AP Psychology : Theories of Psychopathology

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Theories Of Psychopathology

What does the cognitive model postulate as the cause of unipolar depression?

Possible Answers:

Cognitive theorists believe that, due to over-active neurotransmitters in the brain, people gradually begin to experience stronger and stronger depressive thoughts.

Cognitive theorists believe that unipolar depression results from significant changes in the number of rewards and punishments people receive in their lives.

Cognitive theorists believe that depression results when a person's relationships leave them feeling insecure and unsafe.

None of these answers represent the cognitive model for explaining unipolar depression

Cognitive theorists believe that people with unipolar depression persistently view events and situations in life in negative ways. As a result of these defeatist perceptions, people sink into feelings of gloom, helplessness, and depression.

Correct answer:

Cognitive theorists believe that people with unipolar depression persistently view events and situations in life in negative ways. As a result of these defeatist perceptions, people sink into feelings of gloom, helplessness, and depression.

Explanation:

Cognitive theorists believe that the mind and patterns of thinking are largely in control of how a person views and responds to life's events. Cognitive theorists believe that people with unipolar depression persistently view events and situations in life in negative ways. As a result of these defeatist perceptions, such people sink into feelings of gloom, helplessness, and depression.

Example Question #2 : Theories Of Abnormal Psychology

Which of the following is not a reason why a person might develop post-traumatic stress disorder?

Possible Answers:

Torture

All of these answers are likely reasons why a person might develop post-traumatic stress disorder

Natural disaster

Sexual assualt

Combat

Correct answer:

All of these answers are likely reasons why a person might develop post-traumatic stress disorder

Explanation:

Any traumatic event can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. Some of the most likely to do so include combat, disasters, abuse of any kind, victimization, and torture.

Example Question #3 : Theories Of Abnormal Psychology

What do psychodynamic theorists propose to be the cause for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Possible Answers:

Psychodynamic theorists believe that OCD develops when children come to fear their own id impulses and use ego defense mechanisms to lessen the resulting anxiety. The id impulses usally take the form of obsessive thoughts, and the ego defenses appear as compulsive actions. 

None of these answers accurately represents the psychodynamic perspective on obsessive-compulsive disorder

Psychodynamic theorists believe that abnormally low levels of the neurotransmitter seratonin are responsible for obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions.

Psychodynamic theorists believe that certain people are predisposed to develop this disorder. Essentially, genetics is the determining factor and is solely responsible for this pattern of thinking/doing in certain people and not others.

Psychodynamic theorists believe that all people have intrusive and unwanted thoughts. Some people, however, blame themselves for such thoughts; these people then start acting compulsively to neutralize the unwanted thoughts. 

Correct answer:

Psychodynamic theorists believe that OCD develops when children come to fear their own id impulses and use ego defense mechanisms to lessen the resulting anxiety. The id impulses usally take the form of obsessive thoughts, and the ego defenses appear as compulsive actions. 

Explanation:

Psychodynamic theorists are very firm in their belief about the interactions between the id and ego during the early, formative years of a person's life. They propose that there is a battle between anxiety-provoking id impulses and anxiety-reducing defense mechanisms.

Example Question #4 : Theories Of Abnormal Psychology

Which of these cases supports the diathesis-stress model of psychopathology?

Possible Answers:

David's schizophrenia seems to stem from his abuse of psychoactive drugs, rather than a genetic predisposition to the disorder. 

Ben has a family history of depression but does not develop it. 

Logan had several stressful life events, but does not develop depression. 

Cara developed OCD at age 10, with a strong predisposition to the disorder and no clear external factors or life events contributing to it. 

Thomas's family has a history of bipolar disorder, and he developed it after a trauma in his teen years. 

Correct answer:

Thomas's family has a history of bipolar disorder, and he developed it after a trauma in his teen years. 

Explanation:

The diathesis-stress model states that disorders are caused by both a predisposition to the disorder and a life stress that serves as a trigger. The only example that follows that pattern is Thomas's family history (diathesis) and stressful life events (trauma). 

Example Question #5 : Theories Of Abnormal Psychology

Which theory of psychopathology holds that disorders are the result of an imbalance between internal drives?

Possible Answers:

Biological

Cognitive

Psychodynamic

Developmental

Behaviorist

Correct answer:

Psychodynamic

Explanation:

The psychodynamic approach in psychology holds that internal drives for pleasure (the id) is in constant conflict with the rational mind (the ego) and the moral mind (the superego). When these forces are unbalanced, they can manifest themselves as a variety of mental disorders.

