Paper 3 - Issues and Debates

  • Created by: Nicky.18
  • Created on: 20-01-20 15:28

Issues and debates Essay Structure

AO1 =  

  • Definition: The... debate is concerned with... Definition of side 1, Definition of side 2
  • Approaches Link: The main appriaches in psychology take different views about... Side 1 approach, Side 2 approach 
  • Topic Link: the differing views on this debate can also be seen in how approaches explain topics such as... Side 1 topic, Side 2 topic

AO3 = 

  • Strength of Debate 1
  • Limitation of Debate 1
  • Strength of Debate 2
  • Limitaion of Debate 2
  • Conclusion - Middle of debates
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Freewill and Determinism Key Terms/AO1

Definitions = This determinist and freewill debate is concerned with the degree to which we have control over our actions

  • Hard Determinism = Assumes that traits and behaviours are entirely out of the individuals control; they are due to either internal or external forces. 
  • Biological = Assumes that traits and behaviours are governed by internal biological factors such as genes.
  • Experimental = Assumes that traits and behaviours are governed by external forces such as experiences and upbringing. 
  • Psychic = Assumes that traits and behaviouirs are governed by unconscious instincts and drives. 
  • Free Will = States that human beings are self-determining; we are free to choose our thoughts and actions. 
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Freewill and Determinism Key Terms/AO1

Approaches Link = The main approaches in Psychology take different views about the level of control that we have. For example, the behaviourist approach emphasises the role of environmental determinism, they assume that traits and behaviours are governed by external forces such as direct experience. Whereas the humanist approach adopts a free will perspective of behaviour as Rogers client centred therapy saw people as free to change their own lives. 

Topic Link = The differing views on this debate can also be seen in how the approaches explain topics such as addiction. The biological approach for example, emphasises the role of biological determinism in addiction, inheriting high levels of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase which reduces the liklihood of a hangover increases the risk of addiction due to the lack of negative consequences. The humanist approach would however argue that a person who has an addiction is able to choose to stop drinking and direct their lives back on the path towards self-actualisation. 

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Freewill and Determinism AO3

Strength of Determinism = (P) Consistent with science, causal conclusions (E) Predict and control, develop treatments (E) Biological approach, OCD = low serotonin, SSRIs increase it increasing QOL (L) Schizophrenia makes us doubt freewill

Limitation = (P) Not consisten justice system (E) Offenders, morally accountable (E) Leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy (L) Excuse to abuse alcohol leading to addiction 

Strength of Freewill = (P) Face validity, use it everyday (E) High internal locus of control, increased control over events (E) Roberts 2000, external leads to depression (L) Even if we dont have free will believing we do has positive impacts

Limitation = (P) Neurological studies (E) Liberts 1985, Clock, button, EEG (E) Motor activity up to 10 sec before conscious (L) Even basic excercises the brain pre-determins 

Soft-determinism =  (P) Compromise between freewill and determinism (E) Traits are determined by internal or external factors but we still have some control (E) Eg, cognitive appriach, schemas are determined but we still have some choice (L) More valid and complete explanation 

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Reductionism and Holism Key Terms/AO1

Definitions = The reductionist and holistic debate is concerned with the level at which it is appropriate to explain behaviour (levels of explanation) 

  • Reductionism = Belief that a lower fundamental level focussing on the basic components is most appropriate
  • Biological = Attempts to explain social and psychological phenomena at a lower biological level, through neurochemical, evolutionaty and genetic influences.
  • Environmental = Attempts to explain all behaviour at a physical level, for example in terms of stimulus response links that have been learnt through direct experience
  • Holism = Behaviour is best explained at a higher multivariable level so by analysing the person as a whole. 
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Reductionism and Holism Key Terms/AO1

Approaches Link = The main approaches in psychologoy take different views about the level that is most appropriate. The behaviourost approach emphasises the role of environmental reductionism as is attempts to explain all behaviour at a physical level, for example in terms od stimulus - response links that have been learnt throughdirect experiences. Wheras the humanist approach adopts a holistic perspective, they see successful treatments as bringing together all aspects of the whole person.

