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Gaby

Psychology SL/HL: Biological LOA Principles

There are 3 principles of the Biological Level of Analysis and you have to know them all. They can come up both in the section A of Paper 1 and in Section B. They are also the very basis of the whole LOA.

The principles are as follows:

1. Some behaviours are innate (inborn) because they are genetically based - this means that, at least to some extent, our behaviour is determined by the genes we get from our parents. Therefore, there will be similarities in behaviours of the closest members of the family (parents, children, siblings).

A study to demonstrate it: Bouchard et al. (1990) - Minnesota Twin Study (remember that it was not a single study, but a series of different tests spread over time i.e. it was a longitudional study)

2. Animal research can provide insight into human behaviour - as we consider humans to be more advanced animals (with similarily functioning organisms), we can use animal research to learn something new about humans (it will mostly be used if the study would be too invasive to be performed on humans e.g. involving a removal of some part of the brain).

A study to demonstrate it: Martinez and Kesner (1991) or Rosenzweig and Bennet (1972)

3. There are biological correlates of behaviour - it should be possible to find a link between a specific biological factor (e.g. a hormone) and a specific behaviour

A study to demonstrate it: Newcomer et al. (1999), Martinez and Kesner (1991), any case study (Phineas Gage, H.M., Clive Wearing)

Exam tips:

  • Try to use the same study for as many learning outcomes as possible - it will save you the hassle of learning piles of them
  • To memorise the Biological LOA principles, remember the issues they touch upon: animal research, genetics, biological correlates. If you know the material for the other outcomes, you should be able to come up with the principles if you forget them during the exam
  • If you are asked to show how one principle was demonstrated in biological research (Section A question) remember to link the study to the principle!
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Within Section B, do you believe it would be beneficial to essentially state the principles in the introduction paragraph to define the level of analysis, despite the fact that the question may be specifically about, for example, neurotransmitters?

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Within Section B, do you believe it would be beneficial to essentially state the principles in the introduction paragraph to define the level of analysis, despite the fact that the question may be specifically about, for example, neurotransmitters?

I'd say it would be a waste of time. If there was a question about neurotransmitters, in the introduction I'd describe the process of neurotrasmission, then move on to describing the role of specific neurotransmitters on behaviour, giving a study to support it for each. Stating the principles would not be answering the question -> you'd be wasting time on something you can't get marks for.

Hope it helped :)

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The principle is only needed if you need to link a study to the question. For example, say I have this as a question:

Describe the effects of two neurotransmitters on human behaviour

I would obviously start by describing neurotransmitters, then I would describe the role of a specific neurotransmitter (let's say acetylcholine.) I have to support this with evidence from a study (Martinez and Kesner, or Rozenweig and Bennet in this case). Both of these studies use rats, but the question wanted me to describe the effect that neurotransmitters had on human behaviour. The studies use rats, not humans, so just by using the study I haven't actually answered the question yet. I have to explain that these studies on rats can show what acetylcholine does on humans. To do that, I use the animal research principle. Make sense?

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The principle is only needed if you need to link a study to the question. For example, say I have this as a question:

Describe the effects of two neurotransmitters on human behaviour

I would obviously start by describing neurotransmitters, then I would describe the role of a specific neurotransmitter (let's say acetylcholine.) I have to support this with evidence from a study (Martinez and Kesner, or Rozenweig and Bennet in this case). Both of these studies use rats, but the question wanted me to describe the effect that neurotransmitters had on human behaviour. The studies use rats, not humans, so just by using the study I haven't actually answered the question yet. I have to explain that these studies on rats can show what acetylcholine does on humans. To do that, I use the animal research principle. Make sense?

You're generally right. Just that Rosenzweig and Bennet was not on neurotransmission, it was on brain plasticity.

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