The John Fisher School



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Q1. 

Hamish has a phobia of heights. This phobia has now become so bad that he has difficulty in going to his office on the third floor, and he cannot even sit on the top deck of a bus any more. He has decided to try systematic de–sensitisation to help him with his problem.

Explain how the therapist might use systematic de-sensitisation to help Hamish to overcome his phobia.

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(Total 6 marks)


Q2. 

Explain one weakness of systematic de-sensitisation.

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(Total 2 marks)


Q3. 

Describe systematic de-sensitisation as a method of treating abnormality.

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(Total 3 marks)


Q4. 

Outline what is involved in systematic de-sensitisation.

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(Total 3 marks)


Q5. 

Sammy has a phobia of birds. This started when he was three years old. A seagull frightened him when it swooped down and stole his sandwich as he was eating it.

Sammy is now eight years old. He is scared when walking to school and is so afraid of birds that he will not play outside.

(a)     Use your knowledge of the behavioural explanation of phobias to outline how Sammy’s phobia might have developed.



(2)

(b)     Describe and evaluate systematic desensitisation as a treatment for phobias. Refer to Sammy in your answer.



(12)

(Total 14 marks)


Q6. 

Sammy has a phobia of birds. This started when he was three years old. A seagull frightened him when it swooped down and stole his sandwich as he was eating it.

Sammy is now eight years old. He is scared when walking to school and is so afraid of birds that he will not play outside.

(a)     Use your knowledge of the behavioural explanation of phobias to outline how Sammy’s phobia might have developed.



(2)

(b)     Describe and evaluate systematic desensitisation as a treatment for phobias. Refer to Sammy in your answer.



(16)

(Total 18 marks)


Q7. 

(a)     Outline a behavioural explanation of phobias.



(2)

(b)     Briefly discuss one limitation of the behavioural explanation of phobias that you have outlined in your answer to part (a).



(3)

(Total 5 marks)


Q8. 

‘Behaviourists believe that all behaviour, both normal and abnormal, is learned through processes such as classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning.’

Discuss the behavioural approach to explaining phobias.

(Total 12 marks)


Q9. 

‘Behaviourists believe that all behaviour, both normal and abnormal, is learned through processes such as classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning.’

Discuss the behavioural approach to explaining phobias.

(Total 16 marks)


Q10. 

Mia has a phobia of eating in public. She is about to go to university where she knows that she will have to eat her meals in a large dining hall surrounded by other students.

Describe how a therapist might use systematic de-sensitisation to help Mia overcome her phobia of eating in social situations.

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(Total 4 marks)


Q11. 

Read the item and then answer the question that follows.

 

 

Kirsty is in her twenties and has had a phobia of balloons since one burst near her face when she was a little girl. Loud noises such as ‘banging’ and ‘popping’ cause Kirsty extreme anxiety, and she avoids situations such as birthday parties and weddings, where there might be balloons.

Suggest how the behavioural approach might be used to explain Kirsty’s phobia of balloons.

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(Total 4 marks)


Q12. 

Read the item and then answer the question that follows.

 

 

Tommy is six years old and has a phobia about birds. His mother is worried because he now refuses to go outside. She says, ‘Tommy used to love playing in the garden and going to the park to play football with his friends, but he is spending more and more time watching TV and on the computer’.

(a)     A psychologist has suggested treating Tommy’s fear of birds using systematic desensitisation. Explain how this procedure could be used to help Tommy overcome his phobia.

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(4)

(b)     Explain why systematic desensitisation might be more ethical than using flooding to treat Tommy’s phobia.

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(2)

(Total 6 marks)


Q13. 

Outline and evaluate the behavioural approach to treating phobias.



(Total 12 marks)

 

M1. 

Please note that the AOs for the new AQA Specification (Sept 2015 onwards) have changed. Under the new Specification the following system of AOs applies:

•        AO1 knowledge and understanding

•        AO2 application (of psychological knowledge)

•        AO3 evaluation, analysis, interpretation.


Although the essential content for this mark scheme remains the same, mark schemes for the new AQA Specification (Sept 2015 onwards) take a different format as follows:

•        A single set of numbered levels (formerly bands) to cover all skills

•        Content appears as a bulleted list

•        No IDA expectation in A Level essays, however, credit for references to issues, debates and approaches where relevant.


