It's quite easy to get AO2 marks on 12 mark essay questions as long as you remember to list:
- Links to topic areas
- Links a debate
- Links to any of the approaches
Topic areas should be easy as you covered them in PSYB3 as well as debates which can be used, for example, in the Biological approach and SLT approach (nurture vs nature) etc.
An example that AQA has provided is an evaluation of the cognitive approach and behaviourist approach:
The behaviourist approach uses scientific methods and primarily focuses on observable behaviour. Theories of learning (classic and operant conditioning) investigate learning by measuring observable responses to stimuli. For example, in classical conditioning reflex responses such as the amount of saliva produced in response to a bell, is measured before and after being associated with food. Behavioural S-R theory therefore involves itself in experimental methods. Similarly the cognitive approach can be considered scientific. This is because it measures overt behaviours such as the number of words remembered in a test of memory but from this inferring the unobservable cognitive processes. Furthermore, cognitive researchers carry out controlled experiments on internal processes such as memory, perception and attention. Moreover, behaviourists focus on observable overt behaviour whilst the cognitive approach has addressed the gap between S-R links created by the behaviourists and has focused on the internal processes that come in between. These internal mediating processes are covert, unlike the overt behaviour studied by the behaviorist approach.
Research into insight learning demonstrates how important internal processes are in learning. For example, a hungry chimp tried to reach a banana outside its cage. After stretching unsuccessfully, it reached for a stick (also outside the cage) and used it to rake in the banana. According to the behaviorists, learning happens through association between stimulus and response, when the animal produces the correct response and is reinforced for doing so. However, in insight learning, a solution appears without prior reinforcement. Cognitive psychologists argue that the activity involves memory and perceptual restructuring whereas the behaviourists claim that learning can be explained without resorting to cognitive activity.
Investigations into insight learning show another difference between the two approaches. Behaviourists are reductionist, believing that all behavior can be explained by S-R links, whereas the cognitive approach is holistic. Insight learning is best explained viewing the situation as a whole than the sum of its part. This means that a solution to a problem comes together when all parts are seen in relation to one another as a meaningful 'whole', which is how cognitive psychologists explain insight learning.
Both approaches have their practical uses, though as their assumptions are so different, the way they apply solutions differs. For example, when looking at the causes of atypical behaviour, cognitive psychologists will base their explanations on unrealistic or irrational thoughts and beliefs, whereas behaviourists would explain atypical behaviour by learning of maladaptive responses. These theoretical assumptions influence treatments. For the behaviourists, preferred treatments are behaviour therapy or behaviour modification to change behaviour, whereas cognitive psychologists aim to restructure the maladaptive thought processes. However, the two approaches, have merged to produce CBT; this combines behaviour therapy methods with techniques designed to change the way a person things about themselves or events