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As Psychology - Every Potential Essay Question & Answers

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AQA Psychology (A)
Psya2 A* Students

Model Essays
The A* Students

For More Psychology Resources visit: C HAPTER 1

A little about me

Firstly thank you for purchasing this book for AQA Psychology Psya2 (Paper 2). A bit about me: My name is Sajan Devshi and I was a private student that self-taught myself
AQA Psychology from 2011-2012 and I received my certificate in January 2013 Achieving an
A* Grade. The certificate you can view on my website - You can also get my other A* model essay answers from there too for the other topics I did. I achieved an A* grade overall scoring two A’s in Psya1 and Psya2 as well as 100% in both my
A2 exams (Psya3 and Psya4) My final score was 373/400 ums points. (You only needed 90% in A2 and 320 for an A* grade). So basically I didn’t just beat the boundary - I absolutely smashed it. How did I do it? It wasn’t easy and I am by no means some savant genius. I made great notes and essays that simplified things for me as I had no teachers and it is these notes I share with you now for Psya2 and the essay questions that can be asked for it.
If your curious to know more about me you can visit my website at
There it tells you more about me, how I self-taught myself as well as contact me directly for help and advice as well as get my other essay answers there instantly. Theres also great resources there too with more added on a weekly basis.
You can also follow me on twitter to stay up to date on future resources and books.
My username is: SajDevshi
Again thank you for your support and I wish you the very best in your exams! Now - Lets get this show started..

Psya2 Overview

as smaller questions ranging from 1-8 markers but if you’ve memorised full essay answers, answering the smaller ones should be a fairly easy to do. Lets look at the possible 12 mark questions:
• The bodies response to stress, including the pituitary-adrenal system and the sympathomedullary pathway in outline (This wont be a 12 mark question as it states “In Outline” so is not included)
• Stress-related illness and the immune system
• Life changes and daily hassles as sources of stress
• Workplace stress including the effects of workload and control
• Personality factors including Type A and Type B behaviour, Hardiness
• Psychological and biological methods of stress management including stress inoculation therapy and drug therapy.
• Conformity (majority influence) and explanations of why people conform including informational social influence and normative social influence.
• Types of conformity, including internalisation and compliance.

Heres an overview of what Psya2 consists of with the main chapters being focused on Biological Psychology, Social Psychology and how Individual differences play a role. Within these chapters you see bullet points and any of these can potentially be asked as a 12 mark question so I will provide essays geared as 12 mark essays.
Some however are unlikely to be asked as 12 markers as AQA may feel there simply isn't enough material on them available. There is only one 12 marker in this exam so the others will likely be asked

• Obedience to authority, including Milgrams work and explanations of why people obey
• Explanations of Independent behaviour, including locus of control, how people resist pressures to conform and resist pressures to obey authority.
• How social influence research helps us to understand social change, the role of minority influence in social change
• Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately and deviation from ideal mental ii health and limitations of these definitions of psychological abnormality.
• The biological approach to Psychopathology
• Psychological approaches to Psychopathology including the Psychodynamic, behavioral and cognitive approaches.
• Biological therapies including drugs and ECT
• Psychological therapies including Psychoanalysis, Systematic Desensitisation, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
So as you can see we have quite a few area’s that questions can be asked on. The specification states the question on the bodys response to stress is only in “outline” so it is unlikely to be asked as a
12 marker which is why I haven’t included it. It can however most likely be asked as a 6 mark question so be sure you do get a good handle on it.
Theres two questions that can be asked there:
• One on the Pituitary Adrenal System
• And another on the Sympathomedullery pathway.
Be sure to get a good understanding of both for 6 markers.

Right - thats out the way - lets go to how you structure your essays..


Structuring Essays.
Structuring the essays for Psya2 is exactly the same as my other books. We use the acronym method as well as the age old technique of writing and re-writing our final essay answers over and over until they stick. The answers that I give, you will be wise to put them into your own words as you don’t want them to look the same as the other students who may purchase this book.

essay that lays out theory and evaluation distinctively and clearly - Like below - Green is Theory, Blue is Evaluation.
You can see exactly where the marks go and your able to give it better attention. Also your more likely to be happier about its formatting and structure too picking up those bonus marks.

After that try and create acronyms for each model answer that you create, writing this acronym at the start of the exam to trigger your memory for the rest of the answer.
Its better to try write acronyms that are easier to remember that actually spell a word e.g. SPUD is easier to remember than SDUS and shaping your essays around this too will help.

This is why I propose you structure your essays this way - Ultimately it is up to you but its what I did in my exams and
100% in my two A2 papers must illustrate how my essays probably stood out from the crowd.

I always try to write Theory first followed by my evaluation points rather than mixing them together - Why do I do this? Imagine your an examiner sat for ages marking countless papers where students have mixed and matched their theory and evaluation points. Imagine now you see hundreds of these - It will likely drive you mad trying to decipher where the marks go. Now imagine you find an

How do you use the Acronym Method?

Lets look at Acronyms and how they work.

You create your essays into your own words. The theory you must ideally know from the top of your head as a theory is basically an explanation or concept. You can use the
Acronym method to remember theory too if you wish - I did in some cases myself where I struggled but its easier using this with the evaluation points as researchers tend iv to be harder to remember - Its up to you, it will work for both. Acronyms are “markers” that I used to trigger my memory to recall the rest of the essay. It is harder to remember a whole paragraph than it is a few letters which can then lead me to remember what those letters stand for and the actual studies themselves. This then triggers my memory to recall how each study is evaluated for strengths and weaknesses and so forth - a bit like a chain reaction. Heres an example from my Aggression book.

I have used the acronym MHBC which stands for the researchers McGuffin, Hutchings, Brunner and Caspi et al.
As soon as I see the question I remember my acronym and write this at the top: MHBC. The green element is the Theory while the blue is the evaluation. Notice where I have put the letters. As soon as I finish writing my theory (the green element) I look at my acronym and recall M = McGuffin hence I recall his name and as I have practiced countless times writing this essay I recall his study too. By the time I finish writing about him I look at the next letter which is H = Hutchings and this triggers my memory for his study and findings as well as the evaluation points.
This is how memorising the essays with chunking and acronyms works. It takes practice - Using this method
WILL NOT WORK unless you have model essays created first and set up in a way that acronyms fit into them as I have done. Thats the bit that will require work on your half - structuring it in a way that suits you. Once done you employ this method to recall the essays.


Some advice to keep in mind...
With this Psya2 exam its a guessing game as to what can actually be asked as a 12 mark question. I have based these answers on the information we have available as there is no guarantee all the elements in the spec itself have enough material to actually be asked as full 12 markers - It’s just too difficult to know how AQA decide it.

Also these essays are by no was the definitive way to answer these questions - with essay based questions theres a number of ways you can answer them and I present to you merely my own way.
Right enough talk? Lets move onto the essays themselves!

Therefore I have gone on past questions and the amount of material available and tried to source as much as possible. Some of these questions I have outlined probably wont ever be asked as 12 markers and if they are not thats great because you should have enough knowledge gained from here to answer a smaller question let alone a big one.
Also do not use this book as the definitive textbook either - The point of my essays is to help you guys source enough information to form your own essays and aid in structuring as textbooks tend to be pretty bad at that and leave that to you. You will only get one 12 mark question meaning all these other essays are likely to form smaller questions as single marks, two marks, 4 marks or even 8 markers. This book isn’t designed for the smaller questions but will likely help from 8 marker, 10 markers and 12 mark questions. vi Outline/Evaluate Research into the relationship between the immune system and stress-related illnesses The Immune system is also responsible for repairing the body of any injuries that may occur and another study was conducted by Glaser et al to measure the impact stress could have on the immune system and repair of injuries. Glaser et al gathered two groups of

The immune system consists of billions of cells which travel in the

women with one group consisting of women likely to be experienc-

blood all around the body helping to defend against viruses, bacteria

ing higher levels of stress in their lives due to looking after relatives

or even cancerous cells. One of the main types of immune cells are

suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The second group consisted of

known as white blood cells of which there are two types; Lympho-

women thought to be experiencing little stressful responsibility.

cytes and Phagocytes. Stress leads to an immuno-suppresive effect as hormones such as corticosteroids are produced which lower the number of white blood cells and therefore indirectly lead to stressrelated illnesses as the body becomes more susceptible to antigens.

Both groups gave skin samples which resulted in a wound and the length of time it would take for it to heal was measured. Results found that women in the high stress group took on average 9 days longer to heal than the non-stress group. Interleukin B count was

Glaser et al measured the effects of stress on the immune system

also lower in the high-stress group and this is responsible for heal-

studying 75 medical students who gave blood samples one month

ing and the development of scar tissue. Researchers concluded that

prior to sitting their finals exams. This sample was used as a base-

this supported the theory that stress could impact the immune sys-

line measure with another taken sample taken on the day of sitting

tem and healing.

their first exam. Students were also asked to complete a questionnaire on any stressful life events they may be experiencing at the time also.

Cohen et al conducted a study on 394 participants measuring their stress index levels and ability to cope with their feelings of stress through the use of a questionnaire. They were then given nasal

Researchers found a significant drop in NK cell activity (natural kil-

drops that infected them with the cold virus. Results found there

ler cells, a type of lymphocyte) when measuring the second sample.

was a direct coloration between their stress index levels and the

NK cells are part of the immune system and fight off anti-gens such

probability they would develop a cold highlighting the impact stress

as viruses and cancerous cells which supports the theory that stress

has on reducing the immune systems functioning.

can have a direct impact on weakening the immune system. vii The strength of the first Glaser et al study was it had high external

between such as individual differences. There are also ethical con-

validity and realism as it was indicative of peoples real life experi-

cerns raised in the second Glaser et al study as it involved inflict-

ences and would have occurred anyway. Also another strength was

ing an injury on participants in the form of a wound to measure how

the first blood sample acted as a baseline comparison and was com-

well it healed. This is concerning as intentional physical harm was

pared against the participants themselves which helped control for

caused and whether it is justifiable is questionable.

confounding variables such as personality variables.

Also a strength of Cohen et al’s study was it had a big sample of

However it is not possible to exclude extraneous variables from af-

almost 400 participants providing rich data and results that may

fecting the results and it may be other factors caused the reduction

have wider generalisation and external validity to the general

in immune system functioning and not necessarily stress. For exam-

population. However the conclusions that stress resulted in more sus-

ple late night studying, lack of sleep, partying too much etc could

ceptibility to illnesses due to weakened immune systems is based

have all caused a reduction in the NK cell count. Therefore due to

purely on correlational data and therefore we cannot infer cause

these possible confounding variables the study could be argued to

and affect for certain. Also deliberately infecting some one with a

lack internal validity as we cannot say for certain that stress was in

cold virus raises ethical issues as this could cause other respiratory

fact being measured as any of those other elements could have re-

problems such as pneumonia or bronchitis which can be serious and

sulted in reduced immune functioning.

even deadly.

Also this study was based on students only and it may be that it suf-

Also a strength of using questionnaires in two of these studies is it

fers from age related bias in the sample as the results may only be

allowed researchers to gather rich qualitative data directly from

indicative of how stress affects this younger age group and therefore

participants rather than make assumptions and the information can

have limited external validity to wider generalisation and to other

be gathered and cross compared in a standardised way. However a


weakness is participants may misunderstand questions or misinter-

Both the Glaser et al studies results were based on correlational

pret their meanings putting incorrect responses on their stress levels.

data and it is difficult to say for certain what the cause and effect

A weakness Glaser et als study into how stress effects the immune

therefore was. It may be that other confounding variables may lay in

system and recovery from injury was based entirely on women and viii no men. Therefore it may suffer from gender bias and recovery between genders may vary due to differences in hormonal activity also which may act as confounding variables as hormones do affect the immune system too such as corticosteroids.


