Sex and Gender: Key Concepts


•Sex: The biological term describing whether someone is male or female

This is decided at conception, when the sperm fertilises the egg.

•Gender: The psychological term describing whether someone is masculine, feminine or androgynous

This is determined by how a person thinks and behaves or their culture.

•Androgyny: When a person shows both masculine and feminine behaviour in balance

For example: A boy who is competitive but also caring for others.

A chromosome: is a cell containing genetic information.

Male chromosomes: XY, Male sex organs: Testes, Male sex hormone: Testosterone                                         

Female chromosomes: **,   Female sex organs: Ovaries, Female sex hormone: Oestrogen

Gonads: At around 6 weeks in the womb, the gonads of the foetus release testosterone or oestrogen depending on the sex hormones, causing males to develop a scrotum and penis and females to develop a womb and vagina.

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Sex and Gender: Core Theory


•An individual’s sex and gender are decided at the same time – at conception

When a foetus is formed, the two sex chromosomes become a part of their genetic makeup (**-girls XY-boys) Around 6 weeks after conception, gonads develop into testes (boys) or ovaries (girls), depending on whether testosterone has been released. The sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen affect gender development:

Testosterone causes boys to be more aggressive and competitive and gives them better mathematical and spatial skills.

Oestrogen causes girls to be more sensitive and caring and a lack of testosterone gives them superior verbal skills.

Males and females have evolved to have different levels of hormones – females are coyer than males because they only have about 400 eggs to reproduce with whereas males are thought to be more promiscuous because they produce millions of sperm. As women care for their young, they have evolved to be more caring and sensitive to the child’s needs.

Males have evolved to be more aggressive and competitive to fight for resources to provide for their young.

Answer the 10 marker in this order: Chromosomes, Gonads, Hormones, Evolution.

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Sex and Gender: Core Theory Criticisms


Ignores the idea that gender roles may be learnt.

-Evidence suggests that families and communities socialise males and females differently; boys are rewarded for being tough and girls are rewarded for being lady-like. Also, they may be punished for behaving like the opposite sex. This can help to explain cultural differences. This suggests that gender is a product of nurture rather than nature.

It does not explain individual differences.

-If all men and all women are biologically similar, this theory does not explain why there is so much variation within genders. For example, two men may have the same levels of testosterone and the same chromosome pattern but one may be very masculine and the other much more feminine. The theory fails to explain this.

Gender roles can change.

-The biological theory says that sex and gender are determined by our biology. For example, most males and females are more androgynous than in the past, even though human biology hasn’t changed. In Japan, males and females both show high levels of what would be seen as feminine behaviour in the UK. Also, in some tribes, it is women who were the hunter gatherers for the group, and the gender roles are reversed.

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Sex and Gender: Alternative theory



Occurs in the phallic stage (3 to 5 years) 

In the unconscious mind

Oedipus Complex - Boys have an unconscious sexual desire for their mothers and fear their father finding out. They experience castration anxiety – a fear that their father will cut off their penis. This is resolved when they identify with their fathers and develop a masculine gender identity.

Electra Complex - Girls have an unconscious sexual desire for their fathers and have penis envy. They believe that their mother castrated them as a baby. They then desire a baby as a penis substitute. They identify with their mother and develop a feminine gender identity.

If a parent is a weak role model or is not around, a child’s gender identity does not develop properly.

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Sex and Gender: Core Study



Aim: To show that children cannot be “nurtured” into gender roles and that we are born with innate and instinctive gender roles.

Method: Case study (an in-depth study of a small group of people).

A pair of male twins, born in Canada were studied.

At 8 months old, they went to the hospital to get castrated, but one of the twins, Bruce, accidently had his penis burnt off. His parents took the advice of a local psychologist Dr Money who suggested raising Bruce as a girl, Brenda.

At 17 months old, Brenda had her testes removed and her parents began to treat her as a girl, not telling her what had happened.

Results: Initially, Brenda seemed to adapt to her new gender and enjoyed playing with girl toys.

However, when she reached puberty, she developed a masculine appearance and enjoyed more masculine sports. At 13, Brenda’s parents told her the truth and she decided to live her life as a man, David.

Conclusion: Gender is a product of nature rather than nurture.

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Sex and Gender: Core Study – Criticisms


Case studies rely on small samples

– in this case, the sample is one individual. Bruce may have been an exception to the rule, so the notion that gender is a result of nurture over nature cannot be generalised to all children. Also, it was only carried out on a boy so the study is gender bias and cannot generalise girls to this theory too.

It was not possible to control extraneous variables

- since it was a case study, in a naturally occurring situation, extraneous variables could not be controlled. For example, Bruce had a twin brother who looked just like him, and who may have acted as a male role model to him- Bruce may have copied his masculine behaviour. In addition, Bruce was raised as a boy for the first year and a half of his life and his parents knew he was a boy – they may have treated him differently because of this.

Researchers can become too involved in their study

- This means it may not be objective. Dr Money was accused of interpreting Brenda’s behaviour to suit his approach and failed to report that Brenda was struggling with her feminine gender identity. Therefore, the validity of the study is questionable.

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Sex and Gender: Applications of Research


If it is true that males are naturally better at maths and girls are naturally better at literacy, it would be useful to use positive discrimination to create better opportunities for the disadvantaged sex. For example, giving boys extra English lessons and girls more maths lessons.

Equal opportunities need to be offered to girls and boys.

Men seem to do better in the workplace in terms of promotion and pay compared to women. There needs the be more equal opportunities for women in the workplace.

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Memory: Key Concepts


Accessibility Problems: -Problems associated with retrieving information in storage 

-Tip of the Tongue’ phenomenon describes inaccessible information

Availability Problems: -Problems associated with information no longer being stored

-This can be a result of not using the information enough (decay) or the information being pushed out by newer information (displacement)

Input:The process of data entering the memory from the environment.

Encoding:The process of changing the information into a format that we can store.

Storage:The process in which information is held ready to be used at a later date.

Retrieval: The process of recollecting old information.

Output:The process of using data once it has been retrieved.

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Memory: Core Theory


The Multi-Store Model of Memory.

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Memory: Core Theory Criticisms


  • The model is too rigid and ignores individual differences.

-The model assumes that each person’s memory system has the same structure. This may not be the case – it fails to explain why some people have a greater memory capacity than others or why some people have better memories for certain types of information, for example, birthdays.

  • The model over-simplifies the STM and LTM.

-The STM is not just a passive store connecting the sensory memory to the LTM but has been found to be more active. For example, it can deal with different inputs at the same time – sound and smell inputs. Also, the LTM has been found to have several different stores including one for general knowledge and another for autobiographical events. The MSM of memory is too simplistic.

