The Social Approach is the study of how our behaviour is influenced by the presence, attitudes and actions of others, whether it be actual, implied or imagined. The approach also looks at how behaviour may be affected by group membership and by social situation, and includes our wider culture

Obedience refers to following direct orders from an individual in a position of authority:

- compliance – following instructions without necessarily agreeing with them

- conformity – adopting the attitudes and behaviours of others, even if against one’s own inclinations

- internalising – carrying out orders with agreement

The term destructive obedience refers to the idea of an individual following the orders which they consider to be immoral, which will cause them a lot of distress and regret (often occurs with conformity)

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The Social Approach is the study of how our behaviour is influenced by the presence, attitudes and actions of others, whether it be actual, implied or imagined. The approach also looks at how behaviour may be affected by group membership and by social situation, and includes our wider culture

Obedience refers to following direct orders from an individual in a position of authority:

- compliance – following instructions without necessarily agreeing with them

- conformity – adopting the attitudes and behaviours of others, even if against one’s own inclinations

- internalising – carrying out orders with agreement

The term destructive obedience refers to the idea of an individual following the orders which they consider to be immoral, which will cause them a lot of distress and regret (often occurs with conformity)

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Milgram's Study

Milgram’s Study of Obedience (1963)

Aim: To investigate how far people will go in obeying an authority figure

According to Milgram himself, the degree of tension within the participants reached extremes for some where they were observed to “sweat, tremble, stutter, bite their lips, groan and dig their fingers into their flesh”. And yet still, they continued: simply because the experimenter was a figure of authority. “One sign of tension was the regular occurrence of laughing fits… Full blown, uncontrollable seizures were observed for 3 subjects. On one occasion we observed a fit so violently convulsive that it was necessary to call a halt to the experiment” – Milgram, 1963

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Milgram's Study


Milgram chose 40 males between the age of 20 and 50 with a variety of jobs to be the participants

The learner (actor) was a 47 year old acting as Mr Wallace a well-mannered and likeable accountant

The experimenter watched the teacher as he gave the shocks; he was dressed in a grey lab coat to give the appearance of an important authoritative figure

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Milgram's Study


All 40 of the participants continued to the stage of 300 volt shock, and 26 of them (65%) continued until the end – 450 volts. Milgram concluded from the results that social influence is strong and people obey orders even when this causes distress. It was not predicted that this level of obedience would occur. Milgram asked psychology students and professional psychologists before the study what they thought the level of obedience would be, answers ranged from 1 to 3 out of 40

Milgram said some of the factors which may have led to this high level of obedience were:

- Yale University is a prestigious university which would be unlikely to allow anything unethical to occur

- The victim was not unwilling and had agreed to take part

- The participant may have thought the learner would only do the same in their place

- The participant had been paid to take part, feeling obliged to do the experiment

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Milgram's Study

According to Milgram himself, the degree of tension within the participants reached extremes for some where they were observed to “sweat, tremble, stutter, bite their lips, groan and dig their fingers into their flesh”. And yet still, they continued: simply because the experimenter was a figure of authority. “One sign of tension was the regular occurrence of laughing fits… Full blown, uncontrollable seizures were observed for 3 subjects. On one occasion we observed a fit so violently convulsive that it was necessary to call a halt to the experiment” – Milgram, 1963

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Milgram's Study

Evaluation of Milgram’s Study of Obedience

The experiment’s results at the time were not generalisable for a number of reasons. First of all, the study only used men of a certain age, which did not show anything of women or those from other ages. Also, the experiments were only conducted in America, so the findings may have been ethnocentric (confined to one country) as they had not been supported elsewhere

The main measure of a study’s reliability is how replicable it is: because of the strong controls in this experiment, it is replicable and replicating it is a good measure of its reliability. The experiment was repeated by Milgram, himself, among other psychologists, and it was shown that the results were reliable

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Milgram's Study

Milgram’s work had practical value because it showed that individuals have a tendency towards destructive obedience (obeying orders which cause yourself moral distress). This helped to explain obeying behaviour, such as that of the Nazis

The study has low ecological validity (the task took place in a laboratory where normal behaviour was not observed) The study has high experimental validity (there were strong controls making it experimentally correct)

But the biggest criticism of Milgram’s study is on ethical grounds. Participants were deceived, as they were not informed as to the true nature of the experiment: they were told it was a study on memory, it was actually on obedience. Whilst technically they had the right to withdraw, the experimenters used verbal prompts to pressurise them into staying. Also, many of the participants came to much distress during the experiment, as described in the box above

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Milgram's Study

Some of the main variations of the Milgram experiment are listed below:

(% age giving final 450V shock)

Original study - The subject would administer the shocks to a learner (actor) who earned the role of learner via a fixed lottery 65% (26/40)

Change in location - The same experiment was carried out in a run-down office block, instead of the original location, which was Yale University - 41% (19/40)

Learner’s presence in the room In one variation, the learner was physically present in the room with the subject, so he had to watch the learner be shocked, and if he refused to touch the shock plate, the subject was told to hold the learner’s hand down 30% (12/40)

Experimenter not present in the room - In this variation, the experimenter was not in the same room as the teacher, and all communication between the teacher and experimenter was done via a telephone 23% (9/40)

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Milgram's Study

Increase the number of teachers -  Another experiment used three teachers, two of whom were actors, and so only one was the real subject. They would behave as though they were also being studied. The first acting teacher would drop out at 150V, the second at 210V), the third (real subject) was then free to drop out at any point - 10% (4/40)

Conflicting experimenters - In this variation, there were two experimenters present who would conflict with each other, this means they would argue over what was best to do next and would often give the teacher contradictory instructions - 0% (0/40)

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Meeus and Raaijmakers

Meeus and Raaijmakers (1986)

Aim: To investigate destructive obedience in the everyday situation of a job interview

Wim Meeus and Quinten Raaijmakers wanted to replicate Milgram’s experiment but wished to improve on two issues they found with his original study: - Milgram’s participants were assured there would be no permanent damage to the “learners” - The form of punishment would have been old-fashioned according to Meeus and Raaijmakers

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Meeus and Raaijmakers

The aim was to assess how the participants would handle destructive obedience in the everyday situation of a job interview and to what extent they would obey orders to psychologically abuse a job applicant

- There were three people involved: a university researcher, a “job applicant” (an actor), and the participant

- The applicant was to follow a script, answering 32 oral multiple-choice questions to get the job

- The participant was told the job required the ability to handle stress, so they had to issue psychological abuse for each incorrect answer the applicant gave: there were 15 negative comments (stress remarks) to be made in total, ranging from “your answer is wrong” to “I think you’d be better suited for a lower-function job”

- The stress remarks would eventually lead to the interviewee failing and not getting the job

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Meeus and Raaijmakers

There were 39 participants taking part in this study, and these were separated into two groups. Those in the experimental group (24 participants) were told when to make the stress remarks by the experimenter.

