Up Learn – A Level Psychology (AQA) – approaches to psychology (Ao3)

Evaluating Approaches in Psychology

In Paper 2, you’ll need to be able to evaluate and compare each of the approaches.
And we look at four different ways we can compare the approaches, starting with free will vs determinism.


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Up Learn – A Level PsychologY (AQA)

Approaches to Psychology (AO3)

Now, in addition to evaluating approaches by looking at how scientific the research methods are…or prominent studies that either support or criticise the approach… or the applications of the approach…or what they say about the debates in psychology…

We may want to compare two approaches, if we get a question like this:

Or this:

Or, we may just get this question [Outline and evaluate the behaviourist approach]…..but the markscheme will still reward you for comparing the behaviourist approach with another approach!

But how do we do this? How do we structure a comparison paragraph?

Well, this time, we’re still going to follow a PEI structure….but it’s going to look slightly different. 

Instead, here’s our advice:

Ask yourself: do these approaches have lots of similarities…or are they really different?

For instance, the behaviourist and biological approaches have quite different things to say about the nature-nurture debate. 

The behaviourists said that we are all born as blank slates, and that almost all of our behaviour is learned, through conditioning. 

Whereas, the biological approach says that genetics play a big role in determining behaviour!

So, in this sense, they’re pretty different. 

So, first, state your point. 

Here, we need to state whether the theories are similar or different, and how they are similar or different. 

Next, provide examples: for each approach, back up your claim with evidence. 

Finally, we need to explain the importance of the point. 

If both theories make similar claims, is this a strength of both theories, or a limitation?

If the theories make different claims, which is better, and why?

And there we have it – a solid AO3 comparison paragraph. 

Next, suppose we also want to write a paragraph about how the two approaches are similar in that they are both deterministic.

First, we start with our point, where we state whether the approaches are similar or different, and what that similarity or difference is. 

Next, we provide evidence from both approaches

Here, we’ve explained what makes each approach deterministic, and named the type of determinism

Finally, we need to discuss the importance of the similarity: is this similarity a strength or a weakness of the approaches?

And there we have it!

So, to sum up, when you’re writing a comparison paragraph, your point should….

In a comparison paragraph, your point should say whether the approaches are similar or different, and explain how the approaches are similar or different. 

Next, you should elaborate by providing evidence from both approaches. 

Finally, you should discuss the importance of the similarity or difference. 

If the approaches are similar, is this a strength or limitation of both approaches?

And, if the approaches are different, does that make one of the approaches better?