  • The model over-emphasises the role of rehearsal.

- Not all information in the LTM has been rehearsed. Some information may be in the LTM because it has meaning. The Levels of Processing theory would argue that we process sematic information on a deeper level and are therefore more likely to be able to retain and recall it. The MSM of memory ignores this idea.

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Memory: Alternative theory

MEMORY: ALTERNATIVE THEORY-Levels of Processing Theory

•This theory suggests that how we process information depends on how much meaning it has to us.

•Deep processing – when the information is sematic, we are more likely to remember it.

•Shallow processing – when the information has no meaning to us, it is processed on a shallow level and is easier to be forgotten.

•For example: Going to a fancy restaurant and eating a delicious meal. You are more likely to remember the way the food tasted than what it looked like because it was the taste of the food that had meaning to you, and not the way it looked in particular.

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Memory: Core Study


Aim: to investigate whether our memory is affected by factors such as time and space.

Method: Terry decided to test people’s memories for television commercials.He used a repeated measures design  made up of 39 students.The commercials were all 10 months old and 30 seconds long. They were presented in groups of 15.He carried out two conditions; in the first, participants were shown the adverts and then had to write down as many brand names as they could remember immediately. In the second condition, the participants were shown another set of adverts, but had to complete a three minute writing task before attempting to write down as man as they could.They could recall them in any order in both conditions.

Results: The results showed a serial position effect which means that whether a commercial was recalled depended on its position in the list, not on what the product was.In the condition with no writing task, the participants showed a primacy and recency effect. This means that they recalled the first items well due to rehearsal, so they were stored in the LTM, and remembered the last items well because they were still in the STM and could be recalled easily.In the condition with a writing task, the participants showed only a primacy effect because the last brand names had decayed or been displaced during the writing task since they had no time to rehearse them.

Conclusion: Memory of the adverts was due to their serial position in the list and not by their meaning. Items in the middle were poorly recalled in both scenarios because they had been displaced or decayed.

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Memory: Core Study Criticisms


  • The study lacks ecological validity

-Since it was carried out in an artificial setting, the results are not applicable to a real life setting. In a real life setting, people would typically watch adverts with several distractions around them and would not pay the same amount of attention to the adverts as in the experiment.

  • It also lacks construct validity

-This study takes a narrow look at memory. There is much more to memory than remembering television commercials. Even if Terry claims to have done this experiment to specifically study the memory of commercials, it is artificial to make them all 30 seconds long and all 10 months old.

  • The participants may have shown demand characteristics

- Since it was a repeated measures design and the same participants were used in each condition, they may have guessed at Terry’s aim and tried to help him achieve the results he wanted by purposefully not writing the last brand names down after the written task. Therefore, this affects the validity of the results.

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Memory: Applications of Research


Cues are memory aids which can help us with accessibility problems and improve our ability to recall information.

Formal uses of cues: The police sometimes reconstruct a crime scene so that there are visual and verbal cues which may trigger a  witness’ memory of the event.

Informal uses of cues: We retrace our steps when we forget something which is where we are searching for cues to remind us where we last had it.

Cues in education: Things like colour coding and mnemonics trigger the content of a topic. For example, ‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat’ is often used to recall the order of points on a compass. Also, in an ideal situation, a child should sit their exam in the same classroom where they learnt the content because it gives them more visual cues to trigger the information they will need in the test.

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Attachment: Key Concepts


Attachment: a reciprocal enduring bond formed with a significant other e.g. between a primary caregiver and an infant

Separation protest: when an individual shows distress on separation from their primary caregiver

Stranger anxiety: when an individual shows distress in the presence of an unfamiliar person

Secure attachment – the child and caregiver have a strong relationship based on trust and security – 70%

Insecure avoidant – the child and care giver have a relationship where the child is quite independent – 15%

Insecure ambivalent – the child and caregiver have a weak relationship where the child is clingy but also pushes the caregiver away – 15%

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Attachment: Core Theory


Babies have an innate drive to form an attachment as it is crucial to their survival. He believed in the idea of monotropy –we form an attachment with one main caregiver e.g. mum. This was said to happen in the critical period (first three years of life) Bowlby said that if this attachment was not formed during the critical period, there would be psychological consequences. If no attachment is formed, the child would show the irreversible effects of privation including poor social and language skills and poor motor skills. For example, Genie did not form an attachment as a child, and later on in life found social situations difficult. If an attachment is formed but broken for over a week, the child would show the long-lasting effects of deprivation including affectionless psychopathy and depression, and the short term effects such as a phobia of school and being clingy.

Deprivation stages: Protest, Despair, Detachment

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Attachment: Core Theory Criticisms


  • The idea of monotropy may be incorrect

-Critics say that children can develop multiple attachments. For example, they may attach to their father and grandparents as well as their mother. Bowlby failed to acknowledge this.

  • The critical period is too rigid

-Recent research has shown that the first three years may be a sensitive period for forming attachments but that attachments can still be formed after this time. Therefore, Bowlby’s idea of a critical period is too extreme.

  • Bowlby argued that the effects of deprivation are irreversible

-However, this may not be the case. An example disproving this theory is the Czech Twins who spent the early years of life locked away after their mother had died and suffered from deprivation. When they were taken into care, they gradually formed strong bonds and went on to have successful marriages. Bowlby failed to recognise this.

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Attachment: Alternative theory


This is the theory that attachment is learnt and relies on experience – nurture over nature.

Infants learn to attach to people through reinforcement which provides reward or punishment for behaviours, leading them to repeat or not repeat them.

For example, a parent will reward behaviour that is linked to attachment such as their child holding their hand. The child’s behaviour will be positively reinforced by them being praised or shown affection. The reinforcement is reciprocated by the child positively reinforcing their parent’s behaviour through a smile or hug, for example.

The behaviourists believe that attachment is a two-way process so both the care giver and the child form an attachment through reinforcement.

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Attachment: Core Study

ATTACHMENT: CORE STUDY: Hazen and Shaver(1987).

Aim: To investigate whether the attachment type a person has as a child has an impact on their adult relationships.

Method: Hazen and Shaver used a questionnaire in a local newspaper in America. They received 1200 replies but only studied 620 of the results.The sample were between the ages of 14 and 82. The questionnaire measured two things, the person’s infant attachment type and their attitude towards love and relationships. Multiple choice questions were used.

Results: Hazen and Shaver found that 56% of people were securely attached, 25% were insecure-avoidant, and 19% were insecure ambivalent.

