Core Studies - Dysfunctional Behaviour

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Rosenhan and Seligman - Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal Psychology

1. Statistical Infrequency - The behaviour isn't seen in society very often. However, stamp collecting might be included, along with substance abuse which is actually quite common so there must be more to abnormal behaviour than statistics.

2. Deviation from social norms - The behaviour is not approved by society, so it is classed as dysfunctional. However, this makes some behaviours dysfunctional in one culture and not in another.

3. Failure to function adequately - If a person isn't behaving in a way that allows them to live independently, it is seen as dysfunctional, such as; OCD, mood swings or outbursts.

4. Deviation from ideal mental health - To have ideal mental health you should; have an accurate perception of reality, immune to stress, be open to change, have a positive view of yourself, be independent and self-regulating and be able to adapt to your environment.

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Ford and Widiger

Aim: To see if experienced health practitioners and stereotyping genders when diagnosing disorders.

Sample:354 health practitioners with a mean of 15.6 years experience.

Procedure: P's were given scenarios that were either male, female or an unspecified sex. Randomly assigned scenarios of people with ASPD and HPD or an equal balance of both symptoms. They had to diagnose the illness by rating on a 7-point-scale the extent to which patients appeared to be; dysthymic, adjustment, alcohol abuse, cyclothymic, narcissistic, histrionic, antisocial, passive-agressive or borderline personality disorder.

Findings: Unspecified sex most often diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. | ASPD correctly diagnosed 42% of time in males and 15% of time in females. | ASPD females misdiagnosed with HPD 46%. | Males misdiagnosed with HPD 15%. | HPD correctly diagnosed in 76% of females and 44% of males.

Conclusions: Practitioners are biased by stereotypical views of gender, tendency to diagnose females with HPD and not males because the characteristics may seem to be gender specific.

Criticisms: Diagnoses are invalid however partially valid.

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Beck et al.

Aim: To understand cognitive distortions in patients with depression.

Sample: 50 patients (16 men, 34 women) with depression and 31 non-depressed patients matched for age, sex and social position used as a comparison.

Procedure: P's had face-to-face clinical interviews using reports of patients thoughts before and during. Some p's also kept their own diary.

Findings: Themes like low self-esteem, self-blame, overwhelming responsibilities, desire to escape, anxiety caused by thoughts of personal danger, paranoia and accusations against other people occurred in depressed patients. | Depressed p's had stereotypical responses to situations.| Some felt unloved and alone even when others showed friendship. | The distortions seemed automatic, involuntary, plausible and persisitent.

Conclusions: Even in mild depression, patients have cognitive distortions that relate only to depression and no other areas.

Criticisms: Bad validity because of interviews but good because of diaries. | Ungeneralisable sample.

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Gottesman and Shields

Aim: To review research on genetic transmission of schizophrenia.

Sample: 5 twin studies and 3 adoption studies were used with a total of 711 p's in the adoption studies and 210 pairs of identical twins and 319 pairs of non-identical twins in the twin studies.

Procedure: Started by comparing bioloigcal parents and siblings and adoptive parrents and siblings from the adoption studies. In twin studies, the concordance rates for identical and non-identical twins was compared. An increased occurance of schizophrenia in bioligical relatives and higher concordance rates between identical twins would indicate a genetic basis.

Findings: Adoption studies found an increased occurance of schizophrenia in adopted children with a schizophrenic biological parent. | Normal children fostered to schizophrenic parents and adoptive parents of schizophrenic children showed little evidence. | Twin studies found higher concordance rates in identical twins. | 58% concordance in identical. | 12% concordance in non-identical.

Conclusions: There is a significant genetic input into the onset of schizophrenia, however with concordance rates not equally 100%, there must be interaction with the environment.

Criticisms: Lacks reliablity, however results seem to be consistent. | Lacks validity because of genes, however now have motives to investigate.

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Watson and Raynor

Aim: To see if it is possible to induce a fear of a previously unfeared object, through classical conditioning.| To see if the fear will be transferred onto other, similar objects.| To see what effect time will have on the fear response.| To see how it is possible to remove the fear response in the laboratory.

Sample: Case study on Little Albert - no fear response to a rat, rabbit, dog, monkey, mask.