Those in the control group (15 participants) could choose when and even whether or not to make the remarks at all Also, there were variations of the experiment: Variation 1 – the experimenter was not present in the room during the interview (22 participants used) Variation 2 – two other “participants” (also actors) were present, who quit after the tenth remark (19 participants used)

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Meeus and Raaijmakers


Number of participants who…     Original Study         Variation 1                  Variation 2

Made all 15 stress remarks         92% (22/24)*           36% (8/22)                16% (3/19)

Believed the experiment was real 73% 81%                       84%

Thought the experiment was a hoax      4%                      5%                            0%

Unsure if the experiment was real         23%                   14%                          16%

*All 22 of these participants were from the experimental group (none of the control group went through to the end)

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Meeus and Raaijmakers

Meeus and Raaijmakers drew three main conclusions from the experiment to explain the higher levels of obedience:

- physical violence has more of an immediate impact than psychological harm

- consent levels were different (i.e. the participants knew they were going to be doing what they did, Milgram’s participants did not explicitly know they would be administering physical harm to the learner

- the victim was more dependent on the outcome (they had to continue going to get the job

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Meeus and Raaijmakers


- The study builds on Milgram’s by focusing on two areas which Meeus and Raaijmakers saw needing attention

- Due to the strong controls, the experiment is replicable so reliability can be tested and cause-and-effect conclusions could be drawn

- The study is a lab experiment and the task is artificial, therefore lacking validity

- Although the findings were usefully compared with Milgram’s, there are other factors which could have affected the data, such as different cultures, or different times (they were 20 years apart)

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Agency Theory

The participants of Milgram’s experiments felt moral strain as they gave the shocks to the learners. They were aware that what they were doing is immoral, but felt obliged to continue because a person of authority was telling them to do so

Milgram put forward a theory, agency theory to try and explain the different states people can be in when blindly obeying those people in a position of authority. He noticed that all of his participants in the original study went to 300 volts, which showed that it was as if just by agreeing to take part in the study, they were in an agentic state: this meant they were the agent of the experimenter and would obey his orders, even if it caused them distress

The opposite of agency is autonomy. Being in an autonomous state is being under your own control and having the power to make your own decisions

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Agency Theory

In an autonomous state: individuals see themselves as having power they see their actions as being voluntary

In an agentic state: individuals act as agents for others their own consciences are not in control

It is suggested that agency theory explains obedience in society.

Evolution theory suggests that avoiding aggression will lead to survival, which is why earlier Neanderthals had a better chance of survival when they went in groups, with defined followers and leaders

Milgram suggested another reason (but survival) for this was that we are taught to obey from a young age.

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Agency Theory

A limitation of agency theory is that it is just a description, not an explanation of behaviour shown in obedience. A further limitation is that there are other possible explanations for obedience, such as social power (consisting of five powers):

- Legitimate power is held by those in certain roles, usually those in authority (e.g. Milgram’s experimenter)

- Reward power is held by those with certain resources (e.g. Milgram, as he was paying the participants)

- Coercive power is held by those who can punish another (e.g. Milgram gave participants a small shock of their own)

- Expert power is held by those with knowledge (e.g. the participants would have seen Milgram as someone with knowledge)

- Referent power is held by those who are able to win people over by persuasion

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Hofling et al. (1966)

Aim: To investigate the level of obedience shown by nurses to an unknown doctor in a hospital

Hofling et al. wanted to study the doctor-nurse relationship and so they looked at how nurses would respond if an unfamiliar doctor ordered them to carry out unethical hospital practice over the phone. A “doctor” would ask the nurses to:

- give an excessive dosage of medicine (this would be a placebo)

- transmit the order over the phone (against hospital policy – has to be done in person)

- use an unauthorised drug (either one not on the ward stock list or one not yet cleared for use)

12 wards were used in public hospitals, and 10 wards in private. The nurses were unaware that they were being studied

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Pill boxes labelled ‘Astroten 5mg capsules. Usual dose, 5mg. Maximum daily dose, 10mg.’ were central to the experiment. They contained placebo capsules and were placed on the ward. A doctor (really an actor) then telephones a nurse to give them orders, which would follow a script, standard answers to potential questions had been prepared. The doctor on the other end of the phone would be unfamiliar to the nurses, but was courteous and self-confident voiced

The phone call would be ended if the nurse agreed to comply, strictly refused to comply, insisted on referring to another doctor, became upset or if the call went on for more than ten minutes. The experiment would be stopped by an observer from the ward if the nurse had the medication ready (had complied) and moved towards the patient’s bed to administer

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After the experiment had ended, there was an interview with the nurses, where they were asked about the experience. The interview was unstructured. They were asked what happened, how they felt about their actions, if the same thing had happened before, etc.

 Also, questionnaires were sent out to both student nurses and graduate nurses from different hospitals asking them what they would have done in the situation.

An example of a question they could have been asked would be: “You are the only nurse on the ward. Now will you please give Mr Jones a stat dose of 20mg – that’s four capsules – of Astroten? I will be up within ten minutes and sign the order for them then.” What do you do?

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Main Study: 21/22 nurses were prepared to give the medication

Gradute Nurses Questionaire: 10/12 said they would not give the medication

Student Nurses Questionnaire: 21/21 said they would not give the medication

Main Study11 were aware of the discrepancy between the maximum dose and the dose they were told to give but assumed it must be safe and correct if a doctor had ordered it

Gradute Nurses Questionaire7 mentioned the discrepancy when explaining why they would not have given the medication

Student Nurses Questionnaire: 19 noticed the excessive dosage, 8 of which student nurses used as the reason for which they would not have

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Main Study: Most nurses said the circumstances were not unusual

Gradute Nurses Questionaire: 7 nurses thought that most other nurses would have behaved in the same way as them

Main Study: Reactions afterwards ranged from scientific interest in the study to anger, outrage (of being observed without their knowledge) and guilt

The researchers drew the following conclusions:

- None of those asked predicted nearly all the nurses would obey, but the high levels of obedience show the strength of the doctor-nurse relationship, and how the patient can suffer as a consequence of it

 -Nurses think that they will defend their patients, but in reality things seem to be different

- The findings showed that nurses trust the doctors a great amount: this could be a valuable trait, but at the same time could allow bad things to happen

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- The experiment took place in a natural setting for the nurses, so normal behaviour would have occurred (the experiment had ecological validity)

- The experiment had an everyday real-life situation which had practical application

- The tasks were not artificial – they could happen, so the experiment has experimental validity

- The study is replicable to test for reliability

- Nurses were observed without their permission, so there was no informed consent or right to withdraw

- Many of the nurses were upset, ashamed or outraged at the fact they were being studied, and the findings distressed many of them

- As far as we can tell, the findings apply only to the USA and so may be ethnocentric

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Sherif et al. (1954)

Aim: To investigate the origin of prejudice arising from the formation of social groups

Sherif et al. conducted the Robbers Cave Study to build upon his previous work. It used two groups of young boys to find: how the groups developed; if and how conflict between the groups arose; and how to reduce any such friction.

