G544/G541 Psychology Approaches/Perspectives

Includes main assumptions of the Approaches and Perspectives, as well as their strength and weaknesses and examples from AS and A2.

The A2 studies are missing from the perspectives, but I will put them up tomorrow.

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Social Approach

Main Assumptions

  • behaviour occurs in a social context, even if no one else is present
  • a major influence on a persons behaviour, emotions and thought processes are other people and the society they have created
  • an individuals behaviour is effected by situational factors

Strengths:

  • useful in explaining prejudice and discrimination
  • adopts scientific method - reliable

Weaknesses:

  • only provides a 'snapshot' of behaviour
  • studies usually in a lab - lacks ecological validity
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Social Appoach

AS studies:

Milgram - obedience

Piliavin - subway samaritan

Reicher and Haslam - BBC prison study

A2 study:

Zimbardo - prison experiment

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Cognitive Approach

Main Assumptions:

  • behaviour is influenced by mental processes - memory, perception, thinking and language
  • the mind is similar to a computer - processing, storing and retrieving information

Strengths:

  • uses scientific method - reliable
  • useful application for therapy

Weaknesses:

  • oversimplistic about how the mind operates - deterministic
  • studies lack ecological validity
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Cognitive Approach

AS studies:

Loftus and Palmer - eyewitness testimony

Baron-Cohen - theory of mind experiment

Savage-Rumbaugh - language in chimps

A2 study:

Lowe and Raynor - taking medicine with old people

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Developmental Approach

Main Assumptions:

  • all behaviour in adulthood is effected by experiences in childhood
  • development changes are due to inherited factors (nature) which include events that occur as a result of maturation eg puberty
  • behaviour is effected by lifetime experiences (nurture) which include interactions between other people

Strengths:

  • allows us to measure behaviour overtime - longitudinal
  • allows us to understand the effects of childhood

Weaknesses:

  • deterministic - only focuses on childhood
  • often qualititive data - experimenter bias
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Developmental Approach

AS studies:

Bandura - agression in children

Samual and Bryant - how children conserve

Freud - Little Hans and his phobias

A2 study:

Juby and Farrington - re-analysed Cambridge study of delinquent behaviour

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Physiological Approach

Main Assumptions:

  • all that is psychological is first physiological - mind resides in the brain
  • behaviour can be reduced to physiological functioning
  • investigates the brain, nervious system and other biological factors like hormones

Strengths:

  • scientific approach - reliable
  • useful applications for drug treatments

Weaknesses:

  • oversimplistic - deterministic
  • studies have small samples - samples not representative - not generalisable
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Physiological Approach

AS studies:

Sperry - split brain

Dement and Kleitman - sleep lab

Maguire - hippocampi in taxi drivers

A2 study:

Raine et al - PET scans in criminals

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Individual Differences Approach

Main Assumptions:

  • any behaviour which deviates from the norm is considered adnormal
  • focuses on the unique characteristics of an individual
  • aims to make generalisations about differences between people

Strengths:

  • useful applications - treatment for disorders
  • may help find causes for prejudice/discrimination and help prevent it

Weaknesses:

  • small samples so lack generalisability
  • most studies have qualitative data - experimenter bias
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Individual Differences Approach

AS studies:

Thigpen and Cleckley - three faces of Eve

Rosenhan - sane in insane places

Griffiths - gambling addiction

A2 study:

Ruiter et al - fear arousal in self breast examination

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Psychodynamic Perspective

Main Assumptions:

  • behaviour is explained by the relationship between innate drives
  • all behaviour is due to inner conflicts of the mind and all behaviour is an unconsious cause
  • there are three parts to the human psyche: the id, the ego and the superego

Strengths:

  • Freud recognised that childhood is an important period of development
  • studies normally case studies - provide rich, detailed data

Weaknesses:

  • no way of testing whether assumptions are true
  • deterministic - predicts behaviour and that everyone will act and react in the same way
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Psychodynamic Perspective

AS studies:

Freud - Little Hans

Thigpen and Cleckley - three faces of Eve

A2 study:

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Behaviourist Perspective

Main Assumptions:

  • behaviour is learned and shaped by the environment around us
  • there are two ways of learning - classical and operant conditioning
  • humans are born as a blank slate

Strengths:

  • contributes to the nature/nurture debate (nurture)
  • adopts scientific method - more reliable

Weaknesses:

  • unethical - that you can change the way someone behaves
  • studies tend to lack ecological vaildity
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Behaviourist Perspective

AS studies:

Bandura - aggression in children (social learning theory)

Savage-Rumbaugh - Kanzi learning language (operant conditioning and social learning theory)

Griffiths - gambling (operant conditioning)

A2 study:

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