Psychology is the scientific study of how people think, feel and act. It aims to answer important questions such as what factors influence human development. While there are other disciplines that overlap with psychology’s main aim to understand humans, psychology is rigorous in its use of scientific method. This allows for systematic exploration into the complexities of human behaviour based on evidence gathered through planned investigations.
On a larger scale, psychological knowledge can help us to understand how individuals function within different contexts and how this is influenced by culture, shaping people’s values, attitudes and beliefs.
Psychology is very useful, both to individuals assisting us to improve ourselves and our relationships, and to society as a whole. It can be applied to any context in which humans are involved. Through this course, students gain valuable insights and understandings into both themselves and their worlds. Methods of communication studied enhance personal communication skills, both within the field of psychology and in the context of daily life. Students also develop important research skills as they engage in the exploration and evaluation of data to illustrate how empirical procedures are used to examine phenomena such as intelligence and personality.
Psychology – Year 11
Students should have achieved at least a 60% average by the end of their Year 10 Science course. Students should also be competent in Science Investigation Skills.
This unit focuses on a number of concepts that enable students to gain an understanding of how and why people behave the way they do. Students are introduced to the human brain, focusing on the major parts and lobes of the cerebral cortex, and review case studies, illustrating the link between the brain and behaviour. They also explore the impact of external factors, such as physical activity and psychoactive drugs, on individuals’ behaviour. Cognitive processes, such as sensation and perception and selective and divided attention, are investigated. The impact of others on behaviour is also studied. Students examine different types of relationships and look at the role of verbal and non-verbal communication in initiating, maintaining and regulating relationships. Students are introduced to ethics in psychological research and carry out investigations, following the steps in conducting scientific research. They identify the aims of psychological investigations and apply appropriate structure to sequence data using correctly labelled tables, graphs and diagrams.
This unit introduces students to developmental psychology by looking at the concept of average development and changes expected as people age. They analyse twin and adoption studies to gain insight into the nature/nurture debate and look at the role of play in assisting development. Students explore what is meant by the term personality and examine several historical perspectives used to explain personality such as Freud’s psychodynamic approach. Students investigate the influence of others on self-concept, identity and attitudes. They explore the behaviours observed within groups, such as deindividuation and social loafing, and causes of prejudice. Psychological research methods introduced in Unit 1 are further explored.
Psychology – Year 12
Prerequisites: Students should have achieved at least a C grade in Year 11 Psychology.
The focus of this unit is to introduce new concepts which assist students to have a better understanding of human behaviour. In this unit, students study the functions of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex and examine how messages are transmitted from the brain to the body. They focus on how behaviour is influenced by learning, by reviewing classical and operant conditioning, negative and positive reinforcement and observational learning. They further expand their knowledge and understanding by examining behaviour that is not influenced by learning, such as heredity, hormones and recreational drugs. Students learn about the impact of others on individual behaviour. They examine the socialisation processes observed within families and explore how social background and gender can shape communication styles. They expand on their knowledge of ethics in psychological research by considering the role of the experimenter and participants’ rights such as privacy and anonymity. Students engage in detailed investigations of experimental methods, noting practical issues associated with research and its application.
In this unit, students are introduced to theories of development, including Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. They review contemporary personality theories and their limitations and analyse the causes of conformity and obedience by investigating the results of famous experiments conducted by Asch, Milgram and Zimbardo. They also gain an understanding into factors that shape a sense of community and explore the varied responses individuals have to significant events. Students continue to develop their understanding and application of psychological research methods. They manipulate dependent and independent variables to test hypotheses and use statistical significance to draw conclusions.