Strengths and weaknesses of four approaches WJEC

Strengths and weaknesses of four approaches WJEC


Strengths of the biological approach


-Scientific Approach

  • Uses lab experiments 
  • Quantifiable data

-Successful applications

  • Classical conditioning applied in Aversion Therapy
  • operant conditioning been applied in successful teaching techniques, positive and negative reinforcement develops behaviour in a classroom.

-Focuses on here and now

  • Not concerned about events in a persons past. 
  • e.g. Aversion therapy used to treat alcoholism
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Weaknesses of biological approach


-It focuses on the nurture side of the argument. 

  • Role of nature ignored.
  • role of external factors exaggerated.


  • Doesn't consider the thought processes that people have before acting the way they do.
  • Undermines our choice of free will.

-More relevent to animals than humans

  • Has its roots from Pavlov and Skinner both non-animal experiments 
  • Humans may not respond in same way.
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Strengths of Psychodynamic


-Nature and Nurture

  • Adult personality product of innate drives.(Nature)
  • Also childhood experiences(Nurture)


  • Highlights fact childhood is a critical period.
  • Freuds ideas have influenced therapies that treat mental disorders greatly.First person to put forward that psychological factors could play a part in physical symptoms.
  • Useful approach for understanding Mental health.

-Reflects complexity of human behaviour

  • seeks to uncover deep meanings and acknowledge deep understanding.
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Weaknesses of psychodynamic approach


-Reductioist approach 

  • Mechanistic reductionism because it explains complex human behaviour with mechanisms such as the ID, EGO and superEGO.
  • Ignores important influences such as biochemistry and genetics 
  • e.g in 50s and 60s autism was explained by the fact the mother was not close enough to child.

-Determinist approach

  • Tells us we have no free will of what we become when we grow up, all due to childhood experiences.

-Cannot be proven wrong

  • Difficult to falsify
  • All theories are about repressed feelings if there  repressed they cant be measured
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Strengths of Cognitive approch


-Meditional Process

  • Focuses on important process between stimulus and response.
  • Tried to explain how processes such as memory and perception affect the way we respond to the world.
  • Helped with practical psychology e.g. improving memory using cue cards.

-Important contributions

  • has useful applied therapies, CBT that treats menatal disorders, such as depression.
  • Much of thinking is cognitive in nature, involved at looking at world and people around us.

-Scientific Approach

  • Lab experiments, quantifiable, repeatable, controlled variables.
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weaknesses of cognitive approach


-Nature and Nurture

  • Doesnt take in important parts such as Genes e.g. twin studies
  • social and cultural factors ignored seems unrealistic.


  • we form schemas when we encounter something new but these may be incorrect e.g. a child may call everything with forur legs and hair a dog or that woman with blonde hair are stupid these cultural stereotypes may determine the way we interpret a situation.

-Mechanistic Approach

  • It portrays human beings as being like machines.
  • Ignore social and emotional factors, over simplify therefore reductionist also.
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Strengths of Biological approach


-Scientific Approach

  • Have clear variables that can be measured, tracked and examined.


  • We know what predetermines our behaviour, more likely to be able to treat people with abnormal behaviour.e.g. Neurotransmitter dopamine been linked to schizophrenia.

-Successful applications 

  • Psychsurgery effective
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weaknesses of biological approach



  • Reduce complex behaviours to simple explanation 
  • Saysa mental illness is basically the chemical system gone wrong, this does not take into account any distress happening in their life.


  • Focuses on nature 
  • Ignores life experiences and physiological factors such as how people think or feel.

-Individual differences

  • Nometheticapproach, makes generalisations about people 
  • ignores individual differences e.g. when stressed people produce different amounts of adrenaline.
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Brooke Coburn


Very good! Just one mistake; the first two slides are behavioural but it says biological! 

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