationship between life changes and wellbeing .The more we have to adjust, the more stressful the event is.

  • Notice people who had heart disease reported significant life events in preceding year
  •    Holmes and Rahe created a list of 43 life events and asked 394 ppts to compare these with marriage (value of 500) in terms of degree of adjustment.Final scores divided by 100 and referred to as life change units (LCU)
  • Death of a spouse reached the highest and gained an LCU score of 100then divorce whilst holidays and Christmas were near the bottom
  • Score over 150 considered a life crisis-increases chance of stress relate illness by 30%/A score over 300 is a major crisis-increases the risk of stress related illness by 50%
  • Evaluation:
  •  Individual differences are not taken into account; the scores are practically arbitrary and how stressful an event is may be subjective. For example, making an “Outstanding Achievement” was given a score of 25, yet many would not find this stressful at all. Just the opposite in fact, they may find it elating. However, the scale insists this is stress anyway – it cannot be applied to all people.
  • The scale is also vague; it is unclear whether many of the events are positive or negative – mostly it just states “a change”- for example, “a change in financial state” may be positive or negative. Evidence suggests that only change that is undesired, unscheduled and uncontrollable is stressful, but this is not taken into account.
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·      Evaluation of Holmes and Rahe

  • The scale is out-dated-the life events do not apply to modern society;
  • Specific to Western cultures as events like Christmas and Church are on the list, therefore not applying to other cultures. (Carried out only in the US)
  • Retrospective (people who were already undergoing heart disease and other stress related illness) study that relies on memory- therefore it may not be reliable also people may exaggerate major life events on order to explain the reason for the illness
  • Simply because there is a correlation does not mean there is causation
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Prospective study(refers to the future and involves following ppts over a period of time such as one in which a ppts LCU are assessed and then later followed up to see if any illness develops-

 Rahe et al (1970)

  • Aim: To find out if scores on the SRRS correlated with the subsequent onset of illness.
  • Procedure:2500 male American sailors were given the SRRS to assess how many life events they had experienced in the previous six months.The total score on the SRRS was recorded for each participant.Then, over the following 6 months, detailed records were kept of each sailor’s health.The recorded Life changes scores were correlated with the sailors’ illness scores.
  • Findings: There was a positive correlation of +0.118 between life change scores and illness scores.
  •    Although the positive correlation was small, it did indicate that there was a meaningful relationship between LCUs and health. As LCU scores icnreased, so did the frequency of illness.
  • Conclusion: The researchers concluded that as LCUs were positively correlated with illness scores, experiencing life events increased the chances of stress-related health problems
  •     Since the correlation was not perfect, life events cannot be the only factor contributing to illness.
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Evaluation of Rahe et al


  •    A correlation does not imply causality or the direction of any effect; depression or anxiety may not be caused by life events, since depressed or anxious people may bring about life events such as separation or divorce.
  •   The sample was restricted to male US navy army; therefore, it was both ethnocentric (Americans only) and androcentric (males only). This reduces the validity of the study, and makes it difficult to generalise to other populations
  •     An opportunity sample was used which may cause a problem as the participants are selected by the experimenter and therefore are not representative.
  •   Pertaining to their occupation, we can imagine that members of the navy would in fact be particularly healthy or less likely to admit to injury and/or resilient to stress.
  •   A self-report measure (questionnaire) was used – these are unreliable as participants are subjected to giving socially desirable responses – they may as well have been reluctant to admit to an event on the SRRS scale that was overly personal and sensitive that may cause embarrassment
  •     Retrospective
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Evaluation of SRRS

  •   No account is taken into of the emotional impact of the event –is it positive or negative. Holmes and Rahe assumed all events regardless of their nature involved readjustment and were therefore stressful
  • Scale does not take into account individual differences- each of us perceive every stressor differently (appraisal)
  •  Retrospective self report of life events over the preceding year can be unreliable- therefore it may not be reliable also people may exaggerate major life events on order to explain the reason for the illness
  •    Displays a correlation but that does not mean it is a causation- divorce may be a factor correlated with depression but it simply may be that depression of one partner led o to the divorce
  •  The life events scale ( Sarason at el ) created to try and ix some of these problems allows people to rate 57 life events in terms of severity of impact whether  it is negative or positive-allowing for individual differences. Produces 3 score: negative change/positive change/ tota change. Negative change ,in general, correlate more highly with illness
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Daily Hassles and research into it. (Explain why daily hassles may cause stress.

  • These are continuous, minor, frequent, common occurrences that cause us stress, even more so if they are extremely inconvenient. They trigger the body’s stress responses repeatedly and so many would say that they are a more significant source of stress than daily hassles. Examples include missing the bus, a computer crash or a traffic jam. 
  • They may have an accumulating effect in which they build up and as the stress response is triggered so many times, it may lead to illness. They may also have an amplification effect - daily hassles can ‘tip you over the edge’ if you are trying to cope with a major life event – (for example, if say, your partner were to die, and some time later, you were trying to watch TV but it stops working and you break down crying and screaming) - you may experience an amplified level of distress at something trivial.

Lazerus and Kanner et al (1981) Hassles and Uplifts Scale (Describe research into daily hassles and stress-related illnesses

  •   This contained 117 items covering all aspects of life-could be modified for specific groups (hassles-stresses of everyday life)
  •    Also contained 135 postive items (uplifts – everyday positive events)
  •   Score on the hassles scale would correlate with stress related problems such as depression or anxiety
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  •  De Longis et al (1982) compared the scores for both hassles and uplifts- uplifts were unrelated to health problems and hassles had a higher correlation with health outcomes.
  • Jandorf et al (1986) used different measures of daily event(the assessment of daily experiences scale –ADE Stone and Neale 1984) found a higher positive correlation between health outcomes and daily hassles as opposed to major events and health
  • Hasseles an either be directly related( physical environment/relationships with co-workers) or indirectly related (commuting problems, balancing work an home responsibilities )

 Work Stress:   leads to distress of the individual as well as poor performance at work/absenteeism/stress related illness.

Reasons for stress at work :Environment: heating/lighting/physical arrangement-e.g. Higher temperatures can lead to higher levels if frustration /stress and aggression

  •    Home-work interference: employees try to balance the competing demands of home and work responsibilities. This has led to work-life balance: idea that in a civilised society everyone should strive for a healthy balance between work responsibilities and life outside work
  •    Control: the degree of control a person has over their workload (decision latitude-sense of control and organisation an individual has on their workload, high levels of this are associated with lower vulnerability to stress related illness) affects the level of stress experienced .Low levels of control lead to high levels of stress –experienced by worker lower in the hierarchy
  •  Workload: overload van be stressful but Dewe (1992) found that having too little can elad to stress
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Kasraseck’s(1979) model is used to observe the relationship between job demand and levels of control-most stressful jobs have high demands and low control whilst low stress jobs have low demand and high control- theses relationships can be modified by other factors such as social support

Marmot et al (Describe research into workplace stress

  • Aim :investigate the link between workplace stress and illness. Marmot argued that jobs with high demand and low control created the most stress
  • Procedure: 7,372 civil servants (of which were both male and female volunteers from London) answered a questionnaire and were checked for signs of cardiovascular disease. Job control and demand were measured using self-report surveys and observations by managers. Records were kept of stress-related illnesses and other variables were correlated. five years later the participants were reassessed.
  • Findings: participants that were that had higher grade in the profession had the fewest cardiovascular problems. Those with low job control were four times more likely to die of heart attacks than those that had high control – they were also more likely to suffer from cancers, stroke and gastric ulcers. In short, it was found that there was a negative correlation between job controls and illness-found the most significant factor risk factor was lack of control
  • Conclusion: low control is associated with high stress and stress-related illnesses; although there was little to support the claim that high demand was associated with stress. This implies that control can be a major stressor and should be addressed to reduce work place stress overall.
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Evaluation:Unrepresentative and biased sample – only one profession (civil servants) was focused on and therefore cannot be generalised to all workplaces.

  •  Western city and culture as the study was carried out in London – it does not apply to non-western (collectivist) cultures
  •   Volunteers, they may be ‘motivated’ or ‘unusual’ and do not represent all, making the findings biased
  •    Longitudinal study -participant attrition findings unreliable.
  •     Questionnaires and self-report measures were used–may be unreliable as participants can give socially desirable answers, as well as forget due to memory (retrospective)
  •   Correlation and not a cuastaion -There may have been other factors such as diet, sleep, habits, genetics and lifestyle that could have caused the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases.
  • The findings may have been affected by the low socioeconomic status that many of the participants with lower control positions had – therefore, likelihood of illnesses may be due to financial problems, a poor diet to the lack of money etc.
  •  Individual differences are not taken into account either; people may react differently to stress and control according to factors such as personality, gender, age and culture
  •  Supported by Fox et al (1997): found low control and high demands led to higher blood pressure in nurses
  •    Van der Doef and Maes(1998): concluded that a range of evidence supports the hypothesis  that a combination of high demand and low control increases the risk of heart disease
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Dealing with workplace stress

Other sources of stress: role ambiguity/relationships with other employees/career progression

  •   Occupational stress indictor (Cooper et al 1998) is a self report questionnaire used to measure the perceived stress of an employee + measures other factors such as social support/type A behaviour/coping strategies
  •   Outcome is a profile of the individual/degree of stress/organisation
  •   Finings are then used to create strategies that reduce the negative effects of stress on the individual’s health and on organisation (absenteeism/lowered productivity)-stress management programmes or changes to the way the organisation is structured and managed
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Personality Factors:

  • Type A behavior (TAB): Behavior pattern characterized by time pressure, competitiveness and hostility. Suggested that high levels of TAB increase vulnerability to CHD. Conecept evolved by Friedman and Roseman
  •   Type A personality is 2x as likely to develop CHD as type B- These characteristics cause the SAM and HPA response that in the long term, leads to raised heart rate and blood pressure, as well as a heightened level of stress hormones (adrenaline, noradrenalin, and cortisol) which are all heavily associated with illness. Type As are associated with an increase in the chance of coronary heart disease and stroke.

Behaviour Pattern Examples:

  • Time pressure: Work till deadlines/unhappy doing nothing/multi-tasks
  • Competitive:  Orientated towards achievement/plays to win
  • Hostility Easily irritated + impatient with co-workers/anger can be directed inwards 
  • A type B behaviour was also found-exact opposite of TAP I.e. not competitive/relaxed/not 
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Rosenman et al (1976)

  • Procedure: Studied 3,154 middle aged men on the west coats of US-categorised as either type B or A by a structured interview
  •    Interviewer noted behaviours-such as tapping of fingers/restlessness and pace of talking
  • Answers and behaviour put together in an overall assessment of TAB
  • Findings: Followed up for 8.5 years- found that 257 heart attacks occurred ,69% of which were in the type A category (significant as lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking were controlled)
  • Conclusion: high TAB individuals are more vulnerable to CHD
  • Evaluation:
  • only a correlation cannot conclude that if an individual has heart disease, it is because ‘they are type A” or another gcator such as genetics.
  • There may have been events or changes over the 8.5 years which may have played a part.
  • Self-report measures -socially desirable answers it makes the findings unreliable.
  • Observations were also used, which can lead to unreliability as behaviour is interpreted differently. 
  • Androcentric sample: as only men were used and therefore we cannot generalise to females (although at the time of the study, men were known to be more likely to suffer from heart disease).
  • Ethnocentric (culture-biased) as only men from west coast were used and so it may only represent Western cultures, or merely the USA-sample lacks population validity.
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  • Shekelle et al (1985)- 12,000 male ppts took part in a self report questionnaire and structured interview looking at TAB- found that over 7 years there was no difference in the no. of heart disease between TAP and TBP
  • Matthews and Haines (1986) – suggest that only half of the studies looking at TAB and CHD find a significant link
  • Hostility:*Booth-Kewley and Friedmand (1987) did a meta analysis and concluded that the component of hostility and other negative emotions link TAB to CHD
  • *Dembroski et al (1989) found that higher levels of hostility was more strongly linked to CHD than TAB score
  • *Miller et al (1996) did a meta-review identified hostility as a risk factor, independent of TAB

 Hardiness: a personality type described by Kosaba, consisting of high control, commitment and challenge. Evidence suggests high levels of hardiness protect against the negative effects of stress

  •   Control: idea you can influence events in your life
  •  Commitment: sense of involvement and purpose in life
  •   Challenge: change sin life should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a source of stress
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Kobasa devised a questionnaire to assess the control, commitment and challenge-high scores on these dimensions correlated with fewer stress related symptoms-mainly done on white middle class males- it may lack population validity

·       However it was supported by Beasley et al.(2003) –investigate the effects of life stress in university students. Students who’s cored higher in the hardiness scale showed reduce levels of psychological distress

·       People who score highly on the TAB have high levels of competitiveness and are very achievement orientated-may be argued that they are showing commitment and challenge which is a factor of hardiness-could conclude that TAB does also contain aspects of hardiness

·       Therefore TAB is made up of patterns of which some increase and decrease resistance to stress.