Topic Link = The differing views on this debate can also be seen in how they approaches explain topics such as OCD. The biological approach emphasises the role of biological reductionism as it reduces OCd down to a psychological level, hypersensitivity of the basal ganglia for exeample has been shown to contribute to compulsions and hypersensitivity of the orbitofrontal cortec to contribute to obsessions. Wheras the humanist approach would understand the experiences of a person; their relationships, work and society in order to fully understand the cause of their OCD.  

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Reductionism and Holism AO3

Strength of Reductionist = (P) Consistent with science (E) Operationalised due to break down (E) Experiments and observations allow theories to be falsified (L) This gives Psychological credibility. 

Limitation = (P) Oversimplifies complex phenomena (E) No social contect analysis (E) Eg analogy of pointed finger (L) Only part of an explanation 

Strength of Holism = (P) Behaviour of groups (E) Conformity in the Stanford prison experiment (E) Interaction was most important (L) More complete explanation 

Limitation = (P) Multi-perspective gives a practical dilemma (E) OCD which treatment should you use (E) One causal variable would be easily treatable (L) In the real-world, lower levels are better 

Interactionist = (P) Compromise between reductionist and holist (E) Considers how different levels combine and interact (E) EG SLT suggests indirect experiences and mediational processes are used before a response (L) More scientific that holism, more realistic than redictionist 

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Nomothetic and Idiographic Key Terms/AO1

Definitions = The nomothetic and idiographic debate is concerned with the different approaches to psychological investigation.

Nomothetic = Attempts to study human behaviour through the development of general principles and universal laws. This involves the study of large samples in scientific methods such as experiments; the use of statistical tests to analyse the quantitative data also helps to provide conclusions in relation to a wider population. 

Idiographic = Attempts to describe the unique nature of the individual. This involves the use of non-experimental methods such as case-studies, unstructured interviews and others self-reported methods; these qualitative methods are used as they provide a more comprehensive understanding of the individual. 

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Nomothetic and Idiographic Key Terms/AO1

Approaches Link = The main approaches in psychology take different views about best appriaches to psychological investigation. The behaviourist approach adopts a nomothetic approach as researchers, including Skinner, studied responses of hundreds of rats, cats, pigeons and dogs in experiments in order to develop their universal laws of learning. Wheras the humanist approach adopts an idiographic approach as Maslow assumed everyone has a unique approach to self-actualisation; furthermore, both Maslow and Rogers used case studies in their approach to studying human behaviour. 


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Nomothetic and Idiographic AO3

Strength of Nomothetic = (P) General laws allow prediction and control of behaviour (E) Develops wide access treatments (E) EG biological approach to OCD, low serotonin SSRIs increase levels improving QOL (L) Identification of risk groups, prevention methods

Limitation = (P) Uniqueness can be ignored (E) Drugs prescribed first, not successful 100% of the time (E) 1% chance of having schizophrenia doesnt tell us what its like (L) Generalisations ignore the uniqueness 

Strength of Idiographic = (P) Case studies lead to hypotheses (E) HM and Clive Wearing  long term memory (E) Evaluation of psychological theories (L) KF MSM limitations of STM

Limitation = (P) Lacks scientific rigour (E) EG Freud and little Hans (E)Meaningful generalisations? (L) Or, subjective interpretation? 

Both = (P) Wong to say theories have nothing in common or are all the same (E) Both are needed at different stages of the process (E) EG experiment with antidepressants but interview the non-respondants (L) Rich detailed descriptions and explanations are best 

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Nature-Nurture Key Terms/AO1

Definitions = The nature-nurture debate is concerned with the extent to which behaviour is a product of heredity or determined by the environment 

  • Nature = Assumes that heredity is more important; early nativists such as Descartes argued that knowledge / abilities are innate
  • Nurture = Auumes environment and experience is more important; this is rooted in empiricist theory, John Locke argues that the mind is a blank slate at birth which experience writes. 


