Exam-style Questions: Psychological Abnormality

  1. Outline one definition of psychological abnormality.

    (Marks available: 3)

    Answer

    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 1

    You should have offered a short description of one of the following definitions of abnormality:

    • Statistical infrequency.
    • Deviation from social norms.
    • Failure to function adequately.
    • Deviation from ideal mental health.

    Remember: there are only 3 marks available - don't waffle on, it wastes time!

    (Marks available: 3)

  2. Describe how the psychodynamic approach explains the causes of abnormality.

    (Marks available: 6)

    Answer

    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 2

    The most obvious way to answer this question is to focus on Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory.

    You should emphasise Freud's idea that abnormality, especially anxiety, stem from unconscious conflicts in the mind. These conflicts may have arisen from childhood trauma.

    A psychodynamic approach focuses on a person's past experiences.

    For top marks: you must include some detail and show your understanding of specialist terminology.

    (Marks available: 6)

  3. To what extent do biological factors explain the causes of anorexia nervosa?

    (Marks available: 12)

    Answer

    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 3

    Biological explanations can include genetics and brain biochemistry. However, there are problems with each of these explanations. You need to quote research evidence that supports or challenges biological explanation for anorexia nervosa.

    Remember: eating disorders are complex issues and that biological explanations do not provide us with all the answers.

    11 - 12 marks You have identified a range of research studies and explained how they show that anorexia nervosa could be the product of biological factors. You have pointed out the problems with these explanations and might have mentioned alternatives. It is important to have expressed ideas and arguments clearly.
    9 - 10 marks You have used relevant research studies and have shown a very good grasp of how they show that anorexia nervosa could be the product of biological factors. Your essay is well organised.
    7 - 8 marks You have used relevant research studies and carried out a good analysis to explain biological causes of anorexia nervosa. A few details have been omitted. Your essay is well organised.
    5 - 6 marks You have been limited in your use of research studies to explain biological causes of anorexia nervosa. Your essay is reasonably well organised.
    3 -4 marks You have mentioned some biological causes of anorexia nervosa but have been vague in your answer.
    1 - 2 marks You have not addressed the issues in the question. Your answer is confused and barely mentions biological causes of anorexia nervosa.

    (Marks available: 12)