Monday, 13 July 2015


The best way to remember the approaches is to:

  • Have at least one sentence that provides a definition. 
  • Another sentence which relates to what debate it closely links in with. 
  • Another sentence on the type of behaviours and factors it studies. 

Social approach:

The social approach to psychology looks at how an individual acts in a group and whether group dynamics change behaviour. It considers conformity in an individual and how humans conform to others. This leans strongly to the nurture side of the nature/nurture debate as it suggests your behaviour can through the environment.

Cognitive approach:

The cognitive approach refers to mental processes such as memory, language, perception,
and attention. The cognitive approach compares the human mind to a computer i.e. information enters the mind (input), it is processed and stored and then used later again by responding to situations (output). The main assumption of the cognitive approach is that how we think is central in explaining how we behave.

Developmental approach:

The developmental approach emphasises the importance of changes in behaviour through the
lifespan with a particular focus on cognitive and social development. This approach focuses on how behaviours such as emotions, moral development and thinking develop over time. Another assumption of the developmental approach is that events that happen to us early in life can have a long-term effect on the course of our development.

Biological/Physiological approach:

The biological approach assumes that biological mechanisms, brain functions and genetics play a key role in explaining behaviour. The biological approach also uses highly scientific methods in order to understand biological processes such as hormone release, brain plasticity, brain activity and so on. The biological approach takes a rather reductionist and determinist view as it assumes that all behaviour is determined through a biological process which we cannot control.

Pscyhodynamic approach:

This approach assumes that much of our behaviour is a result of our unconscious mind. This is the part of the mind which we are not actively aware of. Freud was the founder of this approach and believed that we had a conscious mind - where we are aware of our motivations and can verbalise explicitly and an unconscious mind - where motivations for behaviour are often related to sex in some way and are largely hidden from our conscious, but unconsciously effect our behaviour.  

Individual approach:

One of the main assumptions of the individual differences approach is that there are differences between the people in any group, in terms of personal qualities, the ways in which they respond to situations, their behaviour and so on. The individual approach believes that examining differences rather than commonalities, is the most revealing when understanding people. A main focus is to categorise and identify different types of abnormality. 

Behaviourist approach:

The behaviourist approach explains behaviour in terms of learning. One of the main assumptions of the behaviourist approach is that all behaviour is learned through experience. For example the idea f positive reinforcement, which is when we adopt a behaviour because we know we will be rewarded. The behaviourist approach leans very strongly to the nurture side of the nature nurture debate.  

Ecological validity:

This is likely to be
done by referring to research using everyday situations so that behaviour is
natural. This may be described in terms of the setting/ the nature of the task/
the sample used.

Quantitative and Qualitative data:

Quantitative data is data where behaviour is measured in numbers or
quantities. Qualitative data is data that cannot be quantified but it expresses a
complete account of what people think or feel.

Lab experiments:

The experimental method involves the manipulation of variable in order to find a cause effect relationship between the IV and DV. Lab experiments are reliable and replicable as they involve a high degree of control.

Ethical issue:

Self-Report method:

This involves the individual reporting on their own behavior, thoughts, feelings and attitudes. A self report may take the form of a questionnaire, interview or survey. The questionnaire (or survey) will take the form of a set of questions on a specific topic and data collected is often both qualitative and quantitative. An interview is delivered face to face or by telephone but questions are normally verbal rather than in written form. The questions may be less structured than in a questionnaire and responses will more commonly be qualitative.

Snapshot study:

Snapshot studies are quick and do not involve
repetition of measurement. They do not occur over an
extended period of time such as longitudinal studies and do
not take into account changes in behaviour over time.

Case study:

The case study method is characterised by a detailed description of a
particular individual or group under study.

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