Biological Approach in Psychology

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Biological Approach

Assumption of the approach : 


  • The biological approach has an underlying assumption that people are biological machines/ these biological machines are made up of chemicals and cells which control our thoughts, feelings and behavior
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Describe how the biological approach could explain

Structural changes in the brain - the biological approach explains this as the influence of physical elements can create structural changed in brain such as the hippocampus e.g.Maguire study. The 16 taxi drivers had increased posterior hippocampi compared to non taxi drivers who dominated the body and anterior hippocampi volume in the right. This shows that due to learning 'the knowledge', hippocampal  volume is limited in the anterior and body for taxi driver as the knowledge has gone to the posterier hippocampus which shows that it is an area for spatial memory. 

Dream activity - the biological approach could explain dream activity as chemicals and cells control our behaviour and so in the Dement and Kleitman study, the behaviour of the individual were seen in their eye movement whilst dreaming in REM sleep for e.g. mainly vertical eye movement was reported as climbing ladders and looking up and down. This shows that eye movement and visual imagery link in dream activity. 

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Describe how the biological approach could explain

(continued from previous card) 

The experience of split-brain patients - the biological approach could explain this as in the Spery study ,  the chemicals which are relayed between the two hemispheres cannot go to either opposite hempishpere due to the severed corpus callosum and so the emotion and spatial side cannot be connected to the language hemisphere without the eyes both taking in the same object.

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Describe 1 similarity and 1 difference between...

(EXAMPLE) Maguire/Sperry :

  • Similarity - Both studies were comparing two types of groups in their studies, control/ normal  and experiemental group ( taxi drivers for Maguire and Split-brain patients). 
  • Difference - Both looked at different parts of the brain . 
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Strengths

  • High validity - there is the use of complex machinery which allows for accurate and precise measurements to be taken e.g. Maguire in which clear scans and measurements were taken by using the two techniques with an MRI scan ( VBM and Pixel counting) 
  • High reliability - as you use controlled tests to figure out mental processes e.g.  dement and kleitman where they were in lab conditions and were attached to electrodes to monitor them. Also had to speak into a microphone as direct contact might 'cue' certain responses from the participant. 
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Weaknesses

  • Reductionism - provides only simple explanations for behaviours and doesn't look at the social factors that could have influenced it e.g Dement and kleitman - their dreams could be due to social factors or the fact that they had a lot of dreams. or their ability to recall - maybe something bad happened and their dreaming isn't at its best? 
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