Three terms defined according to Sherif are:

small group – individuals sharing a common goal that fosters interaction

norm – a product of group interaction that regulates member behaviour in terms of expected or ideal behaviour

group – a social unit with a number of individuals who are interdependent and have a set of norms and values.

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22 young boys aged 11, who did not know each other prior to the study, matched based on IQ tests and information from their teachers, were put into a camp at Robbers Cave State Park, Oklahoma. A fee was charged to stay at the camp and they were unaware they were being observed

The study was spread over three main stages:

- the two groups were formed and set up norms and hierarchies (to see how they became in-groups)

- the two groups would be introduced and competition was set up (to test for hostility to the out-group)

- the two groups were set goals where they needed to work together to achieve them

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Stage 1: In-group formation

The two groups were kept apart for one week to help the formation of group norms and relations. They had to work as a group to achieve common goals that required cooperation

Stage 2: Inter-group relations (the friction phase)

After the first week, the two groups were told about one another and a tournament was set up with competitive activities.

Points could be earned for the group and there were rewards. As soon as they heard about each other, the two groups became hostile. They wanted to play each other at baseball, so they effectively set up their own tournament, which was what the researchers wanted.

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Stage 3: Inter-group relations (the integration)

The researchers wanted to achieve harmony between the two groups, which they did by introducing superordinate goals.

This meant that the groups would have to work together to achieve the goals. At first, they introduced tasks that simply brought the two groups together so that they could communicate.

They then introduced the superordinate goals, which included:

- fixing the water tank and pump when the water supply was threatened

- a truck that would not start, so they had to pull together to try and start it

- pooling resources so that they could afford a film that they all wanted to watch

The researchers measured the use of derogatory terms and used observation and rating of stereotyping.

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Stage 1: In-group formation By the end of the first Stage, the boys had given themselves names: the Rattlers and the Eagles. The groups developed similarly, but this was expected due to how carefully they had been matched. For both groups, status positions were settled over days five and six of the first week, and a clear group leader was in place. The Rattlers often discussed the situation of the Eagles, saying things such as “They had better not be swimming in our swimming hole”

Stage 2: Inter-group relations (the friction phase) As soon as the groups found out about each other, they wanted to play baseball in a group competition: and so both groups had naturally moved onto Stage 2. The Rattlers were excited, and discussed such issues such as protecting their flag. The Eagles weren’t as excited, but made such comments as “we will beat them” When the two groups first met, there was a lot of name calling. There is evidence collected, including what the boys said, who they were friends with and practical issues (such as the burning of a flag). It was found that there were clearly negative attitudes towards the out-group members

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Stage 3: Inter-group relations (the integration) During the initial contacts of this Stage, the hostility remained. There were comments such as “ladies first” and when they watched a group movie together, they sat separated in their individual groups. After seven contact activities, there were superordinate goals set up:

1 The staff turned off the valve to the water pump and placed two large boulders over it. The children were informed that vandals had damaged it in the past. They worked together to fix the damage and rejoiced in common when they were successful

2 The second goal was to watch a movie together, but both groups had to chip in to pay for it. They eventually agreed to go halves even though one group had fewer members than the others. However, this agreement showed that the two groups cooperated to arrive at one final decision which they both were happy with

3 The boys all went on an organised trip to Cedar Lake, where the truck suddenly ‘developed’ a problem meaning the boys had to use the tug-of-war rope to try and pull it out and get it started

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- The groups developed social hierarchies and group norms, even though they were not stable throughout the study

- When the two groups meet for competition, in-group solidarity increases and inter-group hostility is strong

- When groups needed to work together, exchanged tools, shared responsibilities and agreed how to solve problems, friction was reduced – working towards a superordinate goal once was not sufficient, there needed to be numerous cooperation tasks to achieve this

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- There were controls, such as the careful sampling, so they all followed the same procedures, this meant cause-and-effect conclusions could be drawn

- There was several data collection methods used, so validity was claimed

- The group conflict is prejudice, and the reduction of the friction would be removing the prejudice, therefore the study has practical application

- It was unethical in that there was no informed consent obtained from their parents, and there was no right to withdraw (also, a criteria was that parents of the children were not allowed to visit)

- It was hard to generalise to other situations because the sample was restricted to young boys of a specific background

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Asch (1951, 1952, 1956)

Asch decided to conduct studies into social influences affecting group conformity.

The test was so easy that all control subjects got it right 100% of the time: they had to state which line matched the length of another, like as shown in the card to the right.

In the experimental groups, there were nine people present: the experimenter, the participant and eight confederates of the experimenter pretending to be fellow participants.

They would give the wrong answer on twelve of the eighteen questions, and the study would see how these wrong answers affected conformity.

The average rate of conformity in this study was 32%, although 74% conformed at least once in the experiment

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(1951, 1952, 1956) Asch wanted to test conformity under non-ambiguous conditions and, therefore, devised a very simple perceptual task of matching the length of a line to one of three other comparison lines.

The test was so easy that all control subjects got it right almost all the time. When done in groups, there were eight people present other than the experimenter, but seven of them were confederates of the experimenter, making only one real test subject.

The confederates were instructed to give the same wrong answers on 12 of the 18 tests (such as the test card shown to the right), to see if the subject would match their wrong answer.

The average rate of conformity in Asch’s original experiment was 32% meaning that this amount of people actually went with what they knew was the wrong answer, because the seven confederates of the experimenter were saying it was one of the wrong answers. 74% conformed at least once over the experiment, so only 26% never conformed.

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Asch ran several variations on the experiment to test the conditions influencing group conformity:

- increasing the group size – Asch found little increase above 3 or 4, but other studies have indicated that conformity does increase with group size, but at a decreasing rate

- providing support for the subject – Asch provided an ally in this variation, where one of the confederates agreed with the subject’s answers, and group conformity dropped to 5.5% - this shows that unanimity of the group is important; if the ally changed to the group’s estimates, the subject would follow

- increasing the difficulty of the task – when the comparison lines were made closer in length, the group conformity increased

- written answers – in this variation, the subject wrote down their answers to the test on a piece of paper, which caused the rate of conformity to drop

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Sigmund Freud Freud was a medical doctor, who saw people who suffered severe mental health problems, neuroses.

