Cognitive approach

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  • Created by: gracepxx
  • Created on: 15-04-16 14:13

Assumption 1

Behaviour explained by mental processes

Assumes all humans are essentially information processors 

Take in info from world, process in order to make sense of and respond to the world 

Most well studied cognitive processes - perception, attention, memory and language 

Work together to help individual understand environment 

Concept of schema (cluster of facts representing aspect of world) illustrates how processes work together allowing us to name objects

Known as information processing

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Assumption 2

Human mind compared to a computer 

Mind takes in info (input), changes/stores it (process) and recalls it when necessary (output)

During process stage - actively use cognitive processes of perception, attention, language and memory 

Therefore, mind compared to hardware of computer and processes to a computers software

MSM of memory (Atkinson and Shiffrin 1968) - proposed info entered brain through senses, moves to STM and then to LTM - STM & LTM process info

Info is output when required.

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Theory - Attribution - P1

Heider (1958) proposed that when observing someone elses behaviour we tend to develop explanation for cause of behaviour 

Based on:
The person - dispositional attribution - when internal factors used such as persons traits
The situation - situational attribution - when external factores used such as social norms 

Suggested people prefer to make dispositional attributions - fundamental attribution error

Ross et al (1977) - organised quiz - group 1 make up questions to likely to do better than group 2
Ps asked to watch quiz and rate ability
Despite knowing group 1 had advantage, rated contestants intelligence highly - example of FAE

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Theory - Attribution - P2

FAE doesn't occur in all cultures 

Collectivist cultures - situational attributions 

Individualist societies more concerned with individual character - emphasise rights and interests of person - dispositional 

Prefer to explain own behaviour in terms of situation but others in terms of disposition

May be because actor knows about own disposition but has to make inferences about others

Take credit for our successes & disassociate from failures - blame external 

Protects estem and gives sense of control

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Theory - Attribution - P3

Kelley (1967) - suggested attribution bheaviour can be explained in terms of covariation

When things covary, assume one has caused other. 

Proposed attributions are determined by covarience of 3 factors:


Consistency - behaving in same way all the time 
Distinctiveness - considering extent to which behaviour is unique 
Consensus - extent to which there is agreement amongst other people

Dispositional attributions - consistency high, distinctiveness and consesus low 

Situational attributions - consistency low, distinctiveness high, consensus low, or all 3 high

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Therapy - CBT - P1

Believes key influence on behaviour is how individual thinks about situation 

Assumes mentally disordered behaviour is caused by maladaptive, irrational thinking

CBT aims to identify and challenge maladaptive thoughts - replace with positive thinking that will lead to heatlhy behaviour 

Concerned with proximate causes of behaviour - faulty thinking 

However, cognitive therapists not focused on original source of behaviour like psychanalysts would be 

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Therapy - CBT - P2

Used with wide range of mental disorders as well as with "normal" problems - exam stress

Cost-effective therapy as it is relatively short term and popular is it doesn't involve searching for deeper meanings 

Combines cognitive and behavioural appraoches 

Cognitive element - concerned with maladaptive thoughts and how to challenege/change

When behaviour therapies combined with cognitive - may be effective way to deal with problem of symptom substitution because cogntive therapies look at some aspect of causation

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Therapy - CBT - P3

Beck (1967) - believed depression occurs because people are biased towards negative interpretations

Proposed one way to deal - dysfunctional thought diary

Clients record events leading up to unpleasant emotion

Record automatic negative responses that they have and how much they believe them 

Next, they write a rational response to thoughts and belief in rational response

Finally, re-rate belief in automatic response

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Therapy - CBT - P4

Meichenbaum (1985) - developed form of CBT to cope with stress 

Can't change causes of stress but can change how we think of stressor 

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Evaluation - Strengths - P1

Focuses on important mediational processes that occur between stimulus and response - ignored by behaviourist approach

Study by Tulving and Psotka (1971) - use of retrieval cues help recall more info - cues are mediational processes

Given valuable insights into human behaviour - research gives important insights that can be used for the likes of exam revision

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Evaluation - Strengths - P2

Successfully applied in treatments to treat psychological disorders

Use of CBT to treat depression

Cognitive theories of how children's thinking develops - Piaget (1970) - developed theory identifying different stages of children's development - can't think in abstract - to solve maths probelm then need to see it in concrete form

Ultimately conduct research to develop world we live in - cognitive explanations help understand dynamics behind behaviour 

Paiget led teachers to realise importance of using concrete examples

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Evaluation - Weakness - P1

Cognitive approach ignores nature/nurture debate and key influences 

Role of genetics (nature) in human cognition ignored yet research onsistently shows genetic fators play important role in behaviour 

Important social and cultural factors (nurutre) ignored - Piaget failed to consider role of culture and gender on development of thinking

Cognitive approach presents incomplete picture of causes of behaviour

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Evaluation - Weakness - P2

Approach is mechanisitic and determinist - portrays behaviour as being like that of a machine

Kelley's covariation model explained attribution in terms of a set of rules for making situational/dispositional attributions 

Such explanations ignore social/emotional factors and oversimplify behaviour - reductionist 

Research shows many exceptions to rules predicted by cognitive explanations - human behaviour not as predicable as theories suggest

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Methodology - P1

Assumes psychology is a pure science so behaviour should be studied objectively 
Questionned if we can study thought process in lab
Cognitive psychologists believe we can make inferences about processes in persons mind on basis of observation of behaviour 
Study by Loftus & Palmer in lab - showed form of question used caused change in Ps memory - showed leading questions effect EW recall 

+ control - ideal method as permits control to ensure EV don't affect DV
+ replication - high levels of control mean Loftus & Palmer could replicate and validity demonstrated
+ quantitative - L&Ps study produced numerical data - easy to analyse and compare 

- ecological validity - L&P study - contrived environment and operationalisation of variables leads to different behaviours to everyday - lacks ecolog val
- demand characteristics - Ps in L&P study knew behaviour was being studied - tried to guess what was expected of them
- experimenter bias - Ps behaviour affected by cues given by experimenter 

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Methodology - P2

Assumes inner workings of mind explain behaviour 
One way to process mind is compare "normal" individuals and those whose brains have been damaged
Brain damage rare so rely on case studies 
HM suffered permanent memory loss - remember events before operation but trouble storing info of events after
Case study used to support idea of MSM - process both STM & LTM

+ rare behaviour - brain damage rarely occurs - case studies gain us unique insights
+ qualitative - important to understand reasons behind behaviour - more able to draw valid conclusions if study person in detail

- generalisation - case studies relate to single instance - not reaosonable to apply conclusions to other people 
- subjectivity - reply on qualitative data rather than quantative analysis - danger interpreted in the way researcher wants 

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