Procedure: Session 1 - Rat was presented, as Albert reached for it steel bar was struck, was repeated. Session 2 - 3 showings of rat made, then loud noise, then 1 showing of rat, then 2 with loud noise and finally rat alone. Session 3 - 5 days later presented with blocks to play with, during showing of rat, rabbit, seal-fur coat, cotton wool, dog, mask. Session 4 - 5 days later shown rat alone, weaker response. Conditioned dog and rabbit. Session 5 - Tested with stimuli.

Findings: Session 1 - Jumped, fell forward, whimpered.| Session 2 - Cried at rat alone, crawled away.| Session 3 - Played with blocks but reacted negative to stimuli, less to cotton wool.| Session 4 - Pronounced response but reduced in diff. room.| Session 5 - Cried and crawled away but tried to play with rabbit.

Conclusions: It is possible to condition fear through classical conditioning.| Possible to transfer onto other objects but not as pronnounced.| Time didn't remove fear.

Criticisms: Ethical issues (context 20's) , case study but controlled lab conditions.

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Aim: To treat a girl with specific noise phobias using systematic desensitisation.

Sample: 9 year old girl called Lucy who had a specific phobia of sudden loud noises. Lower than average IQ, not depressed, anxious or fearful.

Procedure: Brought to therapy session and study was explained to parents, who gave consent. At first session, Lucy created a hierarchy of feared noises. Taught breathing and imagery to relax. Had a 'fear thermometer' to rate fear from 1-10. When given stimulus she paired it with relaxation, breathing and playing with her toys. After 4 sessions she learned to feel calm when noise was shown.

Findings: 1st session Lucy was reluctant for balloon to pop at end of corridoor, therapist popped one anyway and she cried.| 4th session balloon popped 10m away with mild anxiety.| 5th session Lucy held deflated + slightly inflated balloon.| 5th session able to pop balloon herself.| Next 3 sessions had party poppers, could pop if therapist held it.| Cap guns introduced and one was fired in room.| 10th (final) session, fear went from 7/10 to 3/10 for balloons, 9/10 to 3/10 for party poppers and 8/10 to 5/10 for cap guns.

Conclusions: Noise phobias in children are easily influenced by systematic desentisisation. The use of control and the use of inhibitors helps.

Criticisms: Idiographic but ungeneralisable, practical applications but might not be as effective at home.

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Karp and Frank

Aim: To compare drug treatments and non-drug treatments for depression.

Sample: Research on women with depression was used.

Procedure: A review article of previous research on the effectiveness of single treatments, combined drug and psychotherapeutic treatments of depression. P's had either single drug, single psychological, combined or placebo treatments. Depression was analysed using depression inventories and p's were tested prior to treatment, after treatment and sometimes a follow-up. Some health practitioner assessments of symptoms were used.

Findings: Many studies found adding psychological treatment to drug therapy did not increase the effectiveness of the drugs, however, people were more likely to stick to the drug therapy if cognitive therapy was given.

Conclusions: Does not show any better outcomes for the p's with combined therapy, just the effectiveness of drug therapy on depression.

Criticisms: Sample (men suffer depression too), usefulness.

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Beck et al.

Aim: To compare the effectiveness of cognitive therapy and drug therapy.

Sample: 44 p's diagnosed with moderate to severe depression attending psychiatric outpatients' clinic.

Procedure: P's were randomly allocated to drug or cognitive therapy conditions. They were assessed before treatment with Beck Depression Inventory, Hamilton Rating Scale and Rasking Scale. For 12 weeks, p's had either 1 hour cognitive therapy sessions 2 times a week or 100 Imipramine capsules prescribed by the doctor they visited for 20 minutes a week. The cognitive sessions were controlled and were observed to ensure reliablity.

Findings: Both groups showed significant decrease in depression symptoms.| Cognitive showed significantly greater improvements on self-reports and observations.| Cognitive was rated 78.9% compared to 22.7% for drug group.| Dropout rate was 5% in cognitive and 32% in drug.

Conclusions: Cognitive therapy leads to better treatment of depression, shown by fewer symptoms and better adherence to treatment.

Criticisms: Self-report good and bad, Individual differences.

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