AO2 = 6

Main techniques are: firstly, teach deep muscle or progressive relaxation. Then the therapist and client construct an anxiety hierarchy, starting with situations that cause a small amount of fear – in Hamish’s case this might be standing on a small stepladder – then listing situations that cause more fear, with the most frightening situation being at the top of the hierarchy, such as standing on top of a mountain. Finally, they work through this list, with the client remaining relaxed at each stage. The two main features are relaxation and working through the anxiety hierarchy.


 


 

6 marks Effective explanation
Effective explanation of the main stages of systematic de-sensitisation demonstrating sound knowledge of the therapy as applied to fear of heights.

 

5 – 4 marks Reasonable explanation
Reasonable explanation of the main stages of systematic de-sensitisation applied to fear of heights.

 

3 – 2 marks Basic explanation
Basic explanation of systematic de-sensitisation with some attempt to apply to fear of heights.

 

1 mark Very brief/flawed of inappropriate
Rudimentary, muddled explanation of systematic de-sensitisation demonstrating very limited knowledge

 

0 marks
No creditworthy material.



M2. 

Please note that the AOs for the new AQA Specification (Sept 2015 onwards) have changed. Under the new Specification the following system of AOs applies:

•        AO1 knowledge and understanding

•        AO2 application (of psychological knowledge)

•        AO3 evaluation, analysis, interpretation.

 AO2 = 2

One weakness of SD is that it relies on the client’s ability to be able to imagine the fearful situation. Some people cannot create a vivid image and thus SD is not effective.
Another weakness is that while SD might be effective in the therapeutic situation, it may not work in the real world.

1 mark for a basic statement and a further mark for elaboration.




M3. 

AO1 = 3

SD involves the client and therapist designing a list or hierarchy of frightening / stressful events or objects. The client is then taught deep muscle relaxation. Finally the therapist helps the client to work their way up the hierarchy while maintaining this deep relaxation.


At each stage, if the client becomes upset they can return to an earlier stage and regain their relaxed state.

1 mark for a basic statement and a further 2 marks for elaboration.




M4. 

AO1 = 3

SD involves teaching the client deep muscle relaxation, client and therapist constructing an anxiety hierarchy, and then working through the hierarchy while remaining relaxed.

For each therapy, 1 mark for a basic answer and a further two marks for elaboration.


M5. 

(a)     AO2

Outline of an appropriately applied behavioural explanation Sammy’s phobia.
This might include reference to: the learning by association of a UCS with a CS producing a CR – a fear is acquired when a previously neutral stimulus (bird) is associated with a frightening event (sudden theft of sandwich) and a fear response results; a description of the two-process theory; reference to avoidance learning; reference to generalisation to all birds.

(b)     Marks for this question: AO1 = 6, AO2 = 2, AO3 = 4

 

 

Level

Marks

Description

 

4

10 – 12

Knowledge is accurate and generally well detailed. Discussion / evaluation / application is effective. The answer is clear, coherent. Specialist terminology is used effectively. Minor detail and / or expansion of argument sometimes lacking.

 

3

7 – 9

Knowledge is evident. There are occasional inaccuracies. There is some effective discussion / evaluation / application. The answer is mostly clear and organised. Specialist terminology is mostly used appropriately.

 

2

4 – 6

Knowledge is present. Focus is mainly on description. Any discussion / evaluation / application is of limited effectiveness. The answer lacks clarity, accuracy and organisation in places. Specialist terminology is used inappropriately on occasions.

 

1

1 – 3

Knowledge is limited. Discussion / evaluation / application is limited, poorly focused or absent. The answer as a whole lacks clarity, has many inaccuracies and is poorly organised. Specialist terminology is either absent or inappropriately used.

 

 

0

No relevant content.

Please note that although the content for this mark scheme remains the same, on most mark schemes for the new AQA Specification (Sept 2015 onwards) content appears as a bulleted list.



AO1

Description of key elements of systematic desensitisation.

Likely points: hierarchy, graduated steps, training in relaxation techniques, gradual exposure to anxiety-provoking stimuli from the hierarchy. Credit reference to virtual reality exposure therapy: in VRET the systematic desensitisation takes place in a virtual world.


