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The Biological Approach in Psychology

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Uzair Zafar

on 12 September 2013

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Transcript of The Biological Approach in Psychology

How can it be compared to other approaches?

The Biological Approach in Psychology
The Biological Approach Assumes...
It assumes that:

• All behaviour has a biological basis in the body.

• It examines the brain, nervous system, hormones, genes, etc. and how these relate to behaviour.

• Behaviour can be explained in terms of the body’s
physiology (e.g. nerves, chemicals), function, development
and evolution

There is a genetic basis to much behaviour. (chromosomes)

• Our physiology and behaviour has adapted to our
environment through evolution.
(Human genes have evolved over millions of years to adapt behavior to the environment. Therefore, most behavior will have an adaptive / evolutionary purpose)

• Mental disorders can be treated in the same way as physical illnesses
Key Features
What are the key features of the approach?
1. Give two assumptions of the biological approach.
2. Using an example, explain what is meant by the nature-nurture debate.
3. Give two points of evaluation of the biological approach.
1. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The biological perspective to psychology explicitly implies that all behaviour and experiences have a biological causation, (i.e. chemical activity in the brain, neurotransmitters acting as synapses).

This approach makes reference to the brain as acting as a processing centre controlling all complex behaviour, meaning that in theory all behaviour, both normal and abnormal can be related to changes in the brain activity.

The biological approach is also known as the physiological psychology or biopsychology and is heavily linked to the sciences, dealing with neurology (disorders of the brain and the nervous system) and genetics.

The Basics
The Basics: Applications
A biological perspective can be applied psychologically in three different ways:

(psychology invoking physiological motivators/genetic traits): How behaviour compares across species, in this instance looking at particularly humans and other mammals; this is based on the idea that behaviour is defined by genetics- regardless of the other species being looked at or compared

Looks at the biology behind behaviour, by observing how chemical exposure impacts the body and behaviour, this includes natural hormones such as how the nervous system and hormones work, or how the brain functions, and changes in structure and/or function can affect behaviour.

Observing what an animal inherits from its parents, mechanisms of inheritance e.g. genetics- intelligence

These psychological outlooks are applied to describe behaviour biologically.

The biological approach believes that most behavior is inherited and has an adaptive (or evolutionary) function.

For example, in the weeks immediately after the birth of a child, levels of testosterone in fathers drop by more than 30 per cent. Testosterone-deprived men are less likely to wander off in search of new mates to inseminate. They are also less aggressive, which is useful when there is a baby around.

Therefore this has an evolutionary purpose!
Real World Applications
Natural Selection / Evolution
Adaptation (Darwin aswell)
Heredity / Genetics
Instincts /
Sociobiology (Evolution)
Comparative Psychology
Lab Experiments
Naturalistic Observations
Correlational Experiments
Twin Research (Zimbardo et al)
Reliability and Validity
Ethical Considerations????
How Science Works- Applications
Gender Role Development (chromosomes)
Pathology (abnormal psychology)
Relationships!!! How?
Dominant Approach
Very Scientific approach- falsifiable
Highly application to other areas
Helped develop comparative psychology
Many empirical studies to support theories
Practical interventions based on the biological perspective have proven reliable, including drug therapies and certain types of neurological surgical procedures
Helped significantly in understanding behaviour
Lab Experiments – Low Ecological Validity
Doesn’t recognize cognitive processes
Reductionist- over simplified the complexity of physical systems and their interaction with the environment
Also, neglects other possible causes for behavior, like external events in a person's life, the impact of different cultural upbringings, mental states, and emotional desires.
Humanism: too deterministic there's little room for free-will
It might not be possible to draw clear conclusions about human
behaviour from studies of other animals.
Ignores social or behavioural explanations
Key Debates- How?
Because they take a very scientific approach to studying people their approach is
(they are interested in the features that people have in common and in understanding the fundamental laws of human behaviour)
Biopsychologists are generally deterministic in their outlook

They are firmly on the nature side of the nature-nurture debate
Their scientific approach also explains human behaviour in a
manner, decomposing complex processes down into more fundamental biological ones
Full transcript