Topic Link = The differing views on the relative importance of heredity and environment can be seen as how approaches explain topics such as OCD. The biological approach argues that nature has the biggest impact on the development of OCD. Researchers have identified specific candidate genes that create a vulnerability, one such gene is 5HT1-D Beta, this is implimented in the effeciency of transport of serotonin across the synapse. Whereas the behaviourist approach would say that nurture has the biggest impact on the development of OCD; people with OCD learn to avoid the things they fear so keep performing rituals due to negative reinforcement. 

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Nature-Nurture AO3

Investigation = (P) Strength, cross cultural studies (E) Gender roles New Guinea (E) Sex is culturally determined (L) Criticised for imposed etic 

(P) Strength, Twin studies (E) Nesdadt 2010, 68% MZ 31% DZ OCD (E) 100% genes vs 50% genes (L) Same environment 

(P) Limitation, Relative contributions (E) EG MZ and DZ environment (E) Concordance - Environment? (L) Methodological complexity 

Implications = (P) Strength, Predict and control (E) EG treatments - SSRIs (E) Systematic desensitisation (L) Reinforce interactionist 

Interactionist = (P) N+N linked, its nonsense to separate them (E) EG create nurture by reflecting the environment appropriate for their nature (E) Both have an effect, Bowlby critical period (L) Most valid approach 

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Gender Bias Key Terms/AO1

Universality = Any underlying characteristic of human beings thatis capable of being applied to all despite differences in gender and culture

AO1 = Gender bias occurs when men or women are misrepresented or treated differently in psychological research. There are two types of gender bias that can occur, alpha and beta. 

Alpha bias is where theories exaggerate or overestimate the differences between men and women. EG freud argued that because girls do not experience the same Oedipus conflict as boys, they do not identify with their mothers as strongly as they cant experience castration anxiety. The impact of this is that girls develop weaker superegos and so are morally inferior to males. 

Beta bias is where theories ignore or minimise the differences between men and women; these theories often assume that the findings from studies using males appli equally to females. Eg Asch used 123 male students in his conformity study and assumed that the level of conformity would be similar in women. 

Androcentricism is a consequence of beta bias, this is where normal behaviour is judged according to male standards, this provides a potentially misleading or inaccurate representation of how females will respond in a given situation. EG Fight or flight response, Taylor 2000 presented the tend and befriend response for females.

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Gender Bias AO3

Effects = (P) Limitation, amplify or validate damaging stereotypes (E) EG diagnosis of PMs as hormonal (E) Male anger is seen as rational (L) Women may be denied work opportunities. 

(P) Limitation, Mental health implications (E) Longnecher 2010 men more than women (E) Cotton 2009, women function better than men in jobs and family (L) Women may be underdiagnosed 

(P) Strength, Positive implications for women in beta bias (E) Equally treated under the law, and equal pay at work (E) however, parental leave is also equal, ignoring the biological demands of pregnancy (L) Beta-bias can also disadvantage woman due to their needs 

Research = (P) Causes reseasrch sexism (E) Lack of women research leads (S) Men are able to label women (L) Limitation, permits investigator bias

Reducting = (P) Feminist psychologist produce solution (E) Women assesed in real life contexts (E) Groups rather than with men (L) Collaborative research 