Outline/Evaluate Research Into
Stress-Related illness:
Cardiovascular & Psychiatric Disorders
One explanation for stress causing cardiovascular disorders (CD) suggests that stress activates the sympathetic nervous system which limits blood supply and increases heart rate and blood pressure. This increase in heart rate and blood pressure may result in the lining of blood vessels to be worn down. Stress would also lead to increased

Stress has also been linked to various psychiatric disorders such as depression or anxiety. Brown et al found women who suffered conditions consistent with chronic stress such as raising 3 children under the age of 14 at home while unemployed were much more likely to develop depression. Working class women were also seen to be more susceptible to developing depression than middle class women due to presumably the stress of leaving their children in the care of other people while they went to work.

glucose levels which end up blocking blood vessels ultimately caus-

Another study by Melchior et al conducted s survey over a one

ing atheroschlerosis.

year period in New Zealand finding people in high stress jobs had a

Anger may also be linked to heart disease as this generally results in the stress response. Williams et al conducted a longitudinal study of over 13’000 people who completed a questionnaire on their anger levels. The patients had no signs of heart disease at the start of

15% chance of developing clinical depression or anxiety while those in low stress jobs had only an 8% chance. There were also gender differences with women more susceptible to developing depression or anxiety than men.

the study however when re-examined 6 years later 256 had suffered

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has also been linked with

heart-attacks with those scoring highest on anger the most likely.

stressful professions particularly with soldiers or professions where

Those scoring moderate levels of anger were also 35% more likely

they are expected to kill. Rohlf et al found workers who had the

and Williams concluded anger could lead to such cardiovascular dis-

role of euthanizing animals had a 10% chance of developing Perpe-

orders. Another study by Rusek compared the health of medical pro-

tration Induced Traumatic Stress, a form of PTSD. Other studies

fessionals. One group of doctors were classed as the high stress

such as Stueve have found stress linked only mainly to depression

group while another group were seen as low stress. The doctors

rather than mental illnesses like Schizophrenia.

from the high stress group (GP’s) were over 3 times more likely to suffer from heart-disease than the low stress group (pathologists) highlighting a possible link between stress and heart-disease.

Supporting evidence for stress causing CD comes from Sheps et al who conducted a study involving 173 men and women suffering x from reduced blood flow to the heart. They were given a public

themselves in a particular light or based on their mood that day.

speaking test and their soaring blood pressure levels were measured.

Therefore if such studies were repeated they may lack reliability

50% of the group were identified to have an irregular beat in their

and consistency in their results. Also with William et als longitudi-

left ventricle with 44% of these subsequently dying 3 to 4 years

nal study it is possible that a variety of extraneous variables may

later. This was compared to only 18% of those who did not show

have impacted the results that are unaccounted for or unknown as

any signs of an irregular beat. This, Sheps concluded supported the

there was no control of the environment. A number of factors could

evidence for stress increasing the risk of death in those people al-

have led to led them to suffer from heart-attacks such as those more

ready suffering from poor coronary circulation. However it is un-

prone to anger more likely to engage in coping mechanisms such as

clear whether these individuals were likely have experienced the

drinking or drugs to deal with it. It may be that these elements then

stress response due to problems in their health affecting them. We

resulted in heart-attacks and therefore with such longitudinal studies

cannot be certain that it was stress that in directly increased their

we cannot be sure of cause and effect for certain as the informa-

chances of death.

tion is purely correlational.

It is important to note individual differences are likely with the

The diathesis-stress model may explain how stress acts as a trigger

stress response affecting people differently. Rozanski et al found

for certain disorders when people may have a genetic vulnerability

that the sympathetic branch of the ANS was simply more reactive in

requiring a certain threshold to be hit for a disorders onset. This may

some people than in others. This would mean some people were sim-

lead them to either adapt or lead to the worsening of their mental

ply more likely to respond to stress with greater blood pressure than

health. This is supported by Brown et als study as those women

others and this could be due to genetics. Therefore stress may not

most likely to suffer from depression were those who did not have

necessarily always lead to CD possibly due to individual differ-

close relationships or people to confide in. This supports the


diathesis-stress models view that certain situations may make people

Another major criticism of studies in stress resulting in CD is the fact that they tend to be based on questionnaires and self-reports to

more vulnerable to stressors triggering disorders while for others the presence of mitigators helps against them.

gather information which may not be entirely accurate. Participants may mis-understand questions or deliberately give answers to paint xi Outline and evaluate research into life changes as sources of stress

Rahe et al conducted a separate study using the SRRS in the hope of gaining data with greater external validity and apply to the general population. A military variant of the SRRS was conducted with over 2700 navy men completing the questionnaire before a tour of

Holmes & Rahe developed the social re-adjustment rating scale

duty recording all the life events experienced in their previous 6

(SRRS) as an objective way to measure how 43 different life events

months. Rahe et al calculated an illness score based on the mens re-

could lead to stress and illness. The medical records of over 5000

porting of any illnesses they experienced and found a positive corre-

patients were examined and 43 life events that occurred to them

lation between high scores and subsequent illnesses that occurred

within 12 months of their illness were compiled. 400 judges were

during their tour of duty. This can be explained due to the assump-

asked to give each life event a numerical value based on the amount

tion that life changing events would lead to stress and this in turn

of readjustment required with a higher value representing greater ad-

would lead the men to be more susceptible to illnesses.

justment. Marriage was given a baseline score of 50 to guide them

This model proposes any significant change positive or negative

with all scores totaled and averaged to produce the life change units

could lead to stress and this in turn can aid in predicting illness.

value for each event. A questionnaire was created and given to pa-

However not all big changes have been reported to have negative im-

tients to complete based on the number of life events they experi-

pacts. Ben-Zur et al has looked at more recent research involving

enced in the 12 months proceeding their illnesses and the level of re-

130 men and women of whom half were divorced while the other

adjustment required.

half were widowed. Judging their levels of life satisfaction they

Results found that people with high scores in the SRRS over the pre-

found the widowed group had higher levels of happiness before

vious 12 months were more likely to experience some physical ill-

their partners death than after which is understandable considering

ness with someone scoring over 300 points up to 80% more likely to

their loss. However the divorced couples reported higher levels of

become ill, have a heart attack, diabetes or even a sport injury. They

satisfaction after their separations with lower levels of stress high-

concluded the SRRS could aid in predicting physical illnesses based

lighting not all changes lead to negative outcomes. These results

on stressful life events.

could be explained due to individuals being unhappy in the relationship and the relief of moving on hence a greater life satisfaction score. xii

This research highlights a weakness that not all life changing events

attempting to simplify all life changes as having a negative impact

are sources of stress even if they require significant re-adjustment.

when this is not the case.

More recently it has been suggested it is the “quality” of the event itself which is a better predictor with events that are unscheduled, unexpected or ones where people have least control that are deemed most detrimental to peoples health through stress.

In both Holmes & Rahes studies a major strength was a big sample size which provided rich data and results that may have wider generalisation and external validity to the general population. However a weakness is both samples were based on specific groups of

Lazarus argued that it wasn’t necessarily life events that were a

people such as patients already with illnesses or navy personal. The

good predictor for stress or illnesses but rather daily hassles that oc-

first study was based also on retrospective data which may be inac-

curred. He argued life events are rare and too infrequent to explain

curate. It could be argued that those whom are patients may be more

illnesses however daily hassles are more persistent and continuous

prone to illnesses and therefore more stressful life events occurring

and contributed to stress and illnesses. A study by DeLongis looked

due to that. Also Navy personal are more likely to be subjective to a

at 75 married couples and their stress levels through the use of the

strenuous lifestyle the normal population may not be and therefore

SRRS life events questionnaire and a daily hassles uplifts scale. Re-

more changes in lifestyle (being based abroad or moved around).

sults found no correlation between life events and health however

Therefore the results may have limited population validity. Also

they did find a significant positive correlation between hassles and

the data in both those studies was based on correlational data and

health problems that proceeded afterwards such as illnesses. This

we cannot be certain of cause and effect as it may be underlying ill-

highlights a weakness with Holmes & Rahes theory that life

nesses causes major life events (such as loss of employment etc).

changes contribute heavily to stress and thus illnesses as it appears

Brown suggested a third variable may lie inbetween such anxiety

daily hassles play a significant role too in some form.

with those with high levels more likely to report negative life events

Another criticism of life events is that they are completely subjec-

and thus more prone to illness.

tive to each individual and different for each person as Ben-zur et al

Also the study by Rahes et al with navy personal was based purely

highlighted. Some people are likely to experience relief at divorce

on men only and therefore the results may suffer from gender bias

while others are distressed. Therefore the SRRS is reductionist in

as any conclusions drawn from an all male sample may not apply to females as they may view changes differently e.g. pregnancy. xiii Outline & Evaluate Research Into
Daily Hassles as a Source Of Stress

sity completed the HSUP and the Beck depression inventory to measure the hassles they perceived and their mental wellbeing. 41% of students were found to suffer from depressive symptoms and a

Delongis believed it was persistent and frequent daily hassles that created stress and created The Hassles and Uplifts Scales (HSUP).
This helped assess peoples attitudes towards daily events and

positive correlation was evident between perceived hassles and depressive symptoms showing daily hassles may contribute to poor mental health.

whether they perceived them positively or negatively subjective to

Flett et al believed that social support received by individuals in re-

each person. The HSUP measures positive events as Uplifts and

sponse to either daily hassles or life events was a better indicator of

negative events as hassles which create stress and could potentially

how they would subsequently cope. Those suffering major life

lead to illness.

events were seen by participants as warranting more social and emo-

Delongis found the HSUP was a better predictor of ill health in participants over the age of 45 than the SRRS with frequency and intensity of hassles correlating closely to illness.
In other research Gervais et al looked at the daily hassles suffered by nurses in their day to day job and asked them to keep a dairy and rate their own performances in their jobs. Examining their feedback it was evident that daily hassles faced by nurses was impacting their job performance also. Uplifting events also helped mitigate for the hassles and stress felt by nurses and was also shown to improve their job performance too.
Bouteyre et al conducted research looking at students and the relationship between their mental health and daily hassles during their transition to starting university. First year students at a french univer-

tional support while those suffering daily hassles were less likely to gain this. This may explain the link between daily hassles and life events and why daily hassles may contribute to greater levels of stress as this often resulted in less support from peers.
Ruffin et als study supports the idea of daily hassles contributing to stress greater than life events. His study found those reporting greater levels of daily hassles had more psychological and physical dysfunction than those reporting major negative life events. This could be explained through the “accumulation effect” where consistent daily stressors create persistent irritations and frustrations which over a long enough period of time can lead to depression or anxiety.
However a counter argument is the chronic stress faced by those suffering from major life events may actually simply make people xiv more vulnerable to daily hassles. Daily hassles may become ampli-

manage work related stress or other minor problems may in turn

fied and felt greater thus increasing the levels of stress; This is

lead to people handling other daily hassles more effectively such as

known as the “Amplification effect”.

driving scenarios and reduce road rage incidents or accidents.

One major criticism of measuring daily hassles is it relies on retro-

Also it is important to note there are also gender and individual dif-

spective recall and for people to recall what they perceived as prob-

ferences in what is considered a “hassle” especially when it in-

lematic. The problem here is with retrospective recall the informa-

volves pets. Women are more likely to report their pets as something

tion may be inaccurate or prone to bias in some form since the inci-

that causes them uplifts while men are more inclined to report pets

dences occurred and individuals have had time to think about them

as “hassles”. Therefore these individual differences highlight how


males and females may see uplifts and hassles differently.

