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.
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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.
- Can be applied to Gender Development, Criminal Behaviour,
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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.
- 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.
- Interactionist (Nurture/Nature)
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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.
- 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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