What is universality?
- Facts about human behaviour that are objective, value-free and consistent across time and culture.
What is alpha bias?
- Exaggeration of the differences between men and women.
- Seen as fixed, inevitable.
- Devalue females in relation to males often.
What is an example of alpha bias?
- Wilson’s (1975) sociobiological theory of relationship formation.
- Male’s interested in impregnating as many females as possible to increase chances of genes passing on to the next generation.
- Females –> preserved genes by ensuring survival of few offspring.
= sexual promiscuity naturally selected and genetically determined, but other females who engage this are seen as going against nature.
What is beta bias?
- Ignoring or underestimating differences between men and women.
- Usually takes place when females are not included in studies, assumed findings apply to both sexes.
What is an example of beta bias?
- Fight or flight response.
- Applied to both genders.
- Taylor et al. (2000) –> evolution for females to inhibiit fight or flight response.
= tending and befriending.
= governed by oxytocin.
What’s a consequence of beta bias? Explain it.
- If our understanding of normal behaviour comes from studies of all-male samples, any behaviour that deviates is abnormal.
= misunderstanding, taken as illness? E.g. PMS.
Give 1 evaluative strength of gender bias
1) Feminist psychologists propose how gender bias can be avoided:
- Criteria should be followed to avoid it.
- Women –> studied within meaningful real-life contexts, and genuinely participate in research.
- Diversity within groups should studied, instead of comparisons between men and women.
- Greater emphasis on methods that collect qualitative data.
How does gender bias promote sexism in the research process?
- Lack of women at senior research level means their concerns may not be reflected.
- Male researchers more likely to have work published.
- Females in lab studies = unfair relationship with (usually male) researcher who can label them negatively
= institutional sexism creating bias?
A part from gender promoting sexism in the research process, give 2 further evaluative limitations of gender bias
1) Problems of gender bias in psychological research:
- May create misleading assumptions about female behaviour and validate discriminatory practices.
- May provide scientific justification to exclude women, e.g. because of PMS.
= damaging consequences affecting lives of women?
2) Essentialist arguments are common in gender-based research:
- Essentalist –> gender difference is inevitable and fixed in nature.
- E.g. research in the 1930s showed women’s intellectual activity shrivelled their ovaries
= politically motivated arguments disguised as biological facts
= double standards between men and women.
Give of 2 examples of Western researchers that claimed to find universality, but haven’t.
What is culture bias?
The tendency to ignore cultural differences and interpret all behaviour through the lens of one culture.
What is ethnocentrism?
A belief in the superiority of one’s own cultural group
= e.g. any behavior that doesn’t conform to Western standards is somehow deficient.
Give an example of ethnocentric research in psychology
(i) Strange Situation.
- Ainsworth criticised for only showing American attachment types.
- Suggested secure was the ideal for all.
= misinterpreation of other child-rearing practices, e.g German mothers seen as cold and rejecting rather than encouraging independence.
= inappropriate measure
What is cultural relativism?
- The facts psychologists discover only make sense from the perspective of the culture being studied.
= avoids culture bias.
Berry (1969) found what?
- Etic = looking at behaviour from outside a given culture and identifies behaviour that are universal.
- Emic = functions from within certain cultures and identifies behaviour that are specific to that culture.
In terms of culture bias, why is the distinction between individualism and collectivism an evaluative limitation?
- Reference by many between differences of individualism and collectivism; independence vs interdependence.
- Takano + Osaka (1999) - 14/15 studies comparing US and Japan found no distinction of between two types of cultures.
= culture bias? differences not an issue?
Give an evaluative strength in to culture bias
1) Cross-cultural research challenges Western assumptions:
- Challenge Western ways of thinking and viewing the world.
- Understand they’re not shared.
- Differences may promote greater sensitivity to individual differences cultural relativism.
= more validity if they recognise role of culture?
A part from the distinction between individualism and collectivism, give 2 further evaluative limitations of culture bias.
1) Cross-cultural research prone to demand characteristics:
- General aims and objectives of scientific enquiry is familiar in Western society.
- Cultures without experience of research –> more affected by demand characteristics?
= unfamiliarity –> validity threatened.
2) Difficulties with the interpretations of variables:
- Variables under review may not be experienced in the same way by all participants.
- Emotions –> different behaviours
- E.g. Invasion of personal space is normal in China, but threatening in the West.
= affect interactions between researcher and participants? challenged validity?
What is free will?
The notion that human beings are free to choose their thoughts and actions.
What does the humanist approach say about free will?
There are biological and enviornmental influences on our behaviour, but free will implies that we can reject them.
What is hard determinism?
- All human actions have a cause, that are identifiable.
- (Like science) What we do is dictated by internal or external forces out of our control.
What is soft determinism?
- All human action has cause but people have conscious mental control over their behaviour.
What is biological determinism?
- Behaviour determined by physiological, genetic and hormonal processes.
Physiological = processes not under our conscious control, e.g. ANS on anxiety. Genetic = determine our behaviour and characteristics. Hormones = determine our behaviour, e.g. testosterone on aggression.
What is environmental determinism?
- We are determined by conditioning.
