Approaches in psychology workbook answers

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Approaches in psychology


AQA AS/A-level Psychology 2

Psychology in context:

Approaches in psychology Biopsychology

Research methods

This Answers book provides guidance on the content and characteristics of effective answers to the questions in the workbook. It does not provide model answers for each question. These answers are intended as a guide to give teachers and students feedback.

Where a question calls for a specific response, a detailed answer is provided. For questions that could elicit a range of answers, a list of the most probable responses is included. Use your discretion when marking unexpected responses by assessing whether the question has been answered.

Topic 1

Approaches in psychology

1 a B

b i The behaviourist approach can be described as reductionist because it ignores social and cognitive factors and reduces explanations of complex human behaviour to simple biological causes.

ii The behaviourist approach assumes behaviour is caused by nurture because it assumes we are a blank slate at birth and learn all behaviour in interaction with the environment.

iii One research study that explains behaviour from a behaviourist approach is Watson and Rayner who showed that a phobia could be learned.

iv One research study that explains behaviour in terms of ‘nurture’ is Bandura, Ross and Ross who showed that children could learn aggressive behaviour by observing adult role models.

v The behaviourist approach gives a deterministic explanation for behaviour because it suggests that all our behaviours are determined by our past experiences.

vi When we introspect we examine our own conscious thoughts and feelings.

2 a D

b i The cognitive approach can be described as reductionist because it ignores biological factors and reduces explanations of complex human behaviour to mental processes.

ii Cognitive psychologists study mental processes such as attention, memory and perception.

iii One research study that explains behaviour from the cognitive approach is Loftus and Palmer who studied the reliability of eyewitness memory.

iv The cognitive approach does not give a deterministic explanation for behaviour because cognitive psychologists assume humans have the free will to choose their behaviour.

v A schema is an internal mental representation.

vi Introspection is a cognitive process because when we introspect we ‘think about’ our own conscious thoughts and feelings.

vii Cognitive neuroscience uses new techniques to measure brain activity to look at relationships between mental processes and biological brain activity.

3 a A and B

b i The biological approach can be described as reductionist because it reduces the explanation for complex human behaviour to simple biological facts ignoring cognitive and social explanations for behaviour.

ii The biological approach assumes behaviour is caused by nature because it assumes that behaviour is innate (inborn), for example caused by genetic inheritance.

iii One research study that explains behaviour from the biological approach is Sperry who carried out ‘split-brain studies’ to find out what happens when the two hemispheres of the brain are disconnected.

iv The biological approach gives a deterministic explanation for behaviour because rather than assuming that people have the free will to choose their behaviour, the approach suggests that behaviour is caused by (determined by) biological factors that we cannot control.

v Neurotransmitters are biochemical substances in the brain that carry signals between brain cells.

4 a A

b i The psychodynamic approach can be described as reductionist because it reduces explanations of complex human behaviour to unobservable unconscious mental processes.

ii The psychodynamic approach assumes behaviour is partially caused by nature because according to Freud, the id, which is present at birth, contains our biological instincts and drives.

iii One research study that explains behaviour from the psychodynamic approach is by Freud, who carried out the case study of Little Hans and his phobia of horses.

iv The psychodynamic approach gives a deterministic explanation for behaviour because it assumes that experience in the first 6 years of life will shape our personality and behaviour forever.

v The psychodynamic approach is not scientific because the hypothesis that the human mind is made up of the id, ego and superego is not falsifiable, it is a theory based on subjective opinion rather than objective evidence or matters of fact.

5 a C

b i The humanistic approach can be described as unscientific because it is a theory that human behaviour is based on a hierarchy of human need and that people have a need to self-actualise. The theory seems to be based on American cultural values rather than objective evidence or matters of fact.

ii The humanistic approach assumes behaviour is caused by nurture because Rogers believed feelings of self-worth develop in early childhood and depend on whether a child receives unconditional positive regard. According to humanistic theorists, people who are able to self-actualise are more likely to have received unconditional positive regard from their parents in childhood.

iii According to the humanistic approach, the highest level in the hierarchy of human needs is the need for self-actualisation — the need to fulfil potential.

iv The humanistic approach suggests that the development of congruence is dependent on unconditional positive regard and our self-image and ideal self being consistent.

v According to the humanistic approach, a person will be in a state of congruence if their ideal self is consistent with their self-image and with what is happening in their life.