Data gathered from the HSUP is based purely on correlational data

Also with Delongis et als original study he found the HSUP to be a

and we cannot therefore infer cause and effect as it may be that un-

good indicator of health in people over the age of 45. It may be that

known variables lay in between daily hassles and health. The

this tool may suit a certain age group more than others as perhaps

strength of such correlational data is they can find a relationship be-

older people perceive even the simple things as daily hassles possi-

tween two variables even though it may not be a direct contributor

bly due to their ill health. Therefore this research may suffer from

and its quite possible daily hassles contribute to our health in some

age related bias and suit one age group more than another. It may


also mean that we cannot infer cause and effect for certain either as

There is great opportunity for real world applications from research

this information is based on correlational data.

into daily hassles. In one study by Gulian et al, People who suffer

Gervais et al’s study supports the theory that daily hassles contrib-

from road rage incidents and higher levels of stress reported more

uted heavily to stress. Asking nurses to keep a work related diary he

difficult days at work. This could explain how aggressive driving

found reported daily hassles were a significant source of stress and

situations are triggered in some people as unresolved issues from

decrease in job performance. Some negative effects were mitigated

daily hassles carry onto the driving scenario. This “Accumulation

for with uplifts such as compliments or praise from patients and su-

effect” occurs when minor stressors build up. Learning to better

periors which improved performance showing the scales validity. xv Discuss Research Into
Work Related Stress

(if they fell behind it would hold up production) were found to have higher rates of illness and adrenaline than a low risk group used for comparison (workers who had less repetitive jobs and greater flexibility). Stress hormones were also seen to be higher for the high risk

Kroes et al research found that when the the demands of the organi-

group on their work days compared to their rest days. This suggests

sation an employee worked for conflicted with their own needs this

the type of workload and responsibility itself may be a factor and

appeared to cause stress. For example if a job required them to show

not necessarily whether its more or less.

themselves as happy, calm and cheerful when really they felt another emotion this caused a role conflict in causing them to feel

Marmot et al’s study did find control to be a factor in stress. Re-

stress. Nurses, teachers and those working in public facing roles are

examining the 7000 civil servants results found those who reported

likely more prone to this.

lower levels of control in their own jobs were more likely to have developed heart disease than those who reported greater control in

Marmot et al investigated the validity of the Job-Strain Model of

their job roles. This had no links to the staff grade nor other con-

workplace stress. This proposed that stress from the workplace led

founding variables such as smoking or lack of exercise. It was there-

to illness through one of two ways 1)greater job demands such as

fore concluded that how much control people have at work may be

increased workload 2) and lack of control in ones job. To investigate

factor for future stress-related illnesses.

this over 7000 civil service employee’s completed a questionnaire on their workload, the level of control they had and the support they

Johnson et al looked at whether interpersonal relationships may be

received. They also agreed to be checked for any cardiovascular dis-

a factor and whether social support or lack of it factored in. Study-

eases. After 5 years they were re-assessed and Marmot et al’s study

ing 14’000 male and female workers, they looked at the relationship

found no correlation between high workload and stress related ill-

between cardiovascular disease and stress that may be specifically

nesses concluding that job demand wasn’t a significant contributory

associated with social support, demand and control. They found evi-

factor in stress. However Johannsson et al argued repetitive jobs

dence to support Marmot et al’s study with jobs seen to be demand-

requiring continuos attention with significant responsibility may

ing but have low levels of control related in increased probability

cause stress. Workers in a swedish sawmill who were seen to work

for coronary diseases. The workers who had lower social interaction

on repetitive tasks at constant pace and a great deal of responsibility

opportunities with low control were in their roles were also seen to xvi have higher rates of cardiovascular diseases. This supports Marmot

ton et als study demonstrated. People view stressors differently and

et al’s study of how lack of control as well as social interaction/

therefore this study may lack external validity to wider generalisa-

support may cause stress in the workplace.


A strength of using questionnaires in Marmot et al’s study was it

Most of the results gained into workplace stress are based on corre-

allowed researchers to gather rich qualitative data in a standard-

lational data and although the strength of this is it can help us un-

ized way from a large amount of people in a shorter period of

derstand the relationship between two variables (different work-

time. This could then could be cross compared more easier. A ma-

place stressors and poor health), the data is correlational and we can-

jor criticism was that the data gathered was dependent on partici-

not be certain of cause and effect for certain. It may be that greater

pants reporting through the use of questionnaires and they lack va-

stress at work results in poor diets due to less time at home or exer-

lidity. These may be inaccurate in collecting appropriate informa-

cise and this indirectly results in poor health related to cardiovascu-

tion as those filling them in may misunderstand the meaning of

lar diseases as a confounding variable.

questions or answer them inaccurately and purely subjective to how they are feeling on the day they fill them in resulting in biased data. Therefore results gained may lack internal validity Newton et al proposed interviews were more appropriate as a study of engineers showed that the questionnaires focused on stressors not deemed problematic while other stressors deemed more relevant to the sample group were missed. Therefore interviews may give more validity in generating qualitative data.

Another weakness is that most research has focused on the impact of work over-load and too little control. However a study by Shultz et al highlighted that people doing jobs they feel is beneath them and where “work underload” occurs for individuals can lead to health problems too. Studying over 16’000 adults across 15 european countries this study found that employees reporting “work underload” were actually also just as likely to have comparable stress related illnesses and lower job satisfaction with those reporting

The strength of Marmot et al’s study was the large sample as this

work overload. This highlights the need for a possible balance in

provided the ability to generalise further across more people and

workload to help workers cope more effectively.

therefore had greater population validity. However the sample was based on a specific group (civil servants) and the results found from this group of workers may not apply to all other jobs as New-

Individual differences are rarely factored in and Lazurus highlighted how it is not necessarily workplace stressors that are important but xvii how people perceive them. This he argued was dependent on the persons own perceived ability to cope and this would open up practical training and real world application of stress related training such as
“hardiness” or stress inoculation training.


Personality Factors & Stress
Type A Personalities are those seen to be constantly struggling to gain more and achieve more with Friedman et al identifying 3 main characteristic types for such individuals. They were 1) Competitiveness and achievement striving, 2) Impatience and time ur-

related responses or type A behaviour such as impatience). Results found that after 8 1/2 years later when re-assessed, twice as many individuals with Type A personalities had died in comparison to those assessed as having Type B personalities. Type A participants were also more inclined to have poor health-related habits such as smoking or a family history related to heart disease.

gent and 3) Hostility and aggression. It is thought these in turn lead

Kobasa et al proposed that some personality traits make people

to an increase in blood pressure and stress hormone release and it is

more resistant to stressors and they referred to this as “The Hardy

these hormones, such as corticosteroids, that then damage and sup-

Personality”. They stated some individuals personality traits make

press the immune system over a prolonged period of time which

them more mentally stronger to cope with stress and identified 3

leads to the onset of coronary heart problems.

main traits that helped them achieve this. They were;

In contrast Type B Personalities are seen as the complete opposite

• Control -Hardy individuals see themselves as in control with an

with such individuals seen as related, patient and easy going in the

internal locus of control rather than see things as outside of their

face of day to day life. This would then mean less stress hormone

control or hands.

release and lower blood pressure meaning such individuals are less inclined to develop coronary heart problems or stress related illnesses.
Friedman et al conducted a study to measure this theory and looked at 3000 men aged 39 to 59 living in California and measured them for any evidence of Coronary heart diseases as well as assess their personality type (type A or type B) through the use of an interview. The interview was conducted in a way so as to antago-

• Challenge - Instead of seeing problems as problems such individuals reframe this and choose to see life's hurdles as “challenges” instead which make them more easier to overcome. Changes that occur are also seen as opportunities rather than problems.
• Commitment - Hardy people see themselves as involved and engaged with the world around them and take a more assertive approach with a strong sense of self-purpose.

nise the participant in the hope that their personality type would be more evident (type A would be more inclined to show higher stress xix Examining 800 business executives using Holmes and Rahes

A major criticism of Friedman et als study was it was based en-

SRRS tool they found 150 of them to be classified as a high stress

tirely on men only. There may be differences between the genders

group. Some of these 150 individuals had a much lower sickness re-

and how they cope with stress and therefore the results gained into

cord while others had a higher sickness record despite having simi-

identifying personality traits may apply only to men as women’s per-

lar amounts of pressure in their job roles. Kobasa et al concluded

sonalities may not be so easily classed between type A or type B due

that it must be certain traits these individuals had that made them

to differences in socialisation. Therefore the study suffers from gen-

more resistant to the effects of stress and examining them he found

der bias in only proposing to explain how personality types may af-

they scored high for traits of the hardy personality. The group strug-

fect men only. Also the results gained may only apply to a specific

gling to cope with stress scored lower suggesting it must be personal-

age group of men also as the age range tended to be close to middle

ity variables contributing to the results.

aged. Therefore how this groups personality varies may be very dif-

A weakness of Friedman et als study comes from evidence offered by Brand et al. He conducted a follow up study some 22 years later involving the participants in Friedman et als original study. Results found 15% of the men (214) had died due to coronary heart disease and due to risk factors such as age, smoking and high blood pressure however no clear evidence to suggest a correlation between Type A personality and subsequent death weakening the theory that Type A personalities were linked to a higher risk of CHD.
Myrtek et al offered an explanation to this after conducting a metaanalysis of 35 different studies. He found there was a correlation between heart disease and hostility which is a one part of Type A personality. This suggested the main risk factor may not actually be all the components of Type A personality but a small sub-section of it.

ferent to that of other age ranges, for example 18 yrs +. Also the study was based only on a group of men from California and therefore may suffer from eurocentrism as the way western men’s personalities are classified may not necessarily apply across the globe and lack external validity to wider generalisation. Also the personality traits identified and how they cope may only be specific to that socio-economic group of men. It may well be those who are extremely poor or extremely rich cope with stress differently also and other personality traits may exist beyond just two.
The method in which personality type was assessed was based on interviews and these are almost purely subjective to each interviewer and what they perceive to be traits that identify specific personality types. It may be that this method of assessing personality lacks reliability as if recreated by other interviewers the results may differ and this is a weakness of this type of measurement process. xx Also the study required interviewers to deliberately annoy the par-

Genes a factor too.

ticipants to arouse a response and it could be argued that this is ethically wrong to evoke someone to feel strong negative emotions due to them being psychologically negatively affected.
Most research into personality type and subsequent health affects has been done through the use of correlational data and although the strength of this is it allows researchers to assess the relationship between two variables, a weakness is we cannot be certain of cause and effect as unknown confounding variables may play a role. For example smoking, poor diet, poor hygiene, poor mental health etc could all indirectly lead to CHD and not personality.
This research also fails to take into account that some people may be more prone to developing such illnesses not necessarily through personality variables but genetic vulnerability also through a family history of such illnesses. Therefore it may not always be personality types that lead to such CHD or mortality but a genetic weakness in the family.
Men - age bias, gender bias - ethnocentrism - based on one culture or city - different socio-economic backgrounds to others
Interview = subjective to interviewer
Ethical issues - deliberately annoying someone/psychological harm
Poor diet/smoking confounding variables xxi Psychological Methods For
Stress Management

the possible risks associated with it. A different attitude to stressors is encouraged where they are taught to see stressors as challenges to overcome that can be broken down into a series of steps. rather than threats. One Psychological method for stress management is Stress Inocula-

Skill Acquisition And Rehearsal - Various skills are taught to help

tion Therapy (SIT) as proposed by Meichenbaum. This therapy

them cope with the stressful situations. These can range from relaxa-

bases its principles on Cognitive behavioral therapy which focuses

tion techniques, expressing themselves assertively, positive think-

not on managing the trigger itself but how an individual views and

ing, communication and time management skills. These are cogni-

thinks about the stressor, encouraging individuals to think more posi-

tive (thinking based) as well as behavioral where new behaviors are

tive thoughts as opposed to negative. For example an individual

taught too.

may constantly think of themselves as a failure, inadequate or have

Application and follow-through - Patients are given support

negative thoughts on various aspects of themselves and it is this

through progressively more threatening situations in real life. These

negative thinking that then leads to anxiety, depression and feelings

may involve various techniques such as imagery and imagining

of stress. SIT proposes that thinking positive thoughts as opposed to

themselves deal with the situation well, through other models dem-

negative will in turn lead to more positive feelings instead of the

onstrating the skills and imitating them or through role-playing sce-

stress response or negative feelings. The principles of this revolve

narios where stressors are presented.

around changing thinking and belief patterns which in turn help manage negative emotions. Through developing this positive coping

Meichenbaum conducted a study comparing SIT and systematic de-

mechanism Meichanbaum believed a person could apply it across

sensitisation to treat patients with a phobia of snakes. Results found

various future stressors that arose allowing them to deal with them

SIT to be more effective in overall as it also treated a second non-

better, almost as a vaccine immunizes a person against a virus.

treated phobia which demonstrated a strength for SIT as a viable

Three main phases to this SIT are:

therapy. Further supporting evidence for SIT as a viable psychological treatment cames from Horan et al. SIT was used to help first

Conceptualisation-The therapist and patient develop a relationship

year law students to deal with stress and anxiety. Participants re-

where the patient is taught about the negative effects of stress and xxii ceived weekly sessions of SIT for four weeks with results finding

white, middle classed well educated people and it may be that this

lower levels of anxiety and stress over time. Also those predicted to

therapy is not suitable for people of different socio-economic or cul-

finish lower down in the class ranking also improved significantly

tural backgrounds due to eurocentrism (western bias) and cultural

both in stress and anxiety management but also their predicted rank.

bias. SIT requires some level of self-awareness and intelligence to

One major strength of SIT is it not only teaches patients to deal with

grasp which may not make it appropriate for all people therefore,

stressors they have at the time but also equip them with the skills to

The amount of time required for professionals with weekly sessions

deal with future stressors too. Therefore the potential is far greater

may make drug therapy more appropriate which is another weak-

for more longer-term benefits. More importantly another strength is

ness as such treatments tend to be fast acting, cheaper and less has-

it actually allows people to deal with the actual triggers and stres-

sle compared to SIT which requires greater investment.

sors themselves (the problem) rather than simply deal with the symptoms like other techniques or drug therapy’s. This is far more effective with less possible side-effects as this increases patients sense of being in control thus increasing their self-confidence and selfefficacy. Also there are no actual side-effects to SIT unlike drug therapy’s making them more appropriate.

