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Wilhelm Wundt

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Wilhelm Wundt

The first person to be called a psychologist Opened the first psychology laboratory in Leipzig Germany in 1879 "father of psychology" His approach became known as structuralism

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The first systematic experimental attempt to study the mind by breaking up conscious awareness into basic structures of thoughts images and sensations. Obtained during task - person reports back their inner experiences

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Introspection weakness

Reports are subjective so cannot be replicated Findings are non-observational, cannot be observed or measured

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The scientific method

Objective - based on findings Subjective - based on opinions Replicability - the ability to repeat a study and achieve the same findings Empirical methods - can be observed

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Scientific method process

  1. ask a question

  2. state a hypothesis

  3. conduct an experiment

  4. analyse the results

  5. make a conclusion

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Goals for psychology as a science

  1. description - what occurred

  2. explanation - why a behaviour or mental process occurred

  3. prediction - identifies conditions under which a future behaviour or mental process is likely to occur

  4. change - applies psychological knowledge to prevent unwanted behaviour to bring desired change

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Psychology as a science Strengths

Lab based - high degree of control over variables Real life application - allows the causes of behaviour to be identified, theories developed, tested and modified based upon this

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Psychology as a science weakness

Lab based - lack of ecological validity Biologically deterministic - certain human behaviours cannot be observed or measured using scientific method

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Biological approach strengths

Scientific methods of evaluation e.g., fMRI's, drug studies, reliable data Real life application - led to the development of psychoactive drugs e.g. depression

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Early Behaviourism

John Watson

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Tabula rasa

Blank slate

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Assumptions of the behaviourist approach

  • we are born as a blank slate

  • attempts to explain behaviour in terms of learning

  • extreme "nurture"

  • argues psychology should focus on observable behaviour which can be objectively measured

  • uses classical and operant conditioning

  • determined to be scientific through lab studies

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Name for behaviourist explanations


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Methods of research - behaviourist approach

Laboratory experiments (control of extraneous variables) on animals to discover both the cause and effect. Animal studies - believed there was no qualitative difference between man and animals. Measure observable responses

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What do they measure in classical conditioning

How much of a response was produced

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What do they measure in operant conditioning

how often a response is produced

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Classical conditioning overview

Ivan Pavlov Learning through association Dogs

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Classical conditioning process

Before conditioning - Neutral stimulus = bell Unconditioned stimulus = food Unconditioned response = salivation During conditioning - Bell paired with food After conditioning - Conditioned stimulus = bell Conditioned response = dog

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example of classical conditioning study

Little Albert Study - Watson and Rayner Classically conditioned to fear white rat

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Operant conditioning overview

Skinner Rats + Pigeon experiment Learning through reinforcement Predict behaviour - behaviour is learnt Repetition is reinforcing and reward makes a behaviour more likely to be repeated

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Skinner rat/pigeon experiment

  1. Rat is hungry and performs various explanatory behaviours

  2. By chance the lever is pressed

  3. a pellet of food appears

  4. the rat has been conditioned to press the lever when he wants food

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Reinforcement definition

Anything which has the effect of increasing the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated

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Negative reinforcement definition

Anything which has the effect of increasing the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated by using consequences being negative, or taking something away

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Anything which has the effect of decreasing the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated by using consequences that are unpleasant when they happen

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positive reinforcement

anything which has the effect of increasing the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated by using consequences that are pleasant when they happen

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Behaviourist approach Strengths

  • Real life applications -treatment of phobias, gambling

  • Scientific research/ laboratory study

  • Scientific research / scientific contribution - experimental method

  • animal research - controlled, lack of influence of characteristics

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Behaviourist approach Criticisms

  • animal stud - not generalisable to humans

  • ethical issues of studying animals

  • free will vs determinism

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Biological approach assumption

All behaviour has a biological cause Nature A person's genetic influences behaviour, traits, personality

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evolution definition

The changes in inherited characteristics in a biological population over successive generations Proposed by Charles Darwin

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2 main concepts in evolutionary theory

Natural selection Sexual selection

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Natural selection

Partners are chosen based on behaviours and physical characteristics. Therefore a species not suited to an environment will die out as it struggles to survive so only adaptive characteristics remain in future off springs.

