Essay Plans

PSY1 – Social Influence


  • Types of conformity: internalisation, identification and compliance. Explanations for conformity: informational social influence and normative social influence, and variables affecting conformity including group size, unanimity and task difficulty as investigated by Asch.
  • Conformity to social roles as investigated by Zimbardo.
  • Explanations for obedience: agentic state and legitimacy of authority, and situational variables affecting obedience including proximity, location and uniform, as investigated by Milgram. Dispositional explanation for obedience: the Authoritarian Personality.
  • Explanations of resistance to social influence, including social support and locus of control.
  • Minority influence including reference to consistency, commitment and flexibility.
  • The role of social influence processes in social change.
Essay Plans

  1. Outline and Evaluate normative and informational influence explanations of conformity (12/16)
  2. Outline and Evaluate (Asch’s) research into conformity (12/16)
  3. Outline and Evaluate (Zimbardo’s) research into the conformity to social roles (12/16)
  4. Outline and Evaluate (Milgram’s) research into obedience (12/16)
  5. Outline and Evaluate two situational variables which effect obedience (12/16)
  6. Outline and Evaluate the authoritarian personality explanation of obedience(12/16)
  7. Outline and Evaluate one or more explanations of obedience (12/16)
  8. Outline and Evaluate the role of social support and locus of control in resisting social influence (12/16)
  9. Outline and Evaluate (Moscovici’s) research into minority influence (12/16)
  10. Outline and Evaluate the role of social influence processes in social change (12/16)

PSY1 – Memory


  • The multi-store model of memory: sensory register, short-term memory and long-term memory. Features of each store: coding, capacity and duration.
  • Types of long-term memory: episodic, semantic, procedural.
  • The working memory model: central executive, phonological loop, visuo-spatial sketchpad and episodic buffer. Features of the model: coding and capacity.
  • Explanations for forgetting: proactive and retroactive interference and retrieval failure due to absence of cues.
  • Factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony: misleading information, including leading questions and post-event discussion; anxiety.
  • Improving the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, including the use of the cognitive interview.
Essay Plans

11. Outline and Evaluate research into coding/capacity/duration of STM and LTM (8/10)

12. Outline and Evaluate the Multi Store Model of memory (12/16)

13. Outline and Evaluate the different types of LTM (12/16)

14. Outline and Evaluate the Working Memory Model (12/16)

15. Outline and Evaluate interference as an explanation of forgetting (12/16)

16. Outline and Evaluate retrieval failure as an explanation of forgetting (12/16)

17. Outline and Evaluate research into the influence of misleading information on the accuracy of EWT (12/16)

18. Outline and Evaluate research into the influence of anxiety on the accuracy of EWT (12/16)

19. Outline and Evaluate the cognitive interview as a way of improving the accuracy of EWT (12/16)

PSY1 – Attachment


  • Caregiver-infant interactions in humans: reciprocity and interactional synchrony. Stages of attachment identified by Schaffer. Multiple attachments and the role of the father.
  • Animal studies of attachment: Lorenz and Harlow.
  • Explanations of attachment: learning theory and Bowlby’s monotropic theory. The concepts of a critical period and an internal working model.
  • Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’. Types of attachment: secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant. Cultural variations in attachment, including van Ijzendoorn.
  • Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation. Romanian orphan studies: effects of institutionalisation.
  • The influence of early attachment on childhood and adult relationships, including the role of an internal working model.
Essay Plans

20. Outline and Evaluate infant-caregiver interactions (12/16)

21. Outline and Evaluate Shaffer’s stages of attachment (12/16)

22. Outline and Evaluate animal studies of attachment (12/16)

23. Outline and Evaluate the learning theory of attachment (12/16)

24. Outline and Evaluate Bowlby’s monotropic theory of attachment (12/16)

25. Outline and Evaluate the strange situation (12/16)

26. Outline and Evaluate research into the cultural variations of attachment (12/16)

27. Outline and Evaluate Bowlby’s maternal deprivation hypothesis (12/16)

28. Outline and Evaluate research into the effects of institutionalisation, refer to Romanian orphans (12/16)

29. Outline and Evaluate the influence of early attachment of later adult relationships (12/16)

PSY1 – Psychopathology


  • Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately, statistical infrequency and deviation from ideal mental health.
  • The behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of phobias, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • The behavioural approach to explaining and treating phobias: the two-process model, including classical and operant conditioning; systematic desensitisation, including relaxation and use of hierarchy; flooding.
  • The cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression: Beck’s negative triad and Ellis’s ABC model; cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), including challenging irrational thoughts.
  • The biological approach to explaining and treating OCD: genetic and neural explanations; drug therapy.
Essay Plans

30. Outline and Evaluate two or more definitions of abnormality (12/16)

31. Outline the [behavioural/cognitive/emotional] characteristics of [phobias/depression/OCD] (3/4)

32. Outline and Evaluate the behavioural approach to explaining phobias (12/16)

33. Outline and Evaluate the behavioural approach to treating phobias (12/16)

34. Outline and Evaluate the cognitive approach to explaining depression (12/16)

35. Outline and Evaluate the cognitive approach to treating depression (12/16)

36. Outline and Evaluate the biological approach to explaining OCD (12/16)

37. Outline and Evaluate the biological approach to treating OCD (12/16)

PSY2 – Approaches


Y Origins of psychology: Wundt, introspection & the emergence as a science.

