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Sunday, 31 May 2009 15:49

AQA-A Psychology Unit 3 Options

Written by Keiron Walsh
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In Unit 3 of the AQA-A Psychology Specification, candidates must develop knowledge, understanding and skills of analysis and evaluation in relation to three topics selected from the following:

(see below for more details on these topics)

Candidates must also:

  • Develop knowledge, understanding and skills of analysis and evaluation in relation to relevant theories and studies in each of the three topics studied
  • Develop an understanding of the major approaches in psychology ( cognitive, biological, behavioural and psychodynamic) through their study of the topics
  • Develop an appreciation of issues and debates as relevant to each topic studied: for example, issues of bias, including gender and culture, the role of animals in research, ethical issues, the nature/ nurture debate, free will and determinism and reductionism.

Biological rhythms and sleep

Biological rhythms

  • Circadian, infradian, and ultradian rhythms, including the role of endogenous pacemakers and of exogenous zeitgebers
  • Consequences of disrupting biological rhythms, for example shift work, jet lag

Sleep States

  • The nature of sleep
  • Functions of sleep, including evolutionary explanations and restoration theory
  • Lifespan changes in sleep

Disorders of Sleep

  • Explanations for insomnia, including primary and secondary insomnia and factors influencing insomnia, for example, apnoea, personality
  • Explanations for other sleep disorders, including sleep walking and narcolepsy


Perception Theories of perceptual organisation

  • Gregory's top down/indirect theory of perception
  • Gibson's bottom up/direct theory of perception

Development of Perception

  • The development of perceptual abilities, for example depth/distance, visual constancies
  • Infant and cross-cultural studies of the development of perceptual abilities
  • The nature-nurture debate in relation to explanations of perceptual development

Face recognition and visual agnosias

  • Bruce and Young's theory of face recognition, including case studies and explanations of prosopagnosia

Useful teaching resources for Perception: Inversion Goggles for demonstrating the effect of incorrect visual input on motor coordinationVisual Perception Psykit, a kit to deliver several sessions on visual perception


The formation, maintenance and breakdown of romantic relationships

  • Theories of the formation, maintenance and breakdown of romantic relationships: for example, reward/need satisfaction, social exchange theory

Human reproductive behaviour

Effects of early experience and culture on adult relationships

  • The influence of childhood and adolescent experiences on adult relationships, including parent-child relationships and interaction with peers
  • The nature of relationships in different cultures


Social psychological approaches to explaining aggression

Biological explanations of aggression

Aggression as an adaptive response

  • Evolutionary explanations of human aggression, including infidelity and response jealousy
  • Explanations of group display in humans, for example sports events and lynch mobs

Eating behaviour

Eating behaviour

  • Factors influencing attitudes to food and eating behaviour, for example cultural influences, mood, health concerns
  • Explanations for the success or failure of dieting

Biological explanations of eating behaviour

  • The role of neural mechanisms involved in controlling eating and satiation
  • Evolutionary explanations of food preference

Eating disorders


Psychological explanations of gender development

  • Cognitive developmental theory, including Kohlberg, and gender schema theory
  • Explanations for psychological androgyny and gender dysphoria including relevant research

Biological influences on gender

  • The role of hormones and genes in gender development
  • Evolutionary explanations of gender roles
  • The biosocial approach to gender development

Social contexts of gender

  • Social infl uences on gender role: for example, the infl uence of parents, peers role and schools, media
  • Cross-cultural studies of gender role

Intelligence and learning

Theories of intelligence

  • Theories of intelligence, including psychometric and information processing approaches. learning approaches (please note that the specification has been changed)
  • Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences

Animal learning and intelligence

  • The nature of simple learning (classical and operant conditioning) and its role in the behaviour of non-human animals
  • Evidence for intelligence in non-human animals, for example, self-recognition, social learning, Machiavellian intelligence

Evolution of intelligence

  • Evolutionary factors in the development of human intelligence, for example, ecological demands, social complexity, brain size
  • The role of genetic and environmental factors associated with intelligence test performance, including the influence of culture

Cognition and development

Development of thinking

Development of moral understanding

  • Theories of moral understanding (Kohlberg) and/or prosocial reasoning (Eisenberg)

Development of social cognition

  • Development of the child's sense of self, including Theory of Mind (BaronCohen)
  • Development of children's understanding of others, including perspectivetaking (Selman)
  • Biological explanations of social cognition, including the role of the mirror neuron system

Last modified on Monday, 16 May 2011 12:44

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Keiron Walsh

Keiron Walsh

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