1) Explain three approaches within psychology:
The biological approach to psychology attempts to understand mental processes in relation to the physical factors that make up the human body. Physiological, chemical, and genetic information can help to establish a better understanding of how the biological makeup of an individual has an effect on their cognition. Surgery, electrical stimulation, and neuroimaging grant biological psychologists the ability to analyze these processes on a more fundamental level. This approach to psychology is much more concerned with the impact that nature has on the human mind than nurture (Aos, 2013: 119).
Behavioral approaches to psychology are primarily concerned with phenomena that can be observed by researchers. This behavior can help to provide important insights into the underlying psychological processes that are going on in an individual. In looking at how changes in the environment can cause changes to specific behaviors or behavioral patterns behavioral psychologists are able to present observable data that indicates clear evidence of particular psychological traits. By being exposed to different types of conditioning over periods of time their behavior is able to be observably changed. Subjects are also able to take particular actions that allow them to change these behaviors (Aos, 2013: 124).
Researchers that are focused on cognitive approaches to psychology are concerned with the abstract mental processes that are occurring within he minds of the subjects. Through interdisciplinary analysis of perceptions, reasoning, and learning cognitive psychologists attempt to assess the underlying causes for specific environmental factors leading to behaviors. These psychologists are therefore concerned with the way that the mind processes the information that it receives in order to generate a particular response. Through the development of mental concepts, the mind is able to construct more complex forms of information that can help to establish coherent guidelines for particular courses of action (Aos, 2013: 130).
2) Explain classical and operant conditioning,
Classical conditioning was developed by Ivan Pavlov and presents analysis of psychological responses to particular stimuli. Within classical conditioning, there is no learned or intended response, but rather, the conditioning is seen as being a natural unconscious reaction to a particular circumstance. For this reason, this form of conditioning focuses on understanding the reflexes that occur when sets of neutral stimuli are presented to the subjects (Kirsch, 2004). These are therefore involuntary reactions that result in automatic behavioral responses.
Operant conditioning, developed by B.F. Skinner is, on the other hand, primarily concerned with the application of specific techniques in order to develop new or learned responses in subjects. This form of conditioning focuses on either punishing or reinforcing specific behaviors in order to strengthen or weaken the likelihood that the subjects will engage in them in the future. Operant conditioning attempts to create specific associations in the minds of the subjects in order to establish a desired response (Kirsch, 2004). This type of conditioning involves the application of incentives that provide the means for particular rewards or punishments to be associated with particular actions.
3) Explain the term Prejudice.
Prejudice is considered to be an incorrect or uniformed, and often derogatory, reaction to a particular group or people. These opinions are often formed due to their belonging to a particular group. Forms of prejudice can be based on factors such as race, age, and gender. Prejudice can stem from subtle influences resulting from peers, family, or belonging to certain groups. Adapting to social norms and conforming to certain groups can often result in prejudice towards those who do not fit these standards. The beliefs and feelings that people have regarding those who do not fit into these specific categorizations can have a profound effect of their overall view of those outside of their environment (Scodel, 1958).
4) Discuss how prejudice might be reduced.
Prejudice might be reduced by developing ways to help those across different groups to communicate with one another and to gain a better perspective of the various social and cultural circumstances of these individuals.
Essay Case Study 1:
Atkinson's and Shiffrin's model of short term and long term memory present a logical outline for how the process of memory perception, storage, and retrieval takes place within the mind. In understanding these processes a better idea of how the process of learning can be considered for psychologists. This model essentially “describes memory in terms of information flowing through a system” (McLeod, 2007). The process is presented in relation to the step by step by step account that results in the attainment of information that these authors have developed. This conception of memory is often associated with computational models of input and output.
In looking at this model it is evident that there are particular steps that the mind takes when it is presented with information. These steps outline the processes by which information is presented to the mind and stored depending upon how often it is retrieved from its storage location. Within this memory model information that is used is stored within the short term memory center. Only when that information is rehearsed, or used on a regular basis, does it enter the long term memory. However, if information is not used then it is generally lost or degraded over time. “If rehearsal does not occur, then information is forgotten, lost from short term memory through the processes of displacement or decay” (McLeod, 2007). This demonstrates the importance of recall or rehearsal in gaining and maintaining long term memory during the learning process.
