AQA GCSE Psychology – Psychological Problems

This Chapter Covers:

Chapter 8: Psychological Problems

  • An introduction to mental health
  • Characteristics of mental health, e.g. positive engagement with society, effective coping with challenges
  • Cultural variations in beliefs about mental health problems
  • Increased challenges of modern living, e.g. isolation
  • Increased recognition of the nature of mental health problems and lessening of social stigma.
  • Effects of significant mental health problems on individuals and society
    • Individual effects, e.g. damage to relationships, difficulties coping with day to day life, negative impact on physical wellbeing.
    • Social effects, e.g. need for more social care, increased crime rates, implications for the economy.
  • Characteristics of clinical depression
    • Differences between unipolar depression, bipolar depression and sadness.
    • The use of international classification of diseases in diagnosing unipolar depression: number and severity of symptoms including low mood, reduced energy levels, changes in sleep patterns and appetite levels, decrease in self-confidence.
  • Theories of depression
    • Biological explanation (influence of nature): imbalance of neurotransmitters, e.g. serotonin in the brain
    • Psychological explanation (influence of nurture): negative schemas and attributions.
  • Interventions or therapies for depression
    • Use of antidepressant medications.
    • Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).
    • How these improve mental health, reductionist and holistic perspectives. Wiles’ study of the effectiveness of CBT

Chapter 1: Memory

  • Processes of memory
    • Different types of memory
      • Episodic memory
      • Semantic memory
      • Procedural memory
    • How memories are encoded and stored
  • Structures of memory
    • The multi-store memory model
      • Sensory memory store
      • Short-term memory store
      • Long-term memory store
    • The features of each store
      • Encoding
      • Capacity
      • Duration
  • Primacy and recency effects
    • The effects of serial position
    • Murdock’s serial position curve study
  • Memory as an active process
    • The Theory of Reconstructive Memory, including the concept of ‘effort after meaning’
    • Bartlett’s War of the Ghosts study
    • Factors affecting the accuracy of memory, including interference, context and false memories

Chapter 2: Perception

  • Sensation and perception
    • Sensation
    • Perception
  • Visual cues and constancies
    • Monocular depth cues: height in plane, relative size, occlusion and linear perspective
    • Binocular depth cues: retinal disparity, convergence
  • Gibson’s direct theory of perception and the influence of nature
    • Role of motion parallax in everyday perception
    • Evaluating Gibson’s direct theory of perception and the influence of nature
  • Visual illusions
    • Explanations for visual illusions: ambiguity, misinterpreted depth cues, fiction, size constancy.
    • Examples of visual illusions: the Ponzo, the Müller-Lyer, Rubin’s vase, the Ames Room, the Kanizsa triangle and the Necker cube
  • Gregory’s constructivist theory of perception and the influence of nature
    • Evaluating Gregory’s theory of perception
  • Factors affecting perception
    • Perceptual set and the effects of the following factors affecting perception: culture, motivation, emotion, expectation
    • The Gilchrist and Nesberg study of motivation and the Bruner and Minturn study of perceptual set

Chapter 3: Development

  • Early brain development
    • A basic knowledge of brain development, from simple neural structures in the womb, of the brain stem, thalamus, cerebellum and cortex, reflecting the development of autonomic functions, sensory processing, movement and cognition
    • The roles of nature and nurture
  • Piaget’s stage theory and the development of intelligence
    • Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development including concepts of assimilation and accommodation
  • The role of Piaget’s theory in education
    • The four stages of development: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational. Application of these stages in education. Reduction of egocentricity, development of conservation
  • McGarrigle and Donaldson’s ‘naughty teddy study’; Hughes’ ‘policeman doll study’

Chapter 4: Research Methods

  • Formulation of testable hypotheses
  • Types of variable
  • Sampling methods
  • Designing research
  • Correlation
  • Research procedures
  • Planning and conducting research
  • Ethical considerations
  • Quantitative and qualitative data
  • Primary and secondary data
  • Computation
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Interpretation and display of quantitative data
  • Normal distributions