·       This mixed pattern can be used to explain why results of studies linking TAB to CHD vary and are inconsistent

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Other personality types

 Denollet (2000) proposed D personality, which stand for distress-experience high levels of negative emotions and social inhibition .

Denollet et al. and Denollet and van Heck (1996 and 2001) shown that high levels of negative emotions combined with social inhibition are associate with increased heart disease

 Evaluation of personality factors:

  •     Assumes that personality tyoe is an influeneciing factor in stress –difficult to demonstrate consistently
  •       Other factors could influence the results-high levels of hostility or anger is associated with smoking or drinking and other dysfunctional lifestyles. May also lead to an social isolation –therefore it does not necessarily mean that hostility or social isolation is caused by personality
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Coping with stress

 Measuring how we cope with stress:

  • Cope scale:  (Carver et al. 1989) questionnaire used to assess a individuals coping strategies-provides ratings on 15 different strategies e.g. denial/turning to religion/humor/active coping/using emotional support/turning to alcohol

Distinction between emotion focused and problem focused approaches

  • Roth and Coehn (1986):
  •  Approach (coping with stress by tackling the situation directly. More adaptive with long term stressors)
  •  Avoidant coping (coping with stress by denying the significance if the situation and pretending they don’t exist
  •  Problem focused coping: coping style that tries to target the cause of stress in practical ways that directly reduce the impact of the stressor
  •  Reducing the demands of the stressor by active coping e.g. systematically planning revision schedule for an exam
  •  Improving your coping resources e.g. using aa social support network
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·       Emotion focused coping: coping style that targets that targets the emotional impact of stressors-strategies include denial/seeking support from

v  Cognitive emotion-focused coping –denial of severity of an illness/distraction

v  Behavioral emotion-focused coping e.g. becoming angry/drinking/smoking/seeking emotional support from friends

 What coping strategies the individual uses depends on the individuals appraisal of the demands and coping resources- they can be used simultaneously and or switch

  •  Carver et al. (1993) found that emotion focused strategy of denial led to better adjustment in women with breast cancer.
  • De boer et al. (1999) Emotional social support been found to help in coping with cancer 
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Factors that affect coping response

  • Stressor: Vitaliano et al. (1990):problem focused coping used more often with work problems. Emotion-focused coping was used in personal relationships
  • Whether the stressor is controllable or not: Lazarus and Folman (1987):people use problem focused coping when they see a situation as controllable and emotion focused when they perceive it as out of their control
  • Gender (although research is not consistent): Stone and Neale (1984) women use more motion focused and men more problem focused. Hamilton and Fagot (1988) found no differences between genders in copying style
  • Age – the younger you are, the less effective a problem-focused approach will be for you. Lee (2006) found that children who needed blood tests were less stressed if they were distracted (an emotion focused approach) by given a toy to play with whilst their blood was taken than if there were no distractions. This also suggests that uncontrollable events need an emotion-focused approach, as well as if you are a child. Children are not as mentally developed to come up with practical, active solutions to a stressor.
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Consistent use of coping styles

Tennan et al (2000): studied daily coping styles in patients with chronic pain

  • Procedure: (longitudinal). Every day ppts completed a copying style questionnaire and assessed their level of pain
  • Results: individual patients used different strategies simultaneously: EFS were use 4.4 times more on days when PFS were used than on dyas when PFS was not used.Success or failure of a given strategy played a role- an increase in pain associated with problem-focused coping would be followed the next day by an increase in emotion focused coping
  • Conclusion: the different styles of coping are not therefore independent but interact and we constantly assess the success and failures of particular strategy and then modify our own  coping techniques
  • We tend to try our preferred method first but we are able to change our approach on the basis of success and failure
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Consistent use of coping styles

Tennan et al (2000): studied daily coping styles in patients with chronic pain

  • Procedure: (longitudinal). Every day ppts completed a copying style questionnaire and assessed their level of pain
  • Results: individual patients used different strategies simultaneously: EFS were use 4.4 times more on days when PFS were used than on dyas when PFS was not used.Success or failure of a given strategy played a role- an increase in pain associated with problem-focused coping would be followed the next day by an increase in emotion focused coping
  • Conclusion: the different styles of coping are not therefore independent but interact and we constantly assess the success and failures of particular strategy and then modify our own  coping techniques
  • We tend to try our preferred method first but we are able to change our approach on the basis of success and failure
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Psychological and Physiological methods of stress management :Cognitive Behavioral therapy(therapeutic approach to stress and psychological disorders that aims to alter  irrational thoughts and cognitive biases that are assumed to be caused by the problem )  

  •  Stress Inoculation Therapy: Meichenbaum ( a CBT approach to managing the negative effects of stress) Designed to prepare people for future stressors by making them resilient to these.
  • Conceptualisation relationship is established between the therapist and the client (trust formed). Work together of identify sources of stress in their life. The client mentally relives stressful situations, analyzing how s/he normally deals with them and tries to reach a realistic understanding of what is expected of them.
  •   Skills training and practice – This is where the client is taught both specific and non-specific coping strategies to help him/her cope with stressors more effectively. Examples of ­non-specific strategies are relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. specific coping skills will be taught so the client can deal with a particular thing that causes them stress. (For example, a specific skill for exam revision may be to know the specification for the exam in great detail, learning time management skills etc). These skills are practiced until the client has mastered them and can use them confidently.
  • Real life application & Follow up –client must put the skills they have learnt to use in their lives. Continued monitoring of success and failure of techniques. The client should learn by reflecting on success and failure of new skills. If necessary there may be more opportunities for further training and rehearsal
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Psychological and Physiological methods of stress management :Cognitive Behavioral therapy(therapeutic approach to stress and psychological disorders that aims to alter  irrational thoughts and cognitive biases that are assumed to be caused by the problem )  

  •  Stress Inoculation Therapy: Meichenbaum ( a CBT approach to managing the negative effects of stress) Designed to prepare people for future stressors by making them resilient to these.
  • Conceptualisation relationship is established between the therapist and the client (trust formed). Work together of identify sources of stress in their life. The client mentally relives stressful situations, analyzing how s/he normally deals with them and tries to reach a realistic understanding of what is expected of them.
  •   Skills training and practice – This is where the client is taught both specific and non-specific coping strategies to help him/her cope with stressors more effectively. Examples of ­non-specific strategies are relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. specific coping skills will be taught so the client can deal with a particular thing that causes them stress. (For example, a specific skill for exam revision may be to know the specification for the exam in great detail, learning time management skills etc). These skills are practiced until the client has mastered them and can use them confidently.
  • Real life application & Follow up –client must put the skills they have learnt to use in their lives. Continued monitoring of success and failure of techniques. The client should learn by reflecting on success and failure of new skills. If necessary there may be more opportunities for further training and rehearsal
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Evaluation of SIT:

  •  An advantage of SIT is that it deals with the underlying causes of a person’s stress rather than dealing with the symptoms alone- more useful than drugs as the person understands the causes of their stress and how to prevent it
  •    long-term, long-lasting solution – the techniques and skills the individual learns in SIT stay with them for life and can apply it to any stressor – it gives an individual the ability to control their stress in the present and future whereas with drugs once you stop taking them, the stress returns.
  •   SIT is extremely flexible in that it can be adapted to deal with acute and chronic stressors – a wide variety –      the effectiveness of SIT is supported by research-scientific credibility. 
  •  Berger(2000):found to be effective  in managing stress of examinations in students
  •  Meichenbaum(1985): found to be a successful treatment for people with snake phobias
  •   Requires a large deal of time, effort, motivation and money on the patient’s part – the therapy will only work if the patient is determined to cure their stress.
  •  Not possible for SIT to work for all clients – it is difficult to change aspects of one’s personality or their ways of thinking – this can be problematic as some people will always react badly to stressors and the therapy may even make them worse.
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Kobasa’s Hardiness training ( form of CBT – A programme to increase people levels of hardiness and so improve their ability to deal with stress)

  • Focusing: therapist encourages client to focu on the psychological symptoms associated with stressful situations-helps to identify sources of stress. Therapist also help to acquire new sills and strategies to cope with stress
  •   Reconstructing stressful situations: client encouraged to think about recent stressful situations (how they may have turned out better or worse)-allows a realistic appraisal of life stress and how to cope with it. Realizing that things could be worse may make the client more positive
  • Self improvement: improve client self-efficacy ( sense of personal effectiveness and control over ones life) may mean taking on a manageable  amount of stress
  • Evaluation:    Deals with the underlying causes of a person’s stress rather than dealing with the symptoms alone. For this reason, they are more useful than drugs as the person feels in control over their stressors which can be extremely empowering as they are not passive to their stress./The skills can be adapted to cope with any stressor and has a long term effect./Provides client with increase self-efficacy helping with future stressful situations
  •    Requires a large deal of time, effort, motivation and money on the patient’s part – the therapy will only work if the patient is determined to cure their stress.
  •   Predominantly successful with white, middle-class, business men, meaning its success or effectiveness is limited as it may not work with others.
  •   Impossible to change basic aspects of one’s personality – therefore despite this therapy, some people may always be susceptible to stress and it may even make them worse.
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Physiological methods of stress management

Drugs:Benzodiazepines Effective anti-anxiety and stress drugs (antxiolytics)– e.g. valium and Librium.INCREASE action of neurotransmitter GABA (reduces the activeity of other neurotransmitter pathways throughout the brain -make a person feel relaxed Benzodiazepines bind to GABA receptors in the brain, boosting their action- brain’s release of stress inducing chemicals is reduced, making an individual feel calmer.

  • Evalutaion: Very quick in relation to some therapies- guaranteed to immediately reduce stress, as they literally prevent the stress response occurring. This is reassuring to a patient as they are sure it will work./Effective is supported by scientific research/ Effortless for the patient to take – it is an easy, quick and economical method – the only thing the patient must do is simply take a tablet./Cheaper than therapies and definitely works where as therapy might not work./Benzodiazepines are especially good when dealing with short-term stressor -help manage their initial stress.
  •   Serious side effects, including sedation, tiredness, motor coordination impairment, memory impairment, reduced concentration and lack of energy -not used as a long-term solution. (Unethical)
  •   Dependency– they can cause dependency and some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if taken for too long, such as insomnia, sweating, tremors and convulsions./These also ­cure symptoms rather than treat the cause. They do not deal with the underlying problems-these drugs are best used in combination with therapies. / Ethical issues may also be an issue as patients should be informed of all side effects and give full consent – some would argue by supplying this drug, you are putting the patient at risk to harm. /People with severe stress related anxiety would not be fully competent to give their informed consent
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Beta Blockers: drugs used in the treatment of bodily arousal associated with stress. They act directly on the cardiovascular system of the body rather than the brain: Propranolol and Adprenolol.

  • Reduce the activation of the CVS by sympathetic fibers of the autonomic nervous system, Directly reduce increases in HR and BP that are associated with stressful situations and also in the management of chronic hypertensio
  • Evaluation
  • Act rapidly – they are quicker, more effective and cheaper than therapies.
  • They also have a life saving function to those suffering of hypertension (high blood pressure) in that they reduce blood pressure, preventing stroke. J
  •   Better than Benzodiazepines in the sense that there are no serious side effects
  • They act on the body rather than the brain and so there are no problems of dependency or addiction.
  • Target physiological response rather then targeting the sources of stress- Inappropriate for long term use
  •  Beta-blockers also ­cure symptoms rather than treat the cause. They do not deal with the underlying problems; if you were to stop taking the drug, your stressful symptoms would surely return. They are best used in combination with therapies.
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Alternative methods of stress management

1. Biofeedback: combines both physiological and psychological techniques. The ppt is wired up to machines that provide feedback on their physiological progress e.g. a heart rate monitor. Ppt helped to then develop techniques to reduce physical arousal such as progressive muscle relaxation or calm breathing- they are able to witness the success of this and then are able to apply to real life stressors.