Freud was an ambitious man who wanted to develop a theory which was applicable to all people. Consult M7 The Case Study as Used in the Psychodynamic Approach for more information on Freud’s methods of developing his theory and why he wanted to do so

One of the biggest problems with Freud’s theories is the questionable credibility of his ideas.

The concepts from his final psychosexual theory are very controversial, and not everybody will agree with him.

But he seemed to be a compassionate man, who firmly believed in his ideas, which he frequently amended and improved.

Freud used very few case studies in his time, but the most famous of them (that of Little Hans) provided key evidence for some of the concepts from his psychosexual theory.

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Key assumptions of the Psychodynamic Approach

The importance of the first five years

- Freud believed that the first five years of life are the most important in terms of forming a personality, and that if there are any unsolved problems at one particular stage at this time in your life, your gender development will be disrupted

Development occurs through stages that all children pass through

- Freud’s theory suggests that there are three psychosexual stages (five in total, if also counting the two extra periods) which happen in sequential order, and if a child does well in each stage and no problems arise, they may move on to the next stage and they will go on to develop healthy, normal relationships later on in life.

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Key assumptions of the Psychodynamic Approach

The significance of the unconscious

- The unconscious part of the mind is the largest and most powerful, and Freud was definitely interested in this area of the mind, which he said was almost inaccessible, but he believed accessing it was the cure for neurosis.

The presence of energy and libido energy

- Freud stated that we all have a certain amount of energy which does not ever increase or decrease, but remains with us throughout all psychosexual stages and life, and some of this energy is called ‘libido’ which means sexual energy, which leads to Freud’s theory being called psychosexual.

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Freud developed his psychosexual theory over a very long time.

As he furthered progress with his patients and conceived new ideas, he amended his theories until they become the psychosexual theory.

There are several elements to the theory:

The three parts of the mind,

The three parts of the personality,

Defence mechanisms.

- and the five stages of psychosexual development 

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Three parts of the mind Freud spent his career trying to cure his patients of neurosis (mental health issues). He believed that the way to do so was to access the unconscious mind, which most psychologists agreed is virtually inaccessible.

Freud drew that there were three parts of the mind:

- The conscious mind holds thoughts, ideas, emotions and other aspects of thinking, of which the individual is aware.

- The preconscious mind holds thoughts, ideas and emotions which are readily available to be accessed, but are not actually conscious at the time.

- The unconscious mind is the largest part of the mind, which is where all thoughts originate from. Some pass through to the conscious and others are allowed into the preconscious. 

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Freud used psychoanalysis to access the unconscious.

Psychoanalysis was the method of therapy built by Freud which combined the use of dream analysis, symbol analysis, free association and slips of the tongue techniques to enter the unconscious part of the mind.

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Three parts of the personality Aside from the three levels of consciousness, Freud believed there to be three parts to the personality.

- The ID is the primitive part of the personality, often described as the biological component of the mind, as it is the one we are born with, which works on the pleasure principle and is the demanding aspect of our personality, which always wants our primitive desires (this part of the personality is unconscious only)

- The EGO develops at around the age of 18 months and is the rational part of the personality which will try to obtain what the id wants under the reality principle – the ego is designed to try and work out how to satisfy the person

- The SUPEREGO develops at around four years of age, and derives from the morality principle and is the “can’t have” part of the personality, which is made up of two components: the conscience (which is structured based on learning from parents and outside society) and the ego ideal (the idea of what people think they should be like, also given by parents and society)

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The superego consists of the conscience and the ego ideal, both of which are denoted by parents and society.

The role of the conscience is to punish bad behaviour with guilt feelings.

The ego has to find a balance between the conflicting demands of the id and the superego.

The id is only in the unconscious, and is known as the biological component.

The ego is equally divided amongst all three parts of the mind and is known as the psychological component.

The superego is in all three parts of the mind, but is mainly in the unconscious, and is called the social component.

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Life and Death Instincts

As well as all of these above parts of the mind, there are two more to consider.

Freud claimed that we are all born with a certain amount of energy. He said that this energy never increases or decreases, but a significant amount of it is libido. Libido is the term for sexual energy.

Much of Freud’s theory focuses on sexual points. However, Freud identified two other forces: eros, which he described as the life instinct, and thanatos, which he described as the death instinct.

Eros is the instinct for self-preservation and sexual energy, which leads to arousal.

Freud believed that we have a drive to reduce arousal, and one way to do this is through death, and so thanatos provides the energy for the ego to inhibit sexual instinct.

Therefore, thanatos provides energy to inhibit eros, and eros provides the energy to inhibit thanatos.

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EGO -  (psychological component) reality principle

SUPEREGO (social component) - morailty principle - contains the conscience and the ego ideal

ID (biological component) - pleasure principle - eros and thanatos are associated with the id and the unconscious mind

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The ego has the job of trying to balance the id and the superego.

It may also have to balance any conflicting demands in the id.

One way in which it does this can be through the use of defence mechanisms.

These are designed to push thoughts, feelings and desires out of the conscious mind, or can transfer a desire onto something safer.

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Defence Mechanisms

Repression involves keeping thoughts in the unconscious mind so that they are not remembered, as they are not allowed inside the conscious.

It is as if they are forgotten, or at least not remembered – so it is sometimes known as motivated forgetting.

However, this cannot be done consciously, it is done subconsciously.

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Defence Mechanisms

Repression: Involves keeping thoughts in the unconscious, and not allowing them into the conscious, so that they are not remembered (called “motivated forgetting”), a process which is not done consciously.

Example: Childhood sexual abuse – often adults will not be able to remember their abuse; they will not deny it happening, but cannot remember the abuse.

Denial: Found when someone denies a traumatic event has occurred and acts as though nothing has happened, protecting the individual from unhappy or unacceptable thoughts.

Example: Denial of feelings – often if somebody has inappropriate sexual feelings for another person, they will deny having such feelings.

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Defence Mechanisms

Projection: When somebody deals with having unacceptable thoughts by saying that they are somebody else’s thoughts, perhaps so that the ego can deal with the feelings without problems from the superego.

Example: Envy – sometimes people who envy someone will actually claim that that person envies them.

Displacement: This occurs when thoughts or wishes that an individual finds to be unacceptable are transferred onto someone or something else, or the urges/thoughts are turned into something different.

Example: Sport - anger might be turned into physical aggression in sport. Aggression - houting at your wife as you get home because you’re angry with your boss but don’t want to shout at him.