AO2 / AO3

Evaluation and application of systematic desensitisation. Discussion of the strengths / weaknesses of the therapy: usually effective, phobia is removed at completion of the programme; gradual exposure is considered to be less traumatic than other therapies eg flooding; discussion of merits of in vivo (real-life exposure) rather than in vitro (imagined exposure). Discussion of the limitations: difficulty in generalising improvement from the therapeutic situation to real life; expense of VRET equipment; therapy may not be suitable for other types of phobia. Credit comparison with alternative therapies.

Credit use of evidence to support / refute arguments.

Application of SD to the Sammy – how it would be used in his case of bird phobias.




M6. 

(a)     AO2

Outline of an appropriately applied behavioural explanation Sammy’s phobia.
This might include reference to: the learning by association of a UCS with a CS producing a CR – a fear is acquired when a previously neutral stimulus (bird) is associated with a frightening event (sudden theft of sandwich) and a fear response results; a description of the two-process theory; reference to avoidance learning; reference to generalisation to all birds.

(b)     Marks for this question: AO1 = 6, AO2 = 4, AO3 = 6

 

 

Level

Marks

Description

 

4

13 – 16

Knowledge is accurate and generally well detailed. Discussion / evaluation / application is thorough and effective. The answer is clear, coherent and focused. Specialist terminology is used effectively. Minor detail and / or expansion of argument sometimes lacking.

 

3

9 – 12

Knowledge is evident. There are occasional inaccuracies. Discussion / evaluation / application is apparent and mostly effective. The answer is mostly clear and organised. Specialist terminology is mostly used effectively. Lacks focus in places.

 

2

5 – 8

Some knowledge is present. Focus is mainly on description. Any discussion / evaluation / application is only partly effective. The answer lacks clarity, accuracy and organisation in places. Specialist terminology is used inappropriately on occasions.

 

1

1 – 4

Knowledge is limited. Discussion / evaluation / application is limited, poorly focused or absent. The answer as a whole lacks clarity, has many inaccuracies and is poorly organised. Specialist terminology either absent or inappropriately used.

 

 

0

No relevant content.

Please note that although the content for this mark scheme remains the same, on most mark schemes for the new AQA Specification (Sept 2015 onwards) content appears as a bulleted list



AO1

Description of key elements of systematic desensitisation.

Likely points: hierarchy, graduated steps, training in relaxation techniques, gradual exposure to anxiety-provoking stimuli from the hierarchy. Credit reference to virtual reality exposure therapy: in VRET the systematic desensitisation takes place in a virtual world.


AO2 / AO3

Evaluation and application of systematic desensitisation. Discussion of the strengths / weaknesses of the therapy: usually effective, phobia is removed at completion of the programme; gradual exposure is considered to be less traumatic than other therapies eg flooding; discussion of merits of in vivo (real-life exposure) rather than in vitro (imagined exposure). Discussion of the limitations: difficulty in generalising improvement from the therapeutic situation to real life; expense of VRET equipment; therapy may not be suitable for other types of phobia. Credit comparison with alternative therapies.

Credit use of evidence to support / refute arguments./p>

Application of SD to the Sammy – how it would be used in his case of bird phobias.




M7. 

Please note that the AOs for the new AQA Specification (Sept 2015 onwards) have changed. Under the new Specification the following system of AOs applies:

•        AO1 knowledge and understanding

•        AO2 application (of psychological knowledge)

•        AO3 evaluation, analysis, interpretation.

(a)     [AO1 = 2]

Award up to two marks for an outline of a behavioural explanation of phobias.
Likely content: the idea that phobias are learnt through classical conditioning; fear is acquired when a neutral stimulus becomes associated with a frightening event; description of the two-process theory; reference to avoidance learning; reference to generalisation.
Credit descriptions based on social learning theory.
Both of these marks may be awarded for an accurately labelled ‘Pavlovian’ diagram of how a phobia might develop.
Maximum 1 mark if outline does not refer to fear / phobias.

(b)     [AO1 = 1, AO2 = 2]



AO1

One mark for identifying an appropriate limitation.


Likely answers: not all phobias are triggered by a traumatic experience; explanation cannot account for all phobias; fails to account for evidence that phobias may have a biological basis; difficulty explaining why some phobias are more common than others; the idea that the explanation can better account for specific phobias.

AO2

Up to 2 marks for discussion of the limitation which might include analysis / expansion; counter-argument; use of evidence; reference to alternative explanations.


