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Behaviorism in a Level Psychology

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Section C


a) Outline one assumption of the Behaviourist perspective. (2 marks)

One assumption of the behaviourist perspective is that all behaviour is learnt from our surroundings. Even behaviour which appears natural has been learnt, and that learning is a product of the environment we are in and the presence or absence of external reinforcers.

b) Describe how the behaviourist perspective could explain aggression (4 marks)

The behaviourist perspective would explain aggression as a learnt behaviour. Rather than being born with a propensity towards a certain level of aggression, some people become more or less aggressive due to the environment they are in. If a person performs an act of aggression and is rewarded for it, for example gaining prestige or respect, then they will be aggressive again. This is known as reinforcement. Social Learning Theory would explain aggression as being learnt from other via Observation and Imitation, i.e. if they see violence (from a family member, friend or on tv) they will copy it, therefore becoming aggressive. Therefore Behaviourism would state that aggression is learnt from those around us.

c) Describe one similarity and one difference between any behaviourist perspective studies (6 marks)

One similarity between studies which could be considered from the behaviourist perspective is the use of observations as a data collection technique. In Savage-Rumbaugh, Chimpanzees were observed using the lexigrams throughout the research, with high levels of control in the formal tests. In Bandura's research time sampling was used of a videoed observation lasting 20 minutes.

One difference between studies which could be considered from the behaviourist perspective is that Savage-Rumbaugh did not have a large sample size (only 4 main chimpanzees) whilst Bandura Ross and Ross had a much larger sample of 72 participants, giving it greater representativeness and therefore more generalisable conclusions than Savage-Rumbaugh.

d) Discuss strengths and weaknesses of the behaviourist perspective using examples from any behaviourist studies. (12 marks)

One strength of the behaviourist perspective is that it aims to be scientific, by creating and using controlled environments for research to take place in. For example, In Bandura's research the participants were taken into a laboratory environment where research had control over all situational variables. They had even controlled for individual differences in participants' normal aggression levels by matching them up based on prior aggression levels before exposing them to their models. This should limit the effect of extraneous variables on the dependent variable, thereby ensuring that cause and effect can be clearly identified.



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