Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

Filter: Make sure you know what is included and you have all the information you need.

There are 4 sections in this paper which will include the following;
  • Issues and Debates in Psychology
  • Schizophrenia
  • Addiction
  • Gender
The paper will be 2 hours long and will account for 33% of your final Psychology grade. 

Issues and Debates: What the specification says.......
  • Gender and culture in Psychology – universality and bias. Gender bias including androcentrism and alpha and beta bias; cultural bias, including ethnocentrism and cultural relativism.
  • Free will and determinism: hard determinism and soft determinism; biological, environmental and psychic determinism. The scientific emphasis on causal explanations.
  • The nature-nurture debate: the relative importance of heredity and environment in determining behaviour; the interactionist approach.
  • Holism and reductionism: levels of explanation in Psychology. Biological reductionism and environmental (stimulus-response) reductionism.
  • Idiographic and nomothetic approaches to psychological investigation.
  • Ethical implications of research studies and theory, including reference to social sensitivity.
Gender: What the specification says......
  • Sex and gender. Sex-role stereotypes. Androgyny and measuring androgyny including the Bem Sex Role Inventory.
  • The role of chromosomes and hormones (testosterone, oestrogen and oxytocin) in sex and gender. Atypical sex chromosome patterns: Klinefelter’s syndrome and Turner’s syndrome.
  • Cognitive explanations of gender development, Kohlberg’s theory, gender identity, gender stability and gender constancy; gender schema theory.
  • Psychodynamic explanation of gender development, Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, Oedipus complex; Electra complex; identification and internalisation.
  • Social learning theory as applied to gender development. The influence of culture and media on gender roles.
  • Atypical gender development: gender identity disorder; biological and social explanations for gender identity disorder
Schizophrenia: What the specification says.....
  • Classification of schizophrenia. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia, including hallucinations and delusions. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia, including speech poverty and avolition. Reliability and validity in diagnosis and classification of schizophrenia, including reference to co-morbidity, culture and gender bias and symptom overlap.
  • Biological explanations for schizophrenia: genetics, the dopamine hypothesis and neural correlates.
  • Psychological explanations for schizophrenia: family dysfunction and cognitive explanations, including dysfunctional thought processing.
  • Drug therapy: typical and atypical antipsychotics.
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy and family therapy as used in the treatment of schizophrenia. Token economies as used in the management of schizophrenia.
  • The importance of an interactionist approach in explaining and treating schizophrenia; the diathesis-stress model.
Addiction: What the specification says......
  • Describing addiction: physical and psychological dependence, tolerance and withdrawal syndrome.
  • Risk factors in the development of addiction, including genetic vulnerability, stress, personality, family influences and peers.
  • Explanations for nicotine addiction: brain neurochemistry, including the role of dopamine, and learning theory as applied to smoking behaviour, including reference to cue reactivity.
  • Explanations for gambling addiction: learning theory as applied to gambling, including reference to partial and variable reinforcement; cognitive theory as applied to gambling, including reference to cognitive bias.
  • Reducing addiction: drug therapy; behavioural interventions, including aversion therapy and covert sensitisation; cognitive behaviour therapy.
  • The application of the following theories of behaviour change to addictive behaviour; the theory of planned behaviour and Prochaska’s six-stage model of behaviour change

Learn: Check your understanding and identify areas to revise and re-work.

Some ideas for helping you learn the content and knowledge you need;
  • Revision posters (eg: strengths and weaknesses of Cognitive Therapy or Flooding)
  • Mind-maps for each of the sections within paper 1 (eg: Cross cultural variations in attachment)
  • Cue-cards (useful for key terms, named researchers, dates, studies and definitions)
  • Quizzes and podcasts (there are plenty of these online including quizlet )
  • Try something different (explain content to your friends/parents, try changing where you revise and the method you use)

Test: Put yourself in exam conditions... how well would you do!?

This is the most important element of your revision.

You should be checking your ability to retrieve and apply your knowledge under exam conditions. This could involve checking your definitions and key terms, completing short answer questions (SAQ's) or attempting past exam papers without notes. ​You should be using approximately 30-40% of your revision time to test, check and re-test yourself; this is the best way to get ready for your exams!

Below are past exam papers which you may want to attempt.

There are more resources, including past papers and mark scheme available on the AQA website or here.