Adults who had secure attachments as children were found to have the longest adult relationships with an average length of 10 years and had supportive and accepting relationships with their partners. They were the least likely to be divorced.

Adults with insecure avoidant attachments had relationships for an average of 6 years and were generally afraid of intimacy and were prone to jealousy.

Adults with insecure ambivalent attachments as children went on to have relationships for an average of 5 years and experienced both extreme jealousy and extreme sexual attraction. They were the most likely to be divorced.

Conclusion: Hazen and Shaver concluded that there was a link between the attachment type a person has as a child and their future relationships.

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Attachment: Core Study – Criticisms


  • The Sample is unrepresentative

-This is because only certain people may have responded to the questionnaire- people with poor relationships may not want to do the ‘love quiz’ so they are missing from the results. Also, the findings may be gender biased since more females than males participated in the quiz. There is a culture bias because the quiz only appeared in one local newspaper in one area so the results cannot be generalised to other parts of the world.

  • The findings may not be valid

-This is because questionnaires rely too much on participants being honest and giving accurate answers. Some participants may have lied about their relationships for social desirability because it is a sensitive topic whilst others may have given a misrepresentation of their childhood attachment type because it is hard to remember things from such a young age.

  • The questionnaire used closed questions

- The questions may have not gone into enough depth. Intimate relationships are complicated so it may not be valid to use simple multiple choice questions. Some people may have wanted to elaborate or explain their answers but could not.

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Attachment: Applications of Research



50 years ago, it was the norm for babies to be separated form their mothers after birth to allow the mother time to recover. However, now, mothers are encouraged to have ‘skin-to-skin’ contact with their children in order to form a strong bond.

Also, parents are encouraged to visit their children as much as possible when they are in hospital and the visiting times have become longer to accommodate this.  In some cases, parents can stay overnight with their child. This is to prevent deprivation.


Parents often need to use nurseries to allow them to go to work. Due to research into attachment, many nurseries now have a key worker for children who can report back to parents and allow them to be involved in the child’s every-day life.

At home

Various organisations have been set up following research into attachment to ensure that parents have a support network which encourages and advises them on raising their children in the best ways. Parents are also becoming aware of the effects of the amount of time they spend with their children.

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Obedience: Key Concepts


Obedience: Following orders or commands, doing as you’re told.

Authority: A person who has a level of power or status.

Defiance: Refusing to follow orders or commands, not doing as you’re told.

Denial of Responsibility: Blaming actions on others, saying they did something because they were told to do it – they are in the agentic shift.

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Obedience: Core Theory

OBEDIENCE: CORE THEORY: Situational Factors.

Setting: People are more likely to obey in a prestigious setting:mYale University – 65% up to 450V, Run down office block – 47% up 450V. Culture: Individualist culture: a culture where independence is valued e.g. USA, Australia, Collectivist Culture: s culture where possessions and income are shared e.g. India, Austria – higher obedience rates due to their sense of duty. Milgram replicated his experiment in 18 different countries and found that those in individualist countries were less likely to obey : Australia – 40% up to 450V; Austria – 85% up  450V.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Power to Punish: The power of high authority and the threat of punishment administered can lead to higher levels of obedience – people fear the sanction that comes with disobeying.Milgram did a variation of his study, in which the assistant was presented as another participant and did not wear a lab coat. Another ‘participant’ – 20% went up  450V.                                                                                  Consensus: Support from peers gives others the confidence to say no and to disobey orders. Milgram repeated his experiment with two ‘teachers’ at the same time 2 teachers – 10% went up 450V.

  • Milgram’s Experiment (1963): Held at Yale University – a prestigious setting, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Learner’ role, When the ‘learner’ got the question wrong, he was given an electric shock. The learner was secretly played by an actor, Up to 450Volts – this would kill them, 40 males age 20 to 50, Paid $4.50 just for turning up, Result – 65% of participants went up to 450V, 100% of participants went up to 300V. This experiment was to see if the German people during the holocaust carried out orders in the same way as any other person. The results showed that ordinary people are just as likely to follow orders from an authority figure, even to the point of killing an innocent person.
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Obedience: Core Theory criticisms


  • Research supporting the theory lacks ecological validity. 

-For example, Milgram carried out all of his experiments in a laboratory setting and was not an every day task – the participants may have also guessed the aim of the study and played along, showing demand characteristics. This makes the research findings limited.

  • There were several ethical problems with the research to support the theory. 

-Research involves manipulating situations to see the affect different factors have on obedience rates. Researchers including Milgram may have caused serious distress or embarrassment. Also, Milgram did not debrief the participants so they did not leave the experiment in the same condition as they entered.

  • This theory ignores the role of personality.

 -It suggests that our behaviour is nearly always a reflex or response to our environment. It does not explain why some people are more or less likely to obey in the same situation. In the Dispositional Factors theory, Adorno suggests that personality is a more important factor when it comes to a person’s obedience and that authoritarian personalities are more obedient. Therefore the theory is limited since it does not explain this.

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Obedience: Alternative theory


Dispositional Factors – factors associated with an individual’s personality.

Authoritarian personality – a person has an obsession with rank and authority. They treat people below their status with disdain and had lots of respect for high authority figures.


-believed that personality affects obedience rates more than situation

-an authoritarian personality is the result of dogmatic (strict) parenting

Fascism – the belief that your country is superior to others.

F-scale  Adorno measured a collection of traits which he associates with an authoritarian personality and is based around fascism.

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Obedience: Core Study


Aim: To investigate whether uniform (and appearance) has an impact on obedience levels.

Method: Field Experiment in which 153 pedestrians on a street in Brooklyn, New York took part. There were 3 male confederates who interchangeably wore 3 uniforms – guard uniform, milkman uniform and civilian clothing. They ordered the pedestrians to do one of three tasks – pick up litter, put money in a parking meter for someone else or to move to stand on the other side of the bus stop.

Results: Bickman found that people tended to obey more when the confederate was dressed as someone in high authority – the guard uniform – 89%, the milkman uniform – 57%, and the civilian clothing – 33% - which was the lowest rate of obedience.

Conclusion: People are more likely to obey if they feel that they may be punished for disobeying, and that what a person is wearing can suggest the authority a person has.

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Obedience: Core Study – criticisms


There was a lack of control over extraneous variables. Due to the fact that this study was a field experiment, the researchers could not control external factors such as noise, weather and crowding which may have affected the results. Also, this was an opportunity sample so the participants’ personal circumstances and personalities were not taken into consideration – for example, one of the participants may have been having a bad day. This makes the study lacking in validity.

