Social psychology is about aspects of human behaviour that involve the individual’s relationship to other persons, groups and society. The focus will be learning about obedience and prejudice including:
• Important research into obedience, such as the famous Milgram electric shock study.
• Factors affecting prejudice (and discrimination), including individual differences (personality), situation and culture.
• How can knowledge of social psychology be used to reduce prejudice in situations such as crowd behaviour or rioting?
• How can social psychology be used to explain heroism?
Cognitive psychology looks at processes such as perception, memory, selective attention, language and problem solving. Individual differences and deve lopmental psychology will be used when learning about memory differences and memory deficits and how the brain ages. In addition;
• Famous case studies of brain damaged patients.
• How can psychologists’ understanding of memory help dementia patients?
• Can knowledge of working memory be used to inform the treatment of dyslexia?
Biological Psychology is about the mechanisms within our body and how they affect behaviour such as aggression. Individual differences and developmental psychology will be used to look at issues such as aggression caused by an accident and the role of hormones (eg. testosterone) to explain aggressive human behaviour. Other behaviours that are thought to have a biological basis will also be looked at, such as the effect of recreational drugs on the brain. Also:
• Contemporary research will be discussed such as brain abnormalities in murderers.
• Effectiveness of drug therapy such as methadone for treating addictions.
Learning theories are about learning from the environment including the role of rewards and punishment on individuals. There are many famous studies covered in this topic such as Pavlov’s experiment with salivation in dogs and studies into the effects of the media on violent behaviour. Also studied are:
• How learning theories explain the acquisition and maintenance of phobias.
• Treatments for phobias based on theories of learning
• The use of animals in laboratory experiments including ethical issues.
• Is the influence of role models and celebrities something that causes anorexia?
• Would it be a good idea for airline companies to offer treatment programmes for fear of flying?
This is about explaining and treating mental health issues and the different ways of treating them, including counselling and drug treatments.
Different explanations for mental health disorders will be looked at such as links between
personality factors, genetic influences (nature) or environmental influences (nurture). This will be looked at in the context of:
• Schizophrenia and other disorders such as anorexia and depression.
• The symptoms and causes of these disorders such as genetics or environment
• Treatments for disorders such as drug therapy and counselling.
• How do different societies define mental health disorders?
• What are the issues surrounding mental health in the workplace?
Criminological psychology is about the definition and causes of crime and anti-social behaviour and the identification and treatment of offenders undertaken by forensic investigators. In addition this area involves learning about the possible causes of criminal behaviour, such as labelling and self-fulfilling prophecy. This will be discovered through the study of:
• Explanations of crime and anti-social behaviour
• Biological explanations, including brain injury
• Understanding the offender, offence analysis and case formulation
• The use of psychology to understand the function of offending behaviour in the individual.
• Treatments for offenders, such as anger management.
• Factors influencing eye witness testimony.
• Factors influencing jury decision making.
This paper is synoptic which encompasses all the theories and skills learned throughout the two years of study. Also you will need to consider issues and debates from across
all topics in order to develop a general knowledge of key issues and debates including:
• Ethical issues in research (animal and human).
• Practical issues in the design and implementation of research.
• Psychology as a science.
• Cultural and gender issues within psychological research.
• The role of both nature and nurture within psychology.
The A- level is assessed by three written exam papers at the end of the course:
Paper 1 – Foundations in Psychology (2 hours)
Paper 2 – Applications of Psychology (2 hours)
Paper 3 – Psychological Skills (2 hours)
Students will have four Psychology lessons a week in which we cover content. Outside of class it is vital for students to complete independent study, using mark schemes to practise model exam answers, textbooks, Psychology review magazine and useful websites for consolidation and wider reading.