Core Studies - Section C


Cognitive Approach

Assumption: - Behaviour can be explained in terms of how the mind operates/processes information. In this way the mind works similarly to a computer: storing, processing and retrieving data.
- Internal processes such as memory, thinking and language are important features influencing behaviours. 

Eye Witness Testimony: Two types of information make up an event. Information gathered from perceiving the event and information gathered afterwards. These 2 pieces of information become integrated and if the information gathered afterwards is influenced by leading questions, that individual is left with an inaccurate memory of that event. An example of this is Loftus and Palmer's study who found that if a verb was changed (i.e. from 'hit' to 'smashed') in a question about car accidents, then people would respond differently. Thereby suggesting recall is affected and testimonies may be inaccurate.

Impairment of Theory of Mind skills: The study by Baron Cohen aimed to understand why people with Autism have problems with social relationships. It was found that compared to a group of 'normal' people and people with Tourettes Syndrome, those with Autism got lower scores on Theory of Mind tasks, for example 'reading eyes'. Therefore the cognitive approach would say impairment of theory of mind skills would be due to a persons cognitive difficulties.

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Cognitive Approach

Compare and Contrast:
Similarity - Loftus and Palmer gathered quantitative data such as speed estimations in miles per hour; Baron-Cohen gathered quantitative data such as number of correct answers on Eyes Task given by Autistic/Tourettes/Normal.

Difference - Loftus and Palmer use a lab experiment whereas Savage-Rumbaugh used a case study.

Useful - Can help people with their cognitive inabilities (i.e. develop ToM)

Scientific - Uses contolled environments; laboratory experiments (i.e. Loftus)

Ethical issues - Protection from harm (i.e. Loftus)

Lacks ecological validity (i.e. Savage-Rumbaugh observed chimps in laboratory) 

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Individual Differences Approach

Assumptions: - Behaviours are strongly influenced by characteristics of the individual rather than the immediate situation.
- Behaviours focus on the ways we differ, e.g. personality/intelligence/abnormality.

Gambling Behaviour: The approach suggests individuals differ in their behaviour and personal qualities. Griffiths found regular gamblers had significantly more cognitive biases and irrational verbalisations than non-regular gamblers. However, some individuals personified the machine more whilst others swore at it more. Suggesting all humans as individuals have different qualities and thought patterns that will affect their behaviour.

Multiple Personality Disorder: The approach suggests MPD shows everybody is different and unique. It was concluded by Thigpen and Cleckley that MPD was Eve Whites way of coping with stressful events that had happened in her past, and this is explained as everyone has a different, unique way of coping. In psychometric tests, Eve W showed to have an IQ of 110 whereas Eve B had 104. The projective tests showed Eve W was repressive but Eve B was regressive. Therefore the approach explains MPD as another example of differences that exist between people.

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Individual Differences Approach

Reliability of Psychiatric Diagnosis: The approach suggests everyone's different and that abnormality and normality don't exist. In order to measure abnormality or classify someones insanity, the staff of hospitals use the DSM. Rosenhan's study aimed to test the reliability of the DSM and argues it doesn't measure abnormality correctly. 8 pseudopatients were sent to different psychiatric hospitals and found psychiatrists made a Type II error of diagnosing these healthy pseudopatients as ill because their symptoms were existential. Therefore suggesting that psychiatric diagnosis is unreliable as everyone is different and the way they behave may seem abnormal to some people but is normal to themselves.

Compare and Contrast: Similarity - Thigpen and Cleckley used opportunity sampling as Eve transferred due to headaches. Rosenhan used opportunity as participants were staff working in hospitals at the time.
Difference - Rosenhan had ethical issues such as consent, but Griffiths was ethically sound.

Strengths: High ecological validity (i.e. Rosenhan); Useful - explains why people behave differently (i.e. Thigpen and Cleckley)

Weaknesses: Not scientific - lacks contolled investigations (i.e. Rosenhan);
Unethical - Participants unable to withdraw (i.e. Griffiths. 

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Social Approach

Assumptions: - All behaviour occurs in a social context even when nobody else is present.
- A major influence on peoples behaviour is other people and the society they have created.

Obedience to Authority: Obedience is a form of social influence where an individual acts in response to a direct order from another individual. In Milgrams study, the presence of an authority figure (the researcher) dressed in a lab coat and clipboard influenced the individuals to believe that the study was legitimate and the person should be obeyed. It was also held in Yale University, which led participants to believe the experimenter was competent and therefore obeyed more than they would in a less prestigious setting. Due to the environment Milgram found all participants would administer shocks of 300 volts to another person

Tyranny: Tyranny is where in 2 unequal groups, one forcefully imposes authority over the other. Reicher and Haslams study found that in a fake prison setting, the prisoners who had formed a strong identity with their group eventually overpowered the Guards authority and worked against the guards regime. Therefore tyranny can be explained by the social approach as it suggests the society that a group creates influences their behaviours.