The study was unethical. It was not possible to gain consent from the participants since this would have revealed the aim of the study to them, but they were not debriefed after the experiment either. The participants may have been caused distress or embarrassment, making the study unethical.

The study was gender biased. Only male confederates were used to test obedience rates so we cannot apply these results to obedience rates with female confederates. It is unclear whether gender would have affected the rates of obedience due to the norms of society. This makes the findings limited.

It cannot be generalised. This study was carried out in one city of one country and therefore the results cannot be applied to other places in the world. The study could be said to be culturally biased because of this.

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Obedience: Applications of Research



In prisons, there is a clear hierarchy to show the ranking of staff and the prisoners, which enforces the idea that the prisoners will be scared and more likely to obey those with the power to punish.

This clear differentiation is made by the staff wearing smart uniforms which gives them power and status, and the prisoners wearing simpler uniforms to reduce the prisoners’ sense of identity, making them easier to control.

The power to punish is enforced through solitary confinement, chores and loss of privileges within the prison.

Prisoners are often kept in isolation, making them less likely to form a consensus since they cannot relate well to the other inmates.

Similar ideas are enforced in the armed forces and in schools.

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Atypical Behaviour: Key Concepts


Typical Behaviour – behaviours all or most of us do that are accepted by society as normal.

Atypical behaviour – behaviours that are considered unusual as they go against the ‘norm’, and apply to a minority of people. The norm – social expectations that guide behaviour, which explain people’s actions in certain situations.

Phobia – an intense, persistent and irrational fear of something which is accompanied by a compelling desire to avoid and escape it.

Agoraphobia – fear of being in a place where the sufferer feels it would be difficult to escape

Acrophobia – fear of heights 

School Phobia – a fear of attending school – most common among 11 to 12 year old boys Social Phobia – a fear of social situations and being judged by other people 

Arachnophobia – a fear of spiders

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Atypical Behaviour: Core Theory


Classical Conditioning: when an association is formed between through two things that were previously unconnected.

An unconditioned stimulus (food) leads to an unconditioned response (salivation). A neutral stimulus (a bell) produces no responseWhen the unconditioned stimulus (food) is paired with the neutral stimulus (bell) the dog will produce the conditioned response (salivation). This is repeated until the dog associates the newly conditioned stimulus (the bell) with the unconditioned stimulus (the food) so they automatically produce the conditioned response (salivation). Stimulus Generalisation – when we generalise the conditioned stimulus to anything that appears similar to it.

Operant Conditioning – learning by doing something that brings with it a reinforcing (either reward or punishment) consequence.

Extinction – occurs when the conditioned stimulus is encountered a number of times without the unconditioned stimulus occurring (e.g. a bell being hit without food being presented) which will lead to no response since there is no association between the two stimuli anymore.

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Atypical Behaviour: Core Theory: Critisms


•It ignores the mind and thinking behind the behaviourFor example, two people may both be attacked on a dark night. One of the people may think rationally and think it is unlikely for them to be attacked again. However, another, more irrational person may develop a phobia of the dark. The theory is deterministic and ignores the concept of free will.

•They assume you need direct experience with the feared thing to form a phobia of it. However, other theories suggest that phobias develop through social learning – for example a child copies their role model – a parent – and develop the same phobia as them. This would explain why some phobias tend to run in families.

Some people have phobias of things they have never had direct contact with. For example, a person may have never seen a snake in real life but they form a phobia of them nevertheless. This may suggest that evolution and instinct play a part in the development of phobias.

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Atypical Behaviour: Alternative theory


Believes that animals have evolved over time and instinctively behave in order to survive and reproduce.

This theory says that fear is instinctual because it helps us to survive and avoid dangerous situations.

We are born with a biological preparedness to fear certain things like fire or heights which has been passed down from our ancestors genes.

We are more likely to develop phobias of animals that look least like ourselves in shape and form e.g. spiders and snakes.

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Atypical Behaviour: Core Study

ATYPICAL BEHAVIOUR: CORE STUDY-Watson and Rayner (1920).

Aim: To investigate whether someone can be classically conditioned to fear an object.

Method: Little Albert was a baby who was brought in at 9 months old was faced with a range of different stimuli to test which were neutral stimuli and which were unconditioned stimuli which led to the unconditioned response of fear.

They found that a NS was a white rat and that an UCS was the noise of a metal bar being hit with a hammer which caused the UCR of crying.

At 11 months, Baby Albert was brought back in to their lab to condition him to fear the white rat by forming an association between the NS and UCS. This was repeated 7 times over the next 2 weeks.

Results: At the end of the 7 trials, Baby Albert had successfully been conditioned to fear the rat by itself. Several days after the conditioning, Watson and Rayner tested Little Albert again and found that he still feared the rat but that stimulus generalisation had also occurred which meant that he also feared other white, fluffy objects like a rabbit and a Santa Claus mask.

Conclusion: Watson and Rayner proved that it is possible to condition someone to fear something.

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Atypical Behaviour: Core Study Criticisms


•The study lacks ecological validity. This is because the study took place in an artificial setting where other variables that would be in a real life setting that could influence the person were not there. This means that the study sowed that a phobia could be conditioned artificially but they failed to show a phobia being conditioned in a real life setting. The fact that it took seven trials to induce Albert’s phobia also questions the validity of the study. •It cannot be generalised to stimuli or age groups. The sample used was one young child who was conditioned to fear one stimuli. It is unclear whether other age groups would be as easily conditioned to fear the stimulus as a baby or if other stimuli which look less like us are easier to condition. Without testing other stimuli and people, the study is limited.

•The study was highly unethical. Baby Albert was clearly caused distress during the experiment and the researchers did not attempt to counter-condition his phobia either, which could have caused him long-term mental problems. There was also some debate as to whether Albert’s mother knew exactly what she was consenting to.

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Atypical Behaviour: Applications of Research


Flooding – clients are immersed fully into an inescapable situation with their phobia, forcing them to face it head on. Initially, the client will have high levels of arousal and anxiety, however, the body cannot sustain this for a long period of time. These feelings eventually subside, and a new association is formed with the stimulus that does not include fear.

Systematic Desensitisation – A.R.E:

-A – Anxiety Hierarchy – stages going from the least threatening situation to the most threatening situation are gradually built up.

-R – Relaxation techniques – e.g. breathing techniques – are taught to the client to help them safely be exposed to their phobia.

-E – Exposure – the client is finally exposed to their fear.