  •   Attanasio et al (1985): biofeedback is effective in controlling HR and in treatment of headaches caused by muscle tension(especially effective in children probably due toe exciting machinery
  • Meuret et al. 2004): biofeedback on breathing patterns has been found to  be effective in individuals with panic disorders-biofeedback helps to maintain steady breathing.
  •  Masters et al. (1987)if it involves relation ( a stress management it self )  can be argued that it is no more effective than relaxation techniques used in their own
  •  Harmless and no side effects-does require motivation and commitment
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1.     Progressive Muscle relaxation and meditation:

  • PMR- Jacobson ( 1938) Muscle are alternatively relaxed and tensed in a systematic fashion- beginning with toes and working upwards. With practice the individual should be able to achieve a state relaxation without going through the whole procedure. Along with CBT it may give the individual an increased sense of control over stressful situation
  • Meditation: focusing away form the immediate stressful situation and focusing on a neutral or relaxing stimulus .May be helped by a mantra (word or phrase) and steady deep breathing
  • Murphy (1996) shows that meditation can be effective in workplace stress management leading to reductions in blood pressure and anxiety.
  • Evaluation:
  •   Reduce arousal associated with stress
  •       Increased sense of control over stressful situation
  •  Extremely useful in combination with more systematic and focused methods
  • Neither techniques target the source of stress or provide specific skills for dealing with it
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1.     Physical exercise: Physical exercise may help to burn extra reserves of glucose and fatty acid brought by a stress response-prevents stress related illnesses.

  • Evidence has shown that regular exercise reduces resting HR and BP- so even though stress related increases may occur they are starting from a lower level and should not be as harmful.
  •   Biddle et al. (2000) exercise can lower levels of stressand have positive effects on mood.
  •     Throne et al (2000) regular exercise reduced stress in ifre fighters
  •      Mutrie (2000) exercise makes people feel better and can lead to reductions in clinical states such as depression
  •   Positive effects of exercise on mood may indirectly help in coping with stress
  • Effect of taking control over life and exerting positive action may increase self efficacy
  •    Enkephalins(neurotransmitters in brain involve din in emotion circuit-may be associated with mood improvements
  • Evaluation:
  • Lower resting HR and BP may not affect physiological reactivity to stress
  •    Positive effects on raising mood
  • ·       Reduced levels of stress and depression
  •   Some risk of injury
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4.    Social support: the network of friends, family and co-workers on whom rely in times of stress

  •   Emotional Support: social network shows concern for your situation and provides reassurance
  •  Practical or instrumental support: support group may provide practical advice or help e.g. lending you money
  •    Informational support: source of valuable advice on how to deal with a particular stressor. Some of group may have been through a similar situation
  •   General network support: being part of a network provides a sense of belonging, social identity and improve self-esteem
  • Evidence:
  • Vogt et al. (1992):mortality form heart disease has been shown to be closely rlated with to social network
  • Constable and Russell (1996):social support in the workplace  reduces job related stress
  • Uchino,Cacioppro and Kiecolt-Glaser (1996): meta review and concluded:28 diff. studies degrees of social support showed a consistent relationship with reduced blood pressure.19 studies significant association with level of social support and immune function
  • Kamarck et al (1998): lab exp. HR and BP during a difficult arithmetic task were lower in women with a companion than those who did it alone
  • Cohen et al (1997): vulnerability to a cold was greatest in ppts who reported having fewer social roles, hence smaller social support networks
  • Allen et al. (2002: presence of a pet lowered HR during performance of stressful tests
  • Watson et al (1998):social isolation in monkeys leads to increase in HR and BP eventually to CHD
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Social Influence: Conformity

Key words:

  •    Conformity: the tendency to change our behavior or attitudes in response to the influence of others or social pressure. This pressure can be real or imagined
  •  Norm: an unwritten rule about how to behave in a social group or situation that membranes accept as correct
  •   Majority Influence: takes place when a person changes their attitudes, beliefs or actions in order to fit in with a larger group- e.g. following a fashion trend that you don’t really like.
  • Confederates: ‘non-participant ‘ working for the experimenter who has been briefed to answer in a particular way. The real participant simply believes the confederate to another naïve ppt.
  •  Minority influence: takes place when an individual or small group of people influence the majority or a larger group to change their attitudes, behaviors or beliefs towards an issue
  •   Referent informational influence: the pressure to conform with the norms set by a group because we have defined ourselves as a member of that group
  •    Meta contrast principle: the tendency for group members to see strong similarities between themselves and other members of their group and to see large differences with other social groups.
  •   Auot kinetic effect: an optical illusion in which a stationary spot of light in a dark room appears to move
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Sherif (1936) auto kinetic effect: To discover the effect on judgment off listening to other people.

  •   Procedure: placed PPTS individually in a dark room and asked to focus on the single spot of light (the light appeared to move) PPT asked to estimate how far they believed the spot of light had moved and in what direction (ambiguous task as the light does not move at all) .Then placed in groups of 3 and asked to compete the same taak-groups comprised of PPTS whose estimates varied quite a lot.
  •  Findings: Initial condition-PPts gave directions and distances that varied quite dramatically form each other .In the second condition it was found that individuals change their views and converged or agreed on similar views. By the 3rd trial group members produced very similar answers
  •  Conclusion: concluded that a group norm was established
  •  Evaluation:  Lacks eco validity – it was done in a laboratory situation under circumstances that they were not familiar with and with strangers may have been more likely to conform because they were trying to impress strangers/ Very old study – 1935 – outdated – back then people couldn’t have own opinion, more obliged to conform with society so they would be more likely to conform to the experiment/Demand characteristics/leading question- ppt may feel like they have to give an answer/ambiguous situation
  • Roher et al(1954)- re trailed Sheriffs exp. And found that group norms found in this exp. Remained, so that even when ppt were re-tested a year later they continued to revert to group norm answers rather than their own.This shows the power of the group to influence the behavior even when group no longer exists
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Types of Conformity: Kelman

  •  Compliance: (superficial) where a person publicly accepts the views of a group but privately rejects them – e.g. like laughing at a joke simply because everyone else is even though you don’t find it funny. It also used to describe the process of going along with the requests of another person while disagreeing with them because it easier
  •  Identification: individual exposed to the views of others and changes their views publically and privately in order to fit with them. Conforming to a social role- e.g. joining the police changes –the individual changes views and beliefs in order to fit in. Change behavior and belief may only be temporary
  •      Internalization (conversion): (deepest level of conformity) when the views of a group are internalized on a deep and permanent level and they become the individuals own way of viewing the world and cognitive system.  E.g. Becoming a vegetarian


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Asch (1951)-believed conformity to be rational process in which people work out how to behave by examining others

  • Aim:  To investigate whether people could be influenced by other people’s opinions to give an answer they knew to be wrong. In this way it would be possible to see if people were conforming. 
  • Procedure: 123 male students asked to take part in a ‘visual task’.Placed in groups of 7-9 seated around a large table. Ppts were shown sets of four lines. For each set the ppt had to say whether line A, B or C was the same length as the test line. When tested alone, the ppts rarely made a mistake (error rate of less than 1%). However, ppts also had to give their answers as part of a group. Confederates were instructed to give the same wrong answer 12/18 trials -6 trials gave the answer for the longer line/ 6 trials gave the answer for the short line. PPt seated 2nd to last or last so they exposed to the same wrong answer repeatedly before giving their own view.
  • Results: Overall conformity rate: 37%/  Large individual differences in the extent to which the ppts conformed : 5%  (1/20) conformed on every trial/ Completely independent: 25% (1/4)
  • After study ppts asked why the answered what they did- some believed their perception of the lines may have been inaccurate/some knew the answer was wrong but conformed to fit in
  •   PPTs become self conscious/anxious/stressed on answering the question as trials progress
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Evaluation of Asch:

  • Highly controlled lab exp-lacks ecological validity
  • Complex social situation reduced to its basic elements in a lab.
  • Artificial groups- among strangers –lacks validity as in real life conformity takes place more prominently in groups that have lasting ties.
  • 1950’s-child of its time in America – high conformity rates
  •  Used only male American students- unable to generalize the results to the rest of the population
  • Informed consent did not take place –PPTS were decived
  • PPTS experienced distress and mild discomfort-right to withdraw
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Social Influence: Conformity

Minority Influence:


  •  Suffragettes changing the law for British women voting
  •        Gay rights campaigners won the right to civil partnership for gay couples

Moscovici (1969)

  •    6 ppts ( out of 6 ,4 were naïve ppts)
  •   Shown 36 slides of blue –all different shades and asked to name the color
  •  Condition 1 (consistent): the confederates said all the slides were green- 8% of PPTS moved to minorities’ position.
  • 2nd Condition (inconsistent) confederates called 24/36 slides green-minority positioning  of ppts moved to 1.25%
  •    Conclusion: in order for minorities to exert influence they must be consistent
  •  Lacks ecological validity-done in lab conditions using artificial stimulus/group of strangers
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Clark (1998/99) 12 angry men -INTERNALIZTAION

  • Uses the film 12 angry film-ppts asked t play the role of the jurors and to decide whether the man was innocent or guilty-Tested if the minority could influence though info presented and the persuasive nature of the minority and also if the minority could influence majority through changes in behavior –seeing other people change their own view can be powerful
  •  Used 220 psychology student- 129 women +91 men given a booklet with summary of the plot (booklet contained evidence for the defendants guilt –that he had purchased and sued a rare knife from local store + that he had been seen by 2 eye witnesses -Clark varied whether ppts got info or not.
  • Found that the minority juror could only change the majority if there were counter arguments backed up by evidence –if no evidence was presented the majority did not change- supports his claim that the info given by minority is important.
  •  In his second study he focused on behavior of minority-ppts given booklet containing the main counter arguments by the minority juror- that he (henry Forda) was bale to produce the same rare knife +that the old man could not have seen nor heard the defendant due to his age and disabilities he would not have been able to reach the window + women could not have seen the defendant due to her bad eye sigh
  • Presented ppts with a range of defectors( people changing their position) from 1-6.
  • Clark asked ppts to use a 9 point scale to give opinion whether man was guilty-if they heard that 4 or 7 jurors had changed their position they did too to not guilty ( 7 had no more influence then 4 known as a ceiling influence)
  •  Supports Clarks claim that minorities can influence majorities to change behavior through changing their own behavior
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Social Influence: Conformity

Evaluation of clark:

  • simulates a real-life occurrence – a trail – and so it does represent conformity in a real-life setting and so is higher in ecological validity and mundane realism than Asch’s study.
  •  Also, this study has provided us with essential knowledge about the nature of persuasion and given us a deeper understanding of jury-decision making.
  • A weakness of this study is that the sample is limited – they are all Psychology students so we cannot generalize to other groups and so lacks population validity.
  •   It can also be seen to be lacking slightly in mundane realism, as the trials were all fake- role play


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·       Zimbardo’ (1971) standford prison exp.

·       Method:  24 Male students  who volunteeredwere recruited to act as either guards or prisoners in a mock prison. Randomly assigned their roles, and behaviour was observed. Arrested at home, given uniforms and numbers. Guards wore uniforms and mirrored sunglasses to avoid emotion being involved.

·        Results:  Initially, guards asserted authority and prisoners resisted by sticking together. The prisoners then became more passive and obedient, while the guards invented nastier punishments and it was eventually abandoned early due to distress. Guards and prisoners adopted their social roles quickly, Zimbardo claims our ‘social role can affect our behavior’. Seemingly well balanced men became unpleasant and aggressive.

·       Evaluation: Good control of variables. Can’t be generalized to real life situations. Distressing, so ethics is a big factor. Problem with observer bias, as Zimbardo participated, and later admitted he became to personally involved in it. Doesn’t take individual differences into account, not all ppts behaved the same.

