Physiological Approach

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  • Created by: Kerrie27
  • Created on: 13-04-15 17:59

Physiological Approach

The main assumption of the physiological approach is that behaviour and experience can be explained by physiological changes, such as the brain, the nervous system and other biological factors such as hormones.

This approach focuses on the relationship between our biological makeup and our behaviour and experiences. 

Also includes genetics and inheritience. 

Methodology - Mostly lab experiments.

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Physiological Approach Studies

Brunner - Biology effects behaviour in this study as it focused on a genetic defect that alters hormones, causing heightened aggression and criminal behaviour. 

Raine- Different brain structures in criminals.

Gottesman and Shields - Twin research, schizophrenia


Dement and Kleitman


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Physiological Approach Strengths

A main strength of the physiological approach is the use of sophisticated equipment such as MRI scanners which provide an objective and precise way of mesuring brain structure.

e.g Maguire was able to scan living brains using MRI technology which enabled the researchers to gain lots of quantitative and objective data about the density of the grey matter of the hippocampus.

e.g Raine used Pet scans, glucose tracers etc.

Allows for scientific, precise data which we can gather a lot of information from, sees psychology as a hard science. 

Another strength is the practical applicatons that it offers. Much of the research in this area is very useful aas it may be used to diagnose and develop treatments and therapies for illnesses and problems. 

e.g Maguireimplications for those with brain injury because of the plasticity of the brain.

e.g Biological explanations for depression, lead to biological treatments. Wender is one example of this.

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Physiological Weaknesses

A main weakness with this approach is that studies often lack ecological validity. Using such a scientific approach and testing behaviour in laboratory conditions means that the measurement often lacks validity. The high levels of control make the situation unfamilar and not like a real life situation that participants would find themselves in. 

e.g Dement and Kleitman not usual sleeping arrangments

e.g Sperry tasks are not like real life

Another weaknesses is that this approach can be seen as reductionist as the approach explains all behaviour as a reaction between chemicals and neurons. It ignored interaction of other elements. Other factors influence behaviour. Too simplistic as it ignores the influence of the environment. Does not take past experience into account.

e.g Brunner looked at urine samples and found they had a deficit of an enzyme but ignored other factors such as upbringing or environment which could have affected behaviour. 

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