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Criminal Behaviour: Key Concepts


Criminal Personalitya collection of traits which make people different from “normal” and law-abiding people

Defining Crime: Crime is any behaviour which breaks the law. Time and culture can affect whether something is a crime: -It changes over time e.g. homosexuality didn’t used to be legal in the UK; -It varies across cultures – cultural relativity – e.g. homosexuality is legal in the UK but illegal in Egypt

Measuring Crime: Statistics count the number of criminal acts committed as opposed to the number of criminals – it is not an accurate representation of the number of criminals in the UK. Not all crimes are recorded – some people may be unaware that they are the victim of a crime e.g. identity theft. Or, some people may not report crimes –dark figures of crime- e.g. parents do not wish to report their child’s crime to the police

Criminal Personality : PLIBS: Pleasure Seeking; Lacking in Feelings of Guilt;Impulsive;Being Over-Optimistic; Self Importance.

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Criminal Behaviour: Core Theory



The biological theory argues that: Criminal personality is inherited. We have a natural predisposition to be or to not be a criminal because of our genes– criminals have been genetically programmed through their DNA to be a criminal. If an individual’s parent is a criminal, there is a higher chance that their child will be a criminal too.

Facial Features:  The biological theorists believe that the gene responsible for criminal behaviour can also produce certain characteristics in a person’s features which are determined by our biology: Low, sloping forehead; Glassy eyes; Crooked Nose; Prominent chin; Strong Jaw.

Brain Dysfunction: It is argued that the criminal gene has an effect on brain development, making them ‘abnormal’ and dysfunctional. Prefrontal cortex – where we form an association between fear and anti-social behaviour. This is underactive in criminals – stealing. Limbic System – controls aggressive and sexual behaviour. This is overactive in criminals – murder, ****. Temporal Lobe– where language and emotions are controlled. This is underactive in criminals, causing them to lack feelings of empathy and guilt – aggressive psychopaths. Corpus Callosum – Where the rational and irrational sides of the brain communicate. This is underactive in criminals – more violent crimes.

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Criminal Behaviour: Core Theory criticisms


One criminal gene cannot account for all types of criminal behaviour. There are many different types of crime, for example, violent crimes like murder, and intellectual crimes like fraud. One gene cannot be generalised to account for all types of crimes. Also, society creates the concept of crimes and cultural variation would question the idea that criminal behaviour is inherited. This questions the validity of the theory.

Brain dysfunctions are only evident in some criminals. They do not reliably predict whether someone will or will not be a criminal because some people with brain dysfunctions are not criminals and vice versa. Brain dysfunctions may be a result of illness, injury or environmental factors. This makes the theory unreliable.

There is not enough evidence to support the facial features theory. Society may be prejudiced against certain appearances, which may cause them to turn to crime or be accused and convicted of crimes. This makes the theory limited in its approach. It ignores the effect of the social environment. The fact that crime seems to run in families could be explained by the Social Learning Theory which believes that children learn criminal behaviour from their parents and role models through vicarious reinforcement.

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Criminal Behaviour: Alternative Theory


This theory believes that:

Criminal behaviour is learnt and that we imitate the behaviour of our role models. It is fortified through vicarious reinforcement.

This is when a person’s behaviour is reinforced because they have seen someone else doing the same behaviour and getting a reward for it.

This is typical of children who imitate their parent’s behaviours. This is what leads to crime running in families.

Example: a child sees their father receiving lots of respect and attention for beating someone up, and may be motivated to imitate him and fight other children.

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Criminal Behaviour: Core Study


Aim: To investigate whether crime is related to nature and genetics or nurture and the environment.


In Denmark

Criminal records of over 14000 adopted males born between 1924 and 1947 were assessed. They were compared to the criminal records of their biological and adoptive parents.

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Criminal Behaviour: Core Study 2


Aim: To investigate whether crime is related to nature and genetics or nurture and the environment.

Method: In Denmark, Criminal records of over 14000 adopted males born between 1924 and 1947 were assessed. They were compared to the criminal records of their biological and adoptive parents.

Results: If a person’s biological parents have committed a crime, it made more of an impact on the conviction rates than if only the adoptee parents were convicted of a crime. There were nearly twice as many convicted sons when both the biological and adoptive parents have convictions compared to sons with neither parent having convictions. There was a strong correlation between biological parents and their sons for property crimes.

Conclusion: Mednick et al concluded that there is was a strong link between genetic factors and criminal behaviour. However, the effect of the environment also had an impact on criminal behaviour so nurture cannot be ruled out as a factor affecting crime.

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Criminal Behaviour: Core Study – Criticisms


The study relied on the records of criminal convictions which may have been unreliable. Some crimes may not have been detected or reported – dark figures of crime or some convictions may have been unfair or prejudice. This means that the statistics used may be inaccurate.

The ‘contamination effect’ may have affected the results. Most children spend some time with their biological parents before being given up for adoption. Even though 90% of adopted children were under 2 years old when adopted, this is still a crucial time for development and may affect their future behaviour. This may explain the link between their behaviour and their biological parent’s behaviour.

It is gender bias – All adoptees were male – this makes the study androcentric and means that the results cannot be generalised to females – we do not know if females are affected more or less by environmental factors than males. This makes the study limited.

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Criminal Behaviour: Application of Research


Most governments and societies spend lots of resources to try to reduce crime, suggesting that criminal behaviour can be changed and it more related to nurture than nature.

Prisons Punish criminals – by removing their freedom.

              - Rehabilitate offenders away from potentially negative environments

              - Deter potential criminals who can see the negative consequences of committing the crime, making less likely to copy the criminals in prison.

Crime Prevention: The media is seen as a source of criminal behaviour – restrictions and bans on what is viewed can reduce ‘copy cat crimes’.

The education system: youth and social services all try to prevent children from learning criminal behaviour through vicarious reinforcement by reinforcing appropriate behaviour and teaching children what is right and wrong.

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Perception: Key Concepts


Sensation: The physical process of collecting data from the environment through our senses (eyes, nose fingers etc.)

Perception: The cognitive process of interpreting data once it has been sensed. Illusions happen when data is misinterpreted and there is a mismatch between what is sensed and what is perceived.

Types of Illusion: Geometric Illusions – it seems that one like is distorted, making us perceive it wrong e.g. the Ponzo illusion; Ambiguous figures – a picture/drawing which can be seen in more than one way, e.g. the Necker cube; Fictions – seeing something which is not actually there e.g. the Kaniza triangle; Visual Constancies- allow us to perceive things as remaining the same despite its physical characteristics changing; Colour Constancies – the ability to perceive the colour of an object as constant even if it appears to change through changes in lighting e.g. a white jacket under a blue strobe light; Shape Constancies  - the ability to perceive an object’s shape as constant even if it appears to change through movement e.g. a door turning.

