Psychology A2 (Unit 4) Approaches (Complete)

Approaches in Psychology, Methods in Psychology.

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  • Created by: Mia
  • Created on: 29-03-12 08:47

The Biological Approach

  • All behaviour has a biological basis, due to genes and hormones.
  • Role of the brain.
  • Neurotransmitters (Biochemistry)
  • Role of the nervous system.
  • Natural selection: Adaptation of behaviour in order to gain an evolutionary advantage.
  • Based upon the survival of the individual.
  • Mutations in genes may be responsible for unusual behaviour.
  • Enviroment has no influence of the behaviour of the individual.
  • Recessive/ Dominant behaviours displayed in the phenotype.
  • A highly scientific approach.
  • Can be applied to Gender development, Criminal behaviour, Phobias and OCD, Memory.
  • Determininistic.
  • Nature.
  • Nomothetic.
  • Reductionist.
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The Biological Approach (Strengths)

  • It is a scientific approach.
  • There is consequently a lot of good evidence for the biological basis of behaviour.
  • It uses the experimental study method.
  • Measurement of physiology can be done objectively, can be measured accurately.
  • Uses Scientific equipment such as PET scans, EEG, Galvanic Skin Response, to measure unconscious processes.
  • It is logical for, as humans, we are embodied. We live in a physical body and that influences our behaviour, especially if the physical body is damaged.
  • Findings from this approach can be used to help people, for example the knowledge of neurotransmitters has lead to the development of psychotropic drugs, such as antidepressants.
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The Biological Approach (Limitations)

  • The Biological approach is deterministic, it sees people as determined by their physiology. This means free will is an illusion.
  • This means individuals can claim that they are not responsible for their actions. For example Stephan Mobley, used inherited violoent traits as a defence for his Murder charge, however he was unsuccessful.
  • It is reductionist and de-humanising. It sees everything as inheritance and biological processes, and thus humanity is robbed of its uniqueness. Your self concept is seen as a vast assembly of nerves and assosciated concepts.
  • It sees humans as no different from animals.
  • It ignores many aspects of behaviour, such as the enviroment, however this is addressed in the bio-social theory.
  • There are methadological problems, as correlation does not mean causation.
  • Most experiments lack ecological validity.
  • It is good as explaining past behaviours, but not predicting future behaviours, and this is a criterion of good science.
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The Behaviourist Approach

  • Studies only visable and observable behaviours.
  • Biology has no influence on behaviour.
  • Behaviourism states that all behaviour is learned.
  • Classical/ Operant conditioning and past experiences are responsible for all behaviours.
  • It uses the experimental method, usually with non-human animals, as it states that we are the same.
  • Deterministic
  • Nurture
  • Nomothetic
  • Can be applied to Gender Development, Criminal Behaviour,
  • Reductionist.
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The Behaviourist Approach (Strengths)

  • Methods such as introspection avoided, so it was a more scientific basis.
  • Based around objective verifiable facts.
  • The experimental method is controlled and replicable. Means Universal principals of learning can be developed.
  • Sees animals and humans as the same, therefore animals can be used in experiments, this means they are more ethical, as harm to humans is avoided.
  • Results from animal studies can be applied to humans.
  • It has a clear definition of "cure" therefore therapy is universal, and has faster results that other forms of therapy such as psychoanalysis.
  • Behaviour modification has been proven to be a highly effective method of treatment.
  • It is safer than drug treatment, as it has no undesirable side effects.
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The Behaviourist Approach (Limitations)

  • It is deterministic, so free will is seen to ba an illusion.
  • The approach is reductionist and mechanistic, all behaviour is seen as stimulus-response, does not portray humanity.
  • Humans have insight into their behaviour, so this theory is flawed.
  • Conditioned animals are seen to behave as humans, this is dehumanising.
  • Does not account for cognitive processes.
  • Ignores the role of biology.
  • There is evidence to contradict the principles of conditioning, where a stimulus is ignored when over used.
  • Therapy does not seek underlying cause for issues, therefore only the symptoms of the issue is treated, not the cause, this means it could be manifested in a different way.
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Social Learning Theory

  • People learn by observation.
  • It is a combination of the behaviourist and cognitive approaches.
  • States that humans are different to animals, due to cognitive processes.
  • Focuses on the role of reinforcement and mediating cognitive factors.
  • Includes the cognitive processes:
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Social Learning Theory (Strengths)

  • It uses scientific experiments, which can be replicated.
  • Experiments are the most effective way to establish cause-and-effect relationships.
  • It can be used to explain specific imitations of behaviour.
  • Operant conditioning alone could be fatal, as it could result in fatal mistakes.
  • It considers the role of cognitive factors in learning.
  • It can be used to explain complex behaviours, for example, aggression.
  • It has good results in terms of treatment, especially behaviour modification.
  • Explains why observation does not always mean immitation.
  • As it is based around Behaviourism and the Cognitive approach, it has the support of both approaches.
  • States that media can also influence behaviour.
  • Explains cultural differences.
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Social Learning Theory (Limitations)

  • As it uses the experimental method, results lack ecological validity.
  • It neglects the role of biology in behaviour.
  • States that reinforcement can have a direct or indirect impact, but does not really explain this point.
  • Although it considers cognitive processes it does not explain the internal process.
  • It places a lot of emphasis on observable behaviour, as thus ignores subjective experience.
  • It does not explain the learning of abstract ideas, such as moral principles. And these are not easy to learn by observing the behaviour of others.
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The Cognitive Approach

  • This approach focuses on the internal thought processes of the individual.
  • Mental processes occur to decide which behaviour to produce.
  • It uses models to make thought processes easier to understand.
  • A common model is the computer model. This states that humans, like computers, absorb external information, encode it, interpret it, store it and retrieve it.
  • Nomothetic
  • Determinist
  • Reductionist
  • Interactionalist (Nurture/Nature)
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The Cognitive Approach (Strengths)