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Reicher and Haslam – The BBC Prison StudyRecreated similar to Zimbardo’s.

  • Method: Controlled observation in a mock prison, filmed for TV. The ppts were 15 males volunteers who responded to an advert. They were randomly assigned to 2 groups of 5 guards and 10 prisoners. They had daily tests to measure levels of depression, compliance and stress. The prisoners knew that one of them, chosen at random, would become a guard after 3 days. An independent ethics committee had the power to stop the experiment at any time in order to protect the ppts. 
  • Results:  the guards failed to forma  united group and identify with their role. They didn’t always exercise their power and said they felt uncomfortable with the inequality of the situation. In the first 3 days, the prisoners tried to act in a way that would get them promoted to guard status. After one got promoted, they bcame a much stronger group as they knew they had no more chances. The unequal system collapsed due to the unwillingness of the guards and the strength of the prisoner group. On day 6, the prisoners rebelled and the ppts decided to live in a democracy, but this is also collapsed due to tensions within the group. Some of the former prisoners then wanted to set up a strict regime with them as leaders. The study was abandoned early on the advice of the ethics committee, due to stress.Suggests roles are flexible.
  • Evaluation: Contrasts Zimbardo’s findings. It’s possible that these guards were not as empowered as Zimbardo’s, who were actively encouraged to maintain order. This has been criticised for being made for TV, many people including Zimbardo argued that elements of it were staged and ppts played up to the cameras. Ethics were good, they were debriefed also and offered counselling afterwards.
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Factors affecting conformity

 Size of the majority: Number of confederates: low no. of confederate leads to a minor change in conformity (1-1 confederate- participant ) =3% change in view of real ppt (Ash)

  •  3 confederates -33% -not much increase after this.(Ash)
  •  When Ash had one confederate to agree with real ppt the conformity rate dropped dramatically- suggesting people are able to remain independent in a group situation when given a small amount of support
  •  Stang 1976 – conformity seems to be at it’s maximum with 3-5 person majority

   The importance of time :Asch criticized for being a child of its time -1950’s America experienced great conformity

  •   Perrin and Spenser(1981) repeated the study of Asch using 33 male students participants . They found that only 1/396 trials conformed – suggesting conformity was much lower in 1981 than Asch had found in 1950.
  • .When they repeated the study on probation officers and juvenile youths, they found that the youth conformed with their probation officers, this might prove that the conformity levels rise more when people are in the presence of someone who could potentially have authority over them and have a negative impact on their lives.
  •  16 young, unemployed West Indian men  with a mean age of 19 –found high rates of conformity when placed in a majority group of white (time when racial equality not well established ) –white men potentially have authority? The young men are the minority group may feel threatened and conform due to fear
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  Findings strongly support the idea that we cannot generalize rates of conformity

  •     Lalancette (1990) conducted a modified trial of Asch’s exp. Where the answer was less obvious an found no evidence of conformity- concluded that Asch’s conformity rate was an ‘unpredictable phenomenon, not a stable tendency of human behvaiur’

  The importance of place and culture

  •     Smith and Bond (1993) carries out a meta analyses using Asch’s study across many cultures. Found that conformity was highest in Fiji (58%) /lowest rate was found in Belgium (14%).This could be due to the individualistic and collectivist nature of different culture. So they compared the difference in these cultures and found that conformity rates in collectivist cultures were 37.1 % and individualistic was 25.3%- suggest that characteristics of a culture are valued and encouraged as children are brought up may be a significant indictor of how much people are wiling to conform

  Importance of modern technologies

  • Crutchfiled suggested that conformity rates drop if we are unable to see each other (invisible majority)
  •   Cinirella and Green (2005) investigated cross cultural differences in conformity comparing face to face communication and computer mediated- found the expected cultural  in differences f2f communications –conformity higher in collectivist however there was no cultural differences in computer mediated communication implying conformity is less likely when we are unable to see each other



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Reasons for conformity 

Deutsch and Gerald (1955)

Dual-process dependency model

  •  Normative social influence: Result of wanting to be aliked and part of group by following social norms. (compliance).Allows a person to behave like the majority without accepting their point of view.
  •   Informational social influence: Result of wanting to be right, so you look to others for the answer.Likely when the situation is ambiguous.Also when there is a crisis- i.e. rapid action needed.  (Internalization)


  • Does not acknowledge the importance of belonging to a group
  • Sees conformity as a rational conscious choice
  • Studies have shown that conformity can perist long after the group no longer exists
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Social Impact Theory

Developed by Latane and Wolfe in 1981, this theory attempts to explain why one may conform in one situation but not in another. According to this, it depends on three factors:

1)     Strength – the more important someone is to a person, the more they will influence them. For example, if all your closest friends are doing something (I don’t know what), you’d be more likely to act the way they do then if you saw some people in the street.

2)     Immediacy – the psychological, social or even physical distance between the influencer and the person. For example, if unfamiliar people were looking directly at you whilst asking your opinion, you’d be more influenced to go along with their opinion because you may feel more influence.

3)     Number – the more people they are, the more influence they exert. Although there is little difference between 95 and 100

  • negative accelerating positive function: as the no. of people increase, the impact made by each person gets less and less-Hogg and Vaughn example: switching on a light in a dark room has a dramatic effect, switching on another light bulb has a lesser effect
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·       Hart,Stasson and Karau (1999) measured the impact of strength and immediacy on social influence.

·       Procedure: Place ppts in groups of 3 ( 2 naïve and 1 confederate who argued he minority position) asked to rate 40 university applicants. Immediacy manipulated: confederate placed 4 feet away (high immediacy) or 10 feet away (low immediacy) .strength manipulated by having confederate act as a student (low) or an expert (high)

·       Findings:  expert confederate had a bigger impact than student confederate but only in the low impact setting. No difference in importance of strength when the confederate was in the high impact stetting

·       Conclusion: it can be implied that immediacy is the most important factor in minority influence

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Tanford and Penrod’s (1986) social influence model

  • Agrees with social impact theory that minority influence increases a the size of minority increases –each addition of a minority adds less to the cumulative impact
  • Claimed a ceiling influence is said to be reached when there are 3 /4 defectors – 4 people in a minority will have the same amount of influence as 5 or 10
  •   Further defectors weaken the minority position

Social Identity Explanations( Hogg 2003/Hogg and Abrahams 1988)- looks at the importance of relationship and emotional ties with other group members

  • Referent informational influence: the pressure to conform to a group norms because we have defined ourselves as a group member
  • People classify themselves as belonging to a particular group – this self categorization leads to a sense of belonging and to see differences between their group and other groups
  •  Meta contrast principle: the tendency for group members to strong similarities between themselves and other members of their group and to see large differences between themselves and other groups
  •  Groups provide norms and rules to regulate behavior of members-norms internalized as standards about ways of behaving by members
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Hogg and Turner (1987): Asked for private responses to a conformity task(private responses remove the need for ppts to conform due to normative reasons as others cannot show disapproval.)

  • Findings: people only conformed when the majority consisted of member of their in group  -supports the idea that we conform with members of our own reference group

 Tajfel (1971) minimal group experiments

  •   Procedure: 14-15 aged teenage boys from Bristol randomly allocated to 2 groups on basis of preference for an artist. Played a game in which they were able to allocate points that could be exchange for money to their group or the opposing group
  • Findings: boys always choose to give more points to their own group even whne they could more points by allocating equal amounts
  •  Conclusion: Tajfel said there is a tendency to favor ones own group and discriminate against the out-group. Suggested that as well as having a personal identity we have a social identity. People define themselves by the social groups they belong to.
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Milgram (1963): To investigate whether people will obey to a person of authority if it means inflicting pain on another innocent stranger. 

  • Procedure: Remote learner experiment. Lab experiment at Yale university. 40 males took part, voluntarily, ad said ‘learning and memory’. They received payment for attending, and experimenter wore a lab coat. Each ppt was introduced to a confederate, and they randomly drew to decide who was learner and who was teacher, confederate was always learner. Strapped to a chair and connected to a shock generator. 15 volts to 450 volts (labelled ***). Level increased every time a wrong answer was given. At 330 volts, learner made no noise. Were told to continue every time they hesitated-given a series of verbal prods. Debriefing included interviews, questionnaires and being reunited with the learner. Before completeing the exp. Milligram asked variety of groups what they believed the ppts would go up to- psychiatrists predicted thet only 2.6 % of ppts would administer 240 volts 
  • Results: 65% administered the full 450volts. None stopped before 300volts (when protesting began). Most showed obvious signs of stress e.g. sweating and trembling. 35% of ppts managed to defy considerable amounts of pressure in the exp.
  •  Conclusion: ). He concluded that there seemed to be two reasons for obedience: a) the use of incremental increases (as the voltage increased in small steps, there was more reason to continue as what they just did seemed to have little difference to what they were about to do, similar to gradual commitment mentioned later) and b) the diffusion of responsibility (the experimenter assured the participant that they would take all blame if any harm were to come to the learner, similar to ‘the authority figure takes responsibility’
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Evaluation:: large amount of deception as participants had no idea of what was really going on and because of this, they were unable to give informed consent and may have been in the study against their will

  • Fully debriefed, but protection of participants’ guideline was heavily breached as many participants felt immense guilt, stress and worry and there was no protection from this.
  •  Ppt did not feel that they had the right to withdraw as they were told that “they must continue” when they protested - However, if participants objected repeatedly and strongly, they were allowed to stop.
  •   Breaches the “Confidentiality” agreement – the study was filmed and the data was publicly available. Another weakness of this study is the fact that they were all volunteers – the study aimed to get a wide range of participants, all from all walks of life, yet volunteers are unrepresentative – they may be more motivated as they went out of their way to be in the study. Therefore, it lacks population validity. L
  •  A lab experiment, there was high control and therefore it was an extremely artificial environment and so, the study lacks ecological validity and cannot be generalised to a real-life setting- counter criticised as it could be said that it was extremely believable as there were extreme physical reactions
  • There may be a higher chance of demand characteristics
  •  Extremely high control do to its lab experiment nature – this high control means it is extremely precise and great control was taken over extraneous variables so cause and effect can be proved.
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The ethics of obedience research:Baumarind (1964) and Rosnow(1981) critiqued Milgrams exp- people objected to not what he did but what he found

  • Ppts not fully informed about nature of exp- unable to give fully informed consent-milgram attempted to gain presumptive consent by asking the psychological community to predict findings of the study
  •  Deceived about the nature of the study-Very difficult for ppts to withdraw –ppts were able to accept or reject authority and it was possible to withdraw – 35% of ppts were abel to refuse
  • Extremely stressful situation as they believed they had seriously injured or killed another person- temp/perm psych damage-ppts provided with a thorough debriefing .Obedient ppts were told their behaviour was normal and that many others has disobeyed. Disobeying ppts were told their behaviour was desirable
  • Milgram sent out a questionnaire to 1000 ppts 92% took part
  •   84% were either gal dot very gald to have taken part
  •    74 % had leanrt something of perosnl importance
  • Also ppt was visited by a psychologist one year after exp. And found no evidence of psychological harm
  • Argued that this was just good luck- a study conducted by Dr Henry Murray into brain washing  by subjecting ppts to stress tests. One ppt was Theodore Kaczynski ( Unabomber) it was argued that it participating in the exp. That had caused Theodore psychological harm


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The validity of obedience research:Aronson and Carlsmith (1988) distinguished between experimental and mudnae realism

  • Experimental realism: where ppts fooled into believing the exp. Is real (internal validity)
  • Mundane realism: similarity of the exp. To real life (external or ecological validity)
  • Aronson and Carlsmith said Milgram is high in exp. realism but lower in mundane
  •   Orne and Holland said it lacks both internal and external validity – said that ppts did not believe shocks were real/pointed out that ppts should have asked why there was a need for a teacher at all and why the experimenter did not do it himself
  •     Milgram’s response:  ppts hsoed instense and extreme physiological reactions to the exp- Orne and Holland counter argued saying that they only did it to please he experimenter

The Obedience Alibi:David Mandel ( 1998) argued Milgrams research provides an alibi for those charged with war crimes as it implies that any ordinary person could commit terrible acts under social pressure

  • My Lai massacre- obedience alibi applied to Lieutenant William Calley- who said he was simply following orders
  •  Argentic state
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The consequences of situationalist perspective :Berkowitz (1999)argues that evil acts can be seen as largely as a consequence of the situation in which people are placed rather than acts of personal choice and responsibility.