Depth Perception: the ability of our eyes and brain to add a third dimension to what we see.

Linear Perspective – lines that run in parallel appear to converge in the distance.

Height in Plane – if the image of an object is higher (above the horizon line) it is seen as further away.

Relative size – if an object is smaller on your retina, it is perceived to be further away.

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Perception: Core Theory

PERCEPTION: CORE THEORY- Constructivist Theory

The theory that perception is constructed using past experience before using our environment.

Top-down processing: when perception is dominated based on what we expect to see – the brain uses past experiences including prior knowledge, motivation, expectation and memory.

Perceptual Set: atendency to perceive something in line with what you expect to see based on past experience.

Expectation – what we expect to see makes it easier to pick things out – e.g. finding your friend in a crowd is easier if you already know they will be there.

Motivation – how we are feeling can affect what we see e.g. research has shown that hungry/thirsty people see pictures of food as brighter than when they had just drunk/eaten something. Or, if someone is rooting for their favourite sports team, they are more likely to view the opposing side as overly aggressive.

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Perception: Core Theory Criticisms


If perception is based so much on personal experiences, the theory does not explain why people tend to see the world in a similar way. For example, two people brought up in very different environments may still have similar perceptions of the world. This suggests that we are influenced more by the information in the environment around us than from our past experiences, questioning the validity of the theory.

If perception requires past experience, it does not explain how new-born babies have the ability to perceive the world. Numbers of studies carried out on babies show that they have some perceptual abilities at a very young age – for example, babies as young as 2 months old appear to recognise faces and complex patterns. This suggests that past experiences may not be as important as is suggested in the theory in terms of perception.

The effect of illusions questions the constructivist theory of perception.If we relied solely on past experiences, the theory would say that we would not fall for the same illusion twice, however, this is rarely the case. This makes the theory’s explanation limited.

The top-down theory tends to ignore the fact that babies are born already knowing how to see and understand distance, movement, colour and shape. The Nativist theory would explain this through the bottom-up theory that perception is dominated by the information coming through the eyes. This makes the Constructivist theory questionable.

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Perception: Alternative theory


The Nativists believe in:

Bottom Up processing: the idea that perception is dominated by what enters through the eyes, and not based on passed experiences.

Perception is immediate and data-driven – this explains why we all perceive the world in a similar way.

It is universal.

All information we need for perception is already in the optic array.

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Perception: Core Study

PERCEPTION: CORE STUDY- Haber and Levin (2001)

Aim: To investigate whether top-down or bottom-up processing is a better explanation of perception.

Method: 9 male college students; Tested for good eyesight; Driven onto a large grassy field surrounded by trees on three sides, in groups of 3; The field was divided into 4 sections1.Empty 2.15 real-world objects with a definitive size (token invariable) e.g. football, milk bottle 3.15 real-world objects with varying sizes (token variable) e.g. teddy bear, water bottle 4.15 cardboard cut outs of geometric shapes e.g. circle, square. Participants were asked to say how far away they thought each object was. Used a repeated measures design – same participants in all conditions.

Results: Estimations were most accurate for real life, invariant objects, and least accurate of shapes and objects which vary in size.

Conclusion: It is easier to perceive the distance of familiar objects because participants rely on their past experiences (top-down processing). Participants expected objects such as a milk bottle to be a certain size, and were therefore better at judging their distance. If the nativist theory was correct, they should have been able to judge the distance of the objects regardless of familiarity.

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Perception: Core Study Criticisms


  • The sample is unrepresentative.A very small sample of nine participants was used, who were all the same age, and gender, making it androcentric, and all from the same college, which excludes all other cultures. This makes it difficult to generalise the findings to different age groups, and cultures, therefore the study is limited in the findings it produced.
  • The task and setting used were artificial.The study lacks mundane realism because it is not reflective of a real life task. It also lacks ecological validity because the setting is artificial. Testing people who already lived in the city within a field environment, may have distorted the findings, making them unreliable.
  • Although a questionnaire was used, the familiarity of an object is subjective.It is wrong to assume that all of the participants perceived the objects in a similar way. It may have been a coincidence that they were better at judging the distance of certain objects – this affects the validity of the findings.
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Perception: Application of Research


Subliminal messaging – where there are hidden messages which you do not realise are there but enter your subconscious.

Researchers found that if French music was played in the background of a supermarket, the sales of French wine went up.

Also, research has shown that different parts of the brain are more receptive to different types of information – for example, the left side is better at processing words and messages so advertisers tend to put words on the right side of the screen, to be processed by the right eye, and vice versa with emotional, visual messages and the right side of the brain.

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Cognitive Development: Key Concepts


Cognitive Development- age related changes,                                                

e.g. how children think and behave differently as they get older.This development in built on thought processes or schemas.

Schema- a conception of what is common to all members of a class; a general or essential type or form.

Every child goes through an invariant sequence of 4 stages of development.

Invariant – the stages are fixed, children cannot skip or reorder them.

Universal – they are the same for ALL children, even though there is variation in upbringing/culture.

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Cognitive Development: Core Theory


Piaget found development of child’s ability when through the same stages in a fixed or invariant order. He found this pattern was universal to all children.

Piaget= children are scientists who explore the world from the moment they are born and develop in clear stages.There are four stages of cognitive development:

  • Sensori motor- 0-2;
  •  Pre-operational- 2-7; 
  • Concrete operational- 7-11; 
  • Formal operational – 11+.
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Cognitive Development: Core Theory 2


Stage 1- the sensori motor stage

  • Birth to 2 years
  • Child learns from interaction with environment
  • Body schema= the infant recognizes it exists physically
  • Motor co-ordination= coordinates body parts e.g. hand to mouth to eat
  • Object permanence develop about 8 months. 
  • Object permanence is when an infant knows an object or person exists even if they can’t be seen. It takes time for a baby to develop object permanence. E.g Piaget would show a toy to a child, then the toy would be covered with a cloth. The child did not make any effort to get the toy from under the cloth.
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Cognitive Development: Core Theory 3


