Key Approaches

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THE BIOLOGICAL APPROACH

  • Stresses the importance of nature in the nature vs. nurture debate
  • The principles of biology are applied to psychology in order to understand behaviours such as imprinting
  • We are able to manipulate a species' genetic make-up in order to investigate the genetic basis of behaviour
  • Darwin's theory of evolution shows how strongest genes survive and are passed onto the next generation, whilst maladaptive genes die out
  • We can observe many examples of evolutionary behaviour in non-human species e.g. sexual selection and in humans e.g. the rooting reflex
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THE BEHAVIOURIST APPROACH

  • Psychology should focus on abservable behaviour, not minds, if it is to be regarded as a scientific discipline
  • All behaviour is learnt, or determined by, interactions and experiences in our environment
  • Operant conditioning is concerned with the use of consequences or reinforcements to modify and shape behaviour
  • Classical conditioning demonstrates how a new association can be made between a neutral stimulus and an already exsisting response
  • There are many practical examples of the behaviourist approach e.g. the modification of speech in autistic children
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SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY

  • SLT takes into account the cognitive processes involved in learning
  • We learn by observing others (role models) in our environment
  • There are 4 conditions necessary for effective modelling to occur: Attention, Retention, Motor Reproduction and Motivation
  • SLT has been applied to many areas of psychology e.g. gender development
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COGNITIVE APPROACH

  • Cognitive psychologists focus on internal mental processes that lie between stimulus and response
  • Humans are like computers in the way in which both encode, store and retrieve information
  • Many models, e.g. connectionist, have been used to explain internal mental processes
  • The approach has provided many useful applications e.g. improving reliability of eyewitness accounts
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THE PSYCHODYNAMIC APPROACH

  • The unconscious mind contains instinctive drives, needs and psychic actions of which we are unaware
  • The way in whcih we progress through the 5 psychosexual stages of development as a child will determine our adult behaviour
  • Our personality is structured by the interactions of the id, ego and superego
  • The ego employs defence mechanisms, e.g. denial to protect us from feelings of guilt and anxiety
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THE HUMANISTIC APPROACH

  • Human beings are active agents who have free will to control and determine their own development
  • Rogers stated that to be psychologically healthy, a person's ideal self and real self must be congruent
  • Maslow stated that all individuals strive towards self-actualisation- the ability to realise one's potential
  • Person-centred therapy is still used in counselling today as an effective tool to achieve personal growth and psychological health
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