Cognitive Approach

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  • Created by: Megan0799
  • Created on: 23-04-16 16:07

Describe the assumption 'Internal Mental Processes

Internal Mental Processes:

  • Attention: Focusing one thing at the same time or multiple things. 
  • Memory: Ability to encode,store and recall information
  • Perception: Taking in and interpreting information from our environment 
  • Language: Using words and images to comunicate and understand what is being said
  • Problem Solving: Manipulating information to reach a conclusion. 

Cognitive Deficiences: When an individual does not think or plan sufficently leading to negative behaviours. eg depressed people will give up and not try again.

Cognitive Distortions: When the cognitive system inaccurately proccesses information meaning the indvidual sees it as what it isnt. the information has been distorted. In an anorexic patient they see themselves as overweight when they are severely underweight.

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Describe the assumption 'Computer Analogy'

The human mind is likened to a computer. 

In a computer the information is put in through a key board, encoded and then stored in a specific file. The output would be opening or printing that particular file. 

In our mind the information is inputed via our senses and then stored in memory and then the output is in the form of behaviour. 

Processes is known as Input, storage and retrieval.

Example: In an exam the teacher gives info (input), it is then stored in memory (storage) and is later used to answer exam questions (retrieval)

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Describe the assumption 'Schemas'

Are a collection of ideas about things.

They start off simple and get more complicated as we experience new things.

Help us get a sense and understanding of the world around us.

Example: Using the ride the bike schema to learn how to drive. 

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Formation of relationships

Internal Mental Proccesses:

  • Attention: Pay attention to the person
  • Memory: Remembering past relationships
  • Perception: The way we percieve an individual is important. (Looks)
  • Language: Communicating with the person
  • Problem Solving: Considering whether the relationship is worth forming.

Social Exchange Theory- Explains how internal mental processes are important 

Cost-Benefit Analysis- Attracted to those who offer more benefits and less costs. Motivated to minimise the costs and the relationship will last longer if there are more benefits.

The Comparison Level- How people feel in a relationship depends on what they expect to get out of a relationship in costs and benefits.

Comparison Level for alternatives- Is there an alternative relationship that meets expectations. High comparison level for alternatives: very likely to meet someone who reaches expectations. Low comparison level for alternvatives: not very likely to meet someone who reaches expectations

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Main Components of CBT

Main Aim: Help an indvidual to identify and irrational thoughts and replace these with more rational ways of thinking. 

  • Case Conceptualisation: Understand CBT, Create a list of problems using self-report technique, set inital goals and treatment plan.
  • Skills acquisition and application: Work on intervention techniques including new skills, set goals and targets and refine intervention techniques.
  • Ending and Follow Up: Final assessment, Discuss ending treatment and maintence of changes, End treatment- when therapist and client both agree, Top up sessions can take place 3 or 6 months after treatment. 

Case Conceptualisation:

  • Self-report questionnaire such as Beck's depression inventory to indicate how the client is feeling and how this impacrs everyday life. Will complete several times during treatment. 
  • Identify Self-Defeating beliefs. Once irrational beliefs have been uncovered through questioning the client will be asked to practice optimistic statements. These changes happen over time leading to a change in their dysfunctional behaviour.
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Main Components of CBT Part 2

Skills Acquistion and Application


  • Challenge irrational thoughts.
  • Asks them reasons why they have these thoughts
  • Helps client see that their claim is irrational and encourages them to make their thoughts more positive. 


  • Relaxation technique depending on preferences.
  • Breathing techniques focusing on muscle relexation.
  • Taught to identify tension in certain muslce groups and the difference between tense and relaxed muscles. Questioning aids this. 

Guided Imagery:

  • Therapist acts as a guide. Create an image based on their fear and imagine the opposite. Questioning also aids this.
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Evaluation of CBT: Effectiveness and Ethical Issue

  • Derubeis (2005): 3 groups of participants who had depression. Group 1: CBT, Group 2: Anti-Depressants and Group 3: Placebo. After 8 weeks 43% of CBT had improved whereas 50% of the drugs had improved compared to 25% of the placebo group.Must be viewed with caution as it happened after 8 weeks.
  • Hensley et al (2004): States that CBT has a low relapse rate compared to those who take anti-depressants.
  • Is not suitable for all clients. Clients who have CBT need to be motivated and that it means CBT will not be effective. It involves a number of weekly sessions. 

Ethical Considerations:

  • Therapist is in a position power over the client. The equality becomes more obvious throughout the treatment. as they are working together to establish goals.
  • Teacher and pupil relationship leading to an imbalance power. Client is actively involved in their treatment and can help them more positve. 
  • Homework for example can be more motivational and lead to a sense of achievement.
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Loftus and Palmer 1974: Experiment One

Aim: Effect leading questions ahve on eyewitnesses' ablity to recall information.

Method and Procedure: 

  • 45 American College Students
  • 7 traffic accidents ranging from 5-30 seconds.
  • Filled in a questionnaire asking what they had seen and specific questions.
  • Critical Question: How fast were the cars going when they ________ into each other. 
  • Smashed: 40.8mph
  • Collided: 39.3 mph
  • Bumped: 38.1 mph
  • Hit: 34.0 mph
  • Contacted: 31.8 mph

Conclusion: Changing a single word can affect a witnesses answer. Not only are people poor judges of speed but recall if greatly influenced by the wording of the question.

Explanation: Reponse Bias- unsure whether to say 30 or 40mph. Leading question changes the persons memory so they see if more severe than it actually was.

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Loftus and Palmer 1974: Experiment Two.

Aim: Whether leading questions distort eyewitness memory of an event.

Method and Procedure: 

  • 150 American College Students.
  • 1 short film of a car collision.
  • Completed a questionnaire asking them to describe the accident and answer a series of questions.
  • Critical question was the speed the cars where going when they __________into each other.
  • Group 1: Smashed. Group 2: Hit and there was a control group who were not asked about the speed. There were 50 in each group.
  • 1 week later the particpants returned and asked another 10 questions about the accident. 
  • Question: Did you see any broken glass. Answered with yes or no. 
  • Smashed: 16. Hit 7 and Control 6. 

Conclusion: Leading question has an effect not only on speed estimates but also information recalled a week later. Memories can be changed through leading questionnaires.

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Evaluation of Lofus and Palmer Part 1

Internal Validity 

  • Lab experiment was used in both studies.
  • Allowed the IV to be manipulated (The Verb) and measure the DV (answers to the critical questions).
  • High level of control= internal validity 
  • Measuring what they set out to measure.

Ecological Validity 

  • Lab experiment often lacks ecological validty- unable to generalise to the world. 
  • In courts questions would not be done through questionnaire as answers given could lead to the prosecuton of a indvidual.
  • Shock and emotional impact can not be repeated. 

Demand Characteristics

  • Knew they were in a experiment.
  • Suspected they would be asked to watch film clips and answer questions. Altered answers to fit with what the experimenter wants from them.
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Evaluation of Loftus and Palmer Part 2


  • Did not know the aim of the experiment or the other conditions.
  • Not aware of what the experimenter was looking for.
  • Wa needed to minimise the effects of demand characteristics. 

Protection from harm: 

  • The clips were staged. 
  • Particpants still could have experienced psychological harm and had a strong emotional response to the clips.

Social Implications:

  • Eyewitness testimony is used in courts and can be key pieces of information that the jury uses to prosecute a person.
  • Innacuarate information can lead to innocent people going to jail.
  • Shows our memory is reconstuctive even though we may not be aware of it.
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