Hardiness Training
Another psychological method of stress management is through helping people learn the traits and personality types of “Hardiness”. Kobasa found some individuals were especially resistant to stress and called this the “Hardy Personality”. She believed the personality

One of weaknesses is the amount of time and effort required from

traits of such individuals could be taught to others to enable them to

patients. SIT will only be most effective with patients willing to put

cope with stress better. Maddi et al proposed this could be done

in the time and effort required to help themselves and sometimes

through 3 steps, 1) Focusing - The patient is encouraged to become

people will want instant results making them unsuitable for SIT and

more self-aware of the signs of stress and physiological cues that oc-

drug therapy more suitable. SIT requires a great deal of time and

cur such as increased heart rate, tension etc to identify the cause of

money to have ongoing therapy sessions which can prove costly

the stress. 2) Reliving stressful situations/encounters - The patient

while results can take some time to materialise. Another major criti-

is put through stressful situations and then breaks these down and

cism of SIT is the sample in which it was based on may suffer from

analyses them with the therapist. This helps them gain a greater in-

cultural bias. The research findings for SIT are based primarily on

sight into how they currently cope. 3) Self-improvement - Awarexxiii

ness gained from the previous step is used to form new methods of

takes to apply with individuals as it requires a great deal of time and

dealing with stressful situation with the patient encouraged to see

money from individuals to have such sessions with therapists. In

obstacles and problems as “challenges” as a way to positively re-

this instance where this is not possible drug therapies may be more

frame their perception of the stressors.

appropriate as they are fast acting and cheaper which is a major

Research support for this psychological treatment comes from Wil-

weakness of this psychological therapy.

liams et al who found “high hardy” people tended to use more

Also the majority of the sample Hardiness training has been based

problem-focused and support-seeking steps when faced with stress

on for its research has tended to be all male and therefore this type

compared to “low hardy” people who tended to use more wishful

of psychological treatment may suffer from gender bias and be less

thinking and avoidance tactics in regards to stress. This suggests har-

effective with females.

diness is effective as it promotes the skills that are proven to deal with stress more effectively.

Hardiness training also requires a level of self-awareness and intelligence to implement and this may not always be possible with cer-

Another strength of Hardiness training is it focuses on the cause of

tain groups of people, usually criminals tend to score lower in IQ re-

the problem itself rather than trying to deal with the symptoms like

lated tests yet they may be the ones most in need of such stress-

drug therapies making it more appropriate in most cases.

coping therapies making Hardiness unsuitable for everyone.

Another strength is it encouraged individuals to learn and carry with

Also the therapy can be argued to suffer from eurocentrism and

them skills that can help them in other instances that occur in the fu-

based purely on the principles of western society and western sam-

ture. Therefore the effects of Hardiness training are more longer last-

ples. It may be that this type of approach is unsuitable in other cul-

ing and beneficial over the longterm as it increases self-confidence

tures limiting its external validity across wider population generaliza-

and self-efficacy too.


Hardiness training has also been used by olympic swimmers to ensure they can cope with the stress and pressure of performing at a high level and deal with the stresses of everyday life (Fletcher et al).
A weakness of Hardiness training is the amount of time and cost it xxiv Biological Methods Of
Stress Management

the stress response. This leads to a slower heart-rate and lower blood pressure through blood vessels contracting less. This results in less stress with the person feeling more relaxed and less anxious.

The two most commonly used drugs to treat stress are Benzodi-

One major weakness of drug therapies is they only treat the symp-

azephines (BZ’s) and Beta-Blockers (BB).

toms of the problem rather than the underlying cause making them

BZ’s slow down the activity within the central nervous system and enhance the effects of GABA (Gamma-Amino-Butyric-Acid). GABA is a neu-

potentially inappropriate as continued use is then required leading to potential dependency.

rotransmitter which acts as the bodies natural form of anxiety relief

A strength however is the relative cost of such drugs are incredibly

and has a dampening affect on neurons while reduces serotonin ac-

cheap when compared to psychological therapies making them more

tivity with which high levels are associated with stress. BZ’s en-

suitable when financial constraint is a factor.

hance the action of GABA by binding to GABA receptors at specific points boosting its effect. This then allows more chloride ions to enter the neuron making it more resistant to arousal. This results in the brains output of neurotransmitters which increase arousal and stress to be reduced resulting in the person feeling more relaxed.
Beta-Blockers reduce the sympathomedullary response to stress by acting on the sympathetic nervous system by reducing the activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline which leads to increased heart-rate, blood pressure and cortisol release. It is these symptoms which can

Also another strength is they are fast acting providing almost instant results within a short period of time compared to therapy which takes a great deal of effort from patients.
In addition another strength is drug therapies tend to be effective across the wider population compared to psychological therapies which research has been based on and are more appropriate for certain individuals or groups of people (those with good self-awareness and determination).

lead to health related problems over the long-term such as cardiovas-

Finally a major strength is that drugs tend to be easier to consume as

cular disorders through suppressing and damaging the immune sys-

they merely depend on the individual consuming a tablet while con-

tem. Beta-blockers bind to beta-receptors on the heart which would

tinuing their day to day tasks causing little disruption in an individu-

normally be stimulated during arousal causing the opposite effect to

als life and maintaining their privacy around stress or anxiety. Howxxv

ever psychological treatments usually mean time off work or attend-

for more damage to the individual in the longterm than psychologi-

ing appointments as well as divulging stresses to a stranger which

cal therapies which have no side-effects. The side-effects of BZ’s in-

can be uncomfortable initially creating further stress and anxiety.

clude increased aggression, cognitive impairment to memory as well

Beta-blockers have been proven to have effective real world applica-

as a link suggesting a higher risk of diabetes forming.

tion in helping people suffering from stress and anxiety cope better.

In addition withdrawal symptoms have been proven to occur too

Lockwood et al conducted a study of over 2000 musicians with

even with low doses of BZ’s (Ashton et al) suggesting they may be

27% of them reporting to be taking beta-blockers. They stated they

inappropriate first choice treatments over psychological therapies.

felt much better about their ability and performances after consuming them and they were judged by critics as performing better too.
This highlights the strength of such drug therapies in managing stress and their effectiveness.
More supporting evidence for drug therapies being effective comes from Kahn et al. He compared 250 patients over 8 weeks with one half taking BZ’s while the other half took placebos. Those taking
BZ’s reported reduced levels of anxiety and stress when compared to the control group on placebos. Hidalgo confirmed similar findings in a meta-analysis of studies comparing BZ’s to antidepressants finding BZ’s were more effective in reducing anxiety highlighting their application to the stress response.
The risk with taking BZ’s is that they can be addictive and actually cause a person to become dependant on them as they consistantly resort to taking them over every sign of stress. This may lead to them coping with every situation in this way causing the potential xxvi Outline & Evaluate Research
Into Conformity
Research into conformity has revealed two types: Compliance and
Internalisation. An example of compliance is Normative social influence while an example of Internalisation is through Informational social influence.

Asch conducted a laboratory study where student participants took part in an experiment to measure normative social influence.
The experimental design was a repeated measures design and all participants except one person were confederates. The students were asked to compare 3 sets of lines and highlight which one of the 3 matched a 4th standard line. The confederates went first answering incorrectly with the same answer with the real participant being the last or second last one to answer. 36% percent of real participants

Normative social influence occurs when people behave similar to

gave the incorrect answer despite the answer being evidently clear

the majority around them however they may not change their own

instead conforming to the groups incorrect view highlighting how

internal point of view and think different. This type of conformity

normative social influence occurs. Asch questioned the real partici-

occurs due to pressure and wanting to not deviate from the group

pants on why this occurred. One of three reasons were given such as

and therefore individuals “comply” with the group norm. The per-

1) a distortion of perception and coming to see the lines similarly

son would behave differently when not in the group setting in other

as the majority 2) a distortion of judgement where they felt their


own judgement was inaccurate and chose to believe in the majority

Informational social influence occurs because when individuals are unsure themselves they turn to the group believing the majority to

3) and a distortion of action where they conformed to the group but privately they trusted their own judgement.

be genuinely correct in their assertions and behaviour. This is a form

Research into Informational social influence comes from a study by

of internalisation because the individual would come to accept the

Sherif et al. Participants were shown an optical illusion known as

groups view as their own and it would likely be repeated even with-

the auto-kinetic effect where a still point of light is believed to have

out the influence of the group. This type of conformity is more

moved. They were asked to estimate the distance the light had

likely to occur when the situation is ambiguous, there is a crisis or

moved, Initially as individuals, then as a group before finally decid-

individuals believe other people to be “experts” and know more.

ing their final decisions as individuals again. There was no correct answer but from the groups condition a norm emerged where participants were then seen to change their own views in the final estimate. xxvii to match that of the groups answer. This showed how participants

from students may not be indicative of how other age ranges would

looked to others for information and how informational social influ-

respond, particularly adults who may be better able to resist con-

ence led to people conforming.


One weakness of Sherif et als study is that measuring how far a

There is ethical concerns raised too in both studies, particularly

spot of light has moved is a trivial task and not representative of

Asch’s as participants were deceived in both instances being made

what would happen in real life in everyday situations. Therefore the

to believe something which wasn’t true. Informed consent was not

study has low mundane validity as people may be less likely to be

obtained either however this could have been gained after the study

influenced by others in real-life situations.

as prior would have made it pointless.

The strength of the study however was that as it was conducted in a

One thing studies into conformity fail to factor in is possible individ-

laboratory condition it can be more easily replicated to test for reli-

ual differences that occur, particular gender differences into confor-

ability and consistency of results. This lab condition also allowed

mity. Carli et al conducted a meta-analysis of 145 studies finding

researchers to control for extraneous variables that could impact

women tended to be more compliant than men and one possible ex-

their judgement and insure it was done due to the groups influence

planation to this is due to differences in socialisation and gender

rather than other possible influences.

roles. Women could be seen as more inter-personal than men due to

However a weakness of this study was the laboratory setting lacks ecological validity to real world settings. Therefore results gained in both Asch’s study and Sherif’s may only be limited to such conditions and in real life people may be more easily able to resist conforming.

gender differences therefore making them more likely to conform explaining this difference. However research suggests male researchers were more likely to find such gender differences perhaps due to setting the experiment up in a way that was more familiar to men making them more confident in the situation as opposed to females who may be less familiar with the setup and thus lacking confi-

Another weakness was the sample was based on male american stu-

dence. This could have been a confounding variable into such stud-

dents who may not be representative of the wider populations across

ies biasing results.

the globe or even other age ranges. Therefore the study may suffer from cultural bias as well as age related bias as the results gained xxviii This study has real world application in juries and courts where conformity is seen to be very high among jurors. Through this research it may be that jurors may be encouraged to give their views independant of other people in the jury to restrict conformity when a persons freedom hangs in the balance.


