Describe and evaluate the cognitive approach to explaining abnormality. (12 marks)
According to the cognitive approach, abnormality results from faulty thinking. According to Kendall (1993) there are two kinds of faulty thinking that can lead to psychological problems. Cognitive deficiencies occur when a lack of sufficient thinking and planning affects behaviour in a negative way. Cognitive distortions occur when we don’t process information accurately, leading to exaggerated thinking which affects everyday behaviour.
According to Beck, there is a tendency to think negatively because of automatic cognitive error. These are very common in some people and lead to a tendency to interpret everyday events in negative ways. For example, some people might be overly critical of themselves because they only process the information which can be interpreted in negative ways. Beck used the idea of a cognitive triad to explain how cognitive errors lead to negative thinking about the world, self and the future.