The model suggests that there is first a stimulus, or environmental input, that causes the mind to perceive a specific instance of information. This input is then developed into a sensory memory, which attracts the attention of the short term memory. The information is then stored in the short term memory for a specific amount of time, which dictates whether it will be simply forgotten after the initial exposure to the information or be recalled enough times in order to be moved to the long term memory center. Once in the long term memory the information is put through a rehearsal loop, in which it is acted out or retrieved in order to be maintained within this center. This process is essential in establishing long term memories, as it allows the mind to continuously expound and retrieve important information and to discard information that is considered to be unnecessary or out of date.
While in the short term memory information might last for a few seconds and can only contain a few items, the capacity of the long term memory is seemingly unlimited. Sensory perceptions, furthermore, only generally last for lest than a second. This type of memory is encoded based on how it is received, be it auditory, visual, or linguistically based. Short term memory, on this other hand, is primarily encoded through auditory means, while long term can also be either auditory or visual. There are various limitations to this model that should be considered regarding the complexity of information and the mind's ability to process and store it.
Essay Case Study 2:
British psychological research is generally expected to follow specific guidelines that have been set out in order to maintain professional an ethical standards. These standards are generally associated with the application of research methods or consideration for particular groups or individuals within the application of a study. The ethical guidelines set out by the British Psychological Society have been created due to the understood “obligation to set and uphold the highest standards of professionalism, and to promote ethical behaviour, attitudes and judgements on the part of psychologists” (British Psychological Society, 2009: 2). These factors are therefore important to consider when developing a framework for participation in specific forms of research.
The general guidelines present an objective perspective in regards to the standards and principles that those engaging in psychological research should adhere to. By doing so they are able to maintain professional standards in regards to the application of their research methods to particular issues or concerns. In this way, the aim of these guidelines are to provide “sufficient flexibility for a variety of approaches and methods, but providing ethical standards which apply to all” (British Psychological Society, 2009: 3). In developing these standards a moral framework for the application of research and research methods can help to ensure that the momentum of psychology does not impede the general humanity or morality of society in the process of analysis. These standards are therefore an essential factor that must be considered when engaging in psychological research in Britain.
There are three main committees that any studies regarding psychology must be submitted to in Britain. These include the Department Ethics Committee (DEC), which is the general source for most varieties of psychological research. The Institutional Ethics Committee (IEC) is also an important source that provides oversight for less general forms of research. Finally, the External Ethics Committee (EEC) provides oversight for research in psychology that has a need for regulation. The purpose of these committees is “to assess if the potential benefits of the research are justifiable in the light of possible risk of physical or psychological harm” (British Psychological Society, 2009: 5). Balancing these major considerations is a major aim of the ethical guidelines that have been established by the British psychological research associations that have created them.
Respect, competence, responsibility, and integrity are the primary focus of the ethical guidelines that are presented in British psychological research. The values and guiding beliefs of the psychologists that make up the organization are embodied in order to help to establish moral principles that can help to ground psychological research in a humane and ethical framework. Respect for individuals, cultures, and societies as well as for knowledge and expertise are all considered to be essential characteristics of the psychological researcher. These characteristics demonstrate the desire for the psychological community in general to adhere to basic principles of morality and humanity while pursuing their research. For this reason, research methods must adhere to these strict principles of conduct. In doing so a more moral framework for the future direction of research can be developed.
Aos, U. (2013). Four Modern Approaches to Psychology. Introduction to Psychology.
Kirsch, I. (2004). The Role of Cognition in Classical and Operant Conditioning. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 60(4). 369-392.
McLeod, S. (2007). Multi Store Model of Memory. Simple Psychology.
Scodel, A. (1958). The Psychology of Prejudice. Educational Leadership.