Approaches in Psychology for A Level Psychology Students



In today’s episode of The Psychology World Podcast, we’re going to be looking at the psychological approaches using the A Level Psychology syllable.


This episode has been sponsored by Cognitive Psychology 2nd Edition.


A level Psychology:

I know I don’t typically look at psychology for students on the podcast but I like to change things up every once in a while.


Therefore, I think in today’s episode it would be good to go back to the basics of psychology because not everyone knows what the approaches in psychology are.


I certainly didn’t know.


So, I hope you can learn something from today’s episode.


Note: A Level Psychology is a subject or option 16 to 18 years old can do as part of their education in 6th Form or High School.


Also, I’m not going to be talking about the approaches that are based on cognitive psychology, social psychology or biological psychology since The Psychology World Podcast talks a lot about these topics.


Finally, this blog post/ psychology podcast episodes featured extracts of my free eBook What is Psychology? Available in eBook format from all major eBook retailers, and paperback from Amazon.


The Approaches to Psychology

The Behaviourist Approach:

The first approach we’ll be looking at focuses on the human mind being a black box so there's an input and there's a behavioural output.


For instance, if I was tapped on the shoulder then this information would be sent to my brain (the input) afterwards my brain would tell me to turn around. (the output) Additionally, behaviourists believe that people behave because of life experience and it completely ignores cognitive and biological factors.


For example, a person could be rewarded for performances and behaviours or it could be punished. This life experience affects how they will behave in the future.


Another example would be that according to this approach depression would be caused by bullying only and it wouldn’t consider genetic factors or cognitive/thinking style.


Assumptions of the Behaviorist Approach: In behaviourism, there are the following assumptions about human behaviour: humans are born like a blank slate meaning that humans learn from their environment. This assumption follows the debate that human behaviour is based on nurture; how you bring up a child; compared to our genetics.


In addition, behaviourism has the assumption that humans learn through conditioning. For example, if you are punished after being ‘naughty’ then you have been conditioned (learnt) not to behave in that way again.


Finally, the behaviourists believe that humans, as well as animals, learn in similar ways. The main reason for this is probably because behaviourists and psychologists, in general, tend to animals in their experiments. Resulting in animal behaviour being compared to human behaviour often.


This can be seen throughout my books. For instance, if Romeo (2014)’s study on oxytocin and social bonding on dogs in Biological Psychology 2nd Edition.


Psychodynamic approach to Psychology:

This approach proposes that human behaviour is as a result of the unconscious mind and emotions that are beyond our conscious awareness. For example, childhood memories that could be traumatic will influence our behaviour in the future.


Assumptions: Firstly, the psychodynamic approach believes that the events of our childhood have a massive impact on our adult life.


Personally, I think this to be true as research has shown that trauma in childhood does affect your adult life.


A personal example would be the betrayals that I faced as a child greatly affects my ability to trust others as an adult.


Secondly, the psychodynamic approach believes in the unconscious mind. In other words, Freud believed that the mind is like an iceberg because most of the mind’s working are underneath our conscious awareness.


In addition, Freud believed that the unconscious is responsible for most of our behaviour because we are driven by unconscious drives.


For example, we perform the behaviour of eating because the unconscious drive to survive and we need the energy from food to survive.


Lastly, the psychodynamic approach to behaviour proposes that the personality is made up of three parts that develop over time. For example:


· The Id develops at birth and this part of the personality is the unconscious mind that seeks to gain pleasurable no matter the cost.


· The Ego develops around the age of two years old and this part of the personality is the rational consciousness. This aspect must balance the need for pleasure and getting this pleasure in a socially acceptable way.


· The Superego develops around the age of four years old and this part encompasses the child’s sense of right, wrong as well as the ideal self. This develops through identifying with one’s parents or guardians, as well as the superego aims to civilise and perfect our behaviour.


Of course, there are issues with this approach to behaviour; like all approaches; but that is what the psychodynamic approach proposes.

The positive psychology approach:

Finally, the positive approach believes that psychology should study the positive aspects of human behaviour as well as positive human qualities, so people can live more fulfilled lives. In addition, it's the belief that people want to enhance the experience of play, work and love that this approach is based on. Assumptions: Firstly, the positive approach acknowledges that humans have free will meaning that humans have a choice in their behaviour and how to act.


Whilst, this is debated in psychology. The focus of this section is to merely introduce what the approaches propose.


Secondly, the positive approach proposes that human goodness and positive emotions are authentic. I know that this wording may seem strange but in psychology, there’s a focus on the negative emotions without acknowledging the positive emotions


In other words, this assumption means that psychology needs to acknowledge that happiness and other positive emotions are as important and serve our attention as much as negative emotions.


Finally, the positive approach looks at ‘the good life’ which are a set of factors that look at what makes a human life well-lived. The findings by Seligman (2003) show that the following lives are important, and they can flow in order:


· The pleasant life- in this life positivity comes from the active purse of positive emotions in relation to the past, present and future.


· The good life- positivity is reached by pursuing activities that positively engage with us as well as absorb us.


· The meaningful life- this approach to life means that we get enjoy from fulfilling a purpose that is greater than ourselves.


Personally, for the meaningful life is writing and being an author because it means that I can write these books and hopefully serve people in their quest to understand human behaviour.


I really hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode.


If you want to learn more and show the podcast, please check out the links below:


FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET


Cognitive Psychology 2nd Edition


Have a great day!


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