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Outline and compare the cognitive and behaviourist approach in psychology

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Outline and compare the cognitive and behaviourist approach in psychology (12 marks) This essay will outline and compare the cognitive and behaviourist approach to psychology. It will refer to various therapies and practical uses of each approach. I will also refer to the case study of Kohler. I will then outline the similarities and conclude with the differences. The behaviourist approach is deterministic as it argues all behaviours are determined by past events and that all human behaviour is controlled by external events which means that humans do not have freewill. It supports empiricism and argues that only behaviour that can be observed, measured and recorded should be classed as scientific. ...read more.


The aspects of the organism including conscious and unconscious thought act as a meditational process between stimulus and response. The similarities between the approaches are that they are both scientific as they both believe that human behaviour can be studied scientifically, they focus on objectivity and they both conduct experiments in laboratory conditions. The strengths of both the approaches are that they are scientific and they allow prediction and replication of studies. They have also produced vast amounts of research in psychology and have influenced it in their own way. For example the information processing approach has implications for eye witness testimony and the behaviourist approach has implications for criminal behaviour e.g. ...read more.


After a while of trail and error he sat in the corner and thought to himself, he was then able to get in join the sticks together and successfully get the bananas. This supports the idea cognitive approach and goes against the behaviourist approach as the chimps behaviour was more than trail and error it was the process solution of insight. In conclusion the cognitive approach argues that people are born with pre existing schemas whilst the behaviourist approach disagrees with the idea of innate behaviour or that we have pre existing schemas. Skinner and Watson argued that people are born with a blank slate (tabula rasa) and that all behaviour is learnt from the environment. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This question asks candidates to first outline and then compare the use of the cognitive and behaviourist approaches in Psychology. The main reason this candidate was graded as low as they were was because of the difficulty shown in trying ...

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Response to the question

This question asks candidates to first outline and then compare the use of the cognitive and behaviourist approaches in Psychology. The main reason this candidate was graded as low as they were was because of the difficulty shown in trying to structure an effective analysis of both the cognitive and behaviourist approaches to Psychology. Because this is not an English essay, it becomes very easy to answer if you address the question very systematically. To "Outline" the different approaches, you first need to (after an introductory paragraph on the principles/assumptions of these approaches) give two similarities and then two differences. The systematic approach does not get penalised in synoptic essay writing as there are no marks for insight like their are in Humanities and Social Ethics essays. Conforming to the aforementioned structure will help convey the points more clearly and will prevent candidates getting lost and/or repeating themselves in an exam.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is fairly good, though a lot of it is not fully explored or explained. For instance, further effort could have been devoted to fully explaining what conditioning in Behavioural Psychology is. As well as this, there is little evidence of full comprehension of the Cognitive Approach because there is little emphasis on specialist vocabulary. Words and phrases like "hypothetical constructs", "memory reconstructions", and "self-report" should be used in the outlining section of this answer, as these are method by which Cognitive Psychologist retrieve their information. This may seem picky, but to demonstrate a profound knowledge of Psychology will be to use the appropriate specialist lexes that define the subject.
As well as this, the candidate's essay structure is very poor. The candidate makes a fairly good start, comparing two similarities between the approaches to a fair amount of detail, but there should be two different differences shown as well, rather than having just one as this is not a balanced arguments and this bias suggests to examiners there is a greater understanding of one of the section and a poorer understanding of the other. Furthermore, the candidate only provides one piece of evidence for the entire essay, briefly mentioning Skinner & Watson towards the end, (though it is not enough to simply name-drop) and this lowers their analytical merit because the essay response needs to prove that the candidate harbours the ability to provide practical research to back-up theoretical comprehension.
As a final note, conclusions should be conclusive and should tie together all the comment made prior to it. For no reason should there be any new information presented in the conclusion (in this essay, the candidate introduces schemas and Skinner & Watson). In doing this it give the examiner the impression there was originally going to be more information, but time constraints cut the candidate short or they simply didn't know how to write a successful conclusion. Writing conclusions is a task that all candidate should practise as it demonstrated an ability to write a good essay with a clear structure, as well as showing examiners the candidate can plan an essay well.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is fine. There is a fair selection of specialist vocabulary used, though more could've been used particularly with the Cognitive Approach. There range of punctuation is limited however; strong candidates write with flair and confidence and show this through an adept understanding of the English language so grammatical consistencies and standards in writing must be proven and upheld throughout answers.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 28/02/2012

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