Outline & Evaluate Research Into

ent study by Milgram found that when conducting the study again but having other confederates play the role of the teachers but actually rebel in carrying out the task, the real participant was also likely

One study looking at obedience was conducted by Milgram who re-

to refuse too with obedience dropping to 10%. This showed the pres-

cruited 40 male participants by falsely advertising for volunteers

ence of allies is also important and if others refuse to obey and defy

for a study on how punishment affects learning. The participant was

authority, this can lead to a drop in obedience. When participants

given the role of the “Teacher” and told by an authority figure

were given the choice of choosing the shock level and more discre-

(dressed in a lab coat) to administer increasing levels of electric

tion and power in the experiment, 95% refused to deliver shocks

shocks to another participant designated the learner in separate

once the learner protested. This shows that the level of freedom and

room. This learner was actually a confederate and unknown to the

control a participant believes they have also influences obedience.

real participant, received no real shocks. The participant was tasked with giving shocks whenever the confederate would answer incorrectly which was most of the time. If the participant requested to stop or show concern the authority figure would prod him to continue with specific sentences of encouragement. The results found in this condition 65% of participants continued to 450 volts. In a different study where the “learner” (confederate) was seated in the same

One major criticism of Milgrams original studies were they were based purely on men and therefore there is the potential for gender bias as women may not act similarly. However when conducting this study across genders they found similar levels of obedience
(65%) between both genders showing the studies strength and application across to wider generalisation.

room as the participant and expressed their upset, obedience

A huge ethical issue that is raised with this study is the fact that par-

dropped to 40%. A separate study where the participant was tasked

ticipants were deliberately deceived in the experiment and led to be-

with forcing the confederates hand onto a shock plate found 30% a

lieve they were administering actual shocks. Some were seen to be

obedience rate. The conclusion was the closer the person obeying

incredibly anxious and laugh nervously and they would have been

the orders are to the victim and able to see their pain, the more

psychologically affected. Therefore there was a lack of informed

likely they are to resist. In another condition the experimenter gave

consent in the experiment which would be seen as ethically wrong

orders via telephone and this resulted in obedience dropping to 21%

although gaining this would have invalidated results. They were

showing proximity to the authority figure is also important. A differ-

however debriefed at the end to alleviate this. Another criticism is xxx the laboratory setting would have resulted in low ecological validity

ture pilots encouraging them to question anyone that does not follow

as this was unrepresentative of real life situations and participants

appropriate safety guidelines to ensure crew safety.

knew they were part of an experiment.

Other studies have provided further support for Milgrams obedience

Others argue that the prods the authority figures gave such as “the

research. Hofling et al conducted a study in hospital pretending to

experiment requires that you continue” actually made it difficult for

be a doctor called Dr Smith and ordered nurses via telephone to give

participants to leave and therefore they had no right to withdraw

a dose of 20mg of Astroten to a patient. Hospital policy stated not to

from the study highlighting another ethical issue and criticism.

take orders via telephone from unknown doctors however 95% of

Holland et al proposed that participants may have known on some level that the learner screaming in pain wasn’t real as they knew they were part of an experiment. Therefore the criticism here of Milgrams study is that this allowed them to continue administering

nurses still complied highlighting the validity of Milgrams research into obedience in real life. The strength of this study was it had high ecological validity unlikely Milgrams showing the power of obedience from authority figures.

shocks explaining why so many did not stop. If true this means the

However Rank et al conducted another study similar to Hoflings

study lacks internal validity as it is not really measuring how people

but asked nurses to prescribe a drug they were more familiar with

would react in real life with an authority figure. However Milgram

this time finding only 2/18 nurses complied. This allowed them to

argued that post-study questioning revealed that the vast majority

consult with peers which would have been more realistic of real hos-

actually believed the experiment was real and therefore the study

pital practices and highlights the weakness of Milgrams study that

lacked internal validity as it did measure real behaviour and had ex-

real settings would likely present different results.

ternal validity to wider generalisation.

Others argue Milgrams study was conducted 50 years ago and were

The study has real world application in our modern world as a study

unlikely to be as effective in the modern era. However a study by

into serious aircraft incidents by the US national transportation

Burger et al in 2007 found similar levels of obedience suggesting

safety board found captains who made poor decisions were never

Milgrams study had high validity even in todays modern era.

questioned due to flight crews believing they knew what they were doing due to their authority. This could inform future training for fuxxxi

Outline & Evaluate Explanations Of
Why People Obey

Another explanation offered was that if peoples obedience could be justified in some form this would likely increase it. For example the
Nazi’s portrayed jews as a plague on german society via proper-

One explanation offered by Milgram is people obeyed due to grad-

ganda and this made compliance easier as people likely felt they

ual commitment. Once participants gave low level shocks and in-

were part of a greater cause and doing their civic duty in their perse-

vested into the study it seemed to make it harder for them to disobey

cution. With Milgrams study participants were told the shocks given

and refuse the authority figures demands to continue as they had al-

were part of national security and important research hence many

ready agreed.

were likely to be led to believe their obedience had a justifiable rea-

Another explanation Milgram offered was called the “Agentic

son hence their compliance.

Shift”. Here Milgram claimed participants simply saw themselves

The “Agentic shift” explanation can be used to explain the actions

as an “agent” for carrying out the authority figures request and there-

of countless nazi soldiers who carried out the killings of thousands

fore did not seem themselves as directly responsible for their own

of jews. Adolph Eichmann for example was a nazi soldier who like

actions. Here he stated participants believed the responsibility lay

many others claimed at his trial he was merely following orders sup-

with the authority figure and they merely carried out orders.

porting the concept of the agentic shift occurring.

The involvement of buffers offering a level of protection from their

Mandel et al however argued this was not sufficient enough to ex-

own actions is believed to have made people more likely to obey.

plain the actions of countless nazi soldiers whose behaviour did not

For example being in a separate room from the consequences of

fit into Milgrams explanations. Other explanations suggest the anti-

their actions and not seeing the learner in pain directly. When con-

semitism and prejudice against the jews by the germans explained

fronted face to face obedience was seen to decrease because this

their actions better than obedience alone. Goldhagen et al supports

buffer was no longer present to protect them hence this can explain

this stating there are too many accounts of unnecessary cruelty that

why people are more likely to obey when not observing their vic-

occurred by ordinary germans to be explained by simply obedience.

tims directly.

Mandel also argued stating obedience as an explanation for peoples behaviour was not a defensible alibi for numerous reasons. For example the atrocities of the holocaust being simply attributed to obedixxxii

ence would be difficult to accept given up to 5 million jews may have been killed based purely on this reason alone. He also argued this would be unfair on the victims or relatives of those killed if perpetrators were allowed to use obedience and merely following orders as a defense raising serious ethical and morale issues. This also raises the ethical and practical issue of war criminals who could simply use this defense to excuse numerous inhumane acts in the past or future if this was to be accepted.
Milgrams explanation has real world application as it has been used to explain modern world atrocities that have occurred such as abuse that occurred in Guantanomo bay and Abu Ghraib prison. Common situational conditions were found between the studies with some soldiers believing they had a justifiable reason such as national defense and revenge. Others exerted their power over prisoners due to their role as guards and soldiers over those captured as they saw themselves as playing an important role.


Outline & Evaluate Research Relating To
Independent Behaviour

Another explanation suggests that those with a high internal Locus of control would be more likely to resist and engage in independent

Research by Asch highlighted people were more likely to behave

behaviour. Locus of control refers to the degree which a person be-

independently when in the presence of another ally who also did

lieves they have control over their own actions and behaviour.

not conform. This was seen to give them the social support they re-

Those with high internal locus of control would be seen as people

quired to refrain allowing them to gain more self-confidence in them-

with high self-esteem and self-belief and therefore too confident in

selves and reject the majority view.

themselves to comply or conform with other peoples directions or behaviour. Levine et al highlighted how this was more likely to occur if the person saw their ally as someone with credibility. Someone deemed

Evolutionary explanations also suggest a possible gender difference

to have less credibility did also help them from conforming but this

in independent behaviour. For example Griskevicius et al found

was less effective than a credible ally.

men more likely to be independent than women when it came to dress sense. Women tended to dress accordingly to what they felt

Credibility and status within the context of the situation appears to

men would find attractive while men were more likely to dress in a

be an important factor too as highlighted by Milgrams research.

non-conformist way as this would be a successful strategy in stand-

When he conducted his obedience research at the setting of a lead-

ing out and being unique. This may suggest that men may in fact be

ing university such as Yale, independent behaviour was less likely.

prone to more independent behaviour than women due to such indi-

However when the setting was changed to a downtown office that

vidual differences.

was seen to have less “credibility and status”, more people were able to resist authority. In other variations of Milgrams research it

However a criticism here is that dress sense is hardly a good deter-

was apparent resistance and independent behaviour was more likely

mining measure for how people obey authority in various real world

when participants could also see firsthand the effects of their behav-

examples and therefore this study lacks internal validity in wider

iour on victims. This shows direct exposure to the effects of behav-


iour could also result in greater independance as more people were seen to obey in Milgrams study when they did not have direct contact with the “learners”.

Also people may be more willing to conform in laboratory settings where the studies themselves involve trivial examples such as Aschs xxxiv and measuring the length of a line. This is not representative of real

ions on moral principles more likely to resist than those with a lim-

world situations where people may have to make decisions that im-

ited moral scope or understanding.

pact their own moral and ethical beliefs where independent behaviour may therefore be more likely. Therefore research into independent behaviour conducted in laboratory settings may lack ecological validity and external validity due to the examples differing from most real world applications.

The degree to which someones locus of control is determined may be explained through cultural factors. Collectivist cultures may lead to people having low internal locus of control and act in a way to please the group. Individualistic cultures may lead to people with higher internal locus of control as they are more inclined to think for

The strength of research such as Milgrams into independent behav-

themselves and their own beliefs. Therefore resistance and independ-

iour as well as obedience is the laboratory setting would make repli-

ent behaviour may vary from different cultures.

cation of such studies much easier due to the greater control they had over the conditions. This would allow other researchers to test for reliability of the findings and subsequent research even in modern times (2007 burger et al) has found similar results into obedience and independent behaviour.
Individual differences such as educational history as well as religious preferences have also been seen to affect independent behaviour. Those with poorer education levels or those more devoted to religious beliefs have been seen to be less likely to resist while those with better education and less stringent religious beliefs more likely to engage in independent behaviour. This may be explained by them being more likely to question and self-relflect on their behaviour due to a higher level of intelligence or resistance to collectivist ideology. Kohlberg et al found that when participants were presented with a set of moral dilemmas, he found those who based their opinxxxv

Discuss the role of minority influence in social change Another explanation looks at the Augmentation principle. This suggests that if a group puts themselves forward at considerable risk to themselves or their members then they are likely to garner greater

Moscovici proposed various conditions were required for the minor-

support. People seen to be willing to “suffer” for their cause are seen

ity to bring about social change. One condition is through them

to be more influential than others who are seen to do so for their

drawing attention to their specific issues they wish to have ad-

own benefit. Examples of such movements exist through leaders

dressed and it gaining public attention. The majority would there-

such as Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King who put them-

fore look at the issue to decide their own opinion on it and if it

selves forward for their causes at great personal risk which ulti-

brings something that they can relate to or agree with this can initi-

mately lead to greater support and recognition from the majority.

ate change by putting it on the public agenda. If the group bringing the issue is seen as credible this is likely to create a deeper conflict

Minority group members with a high internal locus of control who

and therefore the majority are forced to examine the minorities argu-

are confident are more likely to bring about change as they see

ment in greater detail which could lead to a move towards the minor-

themselves in control of their actions and are more likely to be seen

ity position. As more people shift over to the minority opinion this

by other people in a similar respectable way.

then makes it easier for others to do so as the pressure to conform is

Supporting evidence comes primarily from the study into the suffra-


gettes movement for women which campaigned for women's right

Another important factor is consistency. When a minority group is

to vote. Having started in 1903 their efforts finally paid off in 1918

consistent within itself and their arguments for change they are more

when the vote was given to women and subsequent research has in-

likely to be influential than a group that is fragmented and changing

vestigated how this occurred. Findings have been consistant with

their stance on issues or show bias. Wood et al conducted a meta-

Moscovici’s claims as the suffragettes used a variety of methods

analysis of over 97 minority groups and their influence. Of those

ranging from political, educational to even aggressive tactics to

who remained the most consistent they were seen to have the most

bring attention to their cause. This then enabled more people to con-

level of influence supporting the need for consistency in minority

sider their viewpoint with some joining them while others dismissed

groups to initiate social change.

them. Consistency was also seen to be key here as regardless of the consequences they maintained their stance even at the expense of xxxvi long prison sentences or even death. This relates to the Augmenta-

A criticism in this study however is that all the partcipants were fe-

tion principle well as it showed they were willing to put themselves

male and results gained from just one gender may not translate to

at risk for their own cause ensuring they were taken more seriously.

males and therefore there is gender bias in the findings. It may be

This supports the conditions in which Moscovici proposed for social

argued that a group of men would be less likely to be persuaded due

change through minority pressure.

to differences in how they are socialised in their upbringing.