6 a i Cognitive psychologists believe that behaviour is motivated by conscious mental processes.

ii Behaviourists believe that behaviour is learned and can be unlearned.

iii The psychodynamic perspective assumes that behaviour is motivated by forces in the unconscious mind.

iv Humanist psychologists assume that behaviour is motivated by the desire for self-actualisation and free will.

v The biological approach suggests that behaviour can be explained by studying the functions of physiological systems.

b i The behaviourist approach assumes that all behaviour is learned, that what has been learned can be unlearned, abnormal behaviour is learned in the same way as normal behaviour. Three ways that behaviour is learned are classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning. Behaviour is caused by nurture rather than by nature.

ii The cognitive approach is based on the assumption that mental processes control behaviour, that the human mind is like an information processor and that people have the free will to control how they select, store and think about information.

iii The physiological approach assumes that there is a direct relationship between biology and behaviour and that behaviour is influenced by genetics, biochemistry and brain anatomy. Behaviour is caused by nature rather than by nurture.

c Genes, biochemistry, hormones, neurotransmitters, brain structures.

d Classical conditioning; operant conditioning

e The mind is a hypothetical construct that cannot be objectively measured and mental processes are essentially private and hidden, and can only be accessed by analysing what people say.

f The psychodynamic approach assumes that behaviour is motivated by unconscious forces, that the human psyche is made up of the id, the ego and the superego, and that the development of the personality progresses in five psychosexual stages.

g Self-actualisation is the process of growing and developing as a person in order to reach one’s full potential.

Exam-style questions: AS

7 a Example answer:

The learning approach makes three assumptions. First, it assumes that all behaviour is learned; second, that what has been learned can be unlearned; and third, that abnormal behaviour is learned in the same way as normal behaviour. Learning theorists take a behaviourist approach and behaviourists propose that behaviour is learned by classical conditioning, operant conditioning or social learning. In classical conditioning, an unconditioned stimulus, such as an unexpected loud noise, triggers a natural reflex, such as the startle response and fear, but, if another stimulus, e.g. seeing a spider, occurs at the same time, this may in future elicit the fear response when a spider is seen. In operant conditioning, behaviour is learned through the consequences of our actions, and in social learning behaviour is learned by observation. Learning theorists believe that we are a product of our environment, that at birth we are a ‘tabula rasa’ or blank slate, our genetic make-up is largely ignored and our personality, IQ, achievements and behaviour are shaped by the environment in which we are reared. Behaviourism is at the extreme end of nurture in the nature–nurture debate.

A top-band mark should be awarded for this answer because the description is accurate, thorough and coherent and the student demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the assumptions of learning theory which are expanded and placed correctly on the nurture side of the nature–nurture debate.

b Operant conditioning — positive reinforcement of the pigeon’s bell pecking behaviour.

c Example answer:

Social learning theorists assume that behaviour is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning. According to social learning theory, children observe the people around them and these models provide examples of behaviour to imitate at a later date. According to social learning theory, children are more likely to attend to and imitate a model they perceive as similar to themselves and so are more likely to imitate behaviour modelled by people of the same sex. Also, if a child imitates a model’s behaviour and the consequences are rewarding, the child is likely to continue performing the behaviour because of reinforcement.

d Possible suggestions:

One limitation of learning approaches is that they are deterministic because they ignore conscious reasoning, subjective experience and the idea that humans have the free will to choose how to behave. Learning approaches assume that we are ‘programmed’ to behave the way we do because of past experience and people are reduced to collections of programmed stimulus–response units.

Another limitation is that the learning approaches are reductionist because they ignore the role of innate and/or physiological individual differences (nature) and focus only on the role of environmental factors (nurture) as explanations for behaviour.

Exam-style questions: A-level

8 a B

b i According to Rogers the closer our self-image and ideal-self are to each other, the more congruent we are and the higher our sense of self-worth. People are said to be in a state of incongruence if their experience, or self-image, does not match their ideal self and so is denied. For Jemima, her ideal self is ‘attractive, clever and popular’ and her self-image does not match this.

ii Jemima could be offered client-centred therapy during which she can gain insight into her true self and be given empathic unconditional positive regard so that her sense of self-worth increases and she develops a more realistic ideal self.

c You could include commentary on:

  • how research by physiological psychologists has increased understanding of human behaviour, using examples of research to support arguments

  • how physiological psychologists have developed treatments to help people recover from mental illness and the advantages of these treatments

  • the advantages and limitations of the assumptions of the physiological approach compared to one or more other approaches

  • the methodological problems that arise when physiological psychologists carry out research

  • research by physiological psychologists studied for Paper 1

For a top-band mark you need to use appropriate psychological terminology and demonstrate clear understanding. You should aim to write about four paragraphs each making a different point. Your answer must be evaluative rather than descriptive and you should allow a few minutes to write a plan before you begin writing your answer.

