Specification – Unit 2 - 20th May
• Explaining abnormality:
• Key features of psychological approaches
to psychopathology including the
• All students will be able to outline two key
features of the Cognitive Model of
psychopathology and two AO2 points -
• Most students three - C/D grades
• Some students four -A/B grades
What do you notice about the
picture? How does it link to the
• Outline and evaluate the cognitive
approach to psychopathology (12
• Outline and evaluate one or more
psychological approaches to
psychopathology (12 marks)
What is it in a nutshell?
• The cognitive approach links psychological
disorders to dysfunctional thoughts and
perceptions, especially negative views of the
self, the world and the future.
This approach stresses the role of cognitive problems
(such as irrational thinking) in abnormality functions.
This approach was founded by Albert Ellis and
They developed this approach as they saw faults in
the behavioural approach as it didn’t take into
account mental processes.
The rationale behind the cognitive approach are that
the thinking processes between a stimulus and a
response are responsible for the feelings that form part
of the response.
Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis were concerned
that little attention was paid to underlying
cognitive processes and what goes on in
Therefore they developed the cognitive
approach to abnormality as a combination
of behaviourism and cognitive models.
Hey! I'm Albert Ellis!
I'm oneof thefounders
of thecog approach to
I'm Aaron Beck!
I also founded thecog approach to
Hey! Look over there,
• The cognitive model
emphasises that cognitive
processing is an important
influence in psychological
adjustment. The sleeping
dog, whose real nature is
unknown, is seen
differently by the two
Irrational thinking – the cognitive approach assumes that
emotional problems can be linked to distortions in our thinking
These distortions can take the form of negative thoughts,
irrational beliefs and illogical errors such as polarized thinking
(believing you are totally worthless if you are not loved by
everyone you know)
Or overgeneralization ( drawing negative conclusions on the
basis of a single event)
These maladaptive thoughts, according to the approach, take place
automatically and without your full awareness.
How we see ourselves
okay it needs work
thinking feeling behaviour outcome
thinking feeling behaviour outcome
I must try
The cognitive triad
and errors of logic
Beck believed that negative thoughts were the cause of mental
disorders and was particularly interested in depression. He
identified two mechanisms that he thought were responsible for
1. Errors in logic – people making illogical conclusions leads to
overgeneralization and negative feelings which leads to
2. Cognitive triad – 3 forms of negative thinking that were
typical of those who suffer from depression
I tell you!”
“Well I just
Cognitive Triad – Beck 1979
The negative triad is Beck’s model of depression. It is based on
pessimistic thoughts about the self, the world and the future.
Early experiences in life influence the
development of the schemata.
Example – traumatic experiences early on
may lead to the development of negative
schemata such as insecure attachment may
lead to the schemata of “I am not loved by
anyone and am all alone” Boohoo.
Negative schemata, when activated can lead
to negative automatic thoughts also known
In the cog approach NATs are misplaced and
dysfunctional. Some people think they are
but not that
Negative automatic thoughts are unconscious
and create rapid responses to certain
situations. They can be identified in the
cognitive biases that depressed people
apply when they interpret situations and
prevent the person from seeing the positive
side to life. Don't worry, behappy!
Thenegativeschemataisshown through Aaron
Beck'smodel of depression (1979) and it givesa
clear exampleto thecog approach to
Thisisshown on thenext slide
I did this. Huzzah! xD
I hope they like
this dickie bow...
• In pairs thought shower AO2 points
• Model PEE ing on board
Evaluation of the model
There is clear evidence for cognitive biases in depression
and anxiety disorders. For instance in panic a person may
exaggerate their symptoms such as raised heart rate. As
stated by Clarke (1986)
Therapy based on the cog model can be very effective for
depression and anxiety disorders
The development of schemata is rather vague and lacks in
detail and it is not always clear how irrational thoughts
should be defined/measured
Evaluation of the model
This approach does not take into account biological or
genetic factors but emphasises the importance of cognitive
factors in psychological disorders.
In some cases depression can lead to irrational thinking
rather than the other way around for example it may be
depression causing negative thoughts not the negative
thoughts causing depression
Negative thoughts sometimes reflect an accurate view of
the world and this is called depressive realism. This means
life circumstances should be looked at instead of cognitive
Evaluation of the modelEvaluation of the model
• Offers a useful approach to
disorders such as depression
& anorexia. This is because it
considers the role of
thoughts & beliefs, which are
greatly involved in these
• Cognitive therapies have often
successfully treated anxiety,
stress & eating disorders
• It allows a person to take
control and positively change
their own behaviour
• Faulty cognitions may simply be
the result of the disorder,
not the cause.
• Cognitive therapies may take a
long time & may be costly.
• Cognitive therapies may be more
affective when combined
with other approaches.
• The treatments work better
with some conditions than
• The individual may feel to blame
for their problems.
• The cognitive approach takes no account of
biological or genetic factors in
Research support – research has shown that people who suffer from mental
disorders do exhibit patterns associated with maladaptive functioning
Irrational thinking - cause or effect ?, the model doesn’t attempt to
explain the origins of irrational thinking nor does the treatment address
Individual responsible – the cognitive model has also been criticised as it
suggests everyone should be self sufficient.