Biological Level of Analysis for Psychology

Stan Lee Tan
Flashcards by Stan Lee Tan, updated more than 1 year ago
Stan Lee Tan
Created by Stan Lee Tan over 7 years ago


Possible questions followed by a key summary of answers and case studies

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Question Answer
Outline principles that define the biological level of analysis 1) All behavior has a physiological basis 2) Researchers take a reductionist approach: breaking complex behavior to simple parts (e.g. behavior associated with gene/hormone) 3) Case of Phineas Gage (Damasio)/Bruce Reimer (John Money) 4) Important to consider how cognition and environment affects behavior too 5) Behavior can be inherited 6) Genetic disposition to specific behavior 7) Researching this via correlational (twin) and linkage studies 8) Minnesota Twin Study, a longitudinal study comparing interests between twins 9) Grove, assessment of antisocial behavior between twins 10) Brunner, MAOA gene in a dutch family 11) Behavior may be influenced by evolutionary processes 12) Influence of natural selection 13) Chatrand & Bargh, Chameleon effect 14)David Buss, sex differences in jealousy
Discuss how and why particular research methods are used at the Biological level of analysis 1) Lab experiments with animals e.g. Martinez & Kesner, Zola-Morgan strength: sharing common ancestry validate certain inferences weakness: ethical considerations and generalizability 2) Correlational/Brain Studies e.g. Grove strength: relationship between specific brain activity and behavior weakness: cannot show causality
Discuss ethical considerations related to research studies at the biological level of analysis 1) Consent - may jeopardize the experiment e.g. Shacter & Singer 2) Deception - sometimes necessary e.g. Shacter & Singer 3) Right to Withdraw - participants may feel obligated e.g. Speisman 4) Debriefing - to ensure the participants are not affected e.g. Shacter & Singer 5) Protection of participants - Debriefing may help, researcher's obligation e.g. Shacter & Singer 6) Confidentiality - unique case studies may ruin confidentiality e.g. David Reimer was used as a documentary
Explain one study related to localization of function 1) The brain exhibits localization of function, different parts are responsible for different processes 2) Case of Phineas Gage 3) Case of H.M. 4) Corkin - teaching mirror writing (procedural memory) while there is no episodic memory
Explain, using examples, the effects of neurotransmitter on behavior 1) Neurotransmitter regulates and boosts signals between neurons, they can affect a range of behavior incl. aggression, memory, mood 2) Kandel, found the process of memory that applies to most animals due to their similar functional structure. It starts as a biochemical response in the brain after a sensory input. 3) The use of Acetylcholine to treat Alzheimer's patients 4) Martinez & Kesner, injecting rats with acetylcholine inhibitors and enzymes strength: well controlled lab experiment allows for cause and effect weakness: generalizability to humans 5) Neurotransmitter imbalance is one theory of the causes of mental illness; It was accidentally found that certain drugs were effective in treating depression 6) Schizophrenia is a complex disorder but found to be related to too little of certain neurotransmitters 7) Dopamine hypothesis: drugs like cocaine which contain dopamine exacerbate psychotic symptoms with schizophrenics, drugs that block dopamine function reduce psychotic symptoms 8) Evidence is correlational not causation 9) Neurotransmitter imbalance theories not based on individual laboratory tests 10) Drugs only reduce specific symptoms and even then, only affect 30% of individuals and take a long time to affect behavior - all this is unexplained by dopamine hypothesis
Explain functions of two hormones on behavior, using one or more examples 1) Endocrine system produce and secrete hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that coordinate the function of different parts of the body for various purposes like metabolism and body growth. They are transferred via the circulatory system. They are faster than neurotransmitters. 2) Oxytocin created by hypothalamus, induced by sex, hugs and kisses. It is pro-social behavior. 3) Baumgartner, testing the role of oxytocin in an economics trust game 4) Adrenaline helps adjust to sudden stress, responsible for increasing heart rate and blood pressure, 'fight or flight'. 5) Shacter & Singer
Discuss two effects of the environment on physiological processes 1) Effect on brain plasticity, brain plasticity is the ability of the brain to respond and be modified according to the environment 2) Maguire, matched pairs study the brain of right handed male taxi drivers and civilians (where taxi drivers more grey matter in right posterior and less in anterior hippocampus) 3) Effect on social behavior by mirror neurons, neurons that fire when an animal carries out an action or observes another animal carry out the action 4) Fogassi, picking up the peanut in front of a monkey 5) Iacaboni, lab experiment, finding that mirror neurons perceive intentions 6) We mentally practice whatever we observe and this could contribute to the idea of forming culture as we exchange ideas. 7) However, research is still in its infancy and there is not enough study.
Examine one interaction between cognition and physiology in terms of behavior. Explain two relevant studies. 1) Schacter & Singer believed that emotion is cognitive appraisal and physiological arousal 2) Schacter & Singer strength: well controlled lab experiment weakness: sample was all male and offered grade points for participation 3) Lazarus, believes in brief cognitive appraisal (which determines the specific type of emotion and physiological arousal), followed by secondary appraisal and then reappraisal. 4) Speisman weakness: unethical to expose participants 5) Le Doux, found the long-route and short-route in reaction of rats 6) Study of S.M. (Feinsten)
Discuss the use of brain imaging technologies in investigating the relationship between biological factors and behavior 1) Brain Imaging e.g. PET/CAT/MRI 2) PET works by radioactive sugars, MRI works by producing images based on x-rays, fMRI measures changes in blood oxygenation 3) Advantages of fMRI: non-invasive, better resolution/more detail 4) Disadvantages of fMRI: false positives shown by Bennet, not sensitive, use of univariate processing can make it seem more localized than in reality 5) Examples of fMRI in Psychology: Berns used to show difference in perceive differently in Asch's conformity study 6) Ethical Issues: understanding how the brain works can lead to Neuro-marketing, where companies can have specific targeting strategies for people to exploit a biological weakness
With reference to relevant research studies, to what extent does genetic inheritance influence behavior 1) Aggression seems to have a strong genetic component. 2) Twin Studies, helps identify biological influence e.g. Grove 3) Linkage Studies, tries to determine specific gene,e.g. Brunner. Past successes include Huntington's Disease where child (of one infected parent) has a 50% chance of contracting. 4) Environmental Influence, biology and environment contribute to behavior e.g. Social Learning Theory by Bandura and Caspi & Mofitt, different variants of MAOA gene followed by childhood situation
Examine one evolutionary explanation of behavior 1) Evolution is the changed of heritable characteristics over given period of time 2) Natural Selection and Sexual Selection affecting the gene pool 3) Buss, cross-cultural survey finding that women placed twice as much value in financial prospects than males, females prefer men older while males prefer female younger (as older males can get resources better and younger females are more fertile). However, there was a considerable variation in specific countries and what they placed important. 4) Dunbar, a content analysis of a dating advertisement, found that women were more likely to offer physical beauty while men offered financial security. However, mate selection based on reproductive selection does not explain homosexuality. Also, these assumptions ignore that people think about their actions.
Discuss ethical considerations in research into genetic influences on behavior 1) Confidentiality - Familiar nature of genetic study makes it important to consider future implications for later generations. 2) Potential psychological harm from genetic testing - low-self esteem of the indv., parental guilt, identification with other members of the family who may not wish to know 3) Accuracy of results - Ethical considerations on false positives and implications
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