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Social Approach

Helping Behaviour: Piliavin attempts to study helping behaviours in public places. Previous laboratory research found behaviour is affected by diffusion of responsability (less likely to help if there are more people about). However Piliavin found that people are more likely to help in a real life situation after analysing the costs and rewards of helping. Things like guilt, praise or physical attacks in response to getting involved.

Compare and Contrast: Similarity - Milgram used self-selected sampling from a newspaper advert around New Haven asking for volunteers to take part in a study of learning and memory. Reicher and Haslam also used self-selected sampling from national newspaper advert asking for male participants.;
Difference - Piliavin is high in ecological validity as it was a field experiment taken part on a real New York subway. R+H lacks ecological validity as prisoners not real.

Strengths: Useful - enables understanding of why individuals may not help in certain situations (i.e. Piliavin)
Scientific - Uses controlled investigations, increases validity (i.e. Milgram)

Weaknesses: Unethical - Protection from Harm (i.e. Milgram)
Lacks ecological validity - will not generalise to everyday life. (i.e. Reicher and Haslam)

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Developmental Approach

Assumptions: - Behaviours can be affected by experiences and innate factors from conception to death.
- There are clearly identifiable systematic changes that occur in an individuals behaviour from conception to death.

Cognitive Development: Cognitive development can be measured through conservation tasks and as Samuel and Bryant show, the ability to conserve improves with age. In their study, they formed several conditions (standard, fixed array and one-judgement) and grouped children together by age. Each child was shown a variety of conservation materials and the number of errors was recorded. They found that the younger children made the most errors and this decreased when the children were older. Suggesting the ability to conserve develops with age.

Aggression: Social Learning Theory states that behaviour is learned through imitation and Bandura suggested that children would learn aggressive behaviours from witnessing them being displayed by an adult. The study by Bandura showed that children who were witness to an aggressive display by an adult made more aggressive responses than those who were exposed to non-aggressive models. Therefore aggression can be explained by the developmental approach as when we are more exposed to aggressive behaviours as a child, we will display those same behaviours as we develop in age.

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Developmental Approach

Phobias: Freud's idea is central to emotional development, arguing that children pass through various psychosexual stages of development and along with experiences, this shapes our personality. Through his study of Little Hans, we can see that Hans was in the phallic stage of development when he was afraid of horses. Freud argues that within this stage, boys experience the Oedipus complex. Displaced fear of father onto horses.

Compare and Contrast: Similarity - Samuel and Bryant, and Bandura lack ecological validity.
Difference - Bandura used laboratory experiment with controlled observation to show how children could learn to be aggressive in a controlled environment. Freud used case study to investigate phobia.

Strengths: Useful - Offers explanation as to why individuals of different ages demonstrate different intellectual abilities, etc. (i.e Samuel and Bryant)
Scientific - Controlled investigations used testing the effect of IV on DV. (i.e. Bandura)

Weaknesses: Unethical - Participants unable to withdraw (i.e. Freud);
Lacks ecological validity - due to controlled investigations not being like everyday life. Behaviour observed is not natural and cannot be generalised to everyday life. (i.e Bandura) 

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Physiological Approach

Assumptions: - All that is psychological is first physiological. The mind appears to reside in the brain therefore all thoughts, feelings and behaviours have a physical/biological cause.
- Psychologists should study the brain, nervous system and other biological systems (i.e. hormones) acting on the brain in order to explain behaviour.

Structural Changes in the Brain: The research conducted by Maguire suggests that the structure of the brain changes over time. Conducting MRI scans on both experienced taxi drivers and non-taxi drivers she found that the volume of grey matter in the hippocampi was greater in taxi drivers. This difference could have been there before they sat the 'knowledge' test which may have predisposed them to navigational jobs. However, Maguire also found some changes may have taken place after they had qualified, because the more experienced taxi drivers had a greater volume of grey matter on the right posterior hippocampus.

Functions of the Brains Hemispheres: Sperry investigated what cognitive functions take place in each of the separate hemispheres and found that when an object was placed in the right hand of a split-brain patient, participants readily described or named the object in speech or writing but when the object was placed in their left hand they often made wild guesses and seemed unaware that there was anything there at all. The physiological approach suggests that the left hemisphere controls the ability to speak and understand language but the right hemisphere controls tasks such as drawing.

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Physiological Approach

REM Sleep and Dreaming: Research conducted by Dement and Kleitman suggests that we only dream during REM sleep and that eye movements can be used to show the content of our dreams. The physiological approach suggests that all thoughts, feelings and behaviours have a physical/biological cause.

Compare and Contrast: Similarity - Maguire used Quasi experiment with taxi drivers or non-taxi drivers. Sperry used Quasi experiment with IV = split brain surgery or not.
Difference - Dement and Kleitman had low ecological validity as participants slept in laboratory and had no caffeine/alcohol. Sperry high ecological validity as IV natural.

