Here are some model answers to the extension exam-style questions in Session 1 contained in the A Level Psychology Grade Booster booklet for June 2017.
Question 1 (Max) - 4 Marks
Social learning theory refers to learning through observation, imitation and reinforcement. In order for SLT to occur, someone has to perform a behaviour. Social learning theorists describe this person as a ‘role model’, and they tend to be people that we admire and want to be like.
In this example, Max’s brothers are important role models, and he has identified with them; identification is more likely to occur when a person is the same gender as their role model(s) and similar in age.
Furthermore, Max will expect to receive the same outcomes (reinforcement) that his brothers receive. For example, Max may watch (observe) his older brothers eat their vegetables and then receive praise from his parents. This praise acts as vicarious reinforcement, where Max wants to receive the same praise that his brothers receive which motivates him to imitate their behaviour (eat his own vegetables). Likewise, Max may watch his older brothers playing with toys and having fun, which also acts as vicarious reinforcement, as Max will also want to have fun and enjoy himself too.
Question 2 (Sadie) - 6 Marks
Sadie is showing signs of having had an insecure attachment during childhood. Her therapist might suggest that her controlling and argumentative behaviour in romantic relationships and adult friendships may stem from her internal working model. According to Bowlby, an internal working model is a mental representation of our relationship with our primary caregiver that becomes a template for future relationships that allows individuals to predict, control and manipulate their environment.
Sadie’s therapist may suggest that as a child she had an insecure resistant attachment to her mother (or primary attachment figure). This may be because her mother was inconsistent in the care that she offered to Sadie, or Sadie might have suffered prolonged separations from her primary attachment figure. Therefore as a small child, she may have been very clingy or been argumentative in an attempt to get her caregiver to remain with her and give her the care and attention that she needed.
The continuity hypothesis also suggests that Sadie’s early relationships with her caregiver will predict her later relationships in adulthood. She is very controlling and argumentative in her adult relationships because that was the way that she dealt with her relationships as a child.
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