AQA AS Psychology - Approaches


Terms in this set (...)

Wundt's Lab
The first ever lab created dedicated to psychology study was opened by Wundt in 1879.
Wundt's objective
He wanted to document and describe the nature of human consciousness. It involved Wundt and his co-workers recording their conscious thoughts; with the aim of breaking them down into basic structures of thoughts, images and sensations
The first systematic experimental attempt to study the mind by breaking up conscious awareness into basic structures of thoughts, images and sensations
Wundts controlled methods
Some would describe his attempts as naive but some would recognize the work of Wundt and his co-workers as scientific even today. All introspection's were recorded under strict conditions using the same stimulus each time (e.g. a ticking metronome). The same instructions were given to all participants which meant it could be repeated.
A way of explaining behaviour in terms of what is observable in terms of learning. It is not concerned with investigating mental processes. John B. Watson rejected introspection as it involved too many concepts that were vague and difficult to measure. As a result behaviourists tried to maintain more control and objectivity within their research and relied on lab experiments.
Behaviourists and Darwin
After Darwin behaviorists suggested that basic processes are the same in all species. This is why Behaviourists use animals as experimental subjects.
Classical Conditioning
Pavlov - learning through association. Pavlov discovered that dogs could be conditioned to salivate to the sound of a bell that was repeatedly presented at the same time as they were given food.
Gradually Pavlov's dogs associated the sound of the bell (a stimulus) with the food (another stimulus) which would produce salvation as a response every time they heard the sound.

This showed how a neutral stimulus can bring out a new learned response (conditioned response) through association.
Operant conditioning
Skinner - suggested that learning is an active process whereby humans and animals operate on their environment. There are 3 different consequences for behaviour:
- Positive reinforcement: receiving a reward when a certain behaviour is performed e.g. praise from a teacher for packing your toys away in pre-school
- Negative reinforcement: Occurs when you avoid something unpleasant. E.g. when a student hands in their homework in order to avoid being told off
- Sanctions: An unpleasant response of a certain behaviour e.g. being shouted at by a teacher for talking during a lesson
Scientific credibility
Because behaviourism was able to bring the language and methods of natural sciences into psychology by focusing on the measurement of observable behaviour within highly controlled lab settings. By emphasing the importance of scientific processes such as objectivity and replication, behaviourism was influential in the development of psychology as a scientific discipline, giving it greater credibility and status
Real-life application
The principles of conditioning have been applied to a broad range of real-world behaviours and problems. For instance, operant conditioning has been successful in institutions such as schools, prisons and psychiatric wards. And classical conditioning has been applied to the treatment of phobias.
Mechanistic view of behaviour
From a behaviourist perspective, animals and humans are seen as passive and machine-like responders to the environment, which means they have little or no conscious thought into their behaviour. Other approaches such as the social learning theory and the cognitive approach have emphasized the importance of mental processes during learning which suggests people play a more active role in their learning. This means the theory may apply more to animals than to humans.
Ethical issues
Even though Skinner's rat box allowed psychologists to maintain high control over their experiments there are ethical problems with this experiment. The animals involved were exposed to stressful conditions which may have affected how they reacted to the study.
Social Learning Theory
A way of explaining behaviour that includes both direct and indirect reinforcement, which combines learning theory with the role of cognitive factors
Bandura suggested that people learn through observation and imitation of others within a social context. SLT suggests that learning occurs directly, through classical and operant conditioning but also in directly
Vicarious Reinforcement
Reinforcement which is not directly experience but occurs through someone else being reinforced for a behaviour. This is a key factor of imitation
Copying the behaviour of others
When an observer associates themselves with a role model and wants to be like the role model
From the observers perspective, modelling is imitating the behaviour of a role model.
Mediational processes
Cognitive factors that influence the learning and come between stimulus and response
1. Attention - the extent to which we notice the behaviours
2. Retention - how well the behaviour is remembered
3. Motor reproduction - the ability of the observer to perform the behaviour
4. Motivation - the will to perform the behaviour, which is often determined by whether the behaviour uwas rewarded or punished.

The first 2 relate to learning the behaviour and the last 2 relate to the performance of the behaviour
The importance of cognitive factors in learning
Neither operant or classical conditioning can offer adequate accounts of how people learn on their own. Humans and animals store information on behaviours and use this to make judgements about when it is appropriate to perform certain actions.
Over reliance on evidence from lab studies
Many of Bandura's observations took place in lab settings studying young children. Lab studies are criticised for how participants may respond to demand characteristics. The bobo doll had its main purpose which was to strike it, the children may have been responding to demand characteristics and behaving in a way that they thought was expected. Tells us little about how children learn aggression in everyday life.
Underestimates the influence of biological factors
Doesn't look at biological factors on social learning. One consistent finding on the Bobo Doll experiment was that boys were more aggressive than girls regardless of the experimental situation. This may be explained by hormonal factors such as the difference in testosterone levels, which is linked to aggressive behaviour.
Biological Approach
A perspective that focuses on the importance of physical processes in the body such as genetic inheritance and neural function.
The make up of chromosomes and what codes are within your DNA which contains the information needed to control physical features (such as eye and hair colour) and psychological features (such as mental disorders and intelligence). Genes are transmitted from parents to offspring (they're inherited).
The set of genes that you as an individual have
What your physical characteristics look like due to your genetic make up and the environment.
The changes in inherited characteristics in a biological population over successive generations. Darwin was the one that suggested this, the theory of natural selection.
Biological Evaluation - scientific methods of investigation
In order to investigate the genetic and biological basis of behaviour, the biological approach makes use of a range of scientific methods including EEG's and twin studies.
Biological Evaluation - Real-life application
Increased understanding of the biochemical processes within the brain has lead to the development in drugs for illnesses such as depression. Means sufferers can manage their conditions and live a normal life, rather than live a life in hospital
Biological Evaluation - casual conclusions
The biological approach offers explanations for mental illness in terms of the action of neurotransmitters in the brain. The evidence for this comes from a particular drug which reduces symptoms of a mental disorder so therefore it is assumed that the neurochemical in the drug causes the disorder. It's a bit like assuming a headache is due to a lack of paracetamol simply because taking paracetamol is effective in relieving symptoms of a headache.
The nervous system
Consists of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system
Central nervous system
The brain is the center of all conscious awareness. The brains outer layer the cerebral cortex is highly developed in humans and is what distinguishes our higher mental functions from those of animals. The brain is divided into two hemispheres. The spinal cord is an extension of the brain. It is responsible for reflex actions (e.g. pulling your hand away from a hot plate).
The peripheral nervous system
Transmits messages through millions of neurons to and from the CNS. It is divided into two sections.
- Autonomic nervous system: controls vital functions in the body such as breathing, heart rate, digestion, sexual arousal and stress responses
- Somatic nervous system: Controls muscle movement and receives information from sensory receptors.
The endocrine system
Works along side the nervous system to control vital functions in the body. Acts slower than the nervous system and has widespread and powerful glands all across the body e.g. the thyroid gland produces hormones. Hormones are secreted into the bloody stream and affect any cell that has that receptor for that hormone.
The endocrine and ANS work together
Attention, retention, motor reproduction and motivation