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.


Revision notes for Biology AS Unit 1 – Protein structure

How a protein’s structure relates to its function?

Primary structure of proteins

The sequence of amino acids in a polypeptide chain forms the primary structure of any protein. It is the primary structure of a protein that determines its shape and function. The protein shape is specific to its function; if just a single amino acid changes, it can change the shape of the protein and stop it from carrying out its function.


Secondary structure of proteins

Hydrogen bonds form between the amino acids in the chain. This makes the polypeptide chain coil into a 3D alpha helix shape or fold into a beta pleated sheet.


Tertiary structure of proteins

The a-helixes of the secondary structure can be coiled and folded further to form a more complex, 3D structure because more bonds form between different parts of the polypeptide chain (ionic bonds, disulphide bonds, hydrogen bonds).


Quaternary structure of proteins

Some proteins are made of several different polypeptide chains held together by bonds. The quaternary structure is the way these polypeptide chains are assembled together.

Revision notes for Psychology AS – treatment programmes for Autism

  •       Behavioural modification
  •       Drug therapies
  •       Parental involvement


Drug therapies/medication

Antidepressants such as Fluoxetine affect the activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin and are used to treat high functioning autistic people. It reduces repetitive behaviours and anxiety-type symptoms.

Stimulants such as Ritalin reduce hyperactivity and improve focus of autistic patients.

Antipsychotics such as Haloperidol and Risperidone have been used to treat the stereotypical movements and fidgetiness in autistic patients. It reduces social withdrawal, aggression/self-absuive behaviours and repetitive movements. There are, however, serious side effects such as 1/3 patients develop dyskinesia (involuntary body movements).

Fenfluramine lowers levels of serotonin which has shown improvement in thought processes but has had no effect on language or cognitive ability.

Key study – McCracken et al (2002)

Aim – to compare the effectiveness of risperidone as a treatment for behavioural disturbances in young people with autism.

Method – a multi-side, double blind trial, using 101 children aged between 5 and 17 years, 82 boys and 19 girls. Children were randomly assigned to receive either Risperidone or a placebo. For 8wks participants in the Risperidone condition received doses varying between 0.5 and 3.5mg per day. Before and after treatment, all the children were assessed on an irritability scale and an improvement scale.

Results – 56.9% reduction in irritability score for risperidone condition and 14.1% reduction for placebo condition. On improvement scale, 69% of the treatment group were ‘much improved’ or ‘very much improved’ as opposed to 12% of placebo group. After 6mnths 2/3 of those who showed positive responses to the drug continued to show beneficial effects.

Conclusion – Risperidone is effective in reducing tantrums, aggression and self-injurious behaviour in young autistic people.



  • There is some evidence of improvement in behaviour and thought processes
  • Can reduce social awareness, stereotyped motor behaviour and aggression
  • Can provide relief from specific symptoms which can relieve the stress on carers


  • Drugs aren’t a cure for autism
  • Potentially serious side effects (many drugs haven’t been tested on children)
  • Needs to be combined with other interventions
  • No drug reduces enough of the symptoms to be used long term
  • Many children don’t respond to the drug, no effect on their symptoms


Parental Involvement

Parents involved in therapeutic programmes at home, not just relying on a therapist

Parents can help the children to apply the behaviours they’ve learnt to a wide range of everyday conflicts.

Treatment was a programme of warm acceptance and reinforcement and an extreme version was ‘holding therapy’ where the child was forced to have close, physical contact with the mother. Parents have to reinforce adaptive behaviour (behaviour that helps the child fit into the environment) whilst avoiding reinforcement for undesirable behaviour.

Koegel et al (1982) demonstrated that 30 hours of parent training was as effective as 200 hours of clinical treatment in improving behaviour

Koegel et al (1996) found that most benefit derived when parents concentrated on improving their autistic child’s general motivation and responsiveness rather than targeting specific problem areas

Lovaas believed that one of the key elements of ABA therapy was the involvement of parents.



  • Puts a lot of pressure on families
  • Some can’t be treated at home and need a professional therapist
  • Stress for carers as training takes up a lot of time, money and effort


Behavioural modification

Involves the use of reward for appropriate behaviour and is based on operant conditioning.

ABA (applied behavioural analysis) uses reinforcement to improve selected behaviours, using the principles of SLT (modelling and positive reinforcement) to improve certain behaviours

DTT (discrete trial training) is when skills are broken down to their basic components and repeated one-to-one lessons are taught. Each trial consists of 3 parts:

  • Antecedent – requesting the child to perform a task e.g. choose a crayon
  • Behaviour – response from child e.g. they pick a green crayon
  • Consequence – a reaction from the therapist plus reinforcement  e.g. well done, lets draw a picture

Lovaas technique – language development therapy (same principle as DTT – positively reinforced specifically for language development).