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Principle of diversity

Variety within a species

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Principle of interaction

how this variety of species adapt and fit in with the environment

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The principle of differential amplification

Those who adapt to their environment will reproduce and those that do not will die out

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Sexual selection

Women make their choice of who the mate with as they have limited eggs and time to conceive - genetic basis to sexual selection

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Selective breeding

The process of artificially selecting male and female animals for a particular traits. The animals are then put together in order to breed and produce offspring.

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Heritable Genetic information carried by DNA in chromosomes Found within a cell's nucleus Passed through generations of species if individuals survive and successfully reproduce Can be recessive or dominant

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A persons actual genetic makeup, made up of DNA

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The way way genes are expressed through physical, behavioural and psychological characteristics. Influenced by environment

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examples of phenotypes

Hair colour, eye colour, skin tone, height, freckles PKU - genetic disorder that can lead to sever learning difficulties unless it is caught and child put on a strict diet

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How to explore whether a trait or characteristic is genetic

Family studies - twin studies, adoption studies

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Monozygotic twins

Identical twins forms when one zygote splits into 2 to form separate embryos Share 100% of DNA

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Dizygotic twins

non-identical twins when two zygotes are formed when 2 separate eggs are fertilised Share 50% of DNA

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Concordance rates

Between twins or siblings used to measure to what extent a similarity is due to genetics

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Twin studies

Used to determine the likelihood that certain traits have a genetic basis By comparison of concordance rates. Identical twins will have the same genotype but their phenotype will differ if one exercises more

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Adoption studies

Involve comparing a trait or characteristic between adopted children and their biological or adoptive parents. Traits shared between child + biological parent = genetic Traits shared between adopted child + adopted parent = environmental

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Recessive gene

Only shows if the individual has 2 copies of the recessive genes

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Dominant gene

Always shows up, even if the individual only has one copy of the gene

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Biological approaches weaknesses

Cannot separate nature vs nurture Biologically deterministic Casual conclusions

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Cognitive approach overview

  • focuses on how people perceive, store, manipulate and interpret incoming information

  • looks at internal mental processes

  • Uses well controlled laboratory

  • Make inferences

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Inferences definition

The process by which cognitive psychologists draw conclusions about the way mental processes operate on the basis of observed behaviour. Makes a logical conclusion

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Theoretical model: information processing model

Is based on how computer functions. Suggests information "flows" through the cognitive system in a sequence of stages "input, storage and retrieval" Abstract thinking Useful in developing AI

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Information processing model

Input - incoming information from the environment via senses Process - information is coded or processed Output - the consequence

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Computer models

Compares the brain as a "central processing unit" Focuses on how we structure the process of reaching our behavioural output Aim, Strategy, Output The connectionist model - biological, neural line. Views the mind as a complex network of neurons which activates in regular configurations that characterise known associations

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"package" of information and ideas developed through experience Acts as a script for how to act in a given situation Mental short cut

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Cognitive neuroscience

Scientific study of the influence of brain structure (neuro) on mental processes (cognition) Has led to mind mapping techniques known as brain fingerprinting

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Cognitive neuroscience and imaging techniques

fMRI - Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging PET - Position Emission Tomography

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Cognitive approach strengths

Real life application - used to explain how dysfunctional behaviour can be traced back to faulty thinking processes + AI Scientific strength - lab experiments produces scientific and objective data

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Cognitive approach weakness

Machine reductionism - ignores influence of emotion and motivation Lack of external validity - too abstract

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Humanistic approach origins

Developed in America in 1950s Third force - replaces behaviourism and psychoanalysis Emphasised the importance of subjective experience Less deterministic and artificial approach

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Free will definition

The notion that humans can make choices and are not determined by biological or external forces

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Abraham Maslow beliefs

Humans are motivated by needs beyond basic biological survival Created "self-actualisation" and hierachy of needs

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Maslow hierachy of needs levels

Physiological - breathing, food, water, sleep Safety - security of body, employment, resources, family, health Love/belonging - friendship, family, sexual intimacy Esteem - self-esteem, confidence, respect Self-actualisation - problem solving, morality, creativity

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Motivation for self-actualisation

Personal growth is concerned with developing and changing as a person to become fulfilled, satisfied and goal-oriented

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If an individual maintains a reasonable consistency between ideal self and actual behaviour

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The greater gap between the ideal self and actual self. Leads to low self-wroth and maladjustment

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Defence mechanisms

Can stop the self from growing and changing widening the levels of incongruence. Distortion, denial, blocking

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Carl Rogers arguement

For personal growth to be achieved an individuals concept of self must be equivalent to their ideal self (congruence) Client centred therapy

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Client centred therapy

Used in order to reduce the gap between the self-concept and the ideal self. An effective therapist is able to provide clients with the unconditional positive regard that they failed to receive as a child

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conditions of worth

A parent who sets boundaries or limits on their love for their child is storing up psychological problems for that child in the future.

