Approaches and Perspectives in Psychology
Physiological Approach
Assumptions
• Psychologists assume that all thoughts, fee...
• Education – genetic basis of intelligence
Cognitive Approach
Assumptions
• Psychologists assume that internal mental pro...
Contribution to Society
• Memory – help to improve memory using mnemonics
• Education – using information processing model...
• Understanding social behaviour eg: interpersonal/group behaviour
• Social development eg: gender, self, attachment
Contr...
Contribution to Psychology
• Allows psychologists to learn more about abnormal human behaviours
• Understanding dispositio...
• Understanding of lifelong development of behaviour
Contribution to Society
• Has provided frameworks for education eg: P...
Contribution to Psychology
• Understanding personality development eg: Freud
• Understanding aggression eg: Freud
Contribu...
• Language acquisition eg: Skinner
• Abnormality eg: classical conditioning of phobias
Contribution to Society
• Many prac...
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  1. 1. Approaches and Perspectives in Psychology Physiological Approach Assumptions • Psychologists assume that all thoughts, feelings and behaviours have a biological cause. • What is psychological is first physiological • Human genes have adapted our physiology and behaviour to the environment • Psychology should investigate for example, the brain, nervous system and genes Strengths • Very scientific and objective • Strong counter argument to nurture debate which states that we learn behaviour • Research methods are very reliable Weaknesses • Reductionist as it ignores other explanations of behaviour such as the environment • Does not explain adequately how the mind and the body interact • Research methods lack ecological validity Methods of investigation • Laboratory experiments to see what effect there is on behaviour eg: Sperry • Laboratory observations to see the physical processes of behaviour eg: Dement and Kleitman to scan the brain function • Correlations between twins to see the genetic influence on behaviour Related issues • Reliability is usually good due to high control of variables • Experiments are replicable due to standardised procedure • Validity is good as IV can be isolated and measurement is objective eg: MRI • Ecological validity is low as the setting/tasks are often artificial eg; sleep lab • Studies are usually ‘snapshot’ of behaviour over short period of time Contribution to Psychology • Abnormality – schizophrenia due to dopamine hypothesis • Memory - scans of brain areas involved • Localisation of function - effect of brain damage Contribution to Society • Therapy – drug treatment • Health – causes and effects eg: of stress • Sport - effect of arousal on performance
  2. 2. • Education – genetic basis of intelligence Cognitive Approach Assumptions • Psychologists assume that internal mental processes are important in understanding behaviour • Humans are like information processors; input, processing, output • Models of information processing can be tested scientifically Strengths • It explains many areas of psychology in a scientific method which provides accurate unbiased data. • Tend to gather quantitative data which therefore makes it easy to analyse and compare • The approach has many practical applications eg when interviewing witnesses the police should avoid using leading questions • It influences other approaches such as social learning theory • Unlike the physiological approach, it explains behaviour from a functional point of view and not a reductionist viewpoint Weaknesses • Models can be over simplistic ignoring the complexity of human behaviour • Ignores the biological influences of behaviour • Usually studied through either laboratory experiments or case studies…. • It raises particular ethical issues such as…… Methods of investigation • Experimentation usually in a laboratory eg: memory experiments where there is a high control of variables • Case studies eg: of brain damaged patients in memory Related issues • Reliability is usually good due to high control of variables • Experiments are replicable due to standardised procedure • Validity is good as IV can be isolated and measurement is objective eg: • Ecological validity is low as the setting/tasks are often artificial eg lab based • Studies are usually ‘snapshot’ of behaviour over short period of time Contribution to Psychology • Memory eg: Atkinson and Shiffrin multi store model on the storage of information • Abnormality eg: Beck’s ideas on faulty thinking
  3. 3. Contribution to Society • Memory – help to improve memory using mnemonics • Education – using information processing models Social Approach Assumptions • All behaviour occurs in a social context even if nobody else is present • Other people, individuals and groups, our environment and society are an influence on our behaviour Strengths • The approach uses a variety of research methods that are often objective and scientific. • The approach helps us understand how behaviour can be influenced by other people and the situation in which people find themselves • It can provide explanations for a great many phenomena and has provided many useful real life applications to society • It provides a strong support for the nurture side of the nature/nurture debate as often lends itself to research being conducted in natural environments Weaknesses • The approach underestimates the power of individual differences which means that we cannot always generalise social behaviours to all situations. • Often raises ethical issues through deception or lack of withdrawal • Social determinism, our behaviour is a product of our social situation • Mainly one off ‘snapshot’ studies which ignore political and historical contexts which may change and so does not show development over time Methods of investigation • Field experiments eg: Piliavin • Laboratory experiments [controlled observations] eg: Milgram changed social variables • Surveys eg: used to measure peoples prejudiced attitudes • Observation eg: to record social discrimination Related issues • Reliability under controlled conditions is usually good due to high control of variables and are replicable due to standardised procedure • Validity is good as IV can be isolated and measurement is objective eg: • Ecological validity is low as the setting/tasks are often artificial eg lab based • Observations/field experiments have higher ecological validity as natural setting eg: subway train • Studies are usually ‘snapshot’ of behaviour over short period of time Contribution to Psychology • Understanding social influence eg: conformity and obedience