Moscovici provided further support for the role of minority influ-

Research into minorities group influence has real world applications

ence through a separate laboratory study involving 32 groups of 6

and can help us understand how terrorism can bring about social

females. The groups were asked to identify the color presented to

change. Kruglanski stated terrorism could be seen as a movement

them which was always blue but varying shades. However two

for social change as such groups tend to be weaker than the majority

group members who were confederates always answered incorrectly

and unable to take them on directly. Consistency and persistance is

either all the time or most of the time to measure the impact this

evident in many groups with continuous suicide bombings by Pales-

would have on the majority. Results found when the confederates

tinian terrorists to overthrow the israeli government.

were consistent in their responses and stated the slides were green,
8% of the majority agreed also. This was also seen to be higher when the group members were asked to write down their responses rather than state them out loud. Moscovici concluded the reason

Augmentation is another feature evident in terrorist groups as they show themselves as willing to sacrifice their lives for their own cause forcing people to take notice and take them more seriously.

more people didn't conform in his original study was possibly due to

Minority however influence does not always lead to change despite

the pressure to conform being greater however when allowed to give

such characteristics being evident in minority groups and many

an answer in secret more were likely to agree with the minority.

groups including terrorists may be seen as deviant due to their be-

When confederates gave inconsistent answers varying from blue and

liefs or measures they take. Therefore minority influence may create

green their influence dropped to 1.25% highlighting how consis-

a potential for change but not necessarily lead to it directly.

tency is an important element in social influence from the minority group. xxxvii

Outline/Evaluate Definitions
Of Abnormality
One definition proposes abnormality can be defined by behaviour

• A drive for personal growth to realise their potential.
• Being able to cope with stressful situations.
• Being independent and autonomous.

that deviates from social norms. This refers to behaviour which is

• Having an accurate perception of reality.

different or undesirable by the rest of the members of that society.

• An ability to adapt to changes in ones environment.

Examples of social norms could be adhering to the laws of the land.

The main issue with abnormality being based on social norms is norms vary from one country or culture to another and change over time too. Therefore this measure is not a consistent measure for abnormality and subjective to the societal norms of the country itself.
An example of this may be homosexuality. 50 years ago this was seen as abnormal however in the modern world it is accepted. Defining abnormality based on a changing variable such as social norms is risky. This would in turn actually hinder our evolutionary progression as it is the minority which bring about change by challenging the majority view be it through science, medicine or even psychology. This could in turn allow medical health professionals to diagnose anyone as mentally ill that challenges and is nonconformists.

People seen to break these could be seen as socially deviant and therefore abnormal. Another example may be behaviour that does not fit in with social norms such as walking around naked or being rude making it difficult for them to fit in with society.
Another explanation proposes abnormality can be defined by an individuals failure to function adequately along with the rest of society. For example someone suffering from depression may be seen as normal provided they are able to meet their responsibilities and obligations such as care for themselves, cook, clean and go to work functioning like the rest of society. Anything that interferes with a persons ability to do this could lead to an individual being labelled abnormal.
A third definition by Jahoda proposes that abnormality can be defined by deviation from ideal mental health. He proposed 6 criteria that “normal” people should meet such as:
• High self-esteem and a strong sense of personal identify.

Deviance from social norms is also very difficult to define and varies dependent on the context. For example a person who is rude may be seen as deviant but may not necessarily have a mental disorder.
Also someone wearing little clothing at the swimming pool is seen as normal however when in public this may been seen as deviant.
Therefore the context also varies too and it is difficult to pinpoint abnormality when the context is such a key determinant. Also what is classed as socially deviant in one culture and context may not in another and again in our modern multi-cultural society these boundaries are skewed even further.
One limitation for using failure to function adequately as a measure for abnormality is that this determination relies on someone making this judgement on another individual and this measure may be purely subjective to the person doing the diagnosis. Individual differxxxviii

ences are also very likely between people as we all handle life's hurdles in very different ways. The patient themselves may be quite happy with their own behaviour despite others potentially seeing them as dysfunctional. On the other hand such patients may present a danger to other individuals and someone may then be required to make this judgement based on the risk they pose. Therefore this is once again a grey area in determining abnormality. There may also be bias between the background of the person doing the diagnosis such as a well educated well off health professional who then examines someone from a poorer background who behaves differently from what the health professional is accustomed too.
For Jahoda’s definition of ideal mental health some would argue the criteria are impossible to achieve for most people making them all abnormal to some degree. It is unrealistic to assume people can achieve these ideals and the question is more likely to be how many of these criteria do people need to be lacking to be judged as abnormal. Also the criteria are too broad - how do you quantify one persons perception of reality with another’s for example. People view the world and everything around them subjective to themselves and their own reality is based on their experiences and this is likely to differ from person to person. Also quantifying self-esteem and selfpotential is difficult and these values are based on individualistic cultures as a opposed to collectivist cultures highlighting potential cultural bias.


The Biological Approach To Psychopathology

cal condition and through focusing treatment on bodily functions as opposed to mental.

The biological approach, also known as the medical model, to ex-

One strength of this explanation is that it does not necessarily blame

plaining abnormality assumes that abnormality can be explained due

people for their behaviour and this has led to the more humane treat-

to organic physical causes within people. This could be due to genet-

ment of people suffering from mental illness. In the past people

ics and faulty genes, hormonal imbalances with neurotransmitters,

have been burn’t at the stake or killed and this scientific model has

problems in brain activity, brain injury or even through infection.

resulted in better understanding of illnesses. This model has also

For example high levels of dopamine has been linked to schizophre-

been acknowledged and accepted by the medical profession and en-

nia suggesting a possible biological cause through neurotransmitter

joys the credibility associated with medical professional. There is

imbalances. Neurotransmitters are biochemicals which carry signals

also research evidence supporting this approach with many mental

between brain cells and too much or too little has been linked to vari-

disorders. For example schizophrenia has been linked to high levels

ous disorders. Other possible causes suggest genetics could be at

of dopamine adding credibility to this explanation.

work with some mental disorders running higher between family members than the average population. Other explanations suggest infection could also explain abnormality with general paresis, which is caused by syphilis, affecting peoples behaviour causing them to become psychotic. Parts of the brain have been shown to control higher mental processes such as inhibition and restraint and injury to

Psychiatrists such as Szasz argue this medical approach allows people to be labelled as “mentally ill” as a way of pathologising people whose behaviour may not conform with the majority or are not liked by the majority. This he argued would allow a form of social control to take place.

this could result in abnormal behaviour for people. Problems in Neu-

Another criticism of this model is that there has always been prob-

roanatomy and problems in the brain structure could also result in

lems of validity and reliability in diagnosis. There is frequently a de-

abnormality also and this could ultimately be linked back to genet-

gree of overlap between symptoms and various different disorders

ics. For example in people suffering from autism the cerebellum is

making diagnosis unreliable and subjective between health profes-

much smaller than people people without the disease. The biological

sionals. Therefore the medical model can be argued to be reduction-

approach assumes that abnormality can be treated much like a physi-

ist as it offers an incomplete explanation for something we obvixl

ously don't fully understand nor can we attribute fully to biological causes. The biological approach is also deterministic in assuming peoples abnormal behaviour is driven purely by biology with no free will of their own which is not true. People are still able to have some level of control over their symptoms and behaviors and self-manage themselves to some degree.
One strength for the model however is the similarities in some disorders and symptoms across various cultures. Depression for example is evident across most cultures suggesting a biological cause with over 120 million sufferers worldwide.


The Psychodynamic Approach To
Explaining Psychopathology
The psychodynamic approach to explaining abnormality as proposed by Freud suggests abnormal behaviour is caused by unconscious forces stemming from the subconscious mind due to unresolved issues that occurred in childhood. Freud believed that problems that occur in childhood may manifest itself through abnormal behaviour in adulthood.
Freuds theory is based on the proposal that the personalty comprises of the Id, Ego and SuperEgo and conflicts between the three elements can result in disturbed behaviour as the ego attempts to defend itself. Freud argued the Ego is not fully developed in childhood and struggles with the desires of the Id and Superego with stress and anxiety the result. This may be through a young child not being able to cope with the diversion of attention and rejection that occurs from parents when a new born sibling arrives with regression to an earlier developmental stage a method of coping. The ego may defend itself

One strength of this approach is it highlights the importance of earlier traumatic childhood experiences that can play a role in shaping later adult life.
Another strength is Freuds theories also helped change peoples attitudes towards mental illnesses and his theories demonstrate the link between the mind and the body, This approach also does not hold people responsible for their actions and in turn has resulted in a greater understanding of the mentally ill and overall better treatment towards them as prior they were seen as deviant and evil (burning them at the stake too).
A major criticism however is Freuds theories are not scientific nor can they be conclusively proven. There is no certain way to verify whether this theory is true or untrue and therefore it means it is purely speculative. Most of the support for this approach has tended to come from case studies which is also based on single individuals and lacks wider generalisation due to possible individual differences.

through such regression, repression or displacement as it attempts to

Another criticism is the approach also places too much emphasis on

hide these feelings of anxiety and stress from the conscious mind

past experiences when many patients problems could be due to the

into the subconscious. In adulthood, when stressed, these could all

present period.

trigger the repressed conflicts to surface in the form of abnormal behaviour through unconscious motivation stemming from past childhood experiences.

This approach is also reductionist as it ignores the biological and socio-cultural explanations which have far greater research support and evidence for. Freuds theory as well as Freud himself was seen to xlii be incredibly sexist in his views as during the time this theory was constructed it was done during a time of great gender difference and bias (women were not seen as equal to men) and hence this theory was not able to explain abnormal behaviour fully across both genders due to such gender bias.


The Behavioral Approach To
Explaining Psychopathology

negative feelings while expressing feelings of depression can illicit

The behavioral approach proposes 3 things; 1) That all behaviour is

dren may engage in drug-taking if they feel their behaviour will be

learn’t 2) that whatever is learn’t can then be unlearn’t and 3) All be-

rewarded e.g. social recognition and status among their friends and

haviour that is abnormal is learn’t in the same was as normal behav-

peers and this can also explain such abnormal behaviour.

help and support from those around them within their social circle reinforcing such the behaviour through operant conditioning. Chil-

Social learning theory can explain how people imitate other peoples
This approach see’s abnormal behaviour as the problem and not the

behaviour if they see it as rewarding. For example crime is seen has

symptom of an underlying issue. The behavioral approach attempts

relatively high among certain “trouble” estates and being around

to explain abnormal behaviour being learn’t through a process of ei-

such abnormal deviant behaviour over a long enough period could

ther social learning through the environment and classical and op-

in turn explain why many then choose to engage in such behaviour

erant conditioning.

themselves due to the abnormal behaviour being modeled constantly

Phobias for example can be explained through classical condition-

by those around them.

ing. Watson et el highlighted how this can occur with his famous lit-

One strength of this approach is it is hopeful that abnormal behav-

tle Albert experiment where a young boy was seen to have no fear

iour can be addressed and “unlearnt. This has resulted in effective

of a white rat until an unconditioned stimulus such as a loud noise is

therapies such as systematic desensitization which has been shown

produced to scare the child every time the rat was shown to him.

to be effective in addressing phobias.