Possible answer: Not all phobias are triggered by a traumatic experience (1), where the initial association (between the phobic object / situation and fear) is formed (1), which suggests that alternative explanations are needed (1).

Accept limitations based on the methodology of individual studies eg Little Albert, but for full marks, these should be made relevant to discussion of the explanation.




M8. 

Marks for this question: AO1 = 6, AO3 = 6

 


 

Level

Marks

Description

 

4

10 – 12

Knowledge is accurate and generally well detailed.
Discussion / evaluation / application is effective. The answer is clear, coherent.
Specialist terminology is used effectively. Minor detail and / or expansion of argument sometimes lacking.

 

3

7 – 9

Knowledge is evident. There are occasional inaccuracies. There is some effective discussion / evaluation / application. The answer is mostly clear and organised.
Specialist terminology is mostly used appropriately.

 

2

4 – 6

Knowledge is present. Focus is mainly on description. Focus is mainly on description. Any discussion / evaluation / application is of limited effectiveness. The answer lacks clarity, accuracy and organisation in places. Specialist terminology is used inappropriately on occasions.

 

1

1 – 3

Knowledge is limited. Discussion / evaluation / application is limited, poorly focused or absent. The answer as a whole lacks clarity, has many inaccuracies and is poorly organised. Specialist terminology is either absent or inappropriately used.

 

 

0

No relevant content.

Please note that although the content for this mark scheme remains the same, on most mark schemes for the new AQA Specification (Sept 2015 onwards) content appears as a bulleted list.



AO1

Remember not to credit information given in the quote

The emphasis of the behavioural approach is on the environment and how the behaviour is acquired, through classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning. For marks in the top two bands, the focus must be on explaining psychological abnormality, rather than on behaviour in general.




AO3

Discussion can include strengths; such as it has provided some convincing explanations for some disorders such as phobias and has also led to some very successful therapies (systematic desensitization). The weaknesses are that it ignores the role of biology and there is plenty of evidence to support a genetic transmission of some disorders. Studies (eg “Little Albert”) can be used as commentary.




M9. 

Marks for this question: AO1 = 6, AO3 = 10

 


 

Level

Marks

Description

 

4

13 – 16

Knowledge is accurate and generally well detailed. Discussion / evaluation / application is thorough and effective. The answer is clear, coherent and focused. Specialist terminology is used effectively. Minor detail and / or expansion of argument sometimes lacking.

 

3

9 – 12

Knowledge is evident. There are occasional inaccuracies. Discussion / evaluation / application is apparent and mostly effective. The answer is mostly clear and organised. Specialist terminology is mostly used effectively. Lacks focus in places.

 

2

5 – 8

Some knowledge is present. Focus is mainly on description. Any discussion / evaluation / application is only partly effective. The answer lacks clarity, accuracy and organisation in places. Specialist terminology is used inappropriately on occasions.

 

1

1 – 4

Knowledge is limited. Discussion / evaluation / application is limited, poorly focused or absent. The answer as a whole lacks clarity, has many inaccuracies and is poorly organised. Specialist terminology either absent or inappropriately used.

 

 

0

No relevant content.

Please note that although the content for this mark scheme remains the same, on most mark schemes for the new AQA Specification (Sept 2015 onwards) content appears as a bulleted list



AO1

Remember not to credit information given in the quote

The emphasis of the behavioural approach is on the environment and how the behaviour is acquired, through classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning. For marks in the top two bands, the focus must be on explaining psychological abnormality, rather than on behaviour in general.




AO3

Discussion can include strengths; such as it has provided some convincing explanations for some disorders such as phobias and has also led to some very successful therapies (systematic desensitization). The weaknesses are that it ignores the role of biology and there is plenty of evidence to support a genetic transmission of some disorders. Studies (eg “Little Albert”) can be used as commentary.




M10. 

Please note that the AOs for the new AQA Specification (Sept 2015 onwards) have changed. Under the new Specification the following system of AOs applies:

•        AO1 knowledge and understanding

•        AO2 application (of psychological knowledge)

•        AO3 evaluation, analysis, interpretation.

Although the essential content for this mark scheme remains the same, mark schemes for the new AQA Specification (Sept 2015 onwards) take a different format as follows:

•        A single set of numbered levels (formerly bands) to cover all skills

•        Content appears as a bulleted list

•        No IDA expectation in A Level essays, however, credit for references to issues, debates and approaches where relevant.


