Psychological Approaches Strengths and Weaknesses

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Psychodynamic Strength
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One strength of the psychodynamic approach is that they focused on the effects that childhood experiences have on the developing personality. This is a strength because Freud was the first psychologist to realise the importance of childhood.It also led to other psychologists including Piaget developing theories on childhood. An example of this is the Little Hans case study.Hans had a fear of castration which led to him having a phobia of horses.
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Psychodynamic Strength
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One strength of the psychodynamic approach is that it takes both nature and nurture into account. This is a strength because it emphasises the importance of both. An example of this is that Freud’s assumption of childhood experiences focused on nurture whereas the ID, Ego and Super-ego focused on nature.
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Psychodynamic Weakness
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One weakness of the psychodynamic approach is that it is unfalsifiable. This is a weakness because the assumptions can not be scientifically measured or proved wrong. An example of this is the idea of the mind being split into three parts.
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Psychodynamic Weakness
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One weakness of the psychodynamic approach is that it is deterministic. This is a weakness because it suggests that behaviour is pre-determined and people do not have free will. An example of this is the psychosexual stages.
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Biological Strength
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One strength of the biological approach is that it is very scientific. This is a strength because the experiments used are measurable, objective and can be repeated to test for reliability. Also, the researcher has more control over the variables which is evident in Selye’s study of rats which led to him developing the theory of General Adaptation Syndrome.
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Biological Strength
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One strength of the biological approach is that it is deterministic. This is a strength because it increases the likelihood of being able to treat people with abnormal behaviour and provides explanations about the causes of behaviour. This understanding can then be used to improve people’s lives.
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Biological Weakness
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One weakness of the biological approach is that it focuses too much on the ‘nature’ side of the nature/nurture debate. It argues that behaviour is caused by hormones, neurotransmitters and genetics. One theory is that schizophrenia is genetic, however, twin studies show that it is not completely genetic and the environment has a part to play.
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Biological Weakness
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One weakness of the biological approach is that it is nomothetic. This is a weakness because it develops theories about disorders and generalises them to apply to everyone. It does not take into account the view that humans are unique. An example of this is that General Adaptation Syndrome assumes that everyone responds in the same way to stress but does not take into account that some people have more support than others.
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Cognitive Strength
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One strength of the cognitive approach is that it looks at thought processes which were ignored by other psychologists, especially behaviourists. Processes such as memory, attention and perception have been studied as they have an effect on our behaviour. Considerable research by Loftus and Palmer (1974) has shown that memories on eye witness testimony are unreliable.
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Cognitive Strength
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One strength of the cognitive approach is that its theories have been applied to cognitive therapies such as Rational Emotive Therapy. This therapy has been successful in changing irrational thoughts into rational thoughts so that behaviour improves. Ellis found that Rational Emotive Therapy is successful 90% of the time.
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Cognitive Weakness
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One weakness of the cognitive approach is that it is reductionist. An example of this is that it reduces human behaviour down to individual processes such as memory and attention. This is a weakness because the human is a product of all the processes working together and not just individual parts.
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Cognitive Weakness
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One weakness of the cognitive approach is that it is too mechanical, it compares the human to computers in that they have similar processes. This is a weakness as humans are more complex than computers, for example emotions can affect a humans’ output.
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Behaviourist Strength
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One strength of the behaviourist approach is that it has successfully applied classical and operant conditioning to its theories. Systematic desensitisation is based on classical conditioning and is useful for treating phobias.
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Behaviourist Strength
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One strength of the behaviourist approach is that it uses scientific methods of research. This is a strength because the experiments are objective, measurable and observable. An example of this is Bandura’s bobo doll study of aggression..
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Behaviourist Weakness
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One weakness of the behaviourist approach is that it focuses too much on the ‘nurture’ side of the nature/nurture debate. It suggests that all behaviour is learned but cognitive and biological elements have been proved to affect behaviour. An example of this is the assumption that people learn behaviour by observing others getting rewarded for certain actions.
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Behaviourist Weakness
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One weakness of the behaviourist approach is the ethical issues raised by using animals in experiments. This is because animals can not consent to take part and are unable to withdraw. An example of a behaviourist animal study is Pavlov’s dogs which led to classical conditioning principles being developed.
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Social Learning Theory Strength
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One strength of the SLT is that is is very scientific and allows for our cognitive processes to be considered. An example of this is mediating cognitive factors, the ‘mental process’ between the stimulus and response.
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Social Learning Theory Strength
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One strength is that they use experimental and non-experimental data.
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Social Learning Theory Weakness
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One weakness is that it does not take into account the affect of biology or genetics in aggression.
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Social Learning Theory Weakness
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One weakness is that some of the experiments lack ecological validity. for example, Banduras bobo dolls were very artifical, therefore they do not reflect a real life experience, so it is not ecologically valid.
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Humanistic Strenghts
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One strength is that It provides power to individuals by emphasising free will and the ability to change. for example, Maslows hierarchy of needs shows us the stages we have to go through to achieve self-actualisation.
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Humanistic Strenghts
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One strength is that it provides great insight into what any experiences have meant to the individual, for example, in thearpy, they will discuss the experience.
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Humanistic Weaknesses
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One weakness is that there is no attempt at diagnosis. This limits the ability to offer effective therapy.
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Humanistic Weakness
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One weakness is that is it not effective with more severe problems. using the approach of Roger’s to treat schizophrenia would seem ludicrous.

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