Psychology units 1 & 2
Unit 1: How are behaviour and mental processes shaped?
Human development involves changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours. In this unit students investigate the structure and functioning of the human brain and the role it plays in the overall functioning of the human nervous system. Students explore brain plasticity and the influence that brain damage may have on a person’s psychological functioning. They consider the complex nature of psychological development, including situations where psychological development may not occur as expected. Students examine the contribution that classical and contemporary studies have made to an understanding of the human brain and its functions, and to the development of different psychological models and theories used to predict and explain the development of thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
A student-directed research investigation related to brain function and/or development is undertaken in this unit. The research investigation draws on content from Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2.
Area of Study 1
How does the brain function?
Advances in brain research methods have led to new ways of understanding the relationship between the mind, brain and behaviour. In this area of study students examine how our understanding of brain structure and function has changed over time and how the brain enables us to interact with the external world around us. They analyse the roles of specific areas of the brain and the interactions between different areas of the brain that enable complex cognitive tasks to be performed. Students explore how brain plasticity and brain damage can affect a person’s functioning.
On completion of this unit the student should be able to describe how understanding of brain structure and function has changed over time, explain how different areas of the brain coordinate different functions, and explain how brain plasticity and brain damage can change psychological functioning.
Area of Study 2
What influences psychological development?
The psychological development of an individual involves complex interactions between biological, psychological and social factors. In this area of study students explore how these factors influence different aspects of a person’s psychological development. They consider the interactive nature of hereditary and environmental factors and investigate specific factors that may lead to development of typical or atypical psychological development in individuals, including a person’s emotional, cognitive and social development and the development of psychological disorders.
On completion of this unit the student should be able to identify the varying influences of nature and nurture on a person’s psychological development, and explain different factors that may lead to typical or atypical psychological development.
Area of Study 3
Student-directed research investigation
In this area of study students apply and extend their knowledge and skills developed in Areas of Study 1 and/or 2 to investigate a question related to brain function and/or psychological development. Students analyse the scientific evidence that underpins the research in response to a question of interest. They then communicate the findings of their research investigation and explain the psychological concepts, outline contemporary research and present conclusions based on the evidence.
Students may choose a question selected from the list under each topic or they may develop their own research question related to Areas of Study 1 and/or 2 in conjunction with their teacher. For the selected question, students should refer to at least two contemporary psychological studies and/or research techniques.
On completion of this unit the student should be able to investigate and communicate a substantiated response to a question related to brain function and/or development, including reference to at least two contemporary psychological studies and/or research techniques.
Unit 2: How do external factors influence behavior and mental processes?
A person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by a variety of biological, psychological and social factors. In this unit students investigate how perception of stimuli enables a person to interact with the world around them and how their perception of stimuli can be distorted. They evaluate the role social cognition plays in a person’s attitudes, perception of themselves and relationships with others. Students explore a variety of factors and contexts that can influence the behaviour of an individual and groups. They examine the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of human perception and why individuals and groups behave in specific ways.
A student practical investigation related to internal and external influences on behaviour is undertaken in this unit. The investigation draws on content from Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2.
Area of Study 1
What influences a person’s perception of the world?
Human perception of internal and external stimuli is influenced by a variety of biological, psychological and social factors. In this area of study students explore two aspects of human perception – vision and taste – and analyse the relationship between sensation and perception of stimuli. They consider how biological, psychological and social factors can influence a person’s perception of visual and taste stimuli, and explore circumstances where perceptual distortions of vision and taste may occur.
On completion of this unit the student should be able to compare the sensations and perceptions of vision and taste, and analyse factors that may lead to the occurrence of perceptual distortions
Area of Study 2
How are people influenced to behave in particular ways?
A person’s social cognition and behaviour influence the way they view themselves and the way they relate to others. In this area of study students explore the interplay of biological, psychological and social factors that shape the behaviour of individuals and groups. They consider how these factors can be used to explain the cause and dynamics of particular individual and group behaviours, including attitude formation, prejudice, discrimination, helping behaviour and bullying. Students examine the findings of classical and contemporary research as a way of theorising and explaining individual and group behaviour.
On completion of this unit the student should be able to identify factors that influence individuals to behave in specific ways, and analyse ways in which others can influence individuals to behave differently.
Area of Study 3
Student-directed practical investigation
In this area of study students design and conduct a practical investigation related to external influences on behavior. The investigation requires the student to develop a question, plan a course of action to answer the question, undertake an investigation to collect the appropriate primary qualitative and/or quantitative data, organise and interpret the data and reach a conclusion in response to the question. The investigation relates to knowledge and skills developed in Areas of Study 1 and/or 2 and is undertaken by the student using either quantitative or qualitative methods, including experiments, surveys, questionnaires, observational studies and/or rating scales.
On completion of this unit the student should be able to design and undertake a practical investigation related to external influences on behaviour, and draw conclusions based on evidence from collected data.
The award of satisfactory completion for a unit is based on whether the student has demonstrated the set of outcomes specified for the unit. A variety of learning activities and assessment tasks provide opportunities for students to demonstrate key knowledge and key skills in the outcomes.
The areas of study, including the key knowledge and key skills listed for the outcomes, are used for course design and the development of learning activities and assessment tasks. Assessment is part of the regular teaching and learning program completed mainly in class and within a limited timeframe.