Example Question #2 : Theories Of Psychopathology

Which field employs a life course perspective in studying psychopathology?

Possible Answers:

Psychoanalysis

Developmental psychopathology

Humanism

Adult psychopathology

Existential psychopathology

Correct answer:

Developmental psychopathology

Explanation:

Developmental psychopathology is the study of the development of psychological disorders, including autism, ADHD, and schizophrenia. This subfield of psychopathology focuses on a life course perspective in examining the trajectory of psychological disorders.

Example Question #3 : Theories Of Psychopathology

Which of the following is NOT a contributing factor to psychopathology according to any branch of psychology?

Possible Answers:

Biochemical imbalances

Unconscious conflict

Failure of self-realization

Fate

Cognitive biases

Correct answer:

Fate

Explanation:

Each branch of psychology has many explanations for psychopathology, including failure of self-realization (humanistic), unconscious conflict (psychodynamic), cognitive biases (cognitive), and biochemical imbalances (psychobiological). Although some people may believe that fate plays a role in whether someone develops a disorder, fate is not a scientific phenomenon that any branch of psychology includes in the study of psychopathology.

Example Question #8 : Theories Of Abnormal Psychology

Which of the following characterizes the medical or biomedical theory of abnormal psychology?

Possible Answers:

Psychological disorders are due to unconscious conflict

Psychological disorders have to do with incorrect conditioning

Psychological disorders are caused by unhelpful thought patterns

Psychological disorders have biological causes, symptoms, and cures

Psychological disorders are the result of nonsecure parental attachments

Correct answer:

Psychological disorders have biological causes, symptoms, and cures

Explanation:

The medical or biomedical theory of abnormality views the causes of abnormal psychology to be biological as well as the symptoms and cures. Examples of this might include hormone imbalances or differences in brain structure. Unconscious conflict would be classified under the psychanalytic psychology, attachment theory under social or developmental psychology, conditioning under behavioral psychology, and thought patterns under cognitive psychology. 

Example Question #4 : Theories Of Psychopathology

Which of the following is not a contributing factor to women having higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders than men?

Possible Answers:

Women have lower levels of aggression

Societal power and control differences between the sexes

Women are more likely to seek help for their disorders than men

Hormonal differences between the sexes

Women are sexually assaulted at higher rates than men

Correct answer:

Women have lower levels of aggression

Explanation:

There are higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders in women for a combination of reasons, including hormonal differences, higher rates of sexual assault, less societal power and control, and more willingness to get help (which increases the rates, though not the occurances). The average woman is less aggressive than the average man, but that does not relate to anxiety/mood disorders and in fact brings down the rates of other types of disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder.

Example Question #2 : Theories Of Psychopathology

Dissociative disorders are a category of psychological disorders in which a person's emotions, consciousness, perceptions, motor control, and identity are dissociated. Many people with dissociative disorders have experienced childhood physical or sexual abuse. Which of the following is considered to be the major paradigm for dissociative disorders?

Possible Answers:

Psychoanalytic theory: a theory that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are the result of conscious and subconscious interactions in the mind. 

Humanistic model: a model dependent on the idea that people are good, creative, and have free will.

Cognitive psychology: a psychological approach dependent on the idea that mental processes affect thinking, memory, behavior, and problem solving.

Learning model: a psychological approach dependent on the idea that behaviors result from learning and observation. 

Diathesis-stress model: a model dependent on the idea that psychological disorders occur when a person is predisposed to the disorder and experiences significant stress.

Correct answer:

Diathesis-stress model: a model dependent on the idea that psychological disorders occur when a person is predisposed to the disorder and experiences significant stress.

Explanation:

The major paradigm for dissociative disorders is the diathesis-stress model. This model depends on the idea that psychological disorders occur when a person is predisposed to the disorder and experiences significant stress. Research has indicted that many dissociative patients experienced childhood physical or sexual abuse, which were the cause of significant stress. According to this model, these patients also had a predisposition, or diathesis, to dissociate easily. This means they are easily hypnotized and prone to engage in fantasy. Dissociation was a method of avoidance for these patients. In other words, dissociating from reality allowed them to escape their stressful experiences, protect themselves from emotional trauma, and block out unpleasant memories. 

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