Revision notes – Psychology A2 – Overt behaviour and Private subjective experience

Distinctions that have been made between behaviour and experience are that behaviour is external or overt and amenable to scientific enquiry whereas, experience is internal, subjective and not open to scientific enquiry.

These distinctions are in fact misleading. Biological psychologists study internal events using ‘scientific’ techniques such as EEG recordings can be classed as behavioural. Cognitive psychologists attempt to investigate thought processes, memory, perception and attention which are all part of internal, private and conscious experience yet, are amenable to scientific enquiry. Insights into these mental processes may be inferred from an individual’ observable response.

Private subjective experience – personal subjective phenomena and unique to the individual. Private subjective experiences are not easily investigated using scientific procedures.

A better distinction is the criterion of accessibility. Behaviour, whether external or not, can be directly observed by a researcher or at least inferred using empirical methods, whereas private subjective experience cannot.

William James, ‘stream of consciousness’ – a internal monologue that is always present, unique, private and accessible only to the individual. People are aware of external events through the combined information from all senses but this cannot be fully verbalised as it is fleeting and therefore, there is too much report. Private subject experience cannot therefore be fully accessed or replicated. People can never perceive the same experience twice because on the second occasion, the event is a different experience.

Introspective reports – report what went through their mind whilst carrying out some action.

Introspective reports couldn’t be verified, were subjective and accessible only to the individual reporting the experience. Only those processes of which the participant was aware could be reported.

Phenomenology – the study of an individual’s subjective and contemporary experience or unique perception of the world. The emphasis is on understanding events from the person’s point of view rather than focusing on behaviour.


AS English Literature – Unit 1 – AQA – Poetry anthology

This paper is called Aspects of Narrative. In Section B of the AQA paper, you will be given the option of two 42 marker questions and you will need to pick one to answer in the recommended time of one hour.

Revision notes or essay plan/ideas for a past paper Section B question

“Write about how the three writers you have studied use symbolism in their narratives”

Symbolism implies an indirect suggestion of ideas. A veiled mode of communication – conveyed through direct or indirect statement.


  • manual labour – actively commune with nature through work
  • nature – his poems often include a moment of interaction between a human speaker and a natural subject. These culminate in epiphanies or realisations.

winter – death/sleep/seasonal metaphor for death?/hibernation

nature is indifferent, people learn from nature because nature allows it.

Actively engaging with nature results in self-knowledge e.g. Apple-Picking, a day of harvesting leads understanding of death

  • community v/s isolation – solitary travelers – Frost has great respect for social outcast or wanderer

Speakers who choose solitude to learn more about themselves or civilation



  • fruit – desire, temptation, religious symbolism (forbidden fruit – Adam+Eve)
  • lilies – sometimes associated with death, innocence, purity, value in the market – virginity (untouched; flowers can be plucked, representing loss of purity)

“new buds” – Laura’s health



  • Dr Eckleburg – the loss of spiritual values, neglected, God’s eyes “God sees everything” looking down on the ruins
  • Valley of Ashes – moral decay, where immoral acts take place (Tom’s visit, Myrtle’s death), the fall of American society due to the desire to become rich, beneath the riches there is poverty, the Wilson’s infidelity, immorality is all associated with the failed American dream; hopelessness, decline in morality
  • the green light – the American dream, unobtainable, Gatsby is driven to get Daisy’s attention, pursuit of wealth, morals ignored to gain wealth (corrupt American dream), sign of hope to Gatsby, the physical and emotional from Daisy

it is the elusive future “minute and far away”, green has connotations of new, natural, un-corrupted, green grass indicates that time has passed. the green light has various connotations throughout the book

AS English Literature – Unit 1- AQA – Poetry anthology – Christina Rossetti

This was an unfinished draft of an answer to a practice exam question from Section B of the current AQA AS English Literature exam paper. This paper is called Aspects of Narrative. In Section B of the AQA paper, you will be given the option of two 42 marker questions and you will need to pick one to answer in the recommended time of one hour.

This was my unfinished attempt at answering one of the past paper Section B questions so I thought it may be helpful to share as it does explore popular ideas and interpretations on this aspect of her poems:


Write about the significance of the way Christina Rossetti has used places

In Christina Rossetti’s poems, places have often been used to convey to the reader the time-period and the mood in which her poems are set. Additionally, her poems can also be read to interpret the place as a symbol.

For instance, Goblin Market – made evident from the title – is set in a market that sells goods. The physical setting in the poem and much of the language “longed to buy” refers to buying and selling in the market. Rossetti may have designed the poem such to separate Lizzie and Laura into choosing between the domestic, more socially accepted life in Victorian society for women and the commercial life where women were traded as goods to be exchanged in the market rather than businesswomen of their own right. This interpretation also coincides with Rossetti’s interest in fallen women and the Victorian concern about prostitution as a social evil because Laura exchanges her “precious golden lock” for the goblin men’s fruit. The golden hair of the heroine is commonly associated with the beauty and purity of the fair maiden moreover; “precious” suggests that the heroine’s value to Victorian society and value in the “market” lies in these qualities. Thus, by exchanging her purity i.e. her virginity, for the forbidden fruit, Laura has been permanently stripped bare of her maiden status, out of wedlock, because her virtue has been tainted by strange goblin men. Thereafter, her inability to hear the goblin’s cry “Come buy, come buy” emphasises the depreciation of Laura’s worth in the marriage “market” as she has failed to meet the standards set by Victorian society and is now set aside as an outcast; a fallen woman.