- ‘Choice’ is actually reinforcement contingencies that have acted upon us throughout our live.
- Behaviour not independent, but environmental events and socialisation.
What is psychic determinism?
- Behaviour directed by unconscious conflicts; that were repressed in childhood.
What did Skinner say about free will?
- That it is an illusion.
Why is a deterministic approach used in psychology?
To find causal explanations, where the product is determined by another.
Give 2 evaluative strengths of determinism
1) Consistent with the aims of science:
- Human behaviour is orderly and obeys laws give psychology an equal footing with natural sciences
= increased credibility.
2) Prediction and control of human behaviour has led to treatments and therapies, e.g. drug treatments for Sz.
= Sz determined biologically as its solved by drugs?
Give an evaluative limitation of determinism
1) Not consistent with the legal system:
- Offenders = morally accountable.
- Only applies in mental illness cases
= no application?
Give an evaluative strength of free will
1) We often make choices in everyday life:
- Everyday experience gives idea that we constantly make choices in any given day
= face validity.
Give an evaluative limitation of free will
1) Free will not supported by neurological evidence:
- Brain-studies oppose this.
- Soon (2008)
- Brain activity related to the decision to press a button with the hand occurs up to 10 seconds before participants report being consciously aware of making such a decision.
= determined by our brain before thought?
In terms of the nature-nurture debate, what does nature mean?
Innate, genetic influences.
- Early nativists, e.g. Descartes, argued this.
In terms of the nature-nurture debate, what does nurture mean?
Environmental influences, learning and experience post-natal.
- Behavioural approach.
What is the approach that combines both nature and nurture?
Is it possible to split nature from nurture or vice versa?
No, environmental influences a child’s life as soon as it is conceived.
Give an example of interactionism in relation to attachment.
- Attachment a two-way street;
- Child’s temperament influences how the parent behaves towards them.
- The parent’s responses in turn affect the childs behaviour.
In relation to interactionism, what is the diathesis-stress model
- The model that suggests a mental disorder is caused by a biological vulnerability (diathesis) which is only expressed when coupled with an environmental trigger (stress).
In relation to interactionism, what is epigenetics?
- Epigenetics is a change in genetic activity without changing the genetic code.
- Lifestyles and events leave epigenetic marks on our DNA –> tell our bodies which genes to ignore and use –> may influence child’s genetic code.
How might our understanding the interaction between nature and nurture have real-world implications?
- Saying something is either may have negative implications for how we view behaviour.
- Saying its entirely biology –> led to racism with disastrous consequences.
= both –> more reasonable way to approach and manage behaviour.
Give an evaluative limitation of the nature-nurture debate
1) Confounding variable of unshared environments:
- Trying to find environmental influences complicated by non-identical upbringings.
- Even twins have shared and unshared environments.
- Individual differences –> experience life events differently.
= explain why MZ twins do not show perfect concordance rates.
A part from our understanding of the interaction between nature and nurture having real-world implications, give 2 further evaluative strengths of the nature-nurture debate.
1) Gene-environment interactions explained by constructivism:
- People create their own nurture by actively selecting environments appropriate for their nature.
- Naturally aggressive child chooses environment accordingly, e.g. aggressive friends.
–> then affects development.
= impossible to separate the two on our behaviour.
2) Understanding of nature-nurture relates to other debates:
- A strong commitment to either is hard determinism.
Nativists = biological
Empiricists = free will
= Nativists –> biological determinism.
= Empiricists –> environmental determinism.
What approach is holistic?
In relation to psychology, what is holism?
The idea that behaviour should be studied as a whole system.
- Can’t study individual processes, as there are other influences.
In relation to psychology, what is reductionism?
The breaking down of behaviour into constituent parts.
= based on parsimony, explaining using most basic, lowest level principles.
What does ‘levels of explanation’ mean?
- Suggestion that there are different ways of viewing the same phenomena in psychology.
How might OCD be understood in different ways, i.e. differing levels of explanation.
1) Socio-cultural –> involves behaviour most would regard as odd.
2) Psychological level –> individuals experience of obsessive thoughts.
3) Neurochemical level –> underproduction of serotonin.
= each reductionist than one before.
What is a hierarchy of reductionism?
- Psychology can be placed in it.
- Physics more precise, at the bottom.
- Sociology more general, at the top.
- Researchers who favour reductionism –> psychology being replaced by explanations lower down in hierarchy.
What is biological reductionism?
- The idea that all behaviour is at some level biological, and can be explained through neurochemical, neurophysiological, genetic influences etc.
= applied to explanation and treatment of mental illness.
What is environmental reductionism?
- Physical level, behaviourist stimulus-response links.
- Studying observable behaviour –> breaking it down to stimuli-response.
= not concerned with cognitive, just physical level.
Give 1 strength of holism
1) Can explain key aspects of social behaviour:
- Only emerge within a group context, can’t be understood at level of individual group members.
- E.g. de-individuation of prisoners and guards in SPE can’t be understand by looking at individuals.
= more complete understanding.
Give 1 evaluative limitation of holism
1) It is impractical:
- Not rigorous, or scientifically testing.