AO2 = 4

First the therapist would teach Mia how to relax, using a technique that would allow deep muscle relaxation. Then together the therapist and Mia would construct an anxiety hierarchy, starting with the least feared situation, such as looking at pictures of people sitting at tables in a café just talking and drinking coffee, working up to the most feared situation, such as Mia eating in a restaurant full of people. The therapist would start by showing Mia pictures and helping her to remain relaxed, then perhaps getting her to sit in a café, but without eating anything, and then continuing up the hierarchy until her phobia is gone.

For full marks there must be explicit engagement with the stem. Up to 2 marks for a reasonable description of systematic desensitisation without any engagement.

 


 

AO2
Analysis of unfamiliar situation and application of knowledge of systematic desensitisation

 

4 marks Effective analysis of unfamiliar situation
Effective description that demonstrates sound knowledge of systematic
desensitisation including both the anxiety hierarchy and relaxation techniques. There is explicit engagement, which relates to the stem.

 

3 marks Reasonable analysis of unfamiliar situation
Reasonable explanation that demonstrates knowledge of the systematic
desensitisation with some reference to the stem.

 

2 marks Basic analysis of unfamiliar situation
Basic explanation of systematic desensitisation with some reference to stem or
effective description without any engagement.

 

1 mark Rudimentary analysis of unfamiliar situation
Rudimentary, muddled, explanation of systematic desensitisation demonstrating very limited knowledge.

 

0 marks
No creditworthy material.



M11. 

[AO2 = 4]

 


 

Level

Marks

Description

 

2

3 – 4

Knowledge of relevant aspects of the behavioural approach is clear and mostly accurate. The material is used appropriately to explain Kirsty’s phobia of balloons. The answer is generally coherent with effective use of behaviourist terminology.

 

1

1 – 2

Knowledge of aspects of the behavioural approach is evident although not always explicitly related to the acquisition of phobias. Links to Kirsty’s phobia are not always effective. The answer lacks accuracy and detail. Use of behaviourist terminology is either absent or inappropriate.

 

 

0

No relevant content.

Credit features of classical and / or operant conditioning (the ‘two process model’) applied to Kirsty’s phobia of balloons.



Possible content:

•        Kirsty’s phobia has developed through classical conditioning – she has formed an association between the neutral stimulus (balloon) and the response of fear

•        the conditioned response is triggered every time she sees a balloon (or hears similar noises)

•        her phobia has generalised to situations where balloons might be present, such as parties and weddings, and to similar noises, ‘banging’ and ‘popping’

•        her phobia is maintained through operant conditioning – the relief she feels when avoiding balloons becomes reinforcing.

Credit other relevant features of conditioning applied to Kirsty’s phobia.




M12. 

(a)     AO2 = 4



1 mark each for applied description of the following aspects of systematic desensitisation: relaxation, hierarchy development, gradual exposure.

Plus 1 further mark for some elaboration of any of the three aspects.

Content:

•        Tommy would be taught relaxation techniques he could use when he encounters birds as part of the therapy.

•        Tommy would devise his hierarchy so it reflects his least to most feared bird situation (for example, small picture of a sparrow, then a small bird through a window…).

•        Tommy would then be exposed to birds gradually, ensuring he is relaxed at each stage.


(b)     AO3 = 2



2 marks for a clear and coherent explanation of the benefits of systematic desensitisation over flooding as a treatment for a phobia for a child.

1 mark for a very brief, weak or muddled explanation.

Possible points:

•        SD is gradual so the anxiety produced in the treatment is limited whereas in flooding the most feared situation is presented immediately which would be too traumatic for a small child.

•        Tommy may not fully understand that consent to flooding would mean immediate exposure to his most feared situation so his consent to systematic desensitisation increases his protection from harm.


M13. 

[AO1 = 6 and AO3 = 6]

 


 

Level

Marks

Description

 

4

10 – 12

Knowledge of the behavioural approach to treating phobias is accurate and generally well detailed. Evaluation is effective. The answer is clear, coherent and focused on treating phobias. Specialist terminology is used effectively. Minor detail and / or expansion of argument sometimes lacking.