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Stengths and Weaknesses of Defence Mechanisms

- There are everyday examples of all of the above defence mechanisms in real life (anecdotal examples), such as crime victims often experiencing repression, and denial being frequently found in everyday language

- When a defence mechanism is revealed to someone and they have it explained to them how defence mechanisms work, they tend to feel a bit better (this is because Freud claimed that the mechanisms keep the primitive urges of the id in the unconscious, but once revealed to the conscious, the problems stop)

- The concept of defence mechanisms cannot be tested scientifically, as the DV is not operationalised (whilst we do find everyday, real-life examples of them in action – this is not scientific testing)

- Because defence mechanisms are specific to an individual, they require the interpretation of the analyst (such as with projection, for example, whilst one person might claim that somebody else is jealous of them, and that’s because they are in fact jealous of that person, for another person, it may actually just be that the other person is envious of them)

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Little Hans was the son of a couple who followed Freud and were great believers in his work and theories. Herbert Graf was a famous Austrian-American composer, and it is now known that he is the Little Hans from Freud’s 1909 case study.

The aim of this case study was to monitor the development of a child up to the age of around four or five years. The details of this case study would provide the evidence Freud believed to support his Oedipus complex. The data came from the letters Little Hans’ father would send Freud, and also on the very few occasions Freud met with Hans. Little Hans himself actually asked his father to tell Freud a few things, also.

Because Freud understood that the parents were followers of his, he realised that they may have only noticed the things in Little Hans which fit his theory and passed those details on, therefore Freud tried only to take evidence from Little Hans himself, even if this was through his father.

Freud understood that readers of the case study might not necessarily agree with his analysis and conclusions, but he argued that you had to be present at the time of a case study in order to understand and agree with the analysis.

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Case description

Hans appeared to have an early interest in penises. He had noticed the penises on animals, and that his mother and baby sister did not have them. At one stage, Hans placed his hand on his penis and his mother threatened to cut his penis off.

He had a dream where he wanted a (female) friend of his to share in his widdling. He also dreamt of wiping his bottom, as well as having children and wiping their bottoms.

Hans denied thinking these things and said that they came to him purely in dreams. This is what Freud thought to be of particular importance.

Little Hans would be left with his mother a lot as his father was away a lot on business, and Hans seemed to want his father to go away.When the family moved house and his father was at home more often, Hans wished his father was dead.

Whenever his father was away, he would sleep in his mother’s bed with her. The mother was very close to Hans, she would bathe him (although working around the penis, as she told him not to **********).

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Hans developed a phobia that horses would bite him. Eventually, he became afraid that a white horse would bite him. He had an anxiety attack in the street and stopped going out.

At one point, he was afraid of a horse coming into the room. He later became particularly afraid of white horses with black things over their mouths and covering their eyes. He was also very afraid of horses pulling laden carts.

Eventually, he recalled a real experience of seeing a horse, which was pulling a bus, fall down. Little Hans had heard the father of a girl who was staying with them tell her not to put her finger on the white horse that was pulling the cart to take her to the station, as it would bite her.

When Little Hans was around three and a half years old, his mother had a baby girl, of whom he was jealous of right from the start. H

ans said he was afraid of going underwater, and also became afraid of water.

Little Hans dreamt of a plumber taking his bottom and widdler away and bringing him new, bigger ones.

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Freud took particular interest in another dream.

Hans had a dream with giraffes.

One was crumpled with Hans just sat on it, and another giraffe was just stood at the site watching.

Also, there was a time where Little Hans was playing with dolls and “having children” – but his father told him that a boy cannot have children.

Hans said that his mother was the children’s mother, he was the children’s father, and that Hans’ father was the children’s grandfather (making Hans his own father, and Han’s father his grandfather).

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Case analysis

Freud believed Hans’ obsession on penises, including his mother’s threat to cut his off, had been repressed into the unconscious and may have affected him later, in the phallic stage.

When he would talk about penises, ask to see his mother’s and father’s penises and mention the penises of horses, Freud believed this indicated he was trying to understand himself and make connections by comparing himself to other things.

Freud said that the dreams of bottom-wiping of his and others’ bottoms was due to this being done to him as a child and him getting pleasure from it.

This links to features of the anal stage, although Hans denied this – an example of what Freud identified as repression.

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This idea of Little Hans wanting to be with his mother and wanting his father gone was explained by Freud as Hans’ desire to possess his mother, part of the Oedipus complex.

The phobia of horses was really a fear of his father for hating him and wanting him out of the way.

Freud thought Hans was jealous of his sister because her birth and the attention she received brought back the pleasure Hans had experienced when he was that age. F

reud felt that the fear of going underwater meant Little Hans wanted his sister to fall underwater and drown. He wanted his mother, according to Freud, to let go of his sister’s head when she was bathing her.

After discussing this idea with Hans’ father, the father confronted Hans about this to which he replied “yes”, so both Freud and the boy’s father agreed he wanted her to drown.

Freud said that Little Hans wanted both his father and his sister out of the way so that he could have his mother all to himself.

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Freud believe telling the girl not to put her hand on the white horse when going to the station made the connection with Hans not to **********.

Therefore he connected this with horses, ergo a fear of horses. This, along with the threat of cutting his penis off, led to the castration fear according to Freud.

The giraffes in Hans’ dream were representative of his parents according to Freud. It was interpreted as a sexual scene between Hans and the giraffe he was sat on, who represented his mother, and the other giraffe watching, who was his father.

Freud also linked this with the fear that a horse would come into his room.

Freud told Hans’ father to tell Hans that the white horse was his father.

The black bits covering the horse’s eyes show Hans’ father’s glasses and the black thing over its mouth was his adult moustache and beard.

Hans was afraid of his father and the horse represented his father, which explained the fear of the white horse in particular.

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The dream about the plumber seemed to suggest that Hans wanted a bigger penises. Put to Hans, he agreed this was the case.

Freud thought that now he was overcoming the castration fear and identifying with his father, and so considered his ‘therapy’ to have been successful.

Although not very clear, Hans’ phobia did seem to go away.

The claim was that his unconscious fears had been made conscious and therefore had gone away.

Freud and Hans’ father thought that when playing with dolls and making himself their father (and his father their grandfather), Hans had got around the problem of wanting his father dead.

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Knowing about the anal stage of Freud’s psychosexual theory, it is evident how much of the findings from the Little Hans case study provided the support and ideas for this theory.

Much of the case study was focused on the Oedipus complex (castration fear, desire of the mother, wanting the father out of the way), and there is evidence here that Freud believe shows Hans had those feelings.

The dreams he had seemed to show these confused feelings, which supports Freud’s theory that the unconscious has a way of expressing itself through means such as dreams.

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- The amount of detail obtained and the depth of the data – the material is thorough and there is information from both Little Hans himself and the parents about Hans – Freud is able to draw conclusions from dreams, thoughts, feelings, activities and friendships. No other research method could have yielded such quality, in-depth data

- The amount of information from the case study also means it can be re-analysed

- The parents were responsible for passing the details onto Freud and since they were followers of his it is likely that they only passed on what they felt was relevant in terms of fitting his theory

- The concepts, such as the Oedipus complex and castration fear are not measurable and so cannot be scientifically tested

- There are other possible explanations, e.g. Bowlby (1949) suggest that the mother-child attachment is very strong; also Hans’ mother threatened to leave at one stage, which would have worried Little Hans, and so the fear could have been a response to this

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Classical Conditiong

The term classical conditioning refers to the association of a response to its stimulus.