Stage 2 – Preoperational stage

  • 2 to 7 years
  • Child unable to CONSERVE
  • Animism= the child treats inanimate objects as if they too are alive
  • Reversibility= a child at this stage is unable to work backwards in their thinking
  • Child is egocentric – seeing and thinking of the world only from your point of view, unable to understand the world from another’s perspective
  • Piaget demonstrated Egocentrism with his The Three Mountains experiment 
    A model of three mountains is placed on a table. A child is seated in a chair on one side of the table and a doll is seated on a chair on another side. The child is given cards with different views of the three mountains and is asked to pick the view that the doll can see.
    the child picks the view that they have. Piaget concluded that the child could not de-center and see things from another’s point of view.
  • Decentration means that a child can understand more than one feature of a situation or object. for example they can think of two people's views or they can categorise objects by size and colour. 
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Cognitive Development: Core Theory 4


Stage 3 – CONCRETE operational stage

  • 7 – approx 11 years
  • child now able to conserve and can perform quite complex operations but only if ‘real’ objects are ‘at hand’
  • Conservation= when children know that the properties of certain objects remain the same ( are conserved) even if the objects appear to change.
  • Linguistic humour- child understand word games and double meanings
  • Seriation= ability to put things in rank order. 
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cognitive Development: Core Theory 5


Stage 4 ‘Formal Operations

  • Aged 11+
  • The child can now perform logical operations and abstract reasoning
  • Hypothetical thinking involves solving problems logically and perhaps scientifically in an abstract way- see the big picture.
  • Ability to solve problems without the use of props to help.
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Cognitive Development: Core Theory Criticisms


Cognitive stages are not fixed for all children –some children reach stages sooner/ can demonstrate part of a stage at different ages – they can flick between the stages, sometimes showing abilities from a stage older than they are, without completing their current stage.

Development is based on culture – studies have shown that Aboriginal children develop faster into concrete operational stage than European children in order to enhance survival

There is no guarantees that people develop through all stages – studies show that 50% of adults have not completed formal operational stage

Piaget ignore different kinds of thinking, not thinking is logical and ignores creativity and the influence of others

Piaget does not explain WHY changes in thinking occurhe does not offer reasons why things happen, he simply says children will learn. Cases of extreme neglect (e.g. Genie) do not support this, as she was unable to speak and complete basic tasks – she needed the input of others.

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Cognitive Development: Alternative Theory


images (3)

He argues that although children are born with thinking abilities their cognitive development takes place within their culture

Children picks up tools for thinking ( e.g. language and writing) and these are developed it their home, he called these cultural tools

Children are apprentices-children are helped to develop by people around them, they learn from others (More Knowledgeable Others)

Zone of proximal development ( ZPD)- )- the gap between where a child in in their learning and where they can potentially get to with the help and support of others- learning through others is called scaffolding.

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Cognitive Development: Core Study


Conservation of number  (1952).

Aim: to see what age children are able to conserve at.

Procedure:  Cross sectional study = he compared children of different ages

Children were shown 2 parallel rows of counters, counters facing each other one to one, the research then moved counters on one row- stretching them out. Children were asked one at a time which row had more counters.


•  Children 2-7  ( pre operational) said the stretched row had more because it was longer  ( they could not conserve)

•  Children 7-11 ( concrete operational) got it right, know same number of counters in each row ( they can conserve)

Conclusion: Conservation happens as children progress into the concrete operational stage of development.

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Cognitive Development: Core Study Criticisms


Generalisability: Piaget used a small sample- it may not have represented all children (they were also his own children/their friends).

Reliability: A standardised task – however could Piaget have asked the question in such a way as to suggest the answer to the children?

Application: supports Piaget’s theories of stages of development, and can be used to inform teachers in the education system.

Validity: Piaget was criticised for the way he questioned the children, they were asked the same question twice- (usually this happened if children get an answer wrong) therefore they may have changed their answer. Piaget was also criticised for the nature of the task- it did not have any meaning to children, when a toy was used to mess around the counters- 60% of children in the pre operational stage got it right.

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Cognitive Development: Applications of Research


Vygotsky’s influence on education

Role of the teacher- the classroom teacher should actively helps children develop understanding, the teacher helps develop the child’s ZPD.

Spiral curriculum- in school difficult ideas need to be presented at first simply and then revisited at a more advanced level later.

Scaffolding- teachers need to provide a scaffold for children to climb and achieve.

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Non-Verbal Communication: Key Concepts


Non-verbal CommunicationCommunicating without the use of spoken language but by using gestures, facial expressions and body movement – it can be conscious or unconscious.

Body LanguageCommunicating something physically using the body.

Facial Communicating: communicating something through the movement of the muscles in the face.

Universal emotions : happiness, sadness, fear, surprise anger, disgust.

Anger  -- puffing out chest, baring teeth.

Fear    -- wide eyes, moving away.

Happy Smiling, standing tall and relaxed.

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NVC: Core Theory

NVC: CORE THEORY.- Social Learning Theory.

1.Observation:  - an individual will consciously or unconsciously watch role models from infancy to adulthood to learn the correct NVC behaviours. e.g. our parents. 

For example: observing that in French culture, people greet each other by kissing on the cheeks three times.

2. Imitation: - Copying the behaviours of our role models to make ourselves be more like them. 

For example: imitating kissing someone on the cheek three times to say hello to someone in our immediate culture.

3. Reinforcement: - Being rewarded/praised for our behaviour makes us more likely to repeat it in the future – it becomes a habit. 

For example: being praised for kissing someone on the cheek three times.

4. Punishment: - If we are punished for the NV behaviour, it makes us reluctant to repeat it. The NVC not accepted will ‘die out’.

For example: being laughed at for kissing a person on the cheek three times will lead to the person not repeating the behaviour again.

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NVC: Core Theory - Criticisms


The theory fails to explain why certain examples of NVC persist even though they have been punished. For example, a child who has been punished for sticking out their tongue may continue to do so – the NVC behaviour has not died out. The theory is limited in its explanation of examples such as this.

The theory suggests that we can learn new ways of non-verbally communicating but this is not always the case. For example, efforts to teach offenders more appropriate NV behaviour has been found to be ineffective. If NVC is learnt, we should easily be able to teach new behaviours. This questions the validity of the theory.

It does not explain individual differences. For example, two siblings with the same parents, brought up in the same environment can have different ways of expressing themselves non-verbally. Therefore the explanation is limited.

It ignores the effect of nature on NVC. For example, the evolutionary theory suggests that NVC is instinctive in order for us to survive and reproduce and that nature plays a big part in learning NVC. The Social Learning Theory ignores this.

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NVC: Alternative Theory

NVC: ALTERNATIVE THEORY- Evolutionary Theory.

Nature over Nurture
NVC behaviours evolve and become instinctive because they help us to survive and reproduce.

Survival – NVC such as baring the teeth and puffing out the chest ward off potential enemies.

Reproduction – facial features such as batting the eyelashes and flushing cheeks signal that a person is interested in having sex with someone.

