Psychology- Approaches

HideShow resource information

Learning Approach- Behaviourism

Classical Conditioning

  • Pavlov
  • learning through association

1. before conditioning: food=UCS, response, salivation=UCR  2. before conditioning: bell=NS, response=no salivation  3. during conditioning: bell+food=salivation=UCR  4. after conditioning: bell=CS, salivation=CR

Extinction- CS repeatedly paired without UCS, CR no longer occurs

Spontaneous recovery- previously learned behaviour recurs without any new reinforcer

Generalisation- small difference in presented stimulus and CS elicits response

Discrimination- opposite to generalisation

1 of 12

Learning Approach- Behaviourism

Operant Conditioning

  • Skinner
  • learn through consequences; positive, negative, punishment(not a type of reinforcement)

Schedules of reinforcement

  • Skinner boxes: rewarded every time, behaviour extinct
  • Fixed ratio- reinforcement depends on number of responses
  • Variable ratio- number of responses needed for reinforcement varies (most prolonged and least likely to extinguish)
  • Fixed interval- reinforcement depends on fixed time
  • Variable interval- time between reinforcement varies
2 of 12

Learning Approach- Behaviourism



  • influenced development of psych as a scientific discipline, greater credibility and status
  • applied to phobias, gambling
  • OC, token economy systems in prisons and psychiatric wards
  • CC treating phobias, systematic desensitisation
  • CC aversion therapy, treats addictions by creating a phobia e.g. vomit enducing drugs with alcohol


  • ignores innate predispostions
  • deterministic
  • reductionist
  • problem with generalising to humans
  • may be ethically unsound using animals
3 of 12

Learning Approach- SLT

  • Bandura
  • observation and immitation (reinforcement, role models)

Vicarious reinforcement

  • Bobo doll, video shown to children of adults behaving aggressively with the doll
  • Praised= most aggression, Punished=least aggressive (dont forget no consequences, control)
  • presumed bc children became aware of the consequences

Mediational processes

Attention, Retention, Reproduction, Motivation(determined by whether it was rewarded or punished)


  • more likely to imitate behaviour of those whom they identify= role models, similar characteristics and/or attractive, high status
  • role models can be present in the environment or in the media
4 of 12

Learning Approach- SLT



  • can explain cultural differences
  • less deterministic, reciprocal determinism, some free will
  • more comprehensive explanation f behaviour (uses cognitive and behavioural)


  • demand characteristics
  • doesnt acknowledge biological factors
  • Bobo doll studies consistantly showed that boys were more aggresive than girls (testosterone)
5 of 12

Cognitive Approach

  • focuses on mental processes
  • processes are private but can be studied indirectly (inferences)

Theoretical and compter models

  • suggests info flows through cognitive system (e.g. MSM of Memory)
  • computer analogy, central processing unit, coding, stores


  • groups of related knowledge
  • born with innate mental schemas e.g. grasping, increasing experiences schemas more sophisticated
  • allow us to process info quickly
  • provide mental shortcut to info, can lead to errors

Cognitive neuroscience

  • brain structures, frotal lobe permanently impairs speech (Broca's area),fMRI, PET scans, Tulving's episodic and semantic memory, basis of mental disorders
6 of 12

Cognitive Approach



  • credible scientific basis, reliable and objective data
  • application: cognitive interview
  • less deterministic


  • emphasis on lab experiments, real life application
  • computer analogy, simplistic, ignore emotions, motivation e.g. anxiety show to effect memory
  • too mechanical, focuses on mental processes rather than behaviour
  • can only infer, abstract and theoretical
7 of 12

Biological Approach

  • genes, neurochemistry, nervous system
  • all thoughts, feelings, and behaviour have a physical basis

Genetic basis

  • genes are inherited
  • behavioural characteristics e.g. IQ, personality, disorders are inherited like physical characteristics??
  • use concordance rates of twin, adoption, and family studies
  • MZ twins 100% genes, DZ twins 50% genes, if MZ have higher concordance rates, suggests genetic basis

Genotype and Phenotype

  • genotype= genetic makeup, phenotype= ways genes are expressed (physical, behavioural, psychological), genotype influenced by environmental factors

Evolution of behaviour

  • natural selection, adaptive, memory evolved, attatchment to primary caregiver
8 of 12

Biological Approach



  • highly scientific, accurately measures neural and biological processes, objective and reliable data
  • real life application, psychoactive drugs, depression, schizophernia, live relatively normal life


  • drug reduces symptoms so lack of said drug much be the cause= like saying lack of paracetamol caused the headache as taking it eased it, association does not imply causality
  • deterministic, implications such as criminal responsibility
  • cannot separate nature and nurture, environment has many influences so its difficult to see purely biolgical behaviour
  • reductionist
9 of 12

Biopsychology- Neurons and Synaptic Transmission

Structure of a neuron

  • dendrite- carry nerve impulses from previous neurons towards the cell body
  • cell body (soma)- includes nucleus which contains genetic meterial of cell
  • axon- carries impulses away from cell body down length of neuron
  • myelin sheath- fatty substance which protects axon and speeds up transmission
  • node of Ranvier- gaps between myelin sheath which speed up transmission by forcing transmission to jump across gap
  • terminal button- end of axon which neuron communicates with the next neuron through the synaptic gap
10 of 12

Biopsychology- Neurons and Synaptic Transmission

  • neuron- building blocks of nervous system
  • sensory neuron- messages from PNS to CNS 
  • relay neuron- connect neurons
  • motor neuron- connect CNS to effectors (e.g. muscles and glands)

Electrical transmission- a neurons resting state is - , when activated by a stimulus its becomes + , causes action potential to occur, electrical impulse travels down axon towards end of neuron

neurons communicate via synaptic transmission in neural networks, each neuron is separated by a synapse where signals are transmitted chemically instead of electrically, when impulse reaches presynaptic terminal tiny sacs called vesicles release neurotransmitters which diffues across the synapse and are taken up by the postsynaptic receptor site, each neurontransmitter has a specific shape which fits into the postsynaptic receptor site and each have specialist functions

  • when a neurotransmitter increases the + charge the neuron is more likely to fire and pass on the impulse (excitation)
  • when a neurotransmitter increases the - charge the neuron is less likely to fire and pass on the impulse (inhibitory)
11 of 12

Biopsychology- The Nervous System and Endocrine Sy

  • nervous system- specialised network of cells, collects processes and responds to info in the environment, coordinates the working of diff organs and cells in body, divided into CNS and PNS
  • central nervous system- brain and spinal spinal chord, brains cerebral cortex (outer layer) is highly developed in humans, brain is divided into two hemisperes, spinal chord is an extension of the brains and is responsible for reflex actions and passes messages to and from brains and connects nerves to PNS
  • peripheral nervous system- transmits messages via neurons to and from CNS, divided into ANS AND SNS
  • autonomic nervous system- governs vital functions e.g. breathing, heart rate ; divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic
  • somatic nervous system- controls muscle movement and recieves info from sensory receptors

the endocrine system instructs glands (organs, pituitary gland 'master gland') to release hormones (chemical substances which affect target organs, widespread, powerful) into the bloodstream, works with ANS

stressful, ANS changes from para to sympathetic, pituitary gland releases ACTH, adrenal gland releases adrenaline, adrenaline triggers physiological changes e.g. increased heart rate 

12 of 12


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Approaches resources »