Key study – Lovaas (1987)

Aim – to investigate the effectiveness of intensive behavioural therapy

Method – 19 patients, younger than 46mnths, received intensive behavioural therapy for at least 40 hours a week for 2yrs. The therapy was on a one-to-one basis. There were 2 control groups: one were the non-intensive group and only received 10 hours of one-to-one therapy each weelk and the other group received no therapy. Each child given a task and their response resulted in a reinforcement or punishment. IQ and level of functioning at school was measured.

Results – 47% of treatment group achieved normal intellectual functioning and a further 40% attained the mildly retarded level. Following treatment, most children joined mainstream school. When children were discharged to their parents, they continued to improve. Those who remained in institution tended to regress.

Conclusion – a large proportion of the autistic children were ‘transformed into normal children’.



  • Therapy provided at home wasn’t observed and this could have been a confounding variable, as they could have had different approaches to therapy
  • The study compared different intensities of the same therapy rather than comparing different treatments
  • Such intensive behaviour therapy is expensive and not available to all children
  • Unethical because it involves control and manipulation
  • Progress is slow and behaviour often regresses once treatment stops
  • Studies are small so lack generalisability


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

Revision notes for Psychology AS Unit 1 – Essay Plan

The best way to prepare for the 10 marker essays on Psychology exams is to make essay plans for the AO1 and AO2 points. 

This is a essay plan for: 

Describe and evaluate the Psychodynamic approach to psychology. Refer to one other approach in your answer. (10 marks) 


State the 4 assumptions of the psychodynamic approach

  • Unconscious processes, of which we are unaware, determine our behaviour
  • Instincts, or drives, motivate our behaviour and energise the mind
  • Childhood experiences determine adult personality
  • Personality has 3 parts: Id, Ego, Superego


AO1 – description, theories

Iceberg analogy –

Preconscious (thoughts and memories that aren’t always accessible but easily recalled),

Conscious (everyday thoughts and feelings),

Unconscious (repressed thoughts, feelings and memories)

Id – pleasure principle, selfish and pleasure seeking

Ego – reality principle, mediator between Id and Superego

Superego – morality principle, parental and altruistic values


List psychosexual stages of development

Oral – focus is on the mouth, mother’s breast to ease pain, if no resolution found here, person very dependent on others in adult life

Anal – toilet training, if no resolution found here, person will be jealous, possessive in character and reluctant to change in adult life

Phallic – Oedipus and Electra complex, if not resolved person will struggle with gender identity

Latent – sexuality is dormant, focus is on school and same-sex friends

Genital – mature heterosexuality provides relief and pleasure if other stages are resolved

Pick 2 to explain


Case studies

Little Hans – investigation of the existence of the Oedipus complex

Oedipus complex – unconscious conflict that occurs in boys where they desire their mother but fear their father

Hans had phobia of horses particularly, large white horses with black blinkers and black around the mouth. Hans was scared of the horse because he believed it would eat him or fall on him. Freud concluded that his phobia was an outward expression of Hans’ unconscious castration anxiety – his fear of horses was a displaced fear of his father. According to Freud, his fear of horses falling was his unconscious desire for his father to drop dead.


Rat man – investigate the underlying cause of Ernst Lanzer’s obsessive compulsive neurosis

Rat man had obsessive and fearful thoughts of rats which resulted in obsessive behaviours. His fear originated from military training when he heard of a torture method involving rats eating their way into a person through the anus. Rat man was scared this would happen to his parents. Freud concluded that this was due to the unconscious hate the Rat man felt for his father whom he wished to suffer the torture with the rats. The obsessive compulsive behaviours helped Rat man reduce his anxieties by reducing feelings of guilt.


AO2 – evaluation, strengths and limitations

Evaluation of case studies

Little Hans

–          Case studies are difficult to generalise because it is the observation of one individual

–          Freud was accused of interpreting the case to support his theory

–          He never met Little Hans so the evidence was unreliable

+     Acknowledges the importance of childhood experiences

Rat Man

–          Freud only focused on Rat Man’s father and didn’t refer to his domineering mother and his feelings of abandonment as a child as a more plausible explanation

–          The finding of case studies are difficult to generalise

–          Freud biased to his own theory


Comparison with the biological approach

Psychodynamic approach uses more case studies unlike the biological approach which uses more scientific experiments with more highly controlled experiments.

The theories in the psychodynamic approach are unfalsifiable (incapable of being tested or verified by scientific observations) which is why mostly case studies are used.

Both the psychodynamic and biological approach have had many useful applications but in different ways. The biological approach uses medicines and drugs such as dopamine to alleviate psychological disorders. However, the some treatments can be invasive such as the PET and CAT scans so there are ethical issues related to these treatments. On the other hand, the psychodynamic approach uses therapy which is also an effective treatment but with less use of medicines and so no worry of the side effects.

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