 Factors affecting obedience:

  • The setting of the exp.: study was carried out at Yale or in a ‘seedy office block’ – it was found that obedience was lower in the office block (48% went to 450 volts) Milgram concluded that the prestige of Yale was a factor contributing to high levels of obedience
  • Reducing the power of the experimenter: reduced power of experimenter by instructing him to give orders over the phone to the teacher- decrease in obedience only 20% reached 450 volts. As well as this asked teachers to work together in pairs(one was a confederate who refused to tdo the exp.) found that 90% resisted and only 10% went to 450%
  •  Increasing the awareness of the plight of the victim: found that obedience is easier if the victim is relatively remote. Milgram altered the proximity of the teacher and the leaner. IN one variation the teacher and the learner were in the same room- obedience dropped/ in the same room and in order for leaner to receive shock he had to place his hand voluntarily on the shock plate. When refused the teacher was forced to place the learners hand on the plate- 30% still continued to 450 volts.
  •    Cultural variation:High rates of obedience found across Europe- 90% going to 450 volts in Spain and the Netherlands
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Hofling et al. (1966) investigate obedience specifically in a hospital setting.

  •  Procedure: 22 nurses in different hospitals were called by a bogus Doctor “ Dr Smith” told them to check for a fictional drug called ‘Astroten’ and then told them to administer 20mg of these drugs to patients. In doing this, several hospital rules would have been broken, namely that nurses shouldn’t take orders from an unknown doctor or over the phone/ the doage was 2x maximum dosage/fictional drug was not on the ward list
  •    Findings: 21 /22  obeyed the request and went to administer the drug -  stopped on their way and debriefed
  •   Conclusion: that people obey who they perceive as the authority figure regardless of previous rules.
  •      Evaluation: Rank and Jacobson (1977)
  •   Astroten was a fictional drug- decreases ecological validity
  • Order from unknown doctor would not normally occur
  •   Nurses phoned alone in the ward- in real situations nurses would be working with colleagues and able to discuss order given
  •  Nurses were deceived- ethical
  • Often nurses do this in real life so it is not an anomaly-  nurses argued nature of order was not unusual and it was expected to be obedient  
  • Rank and Jacobson (1978) redid the Hofling exp. With the criticism in mind- made 3 changes :Drug was replaced with a real drug called ‘Valium’ /Real named doctor who worked at the ward gave them the order by phone /Nurses were able to consult with each other /Under these conditions 1/18 obeyed the orders
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The power of Uniform :Bickman (1974)

  • Procedure: field experiment in New York City. Passers-by were asked to carry out orders by a stranger (usually to pick up rubbish, lend money or stand on the other side of bus stops). The stranger wore different outfits to test obedience (either casual clothes or the uniform of a security guard).
  • Findings: 92% of people obeyed the security guard when he asked them for money whilst only 49% of people complied when the researcher was in casual clothes.
  • Conclusion: more likely to obey those whom you perceive to be an authority figure (as you take their uniform to be proof that they are legitimate authority).
  • Evaluation:High ecological validity as it is a field experiment. It took place in a metropolitan, urban city and random people were asked, therefore making it possible to be generalised to other places and makes the reliability of the findings high. 
  • Field experiment nature, there is a lack of control so we do not know whether it was just the uniform (belief of legitimate authority) that made people obey the experimenter- could be many confounding variables such as proximity or age /gender
  • Ppts unaware they were in a exp. –ethical
  • Bushman (1988)- used Bickman’s method except he used a female confederate dressed either in a smart clothes or uniform. Confederate ordered ppts to give a small amount of change to a motorist for a parking meter. 70% complied when in uniform and only 58% when in smart clothes
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Jackson and Sedikides (1990)

Aim: attempt to test the predications of social impact theory in relation to compliance to an order

Procedure: examined the effects of strength and immediacy at zoo. 153 adults and 55 children approached by a confederate dressed as a zoo keeper (high strength) or as an ordinary visitor (low strength)-asked them not to lean on the exhibit. Behavior of ppts was observed immediate (high immediacy) with confederate still present and when the experimenter had walked away (low immediacy)

Findings: high strength/ immediacy condition produces more compliance than compared to the low strength/immediacy citation

Conclusion: a uniform can be a powerful indicator of social symbol of authority


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Situational Factors in obedience

  •  Legitimate Authority (Situational)Legitimate authority is the amount of social power that the one who gives the instruction holds. Examples include the person’s job, role, title, position and age.
  • This is seen in Milgram’s study as the power of the experimenter was heightened by the academic and prestigious surroundings of Yale, and so obedience levels were high. Bickman’s study also demonstrates this; 92% obeyed the man in uniform, whom they believed to have legitimate authority, which supports the idea that this is an important factor. Hofling showed this too, as the nurses obeyed the doctor as they believed him to have more power than him. These studies all support this explanation.
  • The Authority Figure Takes Responsibility (Situational: two states when it comes to obedience, the agentic and the autonomous states.
  •  we see ourselves as the agent or subordinate of others and so we do not take responsibility for our actions as we believe ourselves to be acting on behalf of someone else
  • The Autonomous state is where one chooses to voluntarily do something and we are aware of the consequences of our actions. These will be the people who give orders.
  •  If someone is to change from the autonomous state to the agentic state, it is called the agentic shift.
  •  seen in Milgram’s study where when participants were assured that they would receive no blame or responsibility if learners were to be harmed, they were happier to carry on with the shocking. It is also seen in Hofling’s study, whereas the nurses were acting under the ‘doctor’ rather than as individuals. These studies support this explanation.
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  • Agentic state: a state in which an individual carries out orders of another person acting as their agent with little personal responsibility
  •  Graduated Commitment (Situational) :  graduated commitment is being locked into obedience in small stages. Requests may start small or reasonable but quickly the next order/instruction will be slightly worse/stronger/bigger than the last but there seems to be little difference for the person so s/he obeys.
  • In terns of sales and marketing, it is known as the ‘foot in the door technique’ and this explanation has helped us understand how to manipulate to our advantage (I would phrase that better/would not use it at all).
  • Smith & Mackie  (2003) also argued that a similar process is used with criminals and murderers.
  • This is seen in Milgram’s experiment where participants started to give shocks of 15V and increased in steps of 15V up to 450V – it is conceivable that many people obeyed as what they had to do next was not different from what they just did. This also supports the explanation.
  •  it does not explain why some people are quicker to obey than others, suggesting that personality factors are also of importance. L
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The Authoritarian Personality (Personality)- a type of person who has extreme respect for authority and who is very obedient to those who have power over them: deep respect for authority and will be very obedient to those that have more power than them, and often show hostility to those of a lower rank.

  •  childhood must be taken into account - (he studied 2000 white middle-class Americans and interviewed them) – and found that they had had harsh upbringings and were very obedient (he used psychodynamic concepts that they may be stuck in one o f the psychosexual stages – their hostility towards their parents, in adulthood, is directed at others (other races, those of a lower rank etc)).
  •   developed the F-Scale to reveal an individual’s potential for fascism – it was found that people who had gone up to the full 450 volts in Milgram’s experiment also scored highly on the F-scal-This supports the authoritarian personality, but we must consider situational factors. L

Smith and Mackie 2000/ Cardwell 2001- factors that effect extreme obedience

  •  Context of inter-group hostility: e.g conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda –meta contrast principle
  • The importance of self-justification and blaming the victim: often to avoiod guilt individual wil blame the victim believing that they have deserved it. Allows individual to see themselves as a decent, responsible person- seen in milgram in which some ppts said the learner deserved such high shocks due to their stupidity
  •  Role of motivational factors: Cardwell ( 2001)  said Milgram’s research shows us noting about extreme obedience as it does not look at motivational factors e.g. personal gain/revenge- Nazi doctors and soldiers who stole from dead corpses
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Independent Behavior: takes place when the individual does not respond to group norms. Although they can see how others are behaving, they do not pay attention to it and are not influenced by it

·       Difference between anti conformity and independent behaviour: ant/counter conformity takes place in opposition to  rules or group norms e.g. a man growing his hair long if all others are wearing it short. The independent individual will notice what others are doing but is not affected by their actions are decisions

The role of situational factors in disobedience and non-conformity

·       Setting/environment

·       Proximity of victim

·       Physical contact with victim

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Gamson,Fireman and Rytina (1982) :to understand the extent of the influence that situational factors had on resistance to obedience and conformity. In other words, he wanted to see if participants would rebel against an unjust authority

  • Procedure: placed an ad in local papers (volunteer sample) invited citizens to come to a discussion about ‘standards of behaviours in the community’. groups of nine and then met a consultant from a fake company. The consultant said he was researching for an oil company that had sacked a petrol station manager (the reason for his firing was that his ‘lifestyle was offensive’ but he claimed it was because he had spoken about high petrol prices). Ppt were asked to take part in a filmed group discussion about this sacking. At times,  asked to argue in favour of the company and then were asked to sign a consent form stating that the film was allowed to be used in a court case.
  • Findings: Gamson found that 32 / 33 groups rebelled during the group discussion and 25 of the groups refused to sign the consent form. 9 groups threatened legal action against the company.
  • Conclusion:  Gamson concluded that to rebel against the authority, two norms needed to be challenged, the norms of obedience and commitment (both of which the participants had already agreed to by being in the study).
  • Evaluation:high mundane realism as participants believed this to be a real event and could well be a real life occurrence – it represents daily life. 
  •  due to its realistic nature, it is difficult to understand what factors caused the rebellious behaviour. LWe cannot prove whether it was solely situational factors that caused them, or whether it was due to the fact that they were volunteers (unrepresentative as more motivated or confident in their opinions and ideas and therefore are an atypical sample and lack population validity). L
  •  deception 
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Explanations of Independent Behaviour :Smith & Mackie (2000) 3 key factors which lead to disobedience in Gamson’s Study

  •   The importance of the group (Situational) :If a group of people all share a similar view, they can all join up against an authority figure to present an alternative way of thinking or behaving that they believe is better. It is easier to disobey or non-conform if there are others who agree with you rather than acting alone.
  •  Reactance (Situational) :The strength of someone’s response to something they do not believe is right, or an unfair restriction made upon them can encourage them to do the opposite. If someone is strongly against something, and they are asked to do something which they do not agree or instils negative emotion, they will not do it.
  • Systematic Processing (Situational) :If one person, or a group of people, are given time to think about something, for example, a point of view, an order or an instruction, they are less likely to blindly obey or conform as they have been given the time to contemplate the consequences of their action or what the best options would be.
  • Gamson’s study supports these three explanations and demonstrates the importance of situational factors of independent behaviour.
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Personality Characteristics

·       Crutchfield (1955) conformer tend to have lower self-esteem in comparison to non-conformers.Aslo they tended to be less intelligent and had a higher need for social approval

·       Oliner and Oliner (1988): compared 406 who had protected Jews form the Nazis and 126 who had not. Rescuers scored higher on measures of social responsibility and scores demonstrating an internal locus of control .Interviews mean answers can be unlimited and expanded upon, and has higher ecological validity as those interviewed are real examples of those who displayed independent behaviour. JJ

·       Locus of control: refers to the sense of control people have over their successes and failures and events in their lives. Measured on a scale. High internal locus of control refers to someone who feels their actions are largely their own choice .High external locus of control refers to people who see their actions as resulting largely from factors outside of their control such as luck or fate

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Locus of control (Personality)Rotter (1966),

  •   People with an external locus of control are more likely to obey/conform because they do not believe themselves to control what happens to them or their lives and therefore they may not take responsibility for the things they do or consider the consequences of their actions and maybe less independent.
  •    People with an internal locus of control are less likely to obey/conform because they believe they have control over their lives and therefore will take responsibility for the things they do, and take time to regard the consequences of their actions and be more independent.
  •  Rotter used questionnaires to determine locus of control and these question reliability and validity as people can give socially desirable answers although this is fast, convenient and sufficient.
  • Atgis (1988), Atgis carried out a meta-analysis and found that those with an external locus of control were more likely to conform. Correlation between locus of control and conformity was 0.37 –statistically significant
  • There are no ethical issues with this and shows us reliability of consistent findings. J
  •  Elms and Milgram (1974) found that participants who disobeyed in Milgram’s experiments had a strong sense of social responsibility and an internal locus of control as well.
  •  Williams and Warchel (1981)
  • 30 uni students given a range of conformity tasks based on Ash’s experimental paradigm  also each student assessed using Rotter’s scale. Found that those who conformed were less assertive but did not score differently on 
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Developing Independent behaviour:Nemeth and Chiles (1988)