Strengths: Scientific - Uses controlled investigations and scientific equipment such as MRI scanners, Voxel Based Morphology and Pixel-Counting (i.e. Maguire);
Useful - Helps to understand how thoughts, feelings and behaviours are due to physical or biological causes. For example the brain works as two separate hemispheres (i.e. Sperry)

Weaknesses: Lacks ecological validity (i.e. Dement and Kleitman)
Reductionist - Narrows the causes of behaviour down to one factor. (i.e. Sperry) 

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Behaviourist Perspective

Assumptions: - All behaviour is learned and that learning happens through the processes of classical conditioning, operant conditioning or through social learning.

Transmission of Aggression: The perspective explains aggression by emphasising the importance of environmental factors in shaping behaviour through Social Learning. Children, for example, may learn aggressive behaviours through the process of observational learning which involves watching the behaviour of another person and imitating it. Bandura provides evidence for this theory in his study on 72 boys and girls. The aim was to demonstrate that if children were witness to an aggressive display by an adult they would too imitate it when given the opportunity. Findings suggested children in the aggressive model condition made more aggressive responses than those in the non-aggressive model condition. Thus supporting the idea that we observe those around us and reproduce those behaviours.

Rethinking Tyranny: Tyranny is where in 2 unequal groups, one forcefully imposes authority over the other. Reicher and Haslams study found that in a fake prison setting, the prisoners who had formed a strong identity with their group eventually overpowered the Guards authority and worked against the guards regime. Therefore tyranny can be explained by the behaviourist perspective as groups learn to become stronger and then have more power over other groups.

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Behaviourist Perspective

Compare and Contrast: Similarity - Reicher and Haslam was a longitudinal study lasting for 8 days and Savage-Rumbaugh also used longitudinal lasting for 17 months;
Difference -  Bandura is unethical as protection from harm/parental consent. Reicher and Haslam was ethically sound as participants were screened to make sure they were mentally stable and gave their consent 

Strengths: Useful - Highlights how influential the environment is on our behaviour (i.e. Bandura)
Scientific - Uses controlled investigations (i.e. Reicher and Haslam)

Weaknesses: Reductionist - Tends to suggest our behaviour is due to one aspect (environment) instead of looking at a number of explanations (i.e. Bandura)
Deterministic - Ignores free will. Suggests we are a product of our environment and doesn't take into consideration any individual differences (i.e. Milgram) 

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Psychodynamic Perspective

Assumptions: - Emphasises the role of the unconscious mind, the structure of personality and the influence that childhood experiences have on behaviour in later life.

Phobias: The perspective suggests phobias develop as a result of past experience, often occurring in childhood. Psychodynamic developmental psychologists see a phobia as the expression of an unconscious fear which has been repressed because it's too disturbing or socially unacceptable. A good example of this comes from Freud's analysis of a phobia in a 5 year old boy, Little Hans. The aim was to demonstrate that the boys fear was related to his Oedipus complex. Freud's findings suggest that Hans' phobia of horses was an expression of his repressed fear of his father which Freud claimed was part of his Oedipus experienced commonly by boys of that age. Therefore the psychodynamic perspective suggests phobias are the result of repressed feelings and experiences.

Transmission of Aggression: Social Learning Theory states that behaviour is learned through imitation and Bandura suggested that children would learn aggressive behaviours from witnessing them being displayed by an adult. The study by Bandura showed that children who were witness to an aggressive display by an adult made more aggressive responses than those who were exposed to non-aggressive models. Therefore aggression can be explained by the psychodynamic perspective as it shows witnessing aggression as a child can be imitated later in life.

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Psychodynamic Perspective

Multiple Personality Disorder: The perspective suggests many influences on behaviour come from part of the mind individuals have no direct awareness of, the unconscious. And that people often repress memories as a defence mechanism. The psychodynamic perspective would explain MPD by suggesting the disorder was Eve Whites unique way of coping with traumatic events that had occurred in her early life. The aim of T+C was to provide an account of the therapeutic treatment of a 25 year old woman. It was found EW had an IQ of 110 and EB had an IQ of 104. Projective tests showed EW had repressive personality, EB was regressive. Therefore MPD is result of past experiences repressed.

Compare and Contrast: Similarity - Bandura used opportunity sampling as participants all from Stanford University Nursery. Freud also used opportunity sampling as Little Hans referred through a friend. (his father)
Difference -  Thigpen and Cleckley had high ecological validity as case study involved interviewing Eve about her life, etc. Bandura low ecological validity as in artificial setting.

Strengths: Useful - Enables understanding of causes for mental health problem(i.e. T+C)
High in ecological validity (e.g. Freud)

Weaknesses: Unscientific - Lacks controlled investigations (i.e. Freud)
Unethical - Protection from Harm (i.e. Bandura)

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This helped me out alot thanks!



This is so helpful, thank you! On page 9 the bottom bit is cut off, I wondered if you would be able to tell me what it is supposed to say? 

Kiwiii xo


Very useful! However could have explained the colour coordination 

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