Eventually the child came to associate this fear response with the rat even without the loud noise highlighting how classical conditioning

There is experimental research that supports this theory and how be-

can account for abnormal behaviour such as phobias. Similarly anti-

haviour can be learn’t through such mechanisms and it stands to rea-

social behaviour can be explained this way too with people commit-

son abnormal behaviour could also be explained this way too.

ting crime for the “buzz” it gives them and coming to associate this

A weakness however is the explanation has been criticized as being

feeling with such deviant abnormal behaviour. Through operant con-

dehumanizing and mechanistic with people being reduced to simple

ditioning we can explain avoidance behaviors as this results in less

programmable stimulus-response units. The theory is therefore too xliv reductionist as it portrays humans far too simple than they are and

be due to his lack of understanding and he may in turn outgrow this

the theory does not account for the free will and ability for con-

response over time.

scious thought everyone has. The approach is also deterministic in assuming behaviour will always remain the same until unlearn’t which is not necessarily true as people people are known to change behaviour dramatically and with little to no reason on occasions due to free will.
Another weakness to this approach is it cannot fully explain nor treat all disorders such as schizophrenia for example which has been linked to biological causes (high dopamine). This explanation would then result in behaviorist treatments and this may only treat the symptoms rather than the true underlying cause which may not lead to long lasting solutions with the true cause persisting. It may be that symptoms are behavioral while the cause is potentially biological.
A major cornerstone for the behavioral explanations is based on classical and operant conditioning. This concept has been mainly tested in animal studies which while providing us the ability to test various conditions that may be inhumane and unethical with humans, the results may not generalize over to humans and abnormal behaviour being necessarily learn’t in the same way. Animals are far simpler while humans can “think” beyond simple scenarios. Also with little
Albert, although he may express a phobia at a young age this may


Outline & Evaluate The Cognitive
Approach To Abnormality

will in turn behave in a way that expresses fear and also feelings of anxiety.
The important difference with this cognitive model is that the indi-

The cognitive approach to abnormality assumes that it is irrational thoughts and thinking patterns of the world around us which in turn leads people to behave in abnormal ways. Therefore this attributes mental illnesses due to disordered, faulty and irrational thinking patterns. These could be due to cognitive deficiencies such as lack of

vidual is actually seen as in complete control of their thinking patterns and able to modify them as they see fit. Therefore if the person has irrational thoughts these could in turn be challenged by more rational positive thoughts through practice with the aim of reducing abnormal behaviour too.

planning or cognitive distortions and the way the person see’s the world which in turn leads to abnormal behaviour. A popular way of

A strength of the cognitive approach is it focuses on the individual

breaking down the cognitive approach is through the ABC model;

and their experience of the world around them and their feelings rather than the interpretations by other people. This would in turn

A) Stands for activating event or “trigger” and this is what creates the situation. It may be a large animal, a situation, or even a per-

lead to more effective treatment if the abnormality is caused by problems in cognition and deal directly with the cause.

Another strength of the approach is it is hopeful as it proposes peoB) Stands for belief or “thinking”. The person has a choice in terms of how they view this activating even and this could be rational thoughts and beliefs such as “ This dog is harmless” or irrational such as “This animal will attack me”.
C) Stands for consequence and this could either be the resulting be-

ple can change and address their abnormal behaviour. There is great research evidence supporting the use of CBT as a form of treatment in treating a variety of disorders, particular depression with results showing CBT based treatments are effective. This would then mean the Cognitive approach as validity also. Research evidence for this

haviour or feelings expressed due to the thought. If the person

comes from Thase et al who compared Cognitive therapy with anti-

thinks rationally about the situation this would in turn result in

depressant drug therapy to treat patients with depression. Results

rational behaviour and no fear towards the animal. If the person

found that cognitive therapy was actually no less effective than anti-

chooses to think irrationally and how the dog is dangerous they

depressants and also resulted in less side-effects and better tolerance xlvi from patients. Also cognitive therapy could in turn be seen as treat-

not be sure of cause and effect with the cognitive approach for cer-

ing the cause of the problem unlike drugs which may only deal with


the symptoms. This highlighted that depression is at least somewhat linked to cognitive deficiencies.

Alloy et al also suggests that not all irrational beliefs are in fact irrational and actually they are likely more realistic than most peoples

A limitation however is that the cognitive approach suggests the pa-

perception of the world who see it through rose-tinted glasses. In

tient is themselves responsible for their disorder and abnormality

one study depressed participants gave a more realistic estimate of

giving little attention to biological or situational factors that may be

disaster than those not suffering from depression highlighting some

causing the abnormality e.g. ignoring major life events, biological

irrational thoughts may actually be more realistic. This was coined

clues such as high dopamine (Schizophrenia). In some ways this ap-

“depressive realism”.

proach may indirectly blame patients for their own disorders implying the patient can simply choose to act differently if they wished and minimizes the disorder stating “its all in their head”. We now know this to be untrue, particularly with disorders such as Schizophrenia which is believed to have a biological cause and cant simply be explained by the cognitive approach. Therefore the disorder is reductionist as it ignores the role of environmental and biological factors.
People suffering from various abnormal behaviors would state they had abnormal thoughts which were driving their behaviour which supporters of the cognitive approach would cite as evidence for its validity. However this is purely correlational as we cannot be certain whether it is the irrational thoughts causing abnormality or whether its the abnormality causing the irrational thoughts. Therefore we can-


Outline & Evaluate Biological
Therapies In Treating Abnormality
(Drug Therapies)

the brain by binding themselves to dopamine receptors temporarily before disassociating allowing normal dopamine transmission.
Anti-depressants work to elevate moods and increase some neurotransmitter biochemicals such as serotonin levels. Depression is believed to be caused by lower levels of serotonin and increasing this

Treatments based on the biological approach assume that the abnor-

through drug therapies has been shown to be effective. The most

mality is merely a symptom of an underlying physical cause due to

common anti-depressants are SSRI’s which work by blocking the

genetics, biochemistry or brain anatomy. Biological treatments fo-

transporter mechanism that reabsorbs serotonin in the presynaptic

cus their treatments on physiological processes such as neurotrans-

cell after it has fired. This results in more serotonin being available

mitters, parts of the brain and hormones. One biological method for

further prolonging its effects.

treating abnormality is through drug therapies.
Research has proven that drug therapies are incredibly effective in
Drugs vary depending on the abnormality but can include Benzodi-

treating disorders that previously other treatments were ineffective

azephines which work on the central nervous system (CNS) to re-

at treating. For example a diagnosis of Schizophrenia previously re-

duce levels of serotonin. This results in lower anxiety and increase

sulted in people being institutionalized due to the unmanageable

GABA which is the bodies natural form of relaxant.

symptoms however the creation of anti-psychotics has led to almost

Beta-blockers work on the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and reduce heart-rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels helping to manage anxiety and stress levels.
Anti-Psychotics work to reduce mental confusion and delusions with people suffering from Schizophrenia. It does this by managing dopamine levels as people with Schizophrenia are seen to have high levels of this. Conventional drugs such as Chlorpromazine work on

all to be discharged and lead almost perfectly normal lives. This supports the view that biological therapies and drug treatments are effective.
Further evidence comes from a study by the WHO (world health organisation) which reported relapse rates for schizophrenics given placebo pills after 12 months was more than twice as high (55%) as patients given anti-psychotic drug medication (25%). This was seen to drop even further to between 2-23% when family intervention also xlviii played a part in treatment highlighting that drugs alone are not the

tion to continue to function. People become addicted to anti-

answer but drug therapy combined with psychological interventions

depressants and without them they struggle to function after having

can provide far more effective and appropriate treatment.

taken them so long. This is a major weakness to drug therapies.

Another strength of drug therapy is that it is incredibly easy to use

Another problem is the risk of side-affects. Conventional anti-

and requires little effort from the patient to remember to take their

psychotics have resulted in severe side-effects such as Tardive dyski-

medication. The drugs are relatively fast acting too which is another

nesia which may then be untreatable and permanent. Anti-

strength when compared to the lengthy spell psychological treat-

depressant side affects can range greatly from loss of appetite, dizzi-

ments for abnormality can take. With psychological therapy, due to

ness, headaches and many other issues. One famous case saw Don-

the abnormality or disorder it can be incredibly difficult for health

ald Schell kill his family after taking anti-depressants with their sup-

professionals to engage the patient in the therapy while drug therapy

posed side-affects contributing to this. His remaining family mem-

helps in making them far more coherent and focused. In truth the

bers sued the drugs company and won highlighting the potential risk

two combined provide the best approach in treating abnormality and

biological treatments and drug therapies can have. It could however


be argued that his behaviour may have been caused by the disorder

A major criticism however is that drug therapies have been argued to treat merely the symptoms of an underlying cause rather than

the drugs were trying to treat rather than the drugs themselves however the courts saw differently.

tackle the actual problem themselves. This means the patient is unlikely to see long-term recovery without continously using antipsychotic drug medications as the cause is never directly treated.
Drug therapies do however make managing symptoms far more easier allowing people to live more functional lives however.
Another problem with drug therapies in treating abnormal behaviours is the patient can come to become dependant on the drugs over time and the body may in turn become solely dependant on medicaxlix

Outline & Evaluate
Biological Therapies: ECT

way neurotransmitters act in sending information although no one is

Treatments based on the biological approach assume that the abnor-

The fact that no one is fully sure how ECT works or why is a major

mality is merely a symptom of an underlying physical cause due to

criticism and cause for concern. Abrams stated even after 50 years

genetics, biochemistry or brain anatomy. Biological treatments fo-

of studying the procedure we still do not understand why ECT

cus their treatments on physiological processes such as neurotrans-

works in some cases and not others. This is another criticism as

mitters, parts of the brain and hormones. One biological method for

health professionals can never be certain whether the treatment will

treating abnormality is through Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT)

actually result in any improvement and they could be putting pa-

certain on the exact method.

tients through unneeded stress for no benefit. We are also unclear as
This is a therapy where by patients are normally given an anesthetic and electrodes are placed on their temples and an electric current is run through the electrodes and onto the brain to attempt to induce a

to what the longer-term effects of the treatment could be and whether it merely makes matters worse for patients whom it is not effective for or not.

seizure. Patients are given a nerve blocking agent to paralyze the muscles to prevent them contracting and causing fractures.

Others however highlight that ECT does have its strength and place in treating severe depression where people are at risk of suicide.

The voltage and frequency of ECT can vary and this has in the past been used to treat severe disorders such as major depression. This treatment is only ever usually done as a last step once all other methods have been tried and the patients consent is obtained. Success rates have varied among patients with it working for some and not for others. Some have found it to work initially only to relapse later.

When it does work it can be life-saving for patients and therefore some would argue these benefits outweigh any potential risks of not using the treatment. Comer stated that 60 - 70% of patients were seen to improve after ECT supporting its use as an effective biological therapy. However when the results were re-examined by Sackheim he found relapse rates were as high as 84% within six months

Researchers believe that ECT causes changes in the way the brain

showing ECT was not really an effective long-term solution to treat-

operates by helping to initiate recovery on certain parts of the brain

ing disorders. 26% however did not relapse in the first 6 months sug-

that may not normally work correctly. It is believed ECT alters the

gesting it may be useful with specific patients and types of abnormality. l Other studies have have compared ECT to “fake ECT” where one group goes through ECT for real while another group is led to believe they have gone through it when in fact they havent and instead are merely sedated. The comparison of the two groups found those who tend to go through ECT for real show greater improvement than the placebo group suggesting ECT is effective in its own right.
Of importance however is the fact that those who went through the
“fake” ECT also appeared to recover (although not as many) suggesting theres a psychological element to many disorders too, possibly through the attention they receive and this playing an important role in their recovery.
A weakness of ECT use is the possibly side effects which can include impaired memory and recall, headaches, cardiovascular problems as well as instilling fear and anxiety permanently in 30% of cases (DOH Report 1999). This suggests ECT may not be appropriate in most cases and is a major weakness in its mainstream use.


Psychological Therapies: Psychoanalysis
Treatments based on Freuds Psychoanalysis assumes that abnormal behaviour is caused by unconscious forces stemming from unresolved conflicts in childhood and through using various techniques these repressed memories can be uncovered to help the patient better deal with their present behaviour through understanding the cause.
One technique is Free association where by the patient is encouraged to express all the thoughts that occur to them freely as they occur no matter how irrelevant or unimportant they may seem. Freud believed this method allowed therapists and patients to uncover the unconscious forces motivating their thoughts. These revealed forces

Dream analysis may also be used where by the therapist interprets dreams as symbols of repressed wishes which is based on Freuds theory that dreams represent unconscious wish-fulfillment.
Psychoanalysis may see the patient meeting up with the therapist numerous times per week with issues constantly re-examined over a period of weeks to years to gain a greater understanding of abnormal behaviour. This would give the patient a detailed understanding and insight into their past to make better informed positive changes in the present through greater control over their internal conflicts.
Freuds theories helped change peoples attitudes towards mental illness and psychotherapy has been found to be effective in psychosomatic illnesses showing the treatment does have validity.

help highlight areas of conflict for the patient as well as repressed

A major criticism with this treatment as well as most of Freuds theo-

memories from childhood. Through help from the therapist reject-

ries is it is completely unmeasurable or scientific in any meaningful

ing, accepting and adding thoughts and feelings, the patient can then

way and therefore testing its validity for reliability is almost impossi-

work to interpret these findings.

ble across different groups.