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Methods of investigaiton

Q-sort assessment developed by Stephenson (1953) Used in CCT A series of cards that contain a personal statement and the person sorts them into 2 statements: to describe their real self, describe their ideal self

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Humanistic approach strength

Not reductionist - doesn't break up behaviour Positive approach - contributed to psychological theories

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Humanistic approach weakness

Limited application - vagueness of self-actualisation Untestable concepts Cultural bias - associated with individualistic cultures, USA

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Sigmund Freud

Psychodynamic approach Mental activity is unconscious which causes behaviour Psychosexual stages Defence mechanisms Talking cures

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Psychodynamic approach key assumptions

Unconscious activity determines how we behave Possess innate drives The psych - is our personality Childhood experiences have significant importance

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Cosncious mind

The part of the mind that we know about

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unconscious mind

A vast storehouse of drives and instincts which influence our behaviour and personality. Contains threatening and disturbing memories that have been repressed/locked away Can be accessed during dreams/parapraxes

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Components of the psyche


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Dives us to satisfy selfish urges Primitive part of our personality Pleasure principle Entirely selfish Demands instant gratification of its needs exists from birth Unconscious drive and instincts

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Concerned with keeping to moral norms "morality principle" Represents moral standards of the child's same sex parent Formed at the end of the phallic stage Attempts to control ID and EGO with feelings of guilt Develops years 4-5

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Reality principle Mediator between the ID and SUPEREGO Acts rationally Uses defence mechanisms Develops around the age of 2-4

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Psychosexual stages

The childhood stages of development (oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital) The child can only move one once the previous stage has been resolved, if not, fixation occurs

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Oral stage

Pleasure of mouth 0-18 months May lead to oral fixation - smoking, biting nails, sarcastic

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Pleasure of the anus - expelling faeces 1-3 years May lead to anal retentive - perfectionist, obsessive or Anal expulsive - thoughtless, messy

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Focus on pleasure of genital area 3-5 years May lead to a phallic personality - narcissistic, reckless, possibly homosexual

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6-puberty, dormant sexual feelings

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sexual desires become conscious along with puberty May lead to difficulty forming heterosexual stages

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Oedipus/ Electra complex

Occurs during the Phallic stage (3-6yrs) The child experiences an unconscious feeling of desire for their opposite-sex parent and jealousy towards same-sex parent. Resolved when the boy begins to identify with father as a way to get to the mother (father becomes a role model)

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Oedipus complex study

Little Hans study 1909

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Little Hans summary

5 year old boy with a phobia of horses. At age 3 Hans showed interest in "widdlers" and his mother threatened to cut his off. Developed a phobia of horses because of the large penis. The phobia only improved when he saw horses with a black harness over their nose - relating it to his fathers moustache

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Ego defence mechanisms

Ego balances conflicts between ID and super ego and tries to reduce anxiety by using defence mechanisms

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Defence mechanism definition

An unconscious psychological mechanism that reduces anxiety from unacceptable or potentially harmful stimulus. Used by the unconscious mind to manipulate, deny or distort reality

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3 types of defence mechanism

Repression, denial, displacement

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Burying an unpleasant though or desire in the unconscious

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Emotions are directed away from their source or target towards other things

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A threatening though is ignore or treated as if it were not true

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Psychodynamic approach strengths

Real life application - "talking cures" - psychoanalysis Used case studies

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Psychodynamic approach weakness

Case studies are idiographic Case studies - create qualitative data Determinist approach - rejects the idea of free will Overemphasis on childhood behaviour Product of its time Culture bound

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Copying the behaviours of others

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Vicarious reinforcement

Observing the behaviour and the consequences of the behaviour. Imitation is more likely to occur if the model is positively reinforced

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