The Biological Approach Essay Format

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Describe and evaluate biological explanations of OCD (10 marks)

The biological approach as an explanation of OCD believes that the disorder is caused by a fault in our body, either through genes, hormones, the brain, or neurotransmitters, therefore suggesting that OCD is caused by our nature, rather than our upbringing. This means that since we are born with the body we have, if we have OCD, it is innate within us.

One biological explanation for OCD is the genetic explanation. The genetic explanation believes that all of our behaviour is inherited through our genes. This therefore means that we have a predisposition for OCD, which is inherited like any other genetic behaviour. If this were true, OCD is more likely to be prevalent…show more content…

However, having said this, although OCD is treatable, it is not curable, meaning that if a patient were to stop taking SSRI anti-depressants that increase Serotonin levels, the patient would revert back to normal and their obsessions and compulsions would continue.

Neurophysiological explanations can also be applied to OCD. Dysfunctional areas of the brain may cause OCD. This includes the orbito-frontal cortex and the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is responsible for passing on information in order to enable the planning and execution of movement. Individuals with OCD show increased activity in the orbito-frontal cortex. Obsessive and compulsive symptoms can also be caused by lack of tissue in the caudate nuclei. The caudate nuclei is an area in the basal ganglia that filters messages coming from the orbito-frontal cortex before passing to other parts of the brain. Rapoport and Wise proposed that hypersensitivity of the basal ganglia increases repetitive motor behaviours, such as those found in OCD patients. They investigated this by using brain scans, such as MRI scans, in which they compared OCD brains with normal brains and looked at the differences. This is a good way to study OCD as it is scientific and objective, meaning that it holds prestige. However, cause and effect cannot be established: we do not know if OCD causes brain dysfunction or whether brain dysfunction causes OCD. This means we cannot accurately study

  • I am currently studying approaches for the new AQA psychology spec. Could anyone help me by look over my essay for the biological approach and tell me whether I have written too much or too little and if I have included the right amount of AO1 and AO3. Thank you.

    The biological approach attempts to explain all behaviour through biology, particularly focusing on genetics, neurochemistry and hormonal changes as well as how evolution may have shaped human behaviour. Genes carry the instructions for the development of characteristics like intelligence, temperament and height. The main focus on how genetics has influenced our behaviour has looked at genotype and phenotype. Genotype is the genes a person has. Phenotype is the characteristics their genes produce. The genetic basis of behaviour has focused on trying to identify how much behaviour is influenced by genes and how much is influenced by the environment. Identical and non-identical twins have been used in research to clarify heritability and variation of traits within a population. For example, MZ twins have exactly the same DNA and so have a higher likelihood of sharing behaviours and disorders. Whereas, with DZ twins, there is a lower likelihood of sharing behaviour and disorders because they don’t share the same DNA. The biological structures of the brain consist of the CNS and PNS, both of which influence behaviour. The CNS comprises of the brain and spinal cord and these send messages to and from the environment. The PNS consists of the somatic and autonomic nervous system and sends and receives information to and from the CNS. Neurochemistry and its behaviour focus on hormones and neurotransmitters. Hormones are chemicals which are produced by the endocrine systems like the pituitary gland. Hormones stimulate receptors on the surface or inside cells. Their presence causes physiological reactions. Neurotransmitters are chemicals which are released when nerve impulses reach the end of a neuron. Dopamine and Serotonin are two neurotransmitters psychologists have focused on as they are believed to affect behaviour. For example, low levels of serotonin can lead to increased aggression. Also, high amounts of Dopamine have also been linked to Schizophrenia. Charles Darwin’s natural selection theory is used to explain behaviour from an evolutionary perspective. A random mutation in the genes of an animal due to environmental pressures will lead to a physical characteristic change or behavioural change. This will either increase or decrease their likelihood of survival. Psychologists believe many psychological characteristics like aggression can be explained through evolution. Aggression may have served the purpose of increasing survival and protecting territory. The biological approach uses the scientific method like the experimental method as its main form of investigation which gives this approach validity. Studies using this approach take place in highly controlled lab settings which are reliable as they make replication of the same experimental conditions for the verification of results possible. The results gained are also more objective as they are based on biology compared to subjective reporting or observations which also give the biological approach more validity. Another strength of the biological approach is that it can make clearer predictions regarding behaviour and possible links it has to biology. For example, predicting the effects of neurotransmitters on behaviour become easier when looking at those who are genetically related. This has contributed to the development of drug treatments and real world applications. For example, high concordance rates between family members for depression have led to identifying common neurochemical imbalances and then creating drug therapies. A major weakness of the biological approach is that it’s reductionist. This is because it attempts to break down complicated human behaviour and explain though the smallest part of genetics, neurotransmitters and hormone imbalances. This stops us considering other possible explanations for behaviour which may be contributing such as cognitive and emotional factors. Human free will is also over looked with biological explanations which is another weakness.

  • After speaking about MZ and DZ twins, write one of the concordance rates example and explain how for MZ twins it isn't 100%. E.g. Schizophrenia and Depression. Use connectives, so: secondly, the biological structures of the brain consists...
    Also, remove the Charles Darwin bit, because realistically it's unlikely you'll be able to write this in 20 minutes if it's out of 16 marks, which A2 essay questions will be out of.
    Also, try paragraphs to make it more clear for the examiner on what they're looking for.
    Your evaluation is strong but, you're lacking in terminology, e.g. your last point on free will. this means the approach is deterministic. also, it's a strong supporter of the nature debate. it's also nomoethic as it generalizes results to groups. (if you are doing pscyhology at A2 still, all these terms are in A2 book under comparisons). but, regardless of all this extra detail Ive said, it's full marks.

  • This is a really good essay. I struggle on structure. . It helped me structure mine.


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