Contrastingly, the title The Convent Threshold is used metaphorically rather than as a physical location, to display the persona’s struggle to choose between her lover and the love of God as she stands in the doorway between both. Although, interpreted literally, the poem can be set with the persona as most probably a nun, standing on the doorway of convent.



Themes in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird was a book written by Harper Lee that is often a popular choice in the GCSE English Literature specification. These are some notes that I still have and I thought it may be helpful to share this with students who are studying the book.


There are several kinds of courage demonstrated in the book. There is the basic courage that the children required to overcome their childish fears such as the Radley place. Atticus also shows the same kind of physical courage when he faces the mad dog. However, Atticus seeks to teach his children a form of courage that is more difficult and not simply the physical courage he displayed when facing the mad dog as shown by this quote:

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” – Chapter 10

This quote is referring to the most difficult form of courage that is: carrying through a task which is certain to end in failure. Atticus has to do this in order to defend Tom Robinson despite being told that the case would not end in his favour anyway due to the prejudice and racism in the society.

“In our courts, , when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but these are the facts of life.” – Chapter 23

He wants his children to realise that courage is far more than a “man with a gun in his hand”.

Mrs Dubose also chooses to do this when she attempts to rid herself of drug addiction which she knows she is too late for because she is near death and there is no apparent point in her battle. She eventually wins her battle and Atticus calls her “the bravest person” he knows and insists that his children take on that example of courage. Scout shows moral courage when she has to refrain from retaliating to her friends calling Atticus names.

On the other hand, Bob Ewell is a character totally without courage, Even when he tries to take revenge on the children, he doesn’t have the courage to face them in daylight and instead strikes them in darkness. Boo Radley shows courage when he saves the children.


Although all American Africans have had equal rights in law since the end of the Civil War in 1865, that doesn’t always mean that they received equal justice. Harper Lee endeavored to emphasise this through the court’s verdict against Tom Robinson, shown through the innocent and inexperienced eyes of Jem.

Prejudice and hatred

A dominant theme in To Kill a Mockingbird is the cruelty people inflict upon others by the holding of pre-formed ideas: “the simple hell people give other people”

These pre-formed ideas are not solely deep racial prejudice but also the intolerant and narrow behaviour that the townspeople in Maycomb impose on others. This bigotry is made all the more menacing by other characters in the book depicting it as ‘normal’ behaviour because it shows how common it is in the past roots of Maycomb. Tom Robinson is a character who becomes the victim of this prejudice as he dared to go against ‘acceptable Negro behavior’ by feeling sorry for a white person. This racial prejudice is so deeply entrenched within Maycomb that the townspeople don’t even realise their own hypocrisy.

The Mockingbird

The image of the mockingbird occurs frequently in the book.

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” 

The literal meaning of this quote shows the children being warned that killing this bird is a sin because all it does is sing. However, it can also be interpreted as a metaphor to show Tom Robinson and Boo Radley as mockingbirds who are both gentle people who have done no harm but only try to help others. Like the mockingbird, Tom and Boo should be protected but instead, they are hunted down by the mob, who are full of ignorance and false courage much like the children who shoot mockingbirds. The mockingbird symbol links two strong themes in the book: justice and childhood. Justice is ‘killed’ when the jury follow the racist prejudices in town and ignore the evidence supporting Tom. And the innocence of childhood dies for Jem, Scout and Dill when they have to observe the the cruel and unjust verdict through their trusting eyes as they gain their first personal experience of the adult world.

“Well it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?” – Chapter 30

Simple analytic notes on Praise Song for My Mother

This was a poem in the poetry anthology section of relationships that I had to study for my GCSE English and so I thought to share my simple notes, which may be helpful to those who have just started looking at Praise Song for My Mother by Grace Nichols

Praise song – traditional African poetic form

there are no full stops in this poem, it is all flowing and continuous

You were

water to me

deep and bold and fathoming

  • “water” – natural imagery. water is essential for living, water is precious just as the mother is to the child and vice versa, the relationship between mother and child is precious. you can see your own reflection in water so does the child reflect it’s mother? Water suggests sea, oceans. ocean depth love? continuous, everlasting, replenishing love?
  • “deep” – theres more than just whats on the surface
  • “fathoming” – solving problems, depth, providing answers/never ending, continuing. a verb that suggests movement

You were

moon’s eye to me

pull and grained and mantling

  • “you” – personal pronoun, more intimate and personal
  • “moon” – radiant, light in the darkness, guidance, the ocean and the moon link because the moon controls the tide “pull” so it is reliant, this is constant as it occurs every night
  • “eye” – guidance, watching out for the persona, personification of the “moon”
  • “moon” symbolises tranquility. the mother provides peace to the child?
  • “mantling” – kept everything together, protection

You were

sunrise to me

rise and warm and streaming

  • “sunrise” – warmth, comfort, spreading light/joy, essential to start everyday, dependent on the sunrise coming everyday
  • “streaming” – constant, flowing to everywhere and around all the rocks and barriers
  • “rise” – lifting us through

You were

the fishes red gill to me

the flame tree’s spread to me

the crab’s leg/the fried plantain smell

                                                            replenishing, replenishing

  • “flame tree’s” – providing shelter, protection, gathering light
  • “the crab’s leg” – is considered to be the tastiest and best part of the meat, its hard to get to
  • repetition of “replenishing” – its ongoing, filling up again, giving more

Go to your wide futures, you said

  • explore the world
  • there is still no full stop which suggests that this is only the beginning of the persona’s life, suggests that searching for the future is the beginning of one’s life?
  • the mother (family) had to be sacrificed in order to explore the world
  • “you said” – an imperative? told by the mother to go seek the future, the potential?