Evaluate two studies related to abnormal psychology

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Evaluate two studies related to abnormal psychology.

Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that deals with studying, explaining and treating mental, emotional and behavioral problems. Many studies have taken place examining many different aspects of abnormal psychology. Some studies explore psychological disorders, such as depression and others try to test the validity of diagnosis and classificatory systems and to show that actually the distinction between abnormal and normal behavior is very difficult. Two of the most famous studies in abnormal psychology are the ones by Brown and Harris in 1978 and by Rosenhan in 1973.

First of all, depression is one of the most common psychological disorders. People who are depressed have very low moods and low levels of self esteem. They lack motivation, and think that everything is black and that they will never be happy again. It seems that besides the biological and cognitive factors, social and cultural ones also play a role in depression. One study which explores the effects of sociocultural factors on depression is the one by Brown and Harris.

Brown and Harris aimed to investigate the link between depression and both current and past life events in the lives of sufferers. Regarding the procedure of their study, they used a complex interview called the life events and difficulties scale (LEDS). A group of 539 women in Camberwell, London were interviewed using LEDS aimed to uncover stressful events in the previous years as well as childhood events. Events were rated by a panel of researchers who were blind. They provided evidence that both recent high levels of stress and having suffered a stressful childhood event left people particularly vulnerable to depression. In the previous year, 37 of them (8 per cent of the total) had become clinically depressed. Of these, 33 (almost 90 per cent) had suffered an adverse life event. Three of the four factors that had the strongest associations with depression involved recent levels of stress. These factors were the lack of an intimate relationship, lack of paid employment, and the presence of three of more children in the home. However, childhood events were also important, especially the death of the mother before the age of 11.

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The study by Brown and Harris does not establish cause and effect relationship (correlation) and it is mainly a qualitative research. In other words it examines the meaning of participants’ actions and words. In addition, the sample is non-representative since it is a purposive sampling, and therefore it is difficult to generalize. On the other hand, theoretical generalizations can be made and new theories can emerge that potentially can be generalized. Moreover, a significant problem of this study is memory distortions. Probably, some participants do not remember well some events from their childhood. However, a sophisticated scale was used and ...

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