Another technique is through Therapist interpretation. As patients

The therapy itself will be completely subject and lack reliability be-

talk and express their thoughts the therapist listens attentively look-

tween therapists as one therapists interpretations from free associa-

ing for clues and drawing their own conclusions about the actual

tion and dream analysis would differ greatly from another therapists.

cause and problems faced. Patients may then display transference

Therefore the sessions patients would have would probably tell

where by they relive feelings of conflicts and transfer these towards

them more about the therapist than themselves.

the therapists who “becomes the parent” that the child lacked or needed to resolve the unconscious conflict. lii Eysenck found 66% of patients who received Psychoanalysis recov-

the theory rather than putting the patient first and attempting to iden-

ered within two years supporting this method of treatment. However

tify theories based on them (a person centered approach). Therefore

a major criticism is he also found 66% of patients who receive no

any results gained from this may not fully address the underlying

therapy also recover suggesting Psychoanalysis is not really an effec-

cause of abnormality.

tive treatment overall.

The main supporting evidence for Psychoanalysis being effective is

Psychoanalysis may only truly benefit certain patients such as those

by Bergin who analyzed data from 10’000 patients and found 80%

whom are young, attractive, verbal and intelligent who have a posi-

of them did benefit from psychoanalysis. This was in comparison to

tive attitude towards therapy due to the level in which patients are

65% of patients who benefitted from other forms of treatments. Of

required to engage with the therapist. Such motivated patients are

importance he stated was the fact that Psychoanalysis took much

therefore likely to contribute to the therapy simply becoming a self-

longer and was more intense and therefore this difference should

fulfilling prophecy with them believing it is effective when in truth

probably be expected. This in turn becomes a criticism suggesting it

it is their own cognitive changes that has resulted in the progress (as

is no more effective on a like for like basis than other interventions.

the cognitive treatments would argue).
Another major criticism is the treatment takes an incredibly long time to do (up to years) and is also very expensive. The patient is required to attend regular meetings with the therapist which is likely to cost a huge amount making it only suitable for those who can afford it. Also the amount of time it requires coupled with the cost is a huge weakness when compared to drug therapies where tablets are fast acting, cheap and easy to administer and consume.
Another major criticism with this treatment as well as Freuds theories is it fails to appreciate the individual differences of each individual patient. Instead this theory attempts to classify patients based on liii Psychological Therapies:
Systematic De-sensitisation

taking over and removing the phobia. Modern versions of this involves the therapist now asking the patients to imagine the feared situation and once able to deal with this they may then subsequently

Systematic de-sensitisation (also known as SD) works through pro-

be treated to the feared situations directly. Ollendick et al high-

gressively introducing a patient to a situation they feel anxious

lighted how such exposure sessions could be completed in just sin-

about to allow them to gradually become “de-sensitized” until it

gle sessions and be fast acting, SD has also been seen to be benefi-

evokes no phobic response. The patients phobia is broken down into

cial in treating a variety of disorders such as anxiety, public speak-

smaller stimulus-response units that comprise it. The therapy con-

ing, fear of animals or even flying.

sists of 1) Constructing a hierarchy of fears 2) training the patient in relaxation techniques as this state is incompatible with anxiety 3)

One strength for SD is that it is highly effective when the disorder is

graded exposure through imagination and employment of relaxation

a learned anxiety and phobia based. For example McGrath et al

techniques 4) Practicing the behaviour in real life with phobias.

found SD to be successful in treating a range of phobic disorders with 75% of patients seen to benefit supporting the use of SD in

For example a patient with a phobia of snakes may see the least

treating certain disorders.

stressful situation as looking at a picture of a snake. The most stressful may be deemed as touching or handling the reptile itself. This hi-

Another strength of such behaviour based therapies is they require

erarchy and everything in between are identified and the therapist

relatively little effort from patients with the therapist leading them

would then gradually work through these different stages helping

through overcoming their anxieties or fears. Also results can be

the patient replace each dysfunctional response with that of relaxed

achieved quickly for most phobic disorders with long lasting effects.

response. Through learning to relax through the different stages the

Therapy such as SD also have no physical side effects and is rela-

patient begins to feel more familiar with the situation and gradually

tively safe to conduct within a controlled environment unlike some

their anxiety disappears. This therapy is based on the idea of

anti-psychotics or anti-depressants which have resulted in patients

“Counter-conditioning” by Wolpe who enabled individuals to over-

killing others or themselves.

come anxieties by learning to relax when faced with phobic stimuli.

A major weakness however is SD is not appropriate or effective in

This is based on the assumption that the relaxed response and fear

the treatment of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia or

response are incompatible together leading to the relaxed response liv major depression which have been proven to have a link to biological causes. In such instances behavioral treatments like this can merely mask symptoms of disorders however not treat the underlying cause which may be biological and require medication.
Ohman et al argued that SD may not be effective in treating all anxiety based disorders, particularly those which may have an evolutionary purpose to aid our survival. Examples such as this may be the fear of the dark, height or even dangerous animals. The reasoning for this is such fears may serve the purpose of survival meaning SD may not always be effective. Others may highlight that many are not afraid of such and there is possibly a case for such disorders having been learn’t so they should be possible to “unlearn”.
Another weakness however is such treatments do require the patient to attend sessions with a therapist and engage with a stranger in telling them their fears and anxieties. This requires time and effort away from their normal life as well as express their feelings to someone they don't fully know. This may be uncomfortable for many people, particularly if their disorder is extreme shyness. Compared to drug therapies however this may make SD unsuitable for some patients with specific disorders.


Psychological Therapies:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

REBT is focused on changing thinking patterns and it encourages patients to do this by challenging their irrational belief systems, It achieves this by encouraging patients to question whether the belief

CBT is based on the idea that people may think irrationally, have

is Logical and whether thinking in this particular way is based on

self-defeating habits or faulty beliefs about the world around them

actual information or facts and whether it fits in with the activating

or even themselves. This in turn is believed to lead to irrational be-

event. The patient also questions whether their belief has Empirical

haviour. One example of CBT is REBT (Rational Emotive Behav-

support and whether there is actually any evidence or proof their

ioral Therapy) which was developed by Ellis. An example of irra-

thinking is correct. Lastly the patient questions whether holding a

tional beliefs may be “I must be approved by everybody” which

particular belief is Pragmatic and helpful in their life or situation.

may then lead to depression, lack of confidence or social avoidance

By learning to do this the patient is encouraged to change self-

when such individuals meet someone who is not approving of them.

defeating beliefs into more rational ones that through practice they

The point of REBT is to help clients understand their irrational be-

come to accept for a better productive outcome.

liefs and the negative consequences of thinking in such ways. By do-

A major strength for CBT is it focuses on individuals and how they

ing this they can learn to challenge their thinking patterns through

experience the world. CBT also focuses on the underlying thought

self-talk or even develop more effective problem solving methods.

patterns and beliefs causing the abnormal behaviour rather than inter-

Patients may learn to replace their irrational thoughts and beliefs

pretations by other people such as in Psychoanalysis. Therefore by

with more constructive ones with the ABC model explaining how

helping patients alter their thought patterns they treat the cause

this then leads to a change in behaviour. A stands for an activating

rather than merely the symptoms which drug therapies may do mak-

event (a trigger) such as a negative event that may occur or some-

ing CBT more potentially effective in the long-term.

one being disapproving. This then leads to the Belief the person has and REBT proposes people can control this by planting rational be-

CBT is also useful and proven in helping patients increase self-

liefs. A rational belief may be “not everyone will like me, thats life”.

confidence and self-efficiency and improve peoples life's especially

This then leads to the Consequence which should be a more produc-

in cases of depression. Supporting evidence for this comes from Hol-

tive response from individuals rather than abnormal behaviour.

lon et who found CT was more effective in treating depression and lvi anxiety than drug therapies. This highlights how this treatment has

high dopamine levels believed to play some role. Therefore treat-

validity with such disorders.

ments such as CBT may merely mask symptoms and not treat the

A weakness of such therapies however is CBT may only be effective

underlying cause. Also with CBT

for those with good problem solving skills and insight into their own

Also for mental disorders with a physical cause, CBT may treat the

thinking patterns and able to self-reflect on this. Many people strug-

irrational thoughts but these irrational thoughts may be due to an un-

gle with insight into their thinking patterns and it requires a certain

derlying medical condition and therefore merely symptoms of an un-

level of intelligence to understand and apply the concept meaning

derlying disorder themselves. This would make CBT inappropriate

this therapy may not be effective with all groups of people and

for a variety of illnesses, schizophrenia for one.

wider generalisation. Usually it is also people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and poor education that tend to suffer from greater disorders who will likely need this treatment the most but may lack the ability to understand and apply it into their own lives.
Therefore this therapy may have limited generalisation beyond specific groups of people, mainly educated and well off.
CBT is also incredibly expensive due to the constant sessions that are required meaning individuals will need to dedicate a great deal of time and resources into the therapy. The therapy also requires the person to discuss intimate details and thoughts to a stranger (therapist) which may be very uncomfortable for them. When compared to drug treatments which tend to be cheaper and fast acting, CBT may not be suitable for everyone.
Another weakness is CBT may not be based on all disorders such as
Schizophrenia which has been shown to have a biological link with lvii Thank You!
© 2014 Saj Devshi -
Right thats everything! I just want to save this final section to say thank you for purchasing this book and supporting my blog.
Just a final thank you for purchasing this book - The information was sourced from internet searches as well as various textbooks I use. My advice is always get a good textbook to understand the theory so you get a good handle on what it is your writing about. Use this book as an aid to form your essays as the textbooks do struggle with that and this is where this book comes into its own. I would recommend using the Complete Companion AS Book by Cara Flanagan as she provides clear and concise points throughout that make understanding AS psychology much easier. I have used that book and others along with various internet searches to better my understanding of A level psychology and form my answers here.
If you find any errors or have any questions please contact me here:

You can get samples of these essays too on my website on the homepage and scrolling a little down and inputting your details in the box on the right reading “Free
You can follow me on twitter to stay up to date on new releases and projects I work on my twitter handle here: SajDevshi
I also plan to release the other topics I didnt study for Psya3 and Psya4 hopefully for the June 2015 exam window so they may pop up later than.
Finally - I wish you all the very best in your exams and for the future,

(c) This book is subject to copy-write protection under UK and international law and no part of it must be shared, duplicated or uploaded onto the internet - it is purely for your own personal use as an individual.
For schools or colleges please encourage your students to get their own copies from as this helps in supporting the website and aid in future publications too for A level Psychology.

You can also check out my website which has all my other essay answers for A2 including the essays I used to get full marks for Psya3 and Psya4. They have sold over
640 copies as of right now and rising everyday so if you do go on to do A2 Psychology you will find them a lifesaver for sure. You can get them all from my website here: - You can contact me there for further support too if you have any questions also and I will do my best to respond.
My A2 topics currently cover:
Psya3 Sleep & Biological Rhythms
Psya3 Relationships
Psya3 Aggression
Psya4 Schizophrenia
Psya4 Media Psychology


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...Observable Methods of Research Case studies and other observable methods of research are designed around investigations that full describe a particular person's, group's or situation's particular and pertinent considerations, actions and reactions, for an extended period of time. Qualitative research that is used to look at individuals, a small group of participants, or a group as a whole naturally yield themselves to case studies. Researchers form case studies by collecting data about the subject or sub-subjects under scrutiny. They employ observations, personal dialogue, procedural etiquette, tests, inspection of records, and collection of writing samples. The reason for this essay is to describe how case studies, psychobiography, archival...

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