Research into classical conditioning started with Ivan Pavlov.

Classical conditioning works by building up an association between two stimuli, one which produces a certain response, and another which initially does not cause a response.

Pavlov investigated classical conditioning in his dogs, when he noticed that they would salivate even when they just heard his footsteps, even though at the time he would not be carrying food, it was the association of him coming and him coming and carrying food that caused the salivating.

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Classical Conditioning

The dog is presented with some food, so the dog salivates. At this stage, the food is an unconditioned stimulus (UCS), which provokes the dog to salivate – this is an unconditioned response (UCR)

A bell is rung, which causes no response from the dog. The bell is a neutral stimulus (NS) – it has not been condition with another stimulus, and therefore causes no response within the dog.

The bell is rung, and the dog is presented with some food. This causes the dog to salivate, because he is being presented with some food. The bell is still an NS, the food still a UCS and the salivation a UCR.

The bell keeps ringing each time food is presented. Eventually, even when the food is not there, the dog will still salivate at the sound of the bell: the bell has become a conditioned stimulus (CS) and the salivation a conditioned response (CR)

In the final stage there, classical conditioning has been achieved: an association between the ringing of the bell and the presentation of the food was made, so the dog would salivate each time at the ringing of the bell, even if there was no food presented to him.

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Classical Conditioning

Neutral Stimulus - A stimulus which has not been linked to another stimulus which causes a respone and therefore does not trigger a response. 

Unconditioned Stimulus - A stimulus which causes a natural response, usually a reflex action, such as blinking of salivation, which has not been conditioned. 

Unconditioned Response - A triggered response which is caused by an unconditioned stimulus, that has not been linked to a conditioned stimulus. 

Conditioned Stimulus - A triger for behaviour which produces a response only after being repeatedly paired to another stimulus. 

Conditioned Response - A response which appears as provoked by a certain trigger with which it has been repeatedly paired with.

Spontaneous Recovery - the reappearance of a previously lost conditioned response when the conditioned stimulus is later introduced after a period of time. 

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Classical Conditioning

Sometimes, the association between the conditioned stimulus and the condition response might be lost.

This process is called extinction.

However, the conditioned response may reappear again in the future if it is recovered by the reintroduction of the conditioned stimulus: this is known as spontaneous recovery.

An example of this using Pavlov’s dogs would be that eventually, the bell ring along would not cause the dogs to salivate.

However, bringing back the bell ring alongside the food being presented would cause the conditioned response to be recovered.

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Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning looks at voluntary behaviour. It is a type of learning in which future behaviour is determined by the consequences of past behaviour. In classical conditioning, the stimulus comes before the behaviour; in operant conditioning the behaviour comes before the consequence.

The central component of operant conditioning is reinforcement. Behaviours are learned by reinforcement:

- A positive reinforcement involves being given a reward for showing a certain desired behaviour (e.g. a child tidies his room as his mother asks him to, and so receives additional pocket money that week)

- A negative reinforcement involves having something negative taken away for showing a certain behaviour (e.g. a mother not shouting at her child for behaving well whilst on a car journey)

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Operant Conditioning

Also to consider are punishments.

A punishment is not the same as reinforcement.

A reinforcement encourages desired behaviour (as it has pleasant effects); and a punishment discourages undesired behaviour (as it has unpleasant consequences).

An example of a punishment therefore might be a naughty child not being allowed to play with his toys.

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Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning has mainly been studied through animal experimentation. 

B.F. Skinner (1935) was a leading researcher into operant conditioning, who was responsible for developing the theory to what it is today. He used much animal experimentation.

The most famous example is his use of rats, and food pellets as reinforcement (because the rats are hungry, the pellets are a reward).

A Skinner box was used in these experiments (named after B.F. Skinner), where the rat is inside, with a light, lever and food dispenser.

Skinner controlled the experiment so that if the rat pulled the lever when the light was red, a food pellet would be dispensed, and if the rat pulled the lever when the light was green, it would not dispense food.

The rat would soon learn to pull the lever only when the light was red.

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Operant Conditioning


Not only is there positive and negative reinforcement, but also primary reinforcement and secondary reinforcement.

Primary reinforcement occurs when the reward is a basic need (i.e. food, drink, warmth or shelter). For example, a rat learning how to correctly dispense food pellets is primary reinforcement.

Secondary reinforcement provides a reward that can satisfy a basic need, but is not a basic need itself. For example, if a child behaves well and is given pocket money – this is not a basic need, but could be used to buy food – a basic need.

One important aspect of operant conditioning is that the complete desired behaviour may not be exhibited immediately so that it can be reinforced. The process of shaping involves reinforcing each stage towards the completed behaviour. With shaping, there is a reward for moving towards the desired behaviour; then a wait for an action that is closer to the desired behaviour; and finally, the wait for the actual behaviour, before offering the reinforcement.

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Treatments for Conditioning

Aversion therapy

This is a therapy based on the principles of classical conditioning.

Aversion therapy is used to combat addictions, such as those to alcohol. In this example, the therapy is used to replace the pleasure response with an aversion response, that is pain or something equally unpleasant, so the alcohol, which normally provides a pleasure response, is paired with an emetic drug to provoke an aversion response.

After a while, the alcohol should make the person feel sick (even in the absence of the drug). [Note that it is important alcoholics drink soft drinks during the course of the therapy so they are not conditioned to feel sick in response to all drinks]

Emetic Drug - A prescribed drug that makes people feel or be sick.

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Treatments for Conditioning

Aversion therapy has been used to try and convert homosexuals to heterosexuality, and still is used in some situations.

In this case, homosexuals were shown naked images of both men and women, but were electrically shocked when they saw the naked men, not when they saw the women.

The aim was to pair pain to the naked men, and the negative reinforcement of having the pain removed with the naked women.

One gay man, Benny Clegg-Hill was reported to have died from coma and convulsions due to injections of apomorphine that were given to make him feel sick during aversion therapy.

This occurred in the 1960s, and it was not by choice that Benny had chosen to undergo aversion therapy to “cure” his homosexuality, but had been arrested for it and sentenced by a judge to mandatory treatment.

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Treatments for Conditioning


- In some situations, the therapy has proven to be a success, more so than alternative therapies, and in spite of criticism on ethical grounds, Seligman (1966) said that 50% of the gay men did not continue to practice homosexuality (although this was later questioned as it was thought to be biased)

- The therapy rests on a clear theoretical explanation as to how the initial behaviour came about, and is therefore easier to accept as a treatment.