Chapter 5: Social Influence

  • Conformity
  • Obedience
  • Prosocial behaviour
  • Crowd and collective behaviour

Chapter 6: Language, Thought and Communication

  • The possible relationship between language and thought
  • The effect of language and thought on our view of the world
  • Differences between human and animal communication
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Explanations of non-verbal behaviour

Chapter 7: Brain and Neuropsychology

  • Structure and function of the nervous system
  • Neuron structure and function
  • Structure and function of the brain
  • An introduction to neuropsychology

Characteristics of good mental health

Good mental health is more than simply not having a mental health problem. A person with good mental health will display some (not necessarily all) of these characteristics:

  • Not being overcome by difficult feelings
  • Able to have good relationships with other people
  • Able to deal with disappointments and problems they face
  • Able to cope with the stresses and demands of everyday life
  • Being able to make decisions
  • Being able to cope effectively with difficulties or challanges
  • Positive engagement with society
  • Functioning as part of society

When people suffer from mental health problems, these affect the way they think, feel and behave. There are many different types of mental health problems with some more common than others, such as depression and anxiety. Other mental health problems such as Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder occur less often.

Mental health problems are diagnosed using two recognised ways: The World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) and the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Symptoms Of Mental Health Problems

Cultural variations in beliefs about mental health problems

All throughout history, mental health problems have often previously been attributed to supernatural or spiritual causes. These have ranged from possession by evil spirits, being cursed or being a witch. Throughout Europe and North America, during the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries, many women were accused and tried for being witches. It is now believed that mental health problems have resulted in some of the behaviours displayed by those accused.

In many cultures, having mental health issues is seen negatively. For example, in Asian cultures, mental health problems are stigmatised and seen as a form of personal weakness. The stigma attached to mental health problems can cause people to further experience further problems including economic, social and legal discrimination. In other cultures, a person’s behaviour can be seen to reflect on the whole family and it is common for people with mental health problems to be kept away from other people and cared for by the family.

Cultural beliefs about the cause of mental health problems can also influence how people with such issues are treated. In cultures where such problems are seen as having a biological cause, medication is often used. In other cultures, where they are attributed to spiritual causes, treatments may range from prayers to exorcisms. Self-help groups and therapy are more popular in cultures where sharing openly about yourself, your problems and emotions are valued. In cultures where mental health problems are seen as shameful, people may be kept isolated and be unable to talk to others about what they are going through.

Research suggests that more people than ever are being diagnosed with mental health problems globally. Some disorders such as schizophrenia occur at a consistent rate, however, others such as depression have a growing rate of diagnosis. This may not necessarily be down to more people having mental health problems but changes in the classification of disorders which results in more people meeting the criteria for diagnosis. There are also more people seeking medical and psychiatric treatment across cultures as they come to be less reliant on traditional methods of addressing mental health problems.

Challenges of modern living and its effects on mental health

Research suggests that living in more populated (modern) areas can increase stress levels. Brain scans have shown that people who live in cities also have more active amygdala compared to people living in less populated areas. One of the roles of the amygdala is responding to threats, which suggests a link to increased stress levels. 

Other factors such as loneliness and isolation can also contribute to mental health problems such as depression an anxiety. A survey for the Mental Health Foundation found that one in ten people in the UK report feeling lonely and this is increasing amongst young people. Changes in the way people live may be a possible cause for increasing levels of loneliness. More people may also be living on their own away from family and friends due to the demands of work, family breakdown or simply people living longer. The advancements of technology and social media has also changed how people interact. Although people can connect with one another all over the world, there is also concerns that such technology is replacing the need for face-to-face interaction. In the survey for the Mental Health Foundation, 18% of people reported that they thought they spent too much time communicating with family and friends online rather than in person.

Increased recognition of the nature of mental health problems and lessening of stigma