Topic overview 

You must show an understanding that biological psychology is about the mechanisms within our body and how they affect our behaviour, focusing on aggression and body rhythms. What you need to learn:


Structure and function of brain regions focusing on aggression 

  • The role of the central nervous system (CNS) and neurotransmitters in human behaviour, including the structure and role of the neuron, the function of neurotransmitters and synaptic transmission. 
  • The structure of the brain, different brain areas including the pre-frontal cortex and limbic system and brain functioning as an explanation of aggression as a human behaviour. 
  • The role of, and research into hormones and genes in aggression. 

Body rhythms 

  • The role of internal pacemakers (body clock) and external zietgebers in the regulation of the circadian sleep-wake cycle. 
  • Infradian rhythms including the menstrual cycle and seasonal affective disorder and therapies, including light therapy. 
  • Research into the circadian sleep-wake cycle and infradian rhythms.


Correlational research 

  • The use of the correlational research method in psychology, including co-variables. 
  • Types of correlation: positive, negative and including the use of scatter diagrams. 
  • Issues surrounding the use of correlations in psychology; issues with cause and effect, other variables. 
  • List B from Topic B, focusing on the Spearman rank test. 

Scanning techniques 

  • Brain-scanning techniques (CAT, PET, and fMRI). The use of brain-scanning techniques to investigate human behaviour, including aggression. 

Twin studies 

  • The use of twin studies to investigate genetic relatedness and aggression. 
  • List A from Social Psychology 


Classic study 

  • Raine et al. (1997) Brain abnormalities in murderers indicated by positron emission tomography.

Contemporary studies

  • Brendgen et al. (2005) Examining genetic and environmental effects on social aggression: A study of 6-year-old twins.: 
  • McDermott (2008) Monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA) predicts behavioural aggression following provocation. 

Practical investigation 

One practical research exercise to gather data relevant to topics covered in biological psychology. This practical research exercise must adhere to ethical principles in both content and intention. In conducting the practical research exercise, you must: 

  • design and conduct a correlational study to gather quantitative data and include descriptive statistics as analysis and a nonparametric test of relationship into aggression or body rhythms 
  • make design decisions when planning and gathering data for a correlational analysis, including co-variables, operationalisation, ethical considerations, hypothesis construction and controls 
  • collect, present and comment on data gathered, including descriptive statistics and graphical representation (scatter graph) 
  • use inferential statistical testing (Spearman’s rank test) and explain the significance of the result and the use of levels of significance. Students must also be able to use a correlation co-efficient (strength/direction) to explain the relationship 
  • consider strengths and weaknesses of the correlation and possible design improvements 
  • write up the procedure, results and discussion section of a report. 

Suitable examples 

  • A correlation into age/amount of time spent on social media and sleep. 
  • A correlation to see if there is a relationship between height and a self-rating of aggressive tendencies.