Comparison of Approaches

These are revision notes on some comparisons which may be made between different approaches. 

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Behaviourist Approach


1) All behaviour is learnt from experiences in the environment. 

2) Observable behaviour is the only valid material.

3) Laws of Learning can be generalised from animals to humans


1) Clasical Conditioning:- learning due to the association of a neutral stimulus with an unconditioned reflex response. 

2) Operant Conditioning:- learning due to the concequences of a behaviour, the concequence determines wether the behaviour is learnt or not. 

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Behaviourist Approach (continued)


1) Practical application

2) Show's how behaviours are learnt


1) Deterministic

2) Reductionistic

Research Methods

1) Lab. Experiments

Limitations:- hard to generalise findings and behaviourism is overly dependent

Strengths:- objectivity, raised credability and no ethical issues raised

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Social Learning Theory Approach


1) Learning occurs by observing

2) Learning can be the result of direct or indirect learning

3) Internal mental processes are essentiol for learning

Observational Learning 

1) Attention to what the model is doing

2) Retention to remember and recal the behaviour

3) Reproduction, being able to perform the behaviour

4) Motivation to perform the behaviour

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Social Learning Theory Approach (continued)


1) Live Models:- people in the environment

2) Symbolic:- people on T.V, in books and celebrities


1) Practical Applications

2) Applied to understanding of agression and gender development


1) Biology and Genetics aren't considered

2) Doesn't explain cognitive processes

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Social Learning Theory Approach (research methods)

Research Methods 

1) Lab. Experiments

2) Observations of children

Strengths:- Scientific methods are reliable and allow us to infer cause and effect

Limitations:- Artificial and hard to generalise 

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Psychodynamic Approach


1) All behaviour is driven by unconscious thought processes which we are unawre

2) Our experience as children determines our personality

3) Personality has 3 parts:- id, ego and superego

The Unconscious Mind:- excerts a dynamic influence on the conscious mind and dermines the choices made in life

The Structure of the personality

The id:- driven by biological instincts 

The ego:- involves conscious rational thinking

The superego:- contains morals in the conscious

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Psychodynamic Approach (continued)

Defence Mechanisms

Repression- keeps threatening thoughts out of the conscious and this is why we may forget a potentially painful appointment. 

Reacting Formation:- Behaving in ways directionally opposite to unconscious implses e.g. saying you dislike a girl when you really do like her

Pschosexual Stages 

Oral:- sucking and swallowing

Anal:- witholding or expelling faeces 

Phalic:- touching of the genitals 

Latency:- little or no pleasure

Genital:- sex 

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Psychodynamic Approach (research methods)

Case Study:- Little Hans 


1) Provide valuable insights into individuals 

2) The case study highlights concepts such as defence mechanisms 

3) It explains why people don't alwas understand reasons for their behaviour 


1) It can't be generalised to others 

2) The approach demonstarted the value of the individual

3) Deterministic as it sas our behaviour is caused by unconscious forces and there's little room for free will

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Humanistic Approach


1) Each huamn being is uniquie and has their own uniques way of looking at the world

2) Human being have free will, they're able to chose and determine their own paths in life

Concepts of Self

1) The self concept- the way in which a person sees himself

2) The ideal self- how they think they should be

3) The real self- how the person is

Carl Rodgers believed that in order to fill our potential we need the unconditional positive reguard of others. This is were a person is loved without any strings attached. 

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Humanistic Approach (continued)

Conditions of Worth- a person (or child) is only loved if their behaviour is deemed to be acceptable or appropriate by others.

1) it prevents us from seeing our true likes and dislikes

3) gaps between the real self and ideal self are widened, blocking us from reaching our full potential

Self Actualisation- an inate tendency to reach ones full potential

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

1) Physiological Needs (bottom)

2) Safety Needs

3) Belongong Needs

4) Esteem Needs

5) Self Actualisation (top) 

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Humanistic Approach (research methods)

They reject the scientific method, by using unstructured interviews and content analysis


  • Gained in-depth insight into people 
  • Recognises that subjective experience is important to study
  • Practical applications- Client Centred Approach and Hierarchy of Needs



  • Unscientific- in rejecting the scientific method their theories lack empirial support
  • Lack Objectivety- emotions and are herd to study and it's difficult to measure "self-actualisation" 

The approach recognises people as having free will, allowing them to be responsible for their own behaviour. 

The culture bound caoncepts such as self actualisation are about individuals in the Western country and do not represent other cultures. 

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Cognitive Approach


Internal Mental Processes- lie between stimulus and response, which influence how we respond

IMP can be studied scientifically using carfully controlled experiments, usually in a lab. 

Humans are active processors of information, the mind operates in the same way as a computer

Information-Processing Model- use of computer analogy to represent IMP

The Mind- Software

The Brain- Hardware

The Multi Store Model

Models such as IPM provide a framework for research 

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Cognitive Approach (research methods)

Experimental Cognitive Psychologists use Laboratory Experiments to investigate internal mental processes.

Cognitive Neuropsychologists study brain processes in people who have suffered brain damage

Case Studies- (HM) comapraing their performance on mental tasks of uninjured people 

Medical Imagining Techniques to Inestigate the Brain


Cognitive psychologists use scientific methods

Lab Experiments are highly controlled, so can establish cause and effect


Lack Ecological Validity- research often makes use of artificail Lab tasks which are unrepresentative of everyday behaviour

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