  • Aim: to see if ppt can be influenced to become more independent
  • Procedure: similar method to Moscovici- 48 males exposed to 2 attempts to alter their views.1st part ppts placed in groups of 5( 4 naïve and 1 confederate) asked to judge a series of blue slides.4 conditions  using consistent and inconsistent confederates who called either all or some of the blue slide green.2nd part same ppt used and asked to carry out colour perception task using red slide- exposed to 4 confederates who called red slide orange
  • Findings: those who had been exposed to the minority in the 1st part were more likely to stand ground in 2nd part defying the power of the majority in the 2nd

 Improving group status through the process of social change

  •    Social change: range of strategies used by groups to improve their social status
  • Social change is when society adopts a new belief or behaviour as the norm (expected ways of behaving). Social influence can be used to bring about social change. Examples of social change include the suffragette movement.
  •  If the social identity or status of the group an individual belongs to is unsatisfactory and is seen by others in a negative light then they will try and change this through social change
  •  Hogg and Vaughan (2000): a lower status individual can improve their social identity by challenging the legitimacy of the higher status group’s position
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Social Influence: 3

Change occurs through this process:

  • 1. Social mobility( refers to an individual trying to leave their own social group to try and move into the higher social status e.g. poor young African boy who goes to uni becomes a role model/self interest)or social action ( involves trying to improve the status of the existing group to which the individual belongs to through social action e.g. used in cultures were group boundaries are inflexible in India where there is a caste system- used by groups members who have a string emotional connection to group) 
  • 2. Social Action can occur through social creativity or social competition: 
  • 3. Social Creativity : groups try to redefine their attributes to make them have a psotive value e.g the ‘black is beautiful campaign’ • Lemaine(1974) French boys attending summer camp took part in hut building competition – one group given inferior material- used social creativity ad created a beautiful garden around hut thus allowing them to win 
  • 4. Social Competition: direct competition with the powerful majority group and challenges the social conditions that disadvantage them. E.g. radical feminist groups and gay/lesbian organisations campaigning for equal rights 
  • Interrogation and false confession
    Kassin and Kiechel (1996) Procedure: college students asked to compete in pairs a reaction time test. Task: type letters on a keyboard at fast speed + warned not to touch the ALT key as the computer would crash. Computers were set to crash after a certain time and ppt accused of pressing ALT. Findings:69% were prepared to sign a confession document even though they had not touched the key.28% convinced themselves they had actually done it
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Social Influence: 3

Change occurs through this process:

  • 1. Social mobility( refers to an individual trying to leave their own social group to try and move into the higher social status e.g. poor young African boy who goes to uni becomes a role model/self interest)or social action ( involves trying to improve the status of the existing group to which the individual belongs to through social action e.g. used in cultures were group boundaries are inflexible in India where there is a caste system- used by groups members who have a string emotional connection to group) 
  • 2. Social Action can occur through social creativity or social competition: 
  • 3. Social Creativity : groups try to redefine their attributes to make them have a psotive value e.g the ‘black is beautiful campaign’ • Lemaine(1974) French boys attending summer camp took part in hut building competition – one group given inferior material- used social creativity ad created a beautiful garden around hut thus allowing them to win 
  • 4. Social Competition: direct competition with the powerful majority group and challenges the social conditions that disadvantage them. E.g. radical feminist groups and gay/lesbian organisations campaigning for equal rights 
  • Interrogation and false confession
    Kassin and Kiechel (1996) Procedure: college students asked to compete in pairs a reaction time test. Task: type letters on a keyboard at fast speed + warned not to touch the ALT key as the computer would crash. Computers were set to crash after a certain time and ppt accused of pressing ALT. Findings:69% were prepared to sign a confession document even though they had not touched the key.28% convinced themselves they had actually done it
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Social Influence: 3

Though reform:

·       Techniques used inn china from 1920s onwards

·       3 stage indoctrination

1.     Students join small discussion groups (10) and encouraged to discuss their on view+ given lecture on new ideologies

2.     Personal and emotional techniques used: pressure placed on students to adopt correct view – if not they were singled out and ridicules

3.      Students made to prepare a confession which was then read out to the group renouncing their old beliefs and embracing new ideologies

Similar techniques used on UN soldiers captured by Chinese- treated as students and survival depended on how well the convinced guards that they had embraced new ideologies- when over few choose to stay

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Social Influence: 3

What is needed for Social Change to happen

There are four points that may be necessary (though not all at once) for social change:

1)     Persuasive argument – this usually comes from a minority trying to win round a majority. In order for this to be successful, the minority have to be consistent and confident in what they are saying by providing their alternative viewpoint. This is supported by Clark’s study.

2)     Allies/Role-models/Defectors (people who think like us) – If one sees another change their mind, it can bring about a snowball effect if more and more people are brought round to someone’s way of thinking. If you see someone else change their opinions, it influences you to do the same. This is also supported by Clark’s study.

3)     Rejection of the existing legitimate authority figure – disobeying those whom you perceive to be incorrect. An example is Rosa Parks, who, in a time of segregation, refused to give up her seat because she was black. This is supported by Bickman’s research where people did obey whom they perceived to have legitimate authority but did not without uniform.

4)     Gradual Commitment – If you manage to convince people step by step, by taking small actions, it is easier for them to eventually come around completely. This technique has been used for evil in the past, such as for the Nazi party. This is supported by Milgram’s experiment.

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definitions of abnormality

Key words:

  •    Anti-psychiatry:  rejection of medical model of psychopathology. Instead proposing that people had problems with living rather than psychological disorders
  •  Psychosis: state in which the individual seems to have lost contact with reality. Individual does not have an insight into their condition.
  •    Schizophrenia: complex disorder in which some individuals may have hallucinations (hearing voices) and delusions –positive symptoms. Others become inactive and show little in the way of behavior or emotional responsiveness-negative symptoms.
  •   Obsessive-compulsive disorder: people have obsessive thoughts constantly running through their mind. Along with this they may develop compulsive behaviors e.g. frequent hand washing
  •  Psychopathy- psychological abnormalities or disorders
  • Thomas Szasz and Ronald Laing said there is no such thing as ‘abnormality’ only ‘problems with living’
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Deviation from social norms: Norms are expected ways of behaving (social norms allow for regulation of normal social behaviors) therefore any deviation from social norm may indicate abnormality.  E.g. Schizophrenia who reports hearing voices or a person with OCD


  •    Behavior that deviates from the social norm is not always a sign of abnormality- eccentricity for instance may involve avoiding cracks in the pavement but it is not psychopathology –context of behavior must be taken into account
  • Social norms reflect the beliefs of a society therefore they also have political dimensions- sex addiction may not be an addiction nor a compulsion but rather a personal choice and was labeled as a disorder in order to prevent sexual encounters in  some religious countries or earlier in time
  •   Social norms vary over time and culture –homosexuality was included as an abnormality but attitudes have changed and is no longer seen as a psychopathology
  •     Cultural relativity: therefore a deviation in one culture may not be seen as a deviation in another culture
  •    Another strong limitation is that with this definition, powerful groups can establish norms themselves and therefore decide who and what is abnormal – this definition can be used for social control. E.g. in Japan, some people have threatened to be detained if they do not work hard. L
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Failure to function adequately –focuses on everyday behavior of an individual: someone deviates form their normal social patterns it could be said they are failing to function adequately – e.g severe depression leads to apathy which may prevent the individual from even getting out of bed

  • Rosenham & Seligman( 1989) -Global Assessment of Functioning scale (GAF)
  •   Observer discomfort: the individual sees others behavior and it cause them some discomfort
  • Unpredictability: we rely on people having predictable behavior- someone who is FFA will be unpredictable/uncontrolled
  •   Irrationality: FFA is people who behave irrationally and are hard to understand
  •  Maladpativeness: behavior the interferes with an individuals daily routine

·       Limitations: Behavior that looks like FFA may actually represent normal behavior e.g not being able to hold a steady job may not reflect an abnormality but rather the current economic times

  • is very context dependent e.g. behavior such as starving yourself can be seen as FFA but political prisoners used to do it as part of their protest/People may not be able to recognize that they are functioning inadequately or that they have a problem (such as personality disorders). Therefore, someone else has to define them as abnormal, such as a doctor or a judge, and this may be controversial.
  •  Failure may be attributed to other things apart from abnormality, such as ethnicity. Immigrants, for example, may be under extreme stress as they have problems with language, cultural differences, prejudices and it not always abnormality or mental disorders that cause inadequate functioning./Cultural relativity
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Deviation from ideal mental health:Attempts to define a state of ideal mental health-deviations from this may mean abnormality

Jahoda’s (1958) characteristics of ideal mental health

  • Individual should be in touch with their own identity and feelings
  •  Should be resistant to stress
  • Should be focused on the future and self-actualization (refers to our motivation to achieve our full potential as individuals)
  •  Function autonomously ( ability to function independently, taking respnisbliti fomr one’s own actiosn), recognizing their own needs and with am accurate perception of reality
  •  Show empathy and understanding towards each other (Psychopathy – an apparent  lack of empathy(ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes and see the world form their perspective )  and understanding of others. Exploitation of others without remorse or guilt

Limitations:Characteristics listed by Jahodo are rooted in western culture- in non western collectivist cultures concepts such as self actualization and autonomy are not recognized

  • Does not say how many criteria are needed to be abnormal
  • Majority ot the population would deviate from some of the criteria – not everyone is abnormal
  •  idealistic and does always not apply – some people work better when they are stressed so it is not always destructive 
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  •  Agoraphobia: disorder where person is fearful of open spaces
  •  Paranoid delusions: thought disorder sometimes schizophrenia/personality disorders where the individual feels prosecuted by others around them

 Defining and classifying psychopathology: DSM-IVR and ICD-10

  •  Disease model:  psychological disorder can be seen as similar to a physical disorder. Each disorder has its own distinct symptoms and is separate from all others.
  • Syndrome: cluster of physical or psychological symptoms that regularly occur together is referred to as a specific syndrome
  • DSM-IVR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-used by psychiatrists to diagnose and classify disorders.
  • Global assessment of functioning: a scale used in the DSM-IVR system. It assesses the impact of the disorder in the individual life-elements of FFA definition.