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NVC: Core Study

NVC: CORE STUDY- Yuki et al.

Aim: To investigate whether there are cultural differences in using the eyes and mouth as cues to recognise emotions in Japan and America.

Procedure: A cross-sectional study; 118 American volunteer students from Ohio university; 95 Japanese volunteer students from Hokkaido university; A questionnaire with 6 different computer generated emoticons of different combinations of eye and mouth shapes; A scale of 1 (very sad) to 9 (very happy); Averages for American and Japanese ratings were taken.

Results: Japan – highest ratings for happy eyes, lowest ratings for sad eyes.

America – highest ratings for happy mouths, lowest ratings for sad mouths

Conclusion: Japanese people tend to pay more attention to the eyes whereas Americans tend to pay more attention to the mouth. This is a result of socialisation. This supports the Social Learning Theory’s idea of cultural variations of NVC.

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NVC: Core Study Criticisms


The study lacks ecological validity. The setting was artificial – the study used emoticons rather than real life faces, which creates the issue of generalising the results to every-day life. However, Yuki repeated his test using real faces, producing the same results, but 2D faces are still artificial so they cannot be applied to real life.

The sample was not representative. It used a narrow age range: students. It may be that very young children interpret emotions in faces differently to older generations, making it difficult to generalise the results to people of all ages.

The scale used was too simple. The dependant variable was measured using a simple 1-9 scale which cannot accurately represent such a complex process such as recognising emotions. The researcher oversimplified the scale, which makes the validity of the measurement of the dependant variable questionable.

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NVC: Applications of Research


On the assumption that NVC is learnt, research has helped us to identify what makes people better in dealing with others.

Research can be used to help psychiatric patients in rehabilitation:

1.Modelling – the trainer demonstrates by acting out the correct behaviour e.g. good eye contact, while the offender watches.
2.Practice – the offender then imitates the model using role play.
3.Feedback – the trainer will watch them and comment, sometimes using a video of their roleplay. Good social skills are reinforced using praise.

4.Homework – the offender is set tasks to transfer their newly learnt skills to be able to apply them to a real-life situation.

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The Self: Key Concepts


Unique: A one-off, which is not repeated; individual

Free will: The ability to make your own decisions, uninfluenced

For example: people have free will about whether to commit a crime or not.

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The Self: Core Theory


Humanistic theorists believe that every person has: Free will. 

A self concept: a person’s perception of their actual self (what they think they are)  - If someone keeps telling an individual that they are ugly, they will start to perceive themselves as ugly because the self concept is based on how others perceive us. 

An ideal self: the person an individual would like to be (e.g. more organised etc.)

Incongruence: if there is a big gap between the ideal self and an individual’s self concept, there is an incongruence which leads to having a low self esteem – (a measure of how much we value ourselves).

Humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers believe that everyone is born good, and that we are all unique individuals who have free will.

Unconditional Positive Regard: When a person’s significant other/parent accepts and loves the person for who they are – this leads to congruence between self-concept and ideal self.

Self-actualisation: when congruence is achieved, this leads to the person self-actualising – (characteristics include morality, lack of prejudice, creativity). Maslow suggested that people such as Einstein, Darwin and Picasso had self-actualised.

They believe that every person has an inborn drive to want to fulfil our potential.

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The Self: Core Theory: Criticisms


Many of the ideas presented are vague and unclear. It is difficult to measure a person’s ideal self, self concept and self actualisation. This makes the theory subjective and difficult to find evidence for. This makes it difficult to measure objectively.

The theory is not very scientific. The ideas within the theory are difficult to test and measure objectively since they are such complex things which are unique to every person. Also, most of the research comes from Rogers himself, so it is unclear whether there was researcher bias which may have caused the results to be manipulated. Therefore, we can question the validity of the theory.

The theory ignores genetic evidence. Biological scientists argue that up to 60% of a person’s intellectual, emotional and social development is due to biological factors. The Humanistic theory ignores the idea that personality may be genetic and out of our control.

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The Self: Alternative theory


Eysenck believed that personality has:

A genetic basis – we are born this way

A biological explanation: our personality is shaped by the activity of a part of the brain.

Extroversion and Neuroticism

Traits are universal and innate. There are 4 basic dimensions of personality.

1.Extraversion – the degree to which someone is outgoing and sociable – open and talkative. 2.Neuroticism – someone who is anxious or moody, and highly emotional.

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The Self: Core Study

THE SELF: CORE STUDY- Van Houtte and Jarvin.

Aim: Van Houtte and Jarvis investigated whether pet-owning adolescents would report higher levels of autonomy (independence) and self esteem than non-pet adolescents.

Method: 130 pupils – 71 boys and 59 girls aged 8-13 from Illinois in America; They were divided into 2 groups – pet owners and non pet owners; Participants were matched according to three characteristics – marital status of parents, socio-economic status, number of siblings; They filled out a questionnaire about pet ownership – what kind of pet, length of ownership, looking after duties, pet age.

Results: Higher self esteem was reported in pet owners than in non-pet owners. For 11 year-olds, pets were found to be a positive influence on self concept and autonomy levels.

Conclusion: In conclusion, pets have the greatest influence on children’s lives as they move into adolescence. Pets help low self esteem by offering unconditional positive regard.

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The Self: Core Study Criticisms


The participants may have given socially desirable responses – the results are oly valid if the pupils were honest in their responses – it also may have been difficult for them to have an accurate insights into complex aspects of personality such as self esteem and self concept, so the results may not be generalizable. 

Complex emotional issues may not have been appropriately measured. Lots of quantitative data was used which may not clearly represent complex emotional issues such as self esteem. Some humanists may argue that this study should have also included simpler concepts, and that Van Houtte and Jarvin may have ignored important aspects of the Self. Self Esteem and concept cannot be defined by a simple questionnaire.

The study is not representative in a number of ways: only teenagers were used in this study so it cannot be generalised to other age groups who may be affected differently by pets.In addition, the sample is culturally biased because it only used a small number of ethnic minority pupils. Other cultures outside of the USA may have different responses regarding their pets – the results lack generalisability.

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The Self: Applications of Research


Client – centred therapy

1.Should take a client-centred approach ensuring they are non-judgemental. 2.The counsellor must show that they understand what the client is feeling – known as unconditional positive regard. 3.The counsellor genuinely believes that the client has the capacity to move forwards towards self-actualisation- they have free will to change. 4.The counsellor shows empathy and is able to follow what the client is feeling and lets the client knows that through NVC etc.

This is how the humanistic theory has been applied to counselling.

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