Topics 10.1 Key Approaches and the Study of Psychology

10.1 Key Approaches and the Study of Psychology

10.1.1 What is Psychology? Psychology as the scientific study of behaviour and experience. The differences between scientific and common-sense explanations.

10.1.2 Key approaches and the development of psychology in an historical context. Wundt, Darwin, Freud, Skinner and Rogers: their key influences in the development of psychology. (A detailed knowledge of each person’s ideas/theories is not required.)

Understand the basic assumptions and the distinguishing features of the following approaches: psychodynamic, behaviourist, humanistic and cognitive (including the information-processing approach).

10.2 The Biological Approach

10.2.1 Genetic basis of behaviour. Evolution and human behaviour. Difference between genotype and phenotype.

10.2.2 Physiological psychology Basic understanding of the structure and function of neurons – motor, sensory and connector (relay). The divisions of the nervous system. Localisation of function in the brain (cortical specialisation), including motor, somatosensory, visual, auditory and ‘language’ centres. How areas of cortical specialisation have been identified (for example neurosurgery, EEGs, electrical stimulation, scans - CAT, PET and MRI).Sympathetic and parasympathetic actions of the autonomic nervous system. Adrenal glands and fight or flight response.

10.2.3 Inheritance and behaviour Types of twins: monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ). Use of twin studies, adoption studies and selective breeding to investigate the genetic basis of behaviour. Arguments for and against the genetic basis of schizophrenia or intelligence. Limitations of the biological approach.


Topics 10.3 Methods of Research

10.4 Representing Data and Descriptive Statistics

10.5 Ethics

10.3 Methods of Research

10.3.1 Planning Research Formulating research questions. Stating the aims of a piece of research. Formulating hypotheses (null, experimental, alternative, research).

Populations and sampling. Types of sampling techniques, including opportunity, random, stratified and systematic. 10.3.2 Methods of Investigation I Experiments: field and laboratory. Independent and dependent variables. Manipulation and control of variables in experiments. Experimental designs: repeated or related measures, matched pairs, independent groups. Controls associated with different designs, including counterbalancing. Confounding variables. Advantages and disadvantages of different experimental designs and appropriate use of each. Pilot studies and their value. Questionnaire construction including the use of open and closed questions. Types of interviews: structured and unstructured. Appropriate use of the above techniques. Correlation studies. The difference between an experiment and a correlational study. Strengths and weakness of these methods.

10.3.3 Methods of Investigation II

  • Observational studies. Observation in natural and experimental settings. Covert and overt. Distinction between participant and nonparticipant observation. Strengths and weaknesses of observational methods.
  • Case studies. The role of case studies in investigation. Strengths and weaknesses of case studies.The difference between qualitative and quantitative data.Strengths and weaknesses of these methods.

10.4 Representing Data and Descriptive Statistics

10.4.1 Representing data. Be able to use, as appropriate, the following tabular and graphical displays: bar charts, histograms, graphs, scattergrams and tables.

10.4.2 Descriptive data Calculate and understand the use of: mean, median, mode, range and standard deviation. Correlation as a description of the relationship between two variables. Understand positive, negative and zero correlations.

10.5 Ethics An awareness of the code of ethics in psychology as specified by theBritish Psychological Society.


10.6 Studying Gender

10.6.1 Concepts Sex and gender; androgyny; sex-role stereotype; role and identity;nature and nurture; cultural diversity.

10.6.2 Methods Case studies; content analysis; observation; experiment; survey/questionnaire/inventories; cross-cultural research; ethical issues.

10.7 Explaining Gender

10.7.1 Biological and social learning theories

  • Biological explanations: typical and atypical sex chromosome patterns;

influence of androgens (including testosterone) and oestrogens.

10.7.2 Cognitive and psychoanalytic theories

  • Cognitive approach, including [[Kohlberg’s cognitive-developmental

theory]], including reference to gender identity, gender stability and gender constancy. Psychoanalytic approach, including Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, reference to identification and Oedipus/Electra complex.

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