 

3

7 – 9

Knowledge of the behavioural approach to treating phobias is evident. The answer is mostly well focused. There are occasional inaccuracies. There is some effective evaluation. The answer is mostly clear and organised. Specialist terminology mostly used effectively.

 

2

4 – 6

Knowledge of the behavioural approach to treating phobias is present. Focus is mainly on description. Any evaluation is of limited effectiveness. The answer lacks clarity, accuracy and organisation in places. Specialist terminology used inappropriately on occasions.

 

1

1 – 3

Knowledge of the behavioural approach to treating phobias is limited. Evaluation is limited, poorly focused or absent. The answer as a whole lacks clarity, has many inaccuracies and is poorly organised. Specialist terminology either absent or inappropriately used.

 

 

0

No relevant content.


Outline – possible content:

•        aims to replace a faulty association between CS and CR that has resulted in a phobic response

•        gradually using systematic desensitisation – relaxation technique, anxiety hierarchy, exposure stages, imagined and or real / in vivo

•        suddenly using flooding – no relaxation, visualisation, intensive exposure in vivo or in vitro

•        virtual reality exposure therapy as an in vitro form of systematic desensitisation

•        detail of studies illustrating aspects of behavioural therapies, eg Lang and Lazovik (1963).

Credit other relevant aspects of the behavioural approach to treating phobias.


Evaluation – possible content:

•        issues related to suitability and effectiveness for different types of phobia

•        success outside the clinical situation and long-term effectiveness

•        ethical problems, eg with flooding

•        side effects such as nausea for VRET

•        comparison with alternative treatments

•        use of evidence to support or refute effectiveness.

Credit other relevant evaluation points.

 

E1. 

While the majority of candidates were able to describe systematic desensitisation, they often omitted the relaxation aspect of the therapy and they were poor at applying the therapy to Hamish and his particular phobia. Relatively few candidates gave sufficient detail of the hierarchy, as it would apply to Hamish.


This again suggests that the area candidates find most difficult is the application of knowledge.


E2. 

There seems to be some misconceptions about this therapy, especially with respect to ethical concerns. Some candidates argued that it is unethical making people face their worst fear, however the whole point of counter-conditioning is that the client is completely relaxed at the time. This type of behavioural therapy is considered one of the most ethical therapies.




E3. 

The advice to candidates is, just answer the question, there is no need to waste time in writing out the question. Far too many answers started with “systematic desensitisation is one method of treating abnormality” and often went on to explain that it was best suited to treating phobias. This is not was the question required and such answers often ran out of space before they started to describe what is involved. However, those candidates who read the question carefully often provided accurate and detailed answers.




E4. 

Candidates demonstrated better knowledge, and were able to include reference to the anxiety hierarchy, deep muscle relaxation and the gradual working up through the hierarchy.




E5. 

(a)     Attempts to explain Sammy’s phobia varied and this question tended to discriminate well.


Most attempted to explain the scenario using classical conditioning but many gave muddled accounts using appropriate terminology (CS, UCR, etc.) but in the wrong places. A mark was often awarded for a vague reference to association linked to the events described in the stem. Some students demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of behaviourist principles, referring to both classical conditioning and avoidance learning in their answers and would have scored several more marks had they been available.

(b)     Essays in this section were not quite as strong as they have been in recent series. Many students did not seem to have the depth of knowledge of systematic desensitisation required to gain all the AO1 marks that were available. Instead, ‘sketchy’ descriptions were often advanced and key concepts, such as ‘anxiety hierarchy’, were mentioned but not elaborated.


Most students could assemble two or three relevant evaluation points, but other attempts at analysis such as those centred around ‘cost’, ‘time’, ‘effort’, etc were rarely reasoned or based on comparison. For instance, systematic desensitisation was often claimed to be ‘unethical’, ‘expensive’ and ‘time-consuming’ without any acknowledgement of treatments that would be more ethical, cheaper or faster.

Not all essays fell into this category however, and there were students who clearly knew this area very well, producing detailed, reasoned analyses of the treatment in the context of possible alternatives.




E6. 

(a)     Attempts to explain Sammy’s phobia varied and this question tended to discriminate well.


Most attempted to explain the scenario using classical conditioning but many gave muddled accounts using appropriate terminology (CS, UCR, etc.) but in the wrong places. A mark was often awarded for a vague reference to association linked to the events described in the stem. Some students demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of behaviourist principles, referring to both classical conditioning and avoidance learning in their answers and would have scored several more marks had they been available.