 Defining abnormality uses the disease model with several elements:Abnormality is associated with certain signs or symptoms

  • Signs are symptoms reported together are referred to as a syndrome- e.g. depression is characterized by depressed mood/apathy/sleeping problems\
  • Assumes that diseases are independent of each other
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  • Uses elements of previous definitions
  •  Takes into account social and environmental problems
  •  Uses the Global assessment of functioning scale


  •  Disagreements as what the disorder is – schizophrenia has sings of hallucinations but so does bi-polar disorder
  • Possible role of psychological factors in cuasing the disorder are minmised as it emphasizes the biological aspect
  • Treating patient in a medical sense takes awy the balme for their disorder-they are not responsible for their disorder
  • Once labeled patients may become stigmatized
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Approaches & Treatments to and for Mental Disorders

Key words:

·       Cognitions: cognitive processes underlying behavior

·       Bi-polar disorder: manic depression/ characterized by mood swings between episode of depression and episodes of mania

·       Psychodynamic: approaches the understanding behavior that emphasizes the balance between conscious ad unconscious processes and the significance of early development

·       Libido: sexual energy

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The Biological Approach and Therapies


  • All behavior is caused by changes in the brain therefore psychopathology is caused by changes in either the structure or function of the brain
  • The development of the body and brain is heavily influenced by genetics
  • E.g  change in the activity of neurotransmitters (hormones/brain chemicals) – Schizophrenia is associated with high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine whilst depression is associated with low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
  • Assumes that disorders/behaviors/chemical levels can be inherited from biological parent(s). For example, research has shown that there seems to be a genetic risk factor in developing schizophrenia (a study of identical quadruplets found that they all grew up to develop the disorder in adulthood although they all grew up in an abusive environment). Disorders may have a genetic basis.
  • Abnormality may also be caused by brain damage – Alzheimer’s is caused by malformation of the brain, the loss of brain tissue and the loss of brain cells.
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Evaluation: Biological 

  • Concrete evidence from brain scans and biochemistry that abnormal brain function can cause a mental illness (a loss of brain tissue was found in Schizophrenics) which offers the approach extreme scientific credibility
  •    Research has supported assumptions made by this approach – it has revealed both genetic and chemical bases for disorders, such as schizophrenia and high dopamine. Bi-polar disorder may be genetic - strong scientific credibility.
  • Another strength of this approach is that it removes all blame from the patient him/herself. It does not stigmatise the patient in any way for having the disease as it is not seen as their fault – this is therefore seen as an ethical approach in this light.
  •   Also, treatments based on this approach (drugs and ECT) work for many problems and disorders whereas psychological therapies are less reliable and testable. 
  •  drugs generated by this approach only work on masking symptoms rather than working on the cause – the approach is not useful for all disorders, like phobias.
  • largely reductionist – this approach does not take all factors in to account, including environmental factors and past experiences or stressful events etc – it may be too simplistic as it ignores other factors and abnormality is likely to be the result of many factors.
  •   The diathesis-stress model tries to take this into account – this basically means that psychological problems are the result of genetic problems (diathesis) combined with a severe/disturbing emotional event (stress). The biological approach solely focuses on biological factors, but environment should always be considered.
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The psychodynamic approach-assumes that adult behavior reflects complex dynamic interactions between unconscious and conscious

1.     Structure of personality:

·       The id: reservoir of the unconscious and instinctual energy we are born with. It contains libido or life instincts. Id operates on pleasure and tries to gratify this through sex or other actives may also lead to aggression

·       The ego: represents our conscious self- develops during early childhood. Regulates and balances out the demands of the id and the super ego. Operates on the reality principle (trying to balance the id and superego in the face of the demands of the real world. If the ego fails to balance the id and the superego intra-psychic conflict may arise leading to psychological disorders

·       The superego: personal moral authority. Develops later in childhood when child internalizes morals and social norms

Ego defense mechanisms from intra-pyschic conflict

  • repression: Repressed to unconscious- we are unaware of them. Eventually merge through anxiety or emotional disorders 
  • displacment: Unacceptable drive such as hatred is displaced from the primary target to a more acceptable target
  • denial Refusing to accept an event has happened
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1.     Psychosexual development-child goes through the erogenous zone an if a child is either over gratified or deprived at a certain stage it may result in a fixation that occurs later in life

  •   Oral stage: birth to 18 months. Id impulses satisfied through feeding- mouth is focus at this stage. Fixation may produce an adult who gains pleasure form oral gratification e.g eating, smoking, eating may also result in overdependence in relationships due to infant dependency
  •  Anal Stage: 18 months-3 years. Able to exert some control over environment though expulsion or retention of feces. Fixation at the stage may produce an adult who has OCD or is extremely creative
  •  Phallic stage: last until 4.gratification comes though the stimulation of the genitals. Gender differences are first noticed at this stage.
  •  Oedipus complex:  occurs during the phallic stageboys develop love for their mother, leading o fear of the father. To resolve this fear the boy identifies with the father internalizing morals (foundation of superego)-heavily phallocentric (male orientated) Electra complex lacks detail and is added almost as an afterthought
  • Electra complex: the girl discovers she does not have a penis, producing penis envy and developing more affection for the father
  •   Latency period: 4/5- up to puberty psychosexual development enters a latent period only to re-emerge at puberty  and sexual feelings are focused on finding a partner than self
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Evaluation: Psychodynamic

  •    t puts no blame on the sufferer –  not held responsible as the childhood experiences that have caused their abnormality -stigmatised but other people receive  blame, particularly parents and this can put distress and guilt on a family that are already stressed.
  • completely unscientific – the concepts are vague and impossible to test- cannot be observed or tested
  •   deterministic – it sees humans as passive creatures that do not posses free will – all abnormal thoughts, emotions and behaviour is driven by unconscious forces from our childhood. We are slaves to our unconscious, which leads to important moral implications. For example, with this approach, if someone is a ******, it is not their fault because they were ***** in childhood and this made them this way.
  •    only approach that focuses completely on the past and disregards present events that may have a factor. For example, under the psychodynamic approach, if someone is depressed, it is not because their girlfriend just killed herself but because of something they cannot remember from their childhood.
  • acks temporal/historic validity. The approach also focuses too much on sex – most of Freud’s theories were written around a time that was very close-minded towards sex, but now times have changed.
  •  The approach is also sexist; it has a pessimistic view of women, seen through the elctra complex -The approach reflects the times in which it was thought up, but several aspects do not apply today. 
  •  Freud did not directly test it con children only looked at adults with neuaotic disredrs who retrospectively looked back at their childhood


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The Behavioral Approach -behavior is learnt through conditioning (experience).

1.     Classical Conditioning (Learning by association) – the association of conditioned and unconditioned stimuli through repeated paired presentations. Involves automatic reflexive Reponses- Pavlov’s dog

Watson and Rayner ( 1920)

Little Albert – initially, a baby (Albert) was shown a white rat and displayed no signs of fear. Albert then heard a loud banging noise at which he begun to display fear. During conditioning, he saw the white rat and the loud banging noise at the same time and showed obvious signs of fear (crying etc). Soon enough, Albert only had to see the white rat by itself to show fear. He had already associated the rat with the noise, and therefore he associated it with fear and displayed the crying response. His fear however, had extended to all furry creatures- Stimulus generalization: response to one stimulus can elicited by a similar stimulus


  •    Single case study on a male child-cannot be generalized
  •  Hugely unethical- traumatic. Parental consent needed
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  • Phobias are examples of classical conditioning gone wrong:Traumatic experience early in life for example with balloons may lead to fear of balloons and similar objects
  • · Many phobias occur not due to traumatic experience – Seligman preparedness theory: evolutionary history has prepared us to sensitive to biologically-relevenat stimuli such as snakes or heights
  •  Ohman et al(2000) shown that  fear in humans can be conditioned for pictures of spiders but not for pictures of flowers

Operant Conditioning: Thorndike and Skinner demonstrated how voluntary responses could be controlled through positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement and punishment

  • Skinner developed schedules of reinforcement: pattern of rewards and punishment can be used to shape behavior. Continuous reinforcement is when every response is rewarded leads to rapid learning hw it rapidly fades when reinforcement is withdrawn. Occasional rewards(intermittent)  lead to slow learning but behavior persists for longer when reinforcement tis withdrawn
  • Skinner’s/Bandura’s Social Learning theory
  •     Vicarious learning: learning through he observation of consequences of behavior of others  
  •  learn by imitating and observing role models. We are more likely to imitate a behavior if we see them get positive reinforcement. n abnormal behaviors through others by imitating them-explains eating disorders to some extent: e.g. for some girls, their role models may be beautiful female celebrities who are very thin. These celebritiescomplimented on their figure. Therefore, girls may aim to lose weight to imitate these women, and also to get the same compliments they do.
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  • Many of the ideas surrounding the behavioral approach are tested using animals.
  • Strength of this approach is that it does not blame the person suffering the abnormality – it is not the person’s fault as they have simply learnt the disorder due to their upbringing and environment – they are not held responsible. It is therefore a humane and ethical approach, as the patient is not stigmatized.
  • However, parents and society would perhaps receive blame.
  •  Another strength of this approach is that it is extremely scientific – as the approach only focuses on observable behavior, it can be precisely operationalized (defined) and measured. -Scientific support and credibility.
  • Focuses on the symptoms a patient displays rather than the underlying causes beneath it – for example, for phobia, it simply attempts to unlearn it, but does not focus on why it propped up in the first place
  •    Deterministic – it sees humans as passive creatures which have no free will or do not think for themselves. It assumes the environment determines abnormality and an individual has no control –too simplistic and can bring up important moral implications. For example, with this approach, if someone is a psychopath and goes around killing everybody, it is not their fault because they have no control. L
  • Reductionist – the behavioral approach ignores all other factors and reduces complex abnormal behaviors into the simplistic idea that they are merely ‘’learnt’. In actuality, there are probably many factors apart from environment that also play a part in causing abnormality such as genetics and childhood. L
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The Cognitive Approach: emphasizes the role of cognitive processes in causing psychological disorders


·       Human behavior is influenced by schemata (organized systems of knowledge that we use to understand the world )-which relate to how we see ourselves

·       Schemata develop on the basis of early experience-traumatic or unpleasant experiences early in life may lead to development of a negative schemata e.g. an insecure attachment at childhood may lead to disruptive romantic relationships

·       Negative schemata /core beliefs when activated can lead to negative automatic thought (NATS): E.g. cognitive biases such as minimization

·       NATS are rapid and unconscious response to certain situations-can be identified using cognitive biases which prevent the person form seeing the positive side of life thereby enforcing a negative view

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Cognitive Biases:

  • Minimization: bias towards minimizing success in life- e.g. attributing it to luck
  • Maximization: bias towards maximizing the importance of trivial failures
  • Selective abstraction: only focusing on the negative aspects to life and not looking at the wider picture
  • All or nothing thinking: seeing life in black and white and ignoring the middle ground- you are either a success or a failure

Beck;s(1979) model of depression: Negative triad- pessimistic thoughts about the slef and the world

  •      Negative view of slef
  •    Negative view of world
  •   Negative view of future

This can also be seen in the attributions depressed people make:

  • Attributions can be internal or external
  •  Can be specific or global
  • Can be stable or unstable
  • Internal/global and stable= negative event attribution
  •  External/specific/unstable=positive event attribution
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Ellis’s ABC model:

·       A (activating event) is just any event or thing that can bring about a

·       B (belief which is either irrational or rational) and this belief brings about

·        C (consequence which is either irrational or rational depending on the belief).

·       An irrational belief leads to an irrational consequence, which is abnormal behaviour.

·       E.g. activating event (A) would be simply the sight of the dog. Irrational and rational beliefs (B) for this would be “the dog is going to kill me!” (irrational) and “the dog is harmless” (rational). The belief leads to an irrational or rational consequence (C) which would be either ‘scream and run away from the dog’ (irrational) or ‘stroke or act indifferently towards the dog’ (rational). The running away is abnormal whilst the indifference would be normal but the abnormal action is fuelled by the irrational belief (the dog is lethal).

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·       Evaluation:

  • Individual is in complete control – this is the only approach to argue that that a person is able to control their own thoughts and so, they are able to control their abnormality. All the person needs to do is alter their thinking and their abnormality will be cured. This view may be empowering for an individual.
  •  Patient to have free will and so it is not deterministic – this is empowering for person as they can take control and make their own decisions in regards to their abnormality. 
  • Individual is in control, it places great blame on the patient suffering the abnormality – if its their own thoughts that cause the abnormality, they may blame themselves and are stigmatised as the approach assumes it is their fault.
  • It is unclear as to whether abnormality causes faulty thinking or faulty thinking causes abnormality.  It can therefore be argued that this approach focuses on the symptoms a patient displays rather than the underlying causes beneath it as it only focuses on changing the faulty thought rather than finding out the real cause.
  • Reductionist – the cognitive approach ignores all other factors and oversimplifies our behavior as it reduces complex disorders into the simplistic idea that they are merely the result of ‘bad thinking’. In actuality, there are probably many factors apart from environment that also play a part in causing abnormality such as genetics, environment and childhood
  • Depressive realism: the beliefs and thoughts of a depressed person can be rational and reflect reality rather than irrational and maladaptive 
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Biological Treatment:

  •  Psychosurgery: systematically damaging the brain in order to change behavior
  •    Amygdala was lesion in people with over aggressive behavior to reduce violence
  • Frontal lobotomy: treatment for schizophrenia –areas to be damaged are precisely localized using brain scans to limit the amount of damage tissue using electrical impulses or small radioactive pellets
  • Evaluation:     Damage to the brain is irreversible and consequences un predictable
  •    People with extreme cases may be unable to make a fully informed onsent
  •    Did not target the specific symptoms and at best made patients more manageable

  Electroconvulsive therapy: treatment for extremely depressed and schizophrenics who have proved resistant to other forms of treatment. Small current is passed through the brain causing epileptic like electrical discharges

  •   Full body convulsions are prevented thought the application of muscles relaxants but it is still a violent assault on the brain and the effect is unknown
  •     The prescription of ant-depressive drugs soon replace this
  • Evaluation:
  •  Violent electrical assault on the brain-several times over a few weeks which can lead to some pain and memory impairment/ Individuals with severe depression may be unable to understand and give fully informed consent
  •   Can be effective for those who are unresponsive to other treatments
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Drugs : Anti-psychotic drugs (chlorpromazine/clozapine)  –These are used to treat severe disorders such as schizophrenia by reducing typical symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, thought disorder and paranoia. These work by blocking dopamine receptors and so reduce dopamine’s effect

  • Many side effects such as muscle-tremors, rigidity, agitation and uncontrollable movement. (CHLOPROMAZINE) and Clozapine results in decreased amounts of white blood cells leading to immune deficiency diseases  but fewer side ffects than chlorpromazine
  • Reduce symptoms rather than curing the disorder, if the drugs stop, the symptoms return. Schizophrenics will have to take these for life
  • Allow them to function normally.
  •  They do not work for about 40-50% of patients,
  •   Someone with a severe mental issue may not be able to give consent.