- Seligman did, however, later report that most of the men who were considered a “success” were bisexual, not homosexual; and when homosexuals only were studied the success rate was lower, and one gay man, Benny Clegg-Hill died from the therapy

- There are ethical issues to consider as those administering the therapy have power over the patient, who may not feel they have the power to decline, such as homosexuals in the past times


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Treatments for Conditioning

Systematic Desensitisation

This is also based on the principles of classical conditioning, which suggests that a stimulus and an involuntary response are associated. One such response is a phobia.

A phobia is a fear which is irrational, preventing normal functioning of life, and needs treatment to help overcome the fear.

Using systematic desensitisation is just one of these treatments. It is sometimes also known as graduated exposure therapy.

The treatment involves getting the phobic person used to the phobic object or situation (or desensitised) in small steps (or systematically).

This is based on the theory that a phobia is learned through classical conditioning and can be unlearned in the same way. The fear response is replaced by a relaxed, calm state. 

People are taught how to relax their muscles, as it is not easy to do, and then are gently introduced to the phobic object using a step-by-step approach.

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Treatments for Conditioning

Systematic Desensitisation

The graduation involves starting with showing the person just a simple photograph, through to a film, and so on until eventually they are presented head-on to the actual object.

As people learn to relax as each stage progresses, they should eventually be able to remain relaxed come meeting the real object.

The main issue with systematic desensitisation is that it is shown to work with classical conditioning principles, but there is an element of operant conditioning with phobias.

A phobic object is unpleasant and so a phobic person avoids it, this is an example of negative reinforcement.

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Treatments for Conditioning

- Compared with other therapies which deal with phobias, this is probably the most ethical (for example, flooding is where the phobic person is just confronted straight away with the phobic object until they calm down, theoretically when they run out of energy for maintaining the fear response)

- Again, the therapy is based on a clear theoretical explanation (classical conditioning) which is generally well-accepted

- There is a wide range of evidence supporting this type of therapy with high success rates, such as that of Capafons et al. (1998) which reduced fear of flying

- There are other factors other than classical conditioning at work with phobias – operant conditioning should also be taken into consideration, as well as cognitive processing (note that this does not mean the therapy is any less successful, it merely questions the explanation behind the therapy)

- Although the therapy is useful for phobias and anxiety disorders, it is not useful for other mental health issues, such as psychoses; also the individual needs to be able to learn to relax and remain calm throughout the whole process: not everyone can do this

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Treatments for Conditioning

Token Economy Programmes

This is based upon the principles of operant conditioning.

This involves encouraging desired behaviour with the use of reinforcement and discouraging unwanted behaviour with the use of punishments.

One method of shaping behaviour, based on operant conditioning, is the token economy programme.

A token economy programme might well be used in a prison, mental health unit or school.

The aim is to obtain the specific desired behaviour using a rewards system.

The tokens act as rewards and can be exchanged for something that the individual desires.

People are paid these tokens for behaving in the desired way.

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Treatments for Conditioning

Token Economy

1 Identify the behaviour that has to be changed It should be positive, rather than negative (for example, “remain quiet” rather than “don’t shout”)

2 Select the tokens and decide what they can be exchanged for Physical tokens can be used, or a points system; you should decide where they will be kept and recorded

3 Make sure that the tokens ‘buy’ significant rewards The rewards must have meaning to the individuals, otherwise they will not be worthwhile having as rewards

4 Set goals that are achievable The individuals must know what they have to do to achieve the goals, and they should be obtainable

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Treatments for Conditioning

Token Economy 

5 Explain the whole programme to the individuals involved Make sure that the whole programme is clear to all of the participants, otherwise it won’t work

6 Feedback on progress The individuals who are not progressing so well will need guidance on how to do better

7 Provide the reward Every so often should come the point where the points or tokens can be cashed in for the rewards

8 Review the programme Make amendments, such as altering the frequency of tokens given out, also give praise to those who do well

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Treatments for Conditioning

Token Economy

-The programme has been seen to work quickly and effectively, especially in schools, where they produce the desired behaviour the programme originally set out to achieve

- The programme can be adjusted to suit each individual case, by altering the goals, tokens and the rewards they can be cashed in for, to make them meaningful to the individuals

- The programme can be very time-consuming, especially in schools, where the time-investment is too much for many teachers who would rather focus on the teaching than a rewards system

- The programme is only targeted at one certain situation, outside that situation the individual may not reproduce that same desired behaviour

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Social Learning

Social Learning - Learning from observation, imitation and modelling.

In this approach, there are three types of learning which are covered:

classical conditioning and operant conditioning are two of them.

The third type of learning is social learning, put forward by social learning theory which explains how learning can occur via observation, imitation and modelling.

It was Bandura who developed the model.

He noticed that clearly there were some behaviours that weren’t conditioned but appeared without conditioning.

So social learning theory (alongside operant conditioning, not in the place of) suggests people learn by observing others – this is called observational learning.

This is where people watch what others do and copy their actions, learning new behaviours. 

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Social Learning

Observational Learning Includes:

1. The behaviour is modelled by a role model (this person could be a parent, peer or celebrity), who will always have some significance in the eyes of the observer

2. The observer identifies with the role model

3. The behaviour is observed and noticed

4. The behaviour is learned and imitated (whether or not it is repeated depends upon reinforcement)

Whether or not behaviour of a role model is imitated depends on how that is reinforced.

For example, if they are rewarded for displaying that behaviour, it is likely to be repeated by the observer.

But if they have been punished for showing that behaviour, it is less likely that they will imitate the role model, although not impossible.

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Social Learning

Cognitive Processes Involved in Observational Learning

There are four cognitive processes which have been identified with social learning.

When observing it is important that the behaviour is observed..

 attended to..

then that it is stored in memory..

also that the behaviour is rewarded so that there is sufficient motivation to reproduce the action.

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Social Learning

Evaluation of Social Learning Theory as an Explanation of Behaviour:

- There is a lot of evidence from research which supports the theory and its suggestions, such as that of Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961)

- The theory is a good explanation which can be applied as a therapy, such as the treatments for OCD

- It is difficult to test for observational learning, because the behaviour is often not exhibited immediately – it may be imitated a while after the learning has taken place

- Some of the research was has been conducted are on animals (see M8 Animal Experiments)

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Watson & Rayner

Watson & Rayner (1920)

Aim: To test the principles of classical conditioning in humans.

Watson and Rayner wanted to test whether the principles of classical conditioning would also work in humans.

To be able to do this, a reflex action was needed. In babies, one instinctive emotional reaction is fear, so this is what they chose to use as their unconditioned response (UCR).


