Core Studies - Approaches - Their Assumptions, Strengths, & Weaknesses


Developmental Approach

- Both experience and maturation influence behaviour (this links to the nature-nurture debate).
- Children and adults might think about the world in different ways (Piaget).
- All behaviour in adulthood is affected by experiences in childhood (Freud).
- Deprivation in childhood may lead to delayed or limited development.
- Children develop through a series of stages each building on the one before (Freud & Piaget).

- Allows us to understand the effects of childhood, and childhood experiences, on behaviour.
- It contributes to our understanding of the nature-nurture debate in explanations of behaviour.
- The approach allows us to measure the changes in behaviour over time.
- It provides an understanding of the factors which affect development.
- The studies are often based on qualitative data, which is susceptible to bias.
- May focus greatly on childhood and in turn be deterministic (saying we do not have free will,     and more that our actions are controlled by factors such as our biology or upbringing).

- Other factors are not considered, such as historical and cultural influences on behaviour.
- We need to be much more aware of ethical issues when working with children.
- The studies may take a long time to conduct and require greater resources.

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Individual Differences Approach

- To understand the complexity of human behaviour and experiences, it is necessary to study the differences between people, rather than those things that we all have in common.
- Everyone is unique, and thus, different - therefore, making common laws about behaviour is not valid.
- People behave as individuals and exercise free will.
- Behaviour that deviates from the 'norm' - we assume is abnormal.

- Can be useful in improving the experiences of people with mental health problems.
- Both types of data (quantative and qualitative) are used.
- All of the studies in the approach are high in ecological validity.
- There are ethical issues in some studies (Thigpen & Cleckley, Rosenhan).
- Small samples and case studies lead to problems with generalisability.
- Can ignore the influence of the situation affecting behaviour (e.g., Eve's problems could be because of how society was structured in the 1960s).
- The studies have a lack of control over the environment.

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Physiological Approach

- Our behaviour is the result of biological factors such a brain fuction, anatomy, and genetics.
- Behaviour can be explained and understood by studying the underlying biology - psychology         should focus on the brain, neurochemsitry, and genes.

- The approach takes a scientific approach using labortatory experiments.
- Sophisticated equiptment is used, such as EEG monitors which provide an objective and             precise way of measuring brain strcuture and function.
- It has practical applications, such as helping to diagnose and develop treatments and therapies   for illnesses and problems.
- Finding out about brains which are unusual can help understand normal brain function.
- Using scientific tesing of behaviour in labortatory condtions often lacks ecological validity.
- The technology can be expensive and people must be trained to use it.
- Studies can be costly and time consuming because of the use of sophisticated equiptment and   lengthy procedures.
- Studies often have small samples because suitable people are hard to find. 

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Social Approach

- Our behaviour is affected by other people, either present or imagined.
- A major influence on people's behaviour, thought processes, and emotions are other people and   the society they have created.
- An individual's behaviour is affected by situational factors.

- Social influences have been shown to have an often stronger effect than dispositional factors,     and so it is important these are considered.
- The approach can provide explanations for many phenomena, such as when people do and do not help in an emergency, or the rise of tyrranical leaders.
- The approach is useful in explaining negative behaviours, such as prejudice and discrimination.
- It underestimates what people bring to a social situation.
- It provides only superficial 'snapshots' of behaviour and ignores their development over time. 

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Cognitive Approach

- Behaviour is explained in the way the mind works.
- The mind is like a computer, it inputs, stores, processes, and retrieves.
- Behaviour can be as a response to external stimuli.

- Most are laboratory studies, so they have a high level of control.
- They may help those with cognitive problems by informing through teaching/treatment.
- It increases our understanding of the cognitive abilities of species.
- It takes into account the internal, invisible thought processes that affect our behaviour.
- Most are laboratory studies, so they have low ecological validity, or create demand                     characteristics.
- Cognitive research is often reductionist as it does not always consider social factors.
- Research often uses quantative measures which may often over-simplify behaviour

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