  • It explains complex behaviours that can not be explained by the behaviourist approach alone.
  • It uses a scientific method, which gives findings credibility.
  • Cognitive therapy has shown to be highly effective in the treatment of mental disorders, especially when it comes to remodeling the clients thought processes.
  • It is less deterministic than other approaches, as humans make decisions, but they are limited by the cognitive processes.
  • It uses models to help simplify behaviour, and make it easier to understand.
  • This approach takes the middle ground in the nature/nurture debate, as the mental processes are inherited, but the content processed is learnt.
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The Cognitive Approach (Limitations)

  • It is reductionist.
  • It is dehumanising.
  • As it uses the scientific experimental method findings lack ecological validity.
  • It ignores the role of biology.
  • It does not consist of a single integrated theory, but many.
  • It is impossible to observe internal cognitive processes.
  • It describes the mental processes, but does not explain why they occur.
  • The computer model is limited, as it does not acknowledge that humans are biological organisms.
  • The use of models do not account for emotional influences.
  • Experiments are highly artificial, and thus lack ecological validity.
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The Psychodynamic Approach

  • Behaviour is a result of unconscious processes.
  • The personality is split into three parts, the id, the ego and the super ego.
  • Behaviours are due to early childhood experiences.
  • Defence mechanisms, including repression.
  • Psycho-sexual stages of development, Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latent, Genital. Each is based around conflict, and the way the conflict is resolved influences later behaviour.
  • Reductionist
  • Interactionist (Nurture/Nature)
  • Deterministic
  • ideographic.
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The Psychodynamic Approach (Strengths)

  • Case studies provide a lot of qualitative data, which is high in ecological validity.
  • It is very thoroughly explained.
  • Can be applied to real life, eg, repression.
  • Applies to vast fields of psychology, such as, personality development.
  • Work by Erikson was more multi-cultural than that by Freud.
  • It was the first detailed theory of the human condition,and has the most detailed theories of all the approaches.
  • Accepts that things may not always be what they seem, which means hidden reasons should be considered.
  • Takes a middle ground in many debates in psychology.
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The Psychodynamic Approach (Limitations)

  • Use of the case study, results can not be generalised.
  • There is no scientific way to investigate the unconscious.
  • Findings are unfalsifiable.
  • Freud's methods were culturally specific, so finding and or theories can not be applied world wide.
  • There is no evidence that the id or the ego exist, as they can not be investigated.
  • The approach is doubly deterministic, as individuals believe they have free will, but they do not.
  • As our unconscious is responsible for behaviour, conscious reasons we give for behaviour are probably wrong.
  • Freud did not study children, yet many of his theories focus on child development.
  • Case studies could have been distorted to fit with existing theories.
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The Humanistic Approach (Strengths)

  • Supports the idea of free-will, which is widely accepted in society.
  • Seeks an alternative to scientific psychology, it focuses on subjective experience and meanings.
  • Its the only approach which involves listening to the persons views.
  • It is not reductionist.
  • Client centered therapy is an effective form of therapy, as it allows the client to find the solutions to their own problems.
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The Humanistic Approach

  • Emphasis on conscious awareness and our ability to choose our behaviour.
  • This is called "The flow of conscious awareness" or "reflexive awareness".
  • The ability to choose leads to personal growth.
  • We are constrained, in that choices are dictated by society and our physical body.
  • Ideographic
  • Freewill
  • Holistic
  • Nurture
  • Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, states needs must be met to achieve self actualisation and optimum mental health.
  • Rogers created Client Centered Therapy.
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The Humanistic Approach (Limitations)

  • Rejects Science, so it lacks credibility.
  • It is extremely difficult to test humanistic ideas empirically.
  • It supports free will, which opposes the deterministic views of science.
  • It has limitations in therapy.
  • It focuses on the conscious experience and current events.
  • It is a limited approach as it has little to no explanations for human behaviour.
  • It is an ideographic approach, so laws and rules can not be created.
  • Assumes that all humans are intrinsically good, which is not the case.
  • Subjective experience can be hard to communicate to others, so it is difficult to study.
  • The focus on conscious awareness limits the scope. As many of the autonomic workings of the body are done unconsciously.
  • Client centred therapy may not always be appropriate, some individuals may need more direct guidance.
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The Eclectic Approach

  • This is a combination of all the different approaches.
  • It can take different forms, including theoretical, methodological and applied.
  • It includes the Biological, Behaviourist, Cognitive, Social Learning Theory, Psycho-dynamic and Humanistic approaches.
  • It can also include information from other fields, for example Biochemistry or Pysiology to explain behaviours.
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The Eclectic Approach (Strengths)

  • The approaches can be complimentary and this can be used to create a superior approach.
  • The most appropriate forms of therapy are used, as it focuses on the importance of the client.
  • Human behaviour is too complex and varied to be explained by a single approach.
  • Approaches are able to develop and build on one another.
  • Too much emphasis on a single approach may mean that relevant information is missed.
  • It may involve being multi-disciplinary, and using different approaches, such as sociology and medicine.
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The Eclectic Approach (Limitations)

  • Some approaches are in direct contrast of one another, and have irreconcilable differences.
  • It can be hard to determine the contributions of each approach.
  • Can make it difficult to decide on a course of treatment.
  • If you choose random components from each approach the result may be no better than common sense.
  • Ignores the fundamental differences between approaches and their researchers.
  • It is hard to know all the approaches equally well, so a therapist using an eclectic approach may be less successful than one using a single approach.
  • It can be hard to know whether an eclectic approach or single approach is more appropriate.
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