Some example paragraphs:

Physiological psychologists have increased our understanding of the structure and function of different areas of the brain. One advantage of physiological psychology is that it takes a scientific approach, and usually uses laboratory experiments to reveal biological causes of behaviour. This means that physiological research is especially useful as its hypotheses can be tested to draw valid and reliable conclusions. Physiological psychologists argue that, as scientists, to understand human behaviour we should study the physical brain rather than the metaphysical mind. An early breakthrough in physiological psychology was the split-brain research by Sperry, showing that the brain structures that support language are in the left hemisphere of the brain, which explains why damage to the left hemisphere may disrupt the ability to speak or understand language.

Another advantage of physiological psychology is the use of objective, quantitative research methods, such as twin and family studies where comparisons of MZ and DZ twins are used to determine whether or not behaviours are genetically inherited or environmentally determined. Also, brain scans that show which areas of the brain are active, along with research into the biochemistry of the brain, have increased our understanding of the relationship between brain and behaviour. Progress in physiological psychology has been especially useful because it used to be thought that damage to the brain could not be repaired, but recent research by Maguire showed that structures in the brains of adults changed in response to environmental demand, which provides hope that intense therapy could repair brain damage.

However, physiological psychology is criticised as being reductionist as it reduces explanations for complex human behaviour to biological facts, ignoring cognitive and social influences on behaviour. For example, some psychologists would argue that aggression has a biological cause, stating that testosterone causes male violence, but this theory ignores the fact that all men have testosterone but only a small sample of the male population behave violently. It also ignores research by social psychologists showing that children learn aggressive behaviour by imitating aggressive role models.

Topic 2


1 a C

b i The central nervous system consists of the brain and the spinal cord.

ii The somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system are the two parts of the peripheral nervous system.

iii The biology of the fight or flight response is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system.

iv Information is carried between brain neurons by biochemical substances called neurotransmitters.

v Relay neurons relay information from sensory neurons to motor neurons.

vi The neurotransmitter serotonin may be involved in mood. Too little serotonin is thought to be the cause of depression.

2 a D

b i The set of glands that release chemical products into the bloodstream is called the endocrine system.

Just beneath the hypothalamus sits a pea sized gland called the pituitary gland.

iii Adrenaline is a hormone that in an emergency acts quickly to prepare the body to act.

iv The brain has two hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum.

v There are two language centres in the brain called Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area.

vi A person suffering from motor aphasia can understand language but cannot produce meaningful language.

3 a The frontal, the temporal, the occipital and the parietal.

b i Spinal cord

ii involuntary activity

iii sympathetic

iv fight or flight

v afferent

c Relay neurons are afferent neurons and they only relay information to the brain, but motor neurons are efferent neurons and they carry information from the brain to the target.

d Dopamine — movement, attention and learning; serotonin — mood, sleep, appetite and aggression; epinephrine — energy and depression.

e The pituitary gland controls growth and regulates other glands. The adrenal glands regulate moods, energy level and the ability to cope with stress. The pancreas performs both digestive and endocrine functions.

f If visual material appeared in the right visual field, thus left hemisphere, the patient could describe it in speech and writing, but if visual material appeared to the left visual field, thus right hemisphere, the patient could not describe it which suggests that language ability is located in the left hemisphere.

g Ways to measure brain activity include:

  • Post-mortem studies in which researchers conduct a study of the brain of an individual who may have had some sort of illness.

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) which records the electrical activity and voltage fluctuation resulting from ionic current flows in the neurons of the brain.

  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures the metabolic changes that take place in an active part of the brain.

h Circadian rhythms are cycles of behaviour that happen every 24 hours (around a day), for example sleeping/waking, but ultradian rhythms repeat over a period of less than 24 hours, for example the stages of sleep.

i The amount of daylight, social norms, clocks.

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