(b)     Essays in this section were not quite as strong as they have been in recent series. Many students did not seem to have the depth of knowledge of systematic desensitisation required to gain all the AO1 marks that were available. Instead, ‘sketchy’ descriptions were often advanced and key concepts, such as ‘anxiety hierarchy’, were mentioned but not elaborated.


Most students could assemble two or three relevant evaluation points, but other attempts at analysis such as those centred around ‘cost’, ‘time’, ‘effort’, etc were rarely reasoned or based on comparison. For instance, systematic desensitisation was often claimed to be ‘unethical’, ‘expensive’ and ‘time-consuming’ without any acknowledgement of treatments that would be more ethical, cheaper or faster.

Not all essays fell into this category however, and there were students who clearly knew this area very well, producing detailed, reasoned analyses of the treatment in the context of possible alternatives.




E7. 

(a)     There was some confusion over the features of classical conditioning and the description was not always clearly linked to a ‘phobia’, for example, through an illustration. Better answers often elaborated both elements of the two-process model of phobias, although this was not essential for two marks.


(b)     Better answers were those that structured their response around the notion that not all phobics can recall an ‘association event’ that produced the phobia in the first place. Well elaborated answers based on this theme often used the Di Nardo study to good effect. These were few and far between, however. As ever, students do seem to find the three-mark format challenging, when applied to the explanation of a single limitation (or indeed ‘strength’, as in previous series).




E8. 

The quote was given to guide students, but they gain no marks by repeating it in their essay. Writing out the quote simply wastes time. It was hoped that by giving some guidance, students would not write about another approach.

The problem for too many students was that while they could write at length about classical conditioning (using Pavlov), operant conditioning (using Skinner) and social learning (using Bandura), they simply failed to make any link with abnormality at all. Such answers remained in the basic mark band. Ironically, those who used Watson and Rayner’s study with Little Albert often failed to note that he developed a phobia. Many students were unable to use their knowledge of conditioning, to demonstrate how this could explain abnormality. Better answers explained how phobias or anorexia could be explained using learning processes.

The commentary could have considered the successful therapies that this approach has developed (although detailed descriptions of SD was not an effective use of material). Weaknesses could consider the fact that this approach ignores the role of biology. However, criticising the studies without considering the implication for the approach is not creditworthy. Many examiners noted that this was a very disappointing question to mark. Students had learned a considerable amount about the behavioural approach, often in extremely accurate detail, but made no attempt to use their knowledge to answer a question on abnormality. It was almost as if they had failed to read the question carefully, in spite of the fact that this was the section on Psychopathology (abnormality).




E9. 

The quote was given to guide students, but they gain no marks by repeating it in their essay. Writing out the quote simply wastes time. It was hoped that by giving some guidance, students would not write about another approach.

The problem for too many students was that while they could write at length about classical conditioning (using Pavlov), operant conditioning (using Skinner) and social learning (using Bandura), they simply failed to make any link with abnormality at all. Such answers remained in the basic mark band. Ironically, those who used Watson and Rayner’s study with Little Albert often failed to note that he developed a phobia. Many students were unable to use their knowledge of conditioning, to demonstrate how this could explain abnormality. Better answers explained how phobias or anorexia could be explained using learning processes.

The commentary could have considered the successful therapies that this approach has developed (although detailed descriptions of SD was not an effective use of material). Weaknesses could consider the fact that this approach ignores the role of biology. However, criticising the studies without considering the implication for the approach is not creditworthy. Many examiners noted that this was a very disappointing question to mark. Students had learned a considerable amount about the behavioural approach, often in extremely accurate detail, but made no attempt to use their knowledge to answer a question on abnormality. It was almost as if they had failed to read the question carefully, in spite of the fact that this was the section on Psychopathology (abnormality).




E10. 

Most students had good knowledge of what is involved in systematic de-sensitisation and were able to identify the main elements: being taught relaxation, construction of hierarchy, working through the hierarchy while remaining relaxed. The main problem was the lack of engagement with the scenario. Simply mentioning Mia’s name was not evidence of engaging with the scenario. Students needed to provide some specific examples of the different stages on a hierarchy intended to overcome a phobia of eating in public in order to gain full marks.



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