Physiological Psychology

The physiological approach in psychology (also known as the biological approach) is an innovative branch of behavioural neuroscience which supports the notion that psychology should be regarded as a science. This approach focuses on our biological make-up and therefore assumes that all behaviour has a physical cause.

This scientific study of human behaviour focuses on studying biological systems such as brain structure, the action of chemicals, the nervous system, hormones, and genetics and therefore considers different parts of the brain as controlling different aspects of behaviour.

cJ4VyJmh-qYZnoebWwxjMw Assumptions of the approach

  • Behaviour is controlled by physiological changes within the body, as opposed to environmental factors
  • Human behaviour should be investigated using scientific, rigorous methodology
  • The things that people think and feel, say and do are determined by the make up of the nervous system, brain structures, genetics and DNA, chemicals and hormones, and evolutionary factors

Core Studies

The three core studies covered by this approach are as follows:

Evaluation of the approach


+ Tends to use scientific, rigorous methodology to study human behaviour

+ Provides strong arguments for the nature side of the nature versus nurture debate

+ Has contributed  to our understanding of the fundamental processes of behaviour, which has led to many practical applications (e.g. rehabilitation programmes for brain damaged patients)


– Adopts a deterministic view suggesting that behaviour is pre-determined and therefore humans have no free will over their actions

– Takes a reductionistic approach and tends to over-simplify physical systems and their interactions with the environment

– Tends to use highly-controlled laboratory experiments conducted within artificial settings to observe human behaviour which may lack ecological validity

5 thoughts on “Physiological Psychology

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