- Become vague and speculative as they become more complex.
- E.g. assuming many factors contribute to depression; how do we see which one is most influential and which to use as therapy?
= reductionism more applicable for problems?
Give 1 strength of reductionism
1) Scientific credibility:
- Reductionism –> basis of scientific research.
- Behaviours are reduced to parts to create operationalised variables
= conduct experiments or observation in reliable ways
= credibility, lower down hierarchy of reductionism.
Give 1 limitation of reductionism
1) Reductionist approach lack validity:
- E.g. at level of genes, oversimplify complex phenomena –> lose validity.
= fail to analyse social context of the behaviour, where behaiour derives its meaning
= partial explanation
What is the idiographic approach?
- Describing the nature of the indivial.
- Study subjective experiecences, motivation and values.
- No attempt to compare to larger group standard
Is the idiographic approach more associated with qualitative or quantitative methods? Explain why.
- Case studies, unstructured interviews, self-report.
- These methods can describe human experience and ability to gain insight into someone’s way of viewing the world.
What are the 2 most notable approaches which use idiographic methods
- Rogers + Maslow –> only interested in looking at ‘self’ rather than producing general laws of behaviour.
- Freud used the case study method.
- Used idiographic measures –> assumed he had identified general laws of personality development.
What is the main aim of the nomothetic approach?
- To produce general laws of behaviour.
- Benchmark with which people can be compared, classified and measured.
- Predict and control future behaviour.
Why would the nomothetic approach use questionnaires or psychological tests?
- These methods are reliable and scientific.
- Involve large of numbers to establish similarities and differences between them.
Which 3 most notable approaches use the nomothetic approach
Give 1 strength of the idiographic approach
1) Provides rich data:
- Complete account of an individual, e.g. HM.
- May generate hypotheses for future study, e.g. HM study showed us that some procedural memories are more resistant to amnesia.
= provide insight into normal functioning, contributing to our overall understanding of behaviour.
Give 1 weakness of the idiographic approach
1) Lack of scientific rigour:
- Subjective and restrictive nature.
- E.g. Freud’s key concepts, e.g. Oedipus complex, were developed from a detailed study of a single case.
= cannot generalise –> conclusions subjective, interpretation by researcher = researchers bias.
Give 1 strength of the nomothetic approach
1) Scientific value of the research:
- Methods employed mirror the natural sciences.
= standardised procedures, assess reliability and validity and using statistical analysis.
= more credibility
Give 1 weakness of the nomothetic approach
1) Loss of the whole person:
- E.g. knowing there is a 1% lifetime risk of developing Sz –> tells us little about what life is like with it.
= lab tests –> scores, not individuals.
= overlook human experience for general laws.
In general, why do ethical issues arise?
- Due to conflict between;
(i) Psychology’s need for valid and valuable research.
(ii) ) Preserving the rights and dignity of research.
Why are wider ethical implications harder to predict?
- Can control the methods in the research procedure, and how they treat participants.
- Less influence how findings are presented and interpreted, e.g. effect on public policy.
Why is research said to be socially sensitive?
- Potential social implications, directly at individual or class of individuals represented.
; e.g. genetic basis of criminality –> far-reaching consequences for those who have participated.
; tackling taboo topics attract attention.
Why should researchers not avoid socially sensitive research?
- Carry importance due to the privacy and lack of knowledge into them –> social responsibility.
What 3 concerns did Sieber + Stanley (1988) identify that could come from socially sensitive research?
- may give scientific status to prejudice and discrimination
2) Uses/public policy:
- used for wrong purpose?
- adopted by government for political ends or to shape public policy?
3) Validity of the research:
- some in the past said to objective but turned out to be fraudulent.
What notable example of research has had consequences?
- Burt’s research on IQ for UK schoolchildren.
- Stated intelligence was genetic and couldn’t be altered, coefficient of +.77
= made much of data up and his research assistants, discredited –> 11+ exam remained.
How are the benefits of socially sensitive research?
- Scarr (1988).
- Studies of under-represented groups and issues –> promote understanding, help reduce prejudice = encourage acceptance.
- Benefited = e.g. unreliability of EWT reduced risk of miscarriages of justice.
= valuable role in society.
A part from the benefits of socially sensitive, give a further strength of ethical implications of research studies and theory.
1) Understanding potential damage from socially sensitive research:
- Used by government and institutes to shape policy –> despite dubious nature of some findings.
= research seeking to manipulate –> ethical implications.
= raises Q of who benefits from such research? difficult to manage when findings have been published.
How might socially sensitive researched be used for social control?
- 1920s + 30s, states in US enacted legislation leading to compulsory sterilisation of some citizens
- ‘feeble minded’, drain on society = psychologists agreed they were unfit to breed.
= socially sensitive research –> prop up discriminatory practices in past = argument against its adoption.
A part from socially sensitive research possibly being used for social control, give a further limitation of ethical implications of research studies and theory
1) Costs and benefits difficult to predict?:
- Research with ethical implications is scrutinised.
- Weigh up cost and benefits.
= consequences involving vulnerable groups may be difficult to anticipate
= worth of research is subjective, the impact can only be seen once its public.