  4. 4. • Understanding social behaviour eg: interpersonal/group behaviour • Social development eg: gender, self, attachment Contribution to Society • Criminology eg: jury decision making • Sport eg: audience effect Individual Differences Approach Assumptions • Individuals differ in their behaviour and personal qualities so not everyone can be considered ‘the average person’. • Every individual is genetically unique and this uniqueness is displayed through their behaviour. So everyone behaves differently. • All psychological characteristics are inherited and as everyone inherits different characteristics, everyone is different and unique and these are apparent in their behaviour. Strengths • Allows psychologists to learn more about human behaviours because all behaviours, not just average ones, are studied. • Allows psychologists to measure differences between individuals in qualities such as personality, intelligence, memory etc. • Studies are often high in ecological validity as they often take place in real life environments. • Allows both qualitative and quantitative data to be gathered which provides rich, in-depth data about the behaviour under consideration. Weaknesses • Techniques used are often not fully objective and therefore open to bias making the validity of results questionable. • It creates divisions between people because individuals are identified as being ‘different’. • It is difficult to define and measure individual qualities such as personality, intelligence etc. • Ethical concerns, generic to the approach, (but must be explained). Methods of investigation • Methods can be longitudinal showing development of behaviour • Use of case studies open to subjectivity affecting validity • Case studies difficult to replicate so issues with reliability of findings Related issues • Reliability an issue as difficulty in generalising results from small sample • Allows both qualitative and quantitative data to be gathered which provides rich, in-depth data about the behaviour under consideration. • Ethics can be questioned due to possible labelling as different or abnormal
  5. 5. Contribution to Psychology • Allows psychologists to learn more about abnormal human behaviours • Understanding dispositional factors affecting behaviour Contribution to Society • Has practical applications for therapies • Useful for understanding/reviewing diagnoses of mental health issues and patient experience Developmental Approach Assumptions • It assumes there are clearly identifiable systematic changes that occur in an individual’s behaviour from conception to death. • Behaviour is often learned through maturational, lifelong experiences Strengths • Offers an explanation as to why individuals of differing ages demonstrate different intellectual abilities, social skills and emotional responses • It adds to the continuing nature versus nurture debate • It often offers the opportunity for the participant(s) to be studied in their natural environment • Constantly changes to incorporate peoples development (flexible) • Easy to apply to everyday life as we are constantly learning and developing due to maturation Weaknesses • Many proposals in relation to age-related development have been shown to be too rigid • Focuses mainly on childhood development and therefore tends to neglect the process of maturation through adulthood • Suggests our behaviour is determined by our upbringing and is less governed by our own free will Methods of investigation • Methods can be longitudinal showing development of behaviour • Use of case studies open to subjectivity affecting validity Related issues • Much developmental research is conducted in a laboratory setting so ecological validity is low and findings may not relate to real life • Longitudinal research can suffer from attrition of participants • Allows both qualitative and quantitative data to be gathered which provides rich, in-depth data about the behaviour under consideration. • Reliability is good if set in a laboratory due to standardised procedure • However replication of case study methods is difficult so reliability may suffer Contribution to Psychology
  6. 6. • Understanding of lifelong development of behaviour Contribution to Society • Has provided frameworks for education eg: Piaget • Applications to real life eg: learning of aggression Bandura Psychodynamic perspective Assumptions • Many important influences on behaviour come from a part of the mind individuals have no direct awareness of, the unconscious. • Personality is shaped by relationships, experience and conflict over time, particularly during childhood. • Different parts of the mind are in constant dynamic struggle with each other (often unconsciously) and the consequences of this struggle are often shown through behaviour. • The mind is like an iceberg. We have conscious, subconscious and unconscious thought, all of which can influence our behaviour Strengths • Allows psychologists to suggest causes of mental disorders • Allows psychologists to suggest why individuals behave in ways they cannot easily explain or understand. • Allows psychologists to see how behaviour can develop over time as a result of subconscious forces. • Uses methodologies such as case studies providing rich, detailed data Weaknesses • Studies which take this approach often use unrepresentative samples. • Methodology may not be objective and therefore open to bias. • The perspective is based on concepts that are difficult to test and verify scientifically. • Ethical concerns may be raised. Methods of investigation • Use of case studies open to subjectivity affecting validity • Case studies difficult to replicate so issues with reliability of findings Related issues • Allows both qualitative and quantitative data to be gathered which provides rich, in-depth data about the behaviour under consideration. • Methods can be longitudinal showing development of behaviour • Longitudinal research can suffer from attrition of participants
  7. 7. Contribution to Psychology • Understanding personality development eg: Freud • Understanding aggression eg: Freud Contribution to Society • Real life application through psychoanalysis as a therapy for mental disorders Behaviourist perspective Assumptions • That the majority of behaviour is learned from the environment after birth • Only observable behaviour should be studied Strengths • Allows psychologists to study the effect of the environment on behaviour • Very scientific usually under controlled experimental methods • Provides a strong counter argument to the nature side of the nature-nurture debate • Has many practical applications eg: ‘watershed’ for TV programmes, learning of language Weaknesses • It is reductionist as it ignores biological and cognitive explanations of behaviour • Tends to rely on laboratory experiments that lack ecological validity • Often uses non-human animals as participants that raises issues of ethics and generalizability to humans Methods of investigation • Very scientific using strict laboratory experimentation • Often uses non-human animals as participants Related issues • Tends to lack ecological validity as settings/tasks can be artificial in a laboratory • Use of laboratory settings does provide good reliability as experiments can be replicated under controlled conditions • Ethical concerns can be raised about learning some behaviours eg: aggression in Bandura. Use of non-human animals eg: bonobos • Studies are usually ‘snapshot’ of behaviour over short period of time Contribution to Psychology
  8. 8. • Language acquisition eg: Skinner • Abnormality eg: classical conditioning of phobias Contribution to Society • Many practical applications to education • Treatments such as systematic desensitisation for phobias • Operant conditioning for training guide dogs

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