  Depression-sad/depressed moods/sleeplessness/apathy : Both drugs raise levels of serotonin and noradrenaline

  • Monoamine-oxidize inhibitors (MAOIs)-react badly with certain food groups and other medication
  •  Tricyclic antidepressants-associated with heart problems
  •  Led to the development of the monoamine theory of depression: noradrenaline/serotonin are monoamines- theory relates depression to reduced levels of these neurotransmitters
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Prozac): reducing the rate of re-absorption of neurotransmitters thereby increasing the level of serotonin in the blood-associated with violent outbursts and suicide
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Evaluation: drugs

  •     The drugs are effective in around 60-70% - this is more encouraging.
  •   Does not work in 30%
  •    Do not cure depression; merely mask the symptoms, even more so if the person is depressed due to the negative events rather than chemicals.
  •  Some anti-depressants lead to dependency as people may think they need them to survive.
  •    Someone with a severe mental issue may not be able to give consent.
  •       Psychological and physical dependence
  •    Unpleasant side effects

  Anxiolytic drugs/Anti-anxiety drugs valium and (specifically to alleviate physical symptoms such as shaking). They are designed to bring anxiety under control and are used for a variety of disorders, including phobias and general anxiety disorder. They slow down brain activity, causing relaxation.

  •    These drugs however can cause addiction and dependency
  •  someone with a severe mental issue may not be able to give consent.
  •  Lithium: is used for bi-polar disorder in order to stabilize the condition-severe side effects: heart and digestive problem
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Psychodynamic therapies: based on the assumption that abnormality is caused by conflicts hidden in the unconscious. Therefore, this therapy attempts to trace and uncover these conflicts and bring them into the conscious mind so the patient will be aware of them. The therapist tries to help the patient gain insight into their minds and understanding about the real causes of their abnormality. By gaining insight, the patient is able to work through their abnormality as they are now conscious of why it happened and eventually cure it.

 Dream Analysis ‘the road to the unconscious’ –dreams are wish fulfillment but they are often aggressive and sexual due to the id and are to threatening to be acknowledged consciously

  •  The patient will describe recent dreams (manifest content-dream imagery as reported by the dreamer) to the therapist who will interpret everything they say as to what the hidden meaning (latent content) is.
  •   Dream work is the process in which the latent content is distorted into the manifest-displacement and symbolization

   Free Association – client is encouraged to express anything that come to mind-client must not censor any material and so that the defense mechanisms are lowered. The therapist is needed to intervene in order to provide encouragement and interpretation

 Projective test: client required to impose their own thoughts and associations on some stimuli e.g. Rorschach ink blot test

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Evaluation:Psychodynamic theory

·       Eysenck thought that this therapy made patients worse than they were initially, let alone cure them.

·       Bergin found that around 80% of the 10,000 patients he reviewed had benefited from Psychoanalysis, so he thought it was successful.

·       A very strong weakness of this therapy is that it is the longest of all the treatments.

·       Can take months, but more often years but it is also extremely expensive and as this therapy lasts a long time, it is reserved only for the extremely rich.

·       Depend on the client to open up and make a commitment

·       May not work for some disorders such as schizophrenia

·       May be unethical: may bring up traumatizing past as seen with sexually abused clients

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Systematic Desensitization -Wolpe (1958),

  •    The aim of Systematic Desensitization (SD) is (by using the ideas behind classical conditioning) to put out the fear response and replace it with relaxation by systematically making a person more and more immune to their fear gradually Relaxation Techniques – The therapist teaches the client techniques such as controlled breathing and progressive muscle reaction gently and slowly so that it calms the client.
  •     Constructing a Fear Hierarchy –patient and the therapist will write up a list of scenarios involving the thing they fear most and put them in order of the amount of fear they would cause (from lowest to highest). Each following scenario should cause more anxiety than the previous. A small example using a fear of dogs: the least feared scenario would be seeing a picture of a dog, the next would be hearing a dog bark, the next would be having a dog in the same room, and the most fearful would be stroking the dog.
  •  Working through the hierarchy – Through the aid of the therapist, the client works through the scenarios whilst learning to be completely relaxed using the techniques they learnt. The client must be able to get through each scenario whilst maintaining a state of calmness and relaxation. Once they have mastered one stage, they move on to the next, and if they show fear, they move backwards until the client can do all the scenarios calmly.
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·       Extremely successful in treating simple and specific phobias. It has a very high success rate (75%) with flying and spider phobias. J

·       SD is a relatively quick therapy, which requires less effort when compared to something like Psychoanalysis. Therefore, it is less-time consuming, more convenient and economical. J

·       However, SD is not the quickest form of behavioral therapy – flooding (where a person is confronted with their fear very strongly) is much more effective and quicker. L

·       Systematic Desensitization also arises some ethical issues – mainly, the patient is put under great harm and distress as their anxiety can reach extreme levels, and therefore the client needs to be monitored carefully and needs to give fully informed consent.

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Flooding: people are exposed to their phobia without the possibility of escape until the fear response extinguishes

  •  E.g. placing a Claustrophobic in a small space for a period of time
  •  Assume that very high levels of anxiety and fear cannot be sustained and will eventually fall
  •    If session ends while the fear is still high the phobia could become worse
  •   Very quick
  •   Highly unethical/threatening and stressful procedure

Aversion Therapy: undesirable behavior is paired with an unpleasant stimulus. Used in the 1950’s to try and cure homosexuality by pairing electric shocks with pictures-Treats symptoms not the underlying cause

Behavior modification: based on the principles of operant conditioning

  • Token Economies: increasing desirable behaviors by positive reinforcement- used in prisons and psychiatric wards where token are given as a reward for good behavior the token can be exchanged for things like sweets/cigarettes. Aim to reduce levels of anti-social behavior.
  • It modifies the behavour but does not directly treat the sympto
  •   Once outside the setting the individual may revert to old behavior as there is no longer a reward
  •   Does not reflect/ generalize to the real world/outside-
  • Highly reductionist approach to such complex thing such as human behavior
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 Social Learning theory: when a model is rewarded for certain behavior the observer is more likely to imitate.Seen that phobic can benefit from observing a model coping effectively with the phobic situation

  •   Reductionist –ignores biological/genetic factors
  • More complex view of the human behavior than classical condition and operant conditioning 

    The Cognitive Approach and Therapy :Beck’s cognitive therapy-Aim of therapy is to challenge irrational thoughts and replace them with more realistic appraisals

    1.     Therapist helps client identify particular negative thoughts-client encourage to keep record of thoughts which can be reviewed with the therapist and NATs recognized

    2.     Therapist challenges negative thoughts by drawing attention to positive incidents- Reality testing: therapist encourages client to compare irrational thoughts against the real world

    3.     Behavioral techniques are used to encourage positive behavior – e.g. in depression the therapist and client would construct a list of goals or activates such as getting out of bed and making a cup of tea- although it may seem trivial it develops a sense of personal effectiveness

    4.     Training in problem solving skills and taught relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety 

  Believed that negative schemata led to pessimistic thoughts about self/world/future which led to cognitive biases which maintain negative thoughts

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Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), a form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy- It aims to challenge and replace irrational and dysfunctional thoughts with rational ones. Note: Use THIS example of CBT for Abnormality, and SIT for Stress ALONE

  • Developing a good relationship between the client and therapist – it is important that they have mutual trust and respect as later the therapist will strongly argue with and challenge the client’s thoughts.
  •   Identifying negative thoughts – The client is encouraged to keep a diary and record all the negative, irrational and self-defeating thoughts that come into their head (such as “I’m a failure, everyone hates me, etc.”). The client is also able to acknowledge the problem.
  •     Reviewing the diary, monitoring and challenging the thoughts – The therapist takes a look at the diary and challenges the thoughts outlined in them – the arguments normally are very strong and so this therapy is more confrontational and involves heated debate so the negative thoughts can be destroyed once the patient loses the argument and their irrationality can be exposed to themselves.
  •     Clients then use reality testing so they can accept more rational and truthful ideas For example, if you were challenging the thought ‘everyone hates me’, you would first prove them impossible by saying that the client does not know everyone, and their family and friends do not hate them and prove this to them. Then, the client may come to the statement “Okay, but some people hate me” to which the therapist would reply “not everyone is going to like you, and that’s normal”.
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  •  Shown to be very effective in treating depression (in fact, it has shown to produce longer lasting recovery than antidepressants).
  •   Extremely flexible and has diverse applications as it can deal with multiple disorders
  •   Short as they are limited to some sessions that last no longer than a few weeks.-Therefore, it is less time-consuming and very cost-effective when compared to psychoanalysis – it is cheaper and more convenient than it. J
  • Reduce ethical issues – the way this therapy works is that the client is actively involved and in control. They feel empowered as they are curing themselves. J
  • The client may feel blame as they are technically responsible for their disorder and if they are unable to change, this causes even more distress (negative thoughts may be rational (for example, if someone feels they have failed, and they actually have failed everything.) and in this case, CBT and REBT can be obsolete. L
  •   Very ineffective with disorders like schizophrenia – these patients are unable to monitor and change their own thoughts
  •  Not as quick and cheap as anti-depressants and drugs which are more convenient. L
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Effectiveness of therapies :Research Stduies

  • Elkin et al (1989) :240 patients with depression were treated with CBT, psychotherapy or antidepressant drugs + placebo control group.Treatment lasted for 16 weeks
  • Findings:Placebo effect of 35-40%/All therapies more effective than placebo / Had similar effectiveness/ Drugs best for severe depression/Individual therapist was a significant factor in the effectiveness of psychotherapy/30-40% of patients did not respond to any treatment
  • Conclusion: all treatments more effective than the placebo

Davidson et al (2004):295 with generalized anxiety disorders were treated with CBT,SSRI anti-depressant fluoxetine or with both combined

  • Findings: Placebo effect 19%/ All therapies were more effective than the placebo/After 14 weeks there was no difference in effectiveness of therapies/40-50% did not respond to any therapy
  • Conclusion:Drugs and CBT are equally effective and combing them does not improve effectiveness. HW many patients do not respond to either
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  •    the separate patient groups should be matched in terms of the severity of the disorder and desirable to match in terms of age and gender as it is known to have an effect- HW it is rarely possible to do so
  • Observation of study should be up 12 months so improvement can be seen as sustained and not temporary
  •  There should be a control placebo group- non active substance they think is a drug
  • Often there is an interaction session for the placebo group where ppts are bale to talk to the therapist but no actual therapy is used
  •    People with the disorder may be less able to understand the effect of the therapy and therefore unable to give fully informed consent
  •     No one therapy is consistently the best
  •    Cheapest and easily accessible is drug therapy-seems to be faster than CBT and psychodynamic theory
  • Otto et al (2000) found that effects of CBT are longer lasting than drugs
  •   If the treatment is successful it would be unethical to not give the untreated group no help
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