- To see if the fear of an animal could be induced by presenting an animal to a child whilst making a loud noise to frighten the child (classical conditioning)

- To see if that fear could be transferred to other objects

- To see the effect of time on the conditioned response (CR)

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Watson & Rayner


A lab experiment was used – the researchers thought early experiences for a baby at home were similar to like being in an unknown laboratory.

The baby chosen was baby Albert, from a hospital for invalid children where his mother was a wet nurse. Albert was healthy, “stolid and unemotional” and so the researchers thought they could do “relatively little harm” to him during the study

He showed no fear of animals when tested at around 9 months of age by the researchers.

When a suspended 4 foot steel bar was struck with a hammer just behind Albert, however, a fear response was shown as “the child broke into a sudden crying fit”

Creating a CR: The researchers had considered ethics of the study, but concluded that Albert would face more worrying situations in his later life anyway.

When Albert was 11 months old, the procedure to create a CR began…

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Watson & Rayner

The main procedure was split into five stages. The study was run over a total of around 2 months, but Albert was only studied on five of those days.

Part 1: Albert was 11 months, 3 days:

- Albert was shown a white rat – he showed no fear and reached out for it with his left hand

- As Albert touched the rat, the steel bar was struck behind him – he jumped, fell forward, but did not cry

- When Albert touched the rat with his right hand, the bar was struck and this time he not only jumped forward and fell, but also whimpered

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Watson & Rayner

Part 2: Albert was 11 months, 10 days:

- The rat was shown to Albert unexpectedly:

- he reached out, but did not touch it

- he was given bricks to play with

- it was concluded there had been some conditioning

- The rat was then shown to Albert a number of times, with and without the steel bar, until the presentation of the rat alone was enough to lead Albert to immediately begin crying and turn away from the rat – the association had been properly re-established

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Watson & Rayner

Part 3: Albert was 11 months, 15 days:

- Albert still displayed some fear when showed the rat without any sound, but played happily with his bricks when the rat was removed

- The researchers looked for transference of the fear to other objects:

- Albert was shown a rabbit, dog, fur coat, hair of observers and a Santa mask

- in between the first three he was given bricks to play with and would play with them quite happily

- his reaction to each stimuli was recorded

- The strength of his reaction varied between objects, but some transference had been shown

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Watson & Rayner

Part 4: Albert was 11 months, 20 days:

- When Albert was shown the rat once more, without any sound, his response was weaker than previously, so the researchers renewed the association between the rat and the steel bar

- They then showed him the rabbit and the dog both with and without the sound to strengthen the fear of these too

- The researchers moved the experiment to a lecture theatre, to study the transference of fear to a different setting (four observers were present):

- they concluded that transference could occur to both different stimuli and different situations

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Watson & Rayner

Part 5: Albert was 12 months, 21 days:

- The researchers tested Albert again to see if he retained the conditioned response

- Although a little weaker, a negative response was shown by Albert when presented with the succession of stimuli without any sound (the rat, rabbit, dog, hair, coat and Santa mask)

- He would still continue to play happily with his bricks

- Albert then left the nursery that day, so the researchers were unable to remove the conditioned response – and believed that it would last for a lifetime (note: Albert was always due to leave that day, his departure was not connected to the running of the experiment)

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Watson & Rayner

Classical conditioning would explain the effects shown in Albert as shown to the right.

The term transference was used to describe the process of transferring the fear from one object to other objects.

Therefore, transference means generalising the conditioned response across multiple stimuli. This process is also called generalisation.

UCS: steel bar sound >>> UCR: fear and crying

UCS: steel bar sound + CS/NS: presentation of rat >>> UCR: fear and crying

CS: presentation of rat >>> CR: fear and crying

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Watson & Rayner


- It is possible to create a conditioned emotional response in humans after only a few pairings of the stimuli

- It might be necessary to repeat the pairings though to maintain the strength of the conditioned response – i.e. there may be some extinction of the response

- A conditioned response may be transferred to other, similar objects and other settings – i.e. there can be generalisation

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Watson & Rayner

Strengths & Weaknesses

- There were careful controls, and the independent variable was clear and operationalised with the dependent variable being carefully monitored and measured (if the study were more ethical, it could be again repeated to test for reliability)

- The study demonstrated Pavlov’s evidence for classical conditioning in dogs and how it could be generalised to humans (although the drawback to this is that the study used only one case study of one particular child)

- Lack of ecological validity because there was an artificial setting for Albert and the lab setting may have heightened Albert’s level of fear

- The ‘tasks’ could be argued to lack validity – playing with animals and loud noises are both true to life, but the frequent coincidence of the two is not common

- The biggest concern is the ethics of the study (it could not be repeated today) – there was distress to Albert, and there was no informed consent nor right to withdraw from the study

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Learning Approach

A comparison of the psychodynamic and biological approaches

Similarities between the approaches:

- they both examine biological features (e.g. id, ego and superego in the psychodynamic and genes and hormones in the biological)

- both consider environmental influences (e.g. parents and society in developing superego and issues like abuse in brain development)

- both have case studies (e.g. Little Hans in the psychodynamic and Brenda in the biological)

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Learning Approach

A comparison of the psychodynamic and biological approaches

Differences between the approahces:

- the psychodynamic focuses on mental aspects, the biological focuses on physiological aspects

- the psychodynamic looks at gender development, the biological looks at sex assignment

- the psychodynamic does not use scientific measures (e.g. superego), the biological does use scientific measures (e.g. chromosomes)

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Learning Approach

A comparison of the psychodynamic and learning approaches

Similarities between the approaches:

- they both look at behavioural development according to norms (e.g. same-sex parent behaviour in psychodynamic and reinforcement in learning)

- they both use the concept of identification (e.g. same-sex parent identification in psychodynamic and learning as well)

- neither approach focuses on biological aspects

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Learning Approach

A comparison of the psychodynamic and learning approaches

Differences between the approaches:

- the psychodynamic allows for biological explanations as well, the learning says only environment affects behaviour after birth

- the psychodynamic is mainly nature, the learning is mainly nurture

- the psychodynamic doesn’t use scientific measures, whereas the learning does

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Learning Approach

A comparison of the biological and learning approaches

Similarities between the approaches:

- they both use scientific research methods, favouring experiments rather than observations, and look for cause-and-effect relationships

- they both heavily rely on animal studies to find cause-and-effect relationships (e.g. mice in the biological and rats in the learning)

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Learning Approach

A comparison of the biological and learning approaches

Differences between the approaches:

- the biological considers mainly nature and biology, the learning considers only nurture and environment after birth

- the biological looks at sex assignment (biological makeup), the learning looks at behaviour development (connected with upbringing)

- the biological uses case studies, the learning mainly uses observations and very few case studies

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