The Top 10 Theories and Concepts for Cognitive-Affective Bases of Behavior on the EPPP

Although this material is not the most emphasized area of the exam, it surfaces enough that you should plan to spend a considerable amount of time reviewing domains that pertain to cognitive-affective bases of behavior. If you map what AATBS study sections encompass cognitive-affective bases of behavior, it would include material from the following domains: Learning theory and cognitive-behavioral interventions, social psychology, and lifespan development. This material again tends to be straight-forward and asks you to know and memorize terms, theories, and stages of development associated with this material.

To start your review, here are the top 10 theories and concepts you want to be sure to be familiar with for this section of the exam:

1. Classical Conditioning and Interventions based on Classical Conditioning

Everyone remembers Pavlov and his experiment with the dog and meat powder. You want to be able to understand and recall all of the outcomes that are possible through classical conditioning. If given a factitious scenario, be able to identify the conditioned and unconditioned stimulus. Understand what happens when extinction or spontaneous recovery occurs. Finally, be able to apply concepts of classical conditioning to treatment, including in vivo exposure with response prevention, systematic desensitization, and implosive therapy.

2. Operant Conditioning and Interventions based on Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is all about punishment and reinforcement. Understand these terms and be able to identify positive or negative reinforcement and punishment from case scenarios. Learn the various schedules of reinforcement and have examples for each to help support memorization of these terms. When looking at various forms of intervention, there are several to review. You will want to familiarize yourself with terms such as token economy, response cost, and contingency contracts.

3. Cognitive Learning Theories

Learning can happen in several ways and there are a few theories you want to be able to connect with learning as well as the researchers behind them. Some of these theories of learning include latent learning, insight learning, and observational learning.

4. Cognitive Behavioral Interventions

Many feel comfortable with questions on cognitive behavioral interventions given that it asks you to understand and be familiar with cognitive therapy and other forms of therapy often covered in most graduate psychology programs. Be able to answer questions on Cognitive therapy, schemas, automatic thoughts, Socratic dialogue, and ways in which therapists ask clients to record automatic thoughts. Understand other Cognitive Therapies including Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and Stress Inoculation.

5. Memory and Forgetting

There are two main models for understanding memory acquisition. Learn the difference between the Information Processing Model and Level of Processing Model. Be able to understand and recite the components of long-term memory, including procedural memory and declarative memory. Know the two main theories of forgetting and methods for improving memory, particularly Yerkes-Dodson Law.

6. Social Perception and Cognition

Cognition and the social environment operate together, leading to issues with perception that can result in bias and heuristics. Know these terms and concepts as well as the resulting cognitive errors (i.e. base rate fallacy, false consensus effect).

7. The Self in Social Context

Who we are and how we view ourselves is often an outcome of the social context of which we are a part. Have a basic understanding of social context, self-presentation, and perceived self-control.

8. Cognitive Development

Know Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development as well as Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory. How does cognitive development look across the lifespan? Understand memory strategies in childhood as well as the effects of age on memory.

9. Language Development

There are a few theories of language development that should be reviewed as well as a basic understanding of the stages of language acquisition.

10. Personality Development

Personality development encompasses Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development and Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development. For the EPPP, one should be able to recite each of these stages along with where that child is with regards to maturity. For example, you should be able to connect Erikson’s stage of identity versus role confusion to adolescence.

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