Individual Differences - Approaches to abnormality and evaluation points

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Matt H
  • Created on: 20-10-12 15:28

Psychodynamic approach - background

  • Put forward by Sigmund Freud in the late 19th Century
  • Key assumption is that all human behaviour can be explained in terms of inner mind conflict
  • The mind structure is made up of the conscious (where all conscious thinking takes place) and the unconscious (where hidden thoughts and feelings are found)
  • Freud said that successful psychosexual development is essential for a healthy personality
  • Through each of the three stages of development (oral, anal and phallic), personality develops in the form of the id, ego and superego.
  • He believed these were separate conflicting forces, requiring a balance in mental health for a normal lifestyle.
1 of 10

Psychodynamic approach - the id, ego and superego

The id

  • We are born with the id
  • Its energy is called the libido
  • Operates on the pleasure principle - "I want"

The ego

  • Operates on the reality principle - "Think about it"
  • Balances the drives of the id and superego
  • Children begin to learn they're individuals and can't always get what they want through toddlerhood
  • They recognise their own desires, wants and needs forming the ego

The superego

  • Operates on the morality principle - "It is wrong to"
  • Includes understanding of right and wrong
  • The ideal force - the figure the individual strives to be
  • Opposes the id
2 of 10

Psychodynamic approach - defence mechanisms

Freud said that when things go wrong in our lives that we can't deal with, we develop defence mechanisms such as:

  • Repression - (burying) of the problem into our unconscious
  • Denial - of the problem
  • Projection - projecting our problem behaviour onto someone else
  • Displacement - our problems are channelled into other things such as eating
  • Regression - we go back several stages in our personality development
3 of 10

Psychodynamic approach - evaluation points

  • Provides some believable explanations but lacks empirical research evidence
  • Freud based his ideas mainly on analysis of middle class Viennese women
  • He only studied one child (Little Hans) when developing his theories and he only corresponded with the child's father, not the boy himself
  • His theories were revolutionary for the time they were developed as they suggested that abnormality could be caused by things other than medical issues or evil spirits
  • They also paved the way for other models to be developed, such as the behavioural and cognitive model
  • There is much evidence suggesting that adult disorders can be caused by childhood trauma, despite a lack of scientific evidence
  • The theory tends to over focus on sexual issues and ignores the importance of interpersonal and social factors in causing abnormality
  • The psychodynamic approach is determinist, as it says suffering childhood trauma will lead to abnormal behaviour in adulthood
  • It ignores the influence of genes, reward and thinking patterns
4 of 10

Cognitive approach - background

  • The approach perceives mental disorders as negative thoughts and illogical beliefs
  • Beck's cognitive triad(,r:0,s:0,i:83)
  • The three illogical thought processes of the triad cause irrational negative feelings about self - called "cognitive errors"
  • Ellis (1962) suggested the A-B-C model for diagnosing abnormality:
    A - Activating event
    B - Belief which may be rational or irrational
    C - Consequence, rational beliefs lead to healthy emotions and irrational beliefs lead to unhealthy emotions 
5 of 10

Cognitive approach - evaluation points

+ It empowers individuals with the ability to change cognitions
+ Research suggests that faulty thought processes and abnormality is linked
+ The approach allows for free will as it takes into account decision making        and choices
+ It is high in validity and reliability 

- The cognitive approach places the blame for abnormality on the patient
- Faulty thinking may not be the cause, but a symptom of something else 

6 of 10

Behaviourist approach - background

  • J.B. Watson - "Father of Behaviourism" (Little Albert)
  • Focusses on the role of the environment in individual development
  • Tabula Rasa - theory that we are born as a blank slate and our environment determines how we turn out
  • Uses stimulus-response relationships
  • Cl***ical conditioning - learning through ***ociation
    Neutral Stimulus (NS) --> No response
    Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) --> Unconditioned Response (UCR)
    Conditioned Stimulus (CS) + Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) --> Conditioned Response (CR) 
  • Operant conditioning - learning through consequence, focusses on reward and punishment
    - Reinforcement - anything increasing the likelihood of repeated behaviour.
    - Positive reinforcement - reinforcement using pleasant consequences when they happen
    - Negative reinforcement - reinforcement using pleasant consequences when they stop
    - Punishment - anything unpleasant decreasing the likelihood of repeated behaviour
    - Continuous reinforcement - the desired behaviour is reinforced every time it occurs
    - Partial reinforcement - the response is reinforced only part of the time
    - Vicarious reinforcement - reinforcement from seeing others rewarded and punished
7 of 10

Behaviourist approach - evaluation points

+ Does explain the role of the media and its influences - Becker (1999)
+ Proven results
+ Uses observable behaviour - evidence that can be seen

- Some phobics can't remember a neutral stimulus, which could suggest not all phobias are behavioural
- Disorders like schizophrenia are hard to explain in terms of the behaviourist approach
- It is very simplistic and reductionist
- Lots of research is conducted on animals
- Determinist - reinforced behaviour WILL be carried out, no free will 

8 of 10

Biological approach - background

  • The cause of a disorder - think BING:
    - Brain injury
    - Infection
    - Neurotransmitters
    - Genetics 
  • Genetics - individuals may inherit certain disorders from relatives, especially parents
  • Abnormal behaviour could be as a result of an individual's biochemistry:
    - Neurotransmitters may contribute to disorders
    - Schizophrenia - excessive amounts of dopamine
    - Bi-polar depression - high levels of serotonin 
  • Neuroanatomy - the structure of the nervous system may be involved in some disorders
  • Post-mortem schizophrenics have enlarged ventricles in the brain
9 of 10

Biological approach - evaluation points

+ Medical evidence
+ Scientific proof and explanations
+ Most reliable tests - replicable with the same results
+ No blame

- Reductionist
- Genetics don't provide complete explanation
- Drugs don't always work
- Physical irregularities may be symptoms not causes
- Might cause patients to become passive/dependant on treatment/doctor
- Focusses on curing symptoms, not the causes
- Some ethical/moral issues 

10 of 10


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Abnormality resources »