  • Learning approaches: the behaviourist approach, including classical conditioning and Pavlov’s research, operant conditioning, types of reinforcement and Skinner’s research; social learning theory including imitation, identification, modelling, vicarious reinforcement, the role of mediational processes and Bandura’s research.
  • The cognitive approach: the study of internal mental processes, the role of schema, the use of theoretical and computer models to explain and make inferences about mental processes. The emergence of cognitive neuroscience.
  • The biological approach: the influence of genes, biological structures and neurochemistry on behaviour. Genotype and phenotype, genetic basis of behaviour, evolution and behaviour.
  • The psychodynamic approach: the role of the unconscious, the structure of personality, that is ID, ego and superego, defence mechanisms including repression, denial and displacement, psychosexual stages.
  • Humanistic psychology: free will, self-actualisation and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, focus on the self, congruence, the role of conditions of worth. The influence on counselling psychology.
  • Comparison of approaches.
Essay Plans

38. Outline and Evaluate the behavioural approach in psychology (12/16)

39. Outline and Evaluate the social learning approach in psychology (12/16)

40. Outline and Evaluate the cognitive approach in psychology (12/16)

41. Outline and Evaluate the biological approach in psychology (12/16)

42. Outline and Evaluate the psychodynamic approach in psychology (16)

43. Outline and Evaluate the humanist approach in psychology (16)

PSY2 – Biopsychology


  • The divisions of the nervous system: central & peripheral (somatic/autonomic).
  • Structure & function of sensory, relay & motor neurons. Process of synaptic transmission, including reference to neurotransmitters, excitation & inhibition.
  • The function of the endocrine system: glands and hormones.
  • The fight or flight response including the role of adrenaline.
  • Localisation of function in the brain & hemispheric lateralisation: motor, somatosensory, visual, auditory & language centres; Broca’s & Wernicke’s areas, split brain research. Plasticity & functional recovery after trauma.
  • Ways of studying the brain: scanning techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); electroencephalogram (EEGs) and event-related potentials (ERPs); post-mortem examinations.
  • Biological rhythms: circadian, infradian and ultradian and the difference between these rhythms. The effect of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers on the sleep/wake cycle.
Essay Plans

44. Outline and Evaluate localisation of function in the human brain (16)

45. Outline and Evaluate research into brain lateralisation and split brain (16)

46. Outline and Evaluate the evidence for plasticity and functional recovery (16)

47. Outline and Evaluate research into circadian rhythms (16)

48. Outline and Evaluate research into infradian/ultradian rhythms (16)

49. Outline and Evaluate effects of endogenous pacemakers & exogenous zeitgebers on sleep-wake cycle (16)

PSY3 – Schizophrenia


  • Classification of schizophrenia. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia, including hallucinations and delusions. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia, including speech poverty and avolition. Reliability and validity in diagnosis and classification of schizophrenia, including reference to co-morbidity, culture and gender bias and symptom overlap.
  • Biological explanations for schizophrenia: genetics, the dopamine hypothesis and neural correlates.
  • Psychological explanations for schizophrenia: family dysfunction and cognitive explanations, including dysfunctional thought processing.
  • Drug therapy: typical and atypical antipsychotics.
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy and family therapy as used in the treatment of schizophrenia. Token economies as used in the management of schizophrenia.
  • The importance of an interactionist approach in explaining and treating schizophrenia; the diathesis-stress model.
Essay Plans

50. Outline and Evaluate the classification and diagnosis of schizophrenia (12/16)

51. Outline and Evaluate the psychological approach to explaining schizophrenia (12/16)

52. Outline and Evaluate the psychological approach to treating schizophrenia (12/16)

53. Outline and Evaluate the biological approach to explaining schizophrenia (12/16)

54. Outline and Evaluate the biological approach to treating schizophrenia (12/16)

55. Outline and Evaluate the interactionist approach to both explaining and treating schizophrenia (12/16)

PSY3 – Aggression


  • Neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression, including the roles of the limbic system, serotonin and testosterone. Genetic factors in aggression, including the MAOA gene.
  • The ethological explanation of aggression, including reference to innate releasing mechanisms and fixed action patterns. Evolutionary explanations of human aggression.
  • Social psychological explanations of human aggression, including the frustration-aggression hypothesis, social learning theory as applied to human aggression, and de-individuation.
  • Institutional aggression in the context of prisons: dispositional and situational explanations.
  • Media influences on aggression, including the effects of computer games. The role of desensitisation, disinhibition and cognitive priming.
Essay Plans

56. Outline and Evaluate the neural and/or hormonal explanation of aggression (12/16)

57. Outline and Evaluate the genetic explanation of aggression (12/16)

58. Outline and Evaluate the ethological explanation of aggression (12/16)

59. Outline and Evaluate the evolutionary explanation of human aggression (12/16)

60. Outline and Evaluate the frustration-aggression hypothesis as an explanation of aggression (12/16)

61. Outline and Evaluate the social learning explanation of aggression (12/16)

62. Outline and Evaluate the deindividuation explanation of aggression (12/16)

63. Outline and Evaluate the explanations of institutional aggression (12/16)

64. Outline and Evaluate research into the effects of video games on aggression (12/16)

65. Outline and Evaluate media influences on aggression (12/16)

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