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Culture Bias Key Terms/AO1

  • Psychological researchhas often ignored differences between cultures and developed theories almost entirely based on the study of one culture alone. 
  • One consequence of this beta bias is ethnocentricism (culturally centred); this would involve judging people in other cultures by the standards and values of your own culture. For example, Ainsworth suggested that a secure attatchment was universally characterised by the infant showing moderate signs of distress when left alone, however, this is criticised for only reflecting the norms and values of American culture. Van ijzendoorn demonstrates that differences in attachment such as in Japan where babies are rarely separated from their mothers so a securely attached child may show high separation anxiety. 
  • Culture bias within psychological research occurs when ethnocentricism distorts or biases judgement. Eg Ainsworths strange situation led to the misrepresentation of child rearing in Germany, as mothers were seen as cold, harsh and rejecting rather than encouraging independece as insecure avoidant attachments were more common in this culture. 
  • Culture bias leads to researchers using a technique developed in one culture to study behaviour of people in other cultures with different norms, values and experiences; this is imposed etic. EG Meade's research assumed that western research methods were universal but it was argued that her methods were meaningless in Papua New Guinea. 
  • It is argued that behaviour cannot be judged  properly unless it is within its origional context, EG through an emic approach functioning from within the culture being assessed. EG Sternberg 1985 intelligence research bow and arrow
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Gender Bias AO3

Effects = (P) Limitation, aplifies or validates damaging stereotypes (E) US army IW tests before WW1 (E) African Americans bottom of test (L) Negative implications for attributed 

(P) Limitation, Diagnosis and classification (E) African Americans more likely (E) Schizophrenia is not genetic but cultural, hearing voices acceptable (L) Over diagnosis, severe side effects to drugs

Research = (P) Limitation, Variables are experinced differently (E) EG China personal space ok (E) Western culture, threatening and confrontational (L) Affects researcher participant interactions

(P) Limitation, not culturally relative, behaviour is not universal (E) Facial expressions are universal (E) Ainsworths interactional synchrony is universal (L) Universal and variations of groups and individuals required for full understanding. 

Avoiding = (P) Strength, Greater exchange of ideas that 50 years ago (E) Academics conferences where different cultures meet (E) David Buss 37 research cultures (L) Reduces ethnocentricism as it enable understanding and emic approach 

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Ethical Implications Key Terms/AO1

  • Ethical implications refer to the impact that psychological research can have on the wider sociaty; this impact can arise due to public policy. EG Bowlby's monotropic theory suggests that the more time spent with the mother during the critical period the better; this may have influenced the UKs decision in the 1980s to not offer free childcare to children under 5, despite this being typical in other cultures. It may also have had an impact on the legal norm that mothers were granted custody of children in divorce and separation cases indirectly. 
  • Research presentation can also influence the perceptions of some groups in society. EG research highlighting the rold of the father as a primary and secondary caregiver may have contributed to the increase in working mothers as this research would make them feel less guilty about returning to work.
  • Wider societal impact can also arise as a result of how research findings are portrayed by the media. EG a biological explanation of schizophrenia reduces the blame of the individual; which may reduce sensationalist reporting. 
  • Socially sensitive research refers to studies in which there are potential social consequences and implications either directly for the participants or the class of individual represented. EG Goodard 1917, issued IQ tests to immigrants as they arrived in the US deeming tha majority feeble minded despite poiunting out the necessity of an understanding of english. Researchers must be mindful of implications to avoid giving scientific justification to prejudice. 
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Ethical Implications AO3

Effects = (P) Strength, Valuable societal role (E) EG Loftus and Palmer (E) Johnson and Scott (L) Unreliability of EWT

(P) Stength, Promote greater sensitivity (E) Eg GID Increased understanding (E) Biological cause, not a choice (L) Reduces prejudice, increases acceptance

(P) Limitation, Use by the government to shape public policy (E) EG Burt 1995 Genetic intelligence (E) Influence 11+ exam - false data (L) Researchers can manipulate 

(P) Limitation, Impact on X (E) America 1921s comp sterilisation (E) Goddard 1917 intelligence (L) Failed culture bias

Reducing = (P) Ethical implications, ethical committee (E) Weigh up potential costs and benefits of research (E) Vulnerable groups - difficult to anticipate (L) 'Worth' invariably subjective - only known when public

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