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  • 2. A2 Psychology builds on the knowledge and skills you have acquired atAS level; the skills of demonstrating knowledge and understanding(AO1) and evaluating and applying psychological knowledge(AO2/3) are given greater importance at A2 level and are extended toinclude issues and debates. This workbook is designed to help youunderstand these synoptic skills and recognize where and how theyapply to the material topics you will be covering in Year 13.IDEA’s in psychology are what gets you the higher marks. IDEA’s inpsychology can help you achieve that A*. IDEA’s in psychology arethe skills involved in Thinking like a Psychologist!So, what are IDEA’s?Issues: Gender and cultural bias; animals in research; ethicalconcernsDebates : the nature-nurture debate; free will–determinism;reductionismEvaluation: research evidence/methodology; assumptions;application; implications; how science worksApproaches: cognitive; behavioural; biological; psychodynamic;evolutionaryThese following pages help you to understand these things and giveyou the chance to put them into practice with examples from the restof the course.
  • 3. Issues: Gender and cultural bias; animals in research; ethicalconcernsGender bias: is Psychology – both theory and research – seen from amale perspective? Is the female perspective ignored?Gender bias can occur at any stage of the knowledge process, fromtheory to hypothesis, from methodology to conclusion.Many have claimed that psychology is androcentric. This means thatmales are taken as the norm from which theory and research isdeveloped. Anything different to this norm is seen as deficient orinferior in some way. This is particularly the case when studies arecarried out on male only samples (e.g., Asch, Zimbardo, Milgram) butthe conclusions are generalized to all. What does not interest theandrocentric world will not be investigated.Hare-Mustin & Maracek suggest two further aspects of gender bias;alpha bias- theories which exaggerate the differences between menand women, thus reinforcing stereotypes and beta bias – theorieswhich minimize the differences between men and women, thusimportant aspects of women’s life experiences are ignored.In research, gender bias exists at the grass roots level with fewerfemales leading research in Universities, which leads to androcentricideas being perpetuated, and female issues being under researched. Itis also suggests that there is bias in reporting of findings from theestablished journals , which may even lead to bias in policy andfunding!
  • 4. Gender BiasSuggest 2 examples of gender bias in psychological theories that youhave studiedSuggest 2 examples of gender bias in research that you have studiedSuggest one example of Alpha bias in gender in an area ofpsychology that you have studiedSuggest one example of beta bias in gender in an area of psychologyyou have studiedComments and implications
  • 5. Culture bias – psychology is predominately a white, middle class,European or American subject. It is conducted by this group of peopleon this group of people, but it claims to explain all human nature.Some suggest that psychology is ethnocentric. This is when aresearcher assumes that their own cultural norms, expectations,practices and values are natural or correct and then compare othercultures in a negative way. This could also be called Eurocentric.Alpha and beta bias can also be seen with regard to culture; alphabias is when cultural differences are accentuated usually in order toargue that one culture is in some way better or superior to another.Beta bias is when important cultural differences are belittled bysomeone from another culture.Emics and etics are types of theoretical construct. Emic constructsare specific to particular cultures and so vary from place to place. Theycan easily be ignored, missed or misinterpreted by a researcher from adifferent culture. An example of an emic might be rituals andbehaviours arising from the death of a family member. Etic constructsare aspects of human nature that are assumed to be universal butwhich may not be so. The human emotion of sadness is a universalhuman emotion for example, but the problem can arise when it isassumed that sadness is a universal reaction to death. This is thenknown as an imposed etic which can lead to bias.
  • 6. Culture BiasSuggest 2 examples of culture bias in psychological theories that youhave studiedSuggest 2 examples of culture bias in research that you have studiedSuggest one example of Alpha bias in culture in an area ofpsychology that you have studiedSuggest one example of beta bias in culture in an area of psychologyyou have studiedComments and implications
  • 7. Animals in psychological researchThere are times when animals are studied for their own sake as a partof psychological research. They are often observed in their naturalenvironments, without any disturbance, in order for us to more fullyunderstand their behaviour. This is done mainly to aid ourunderstanding of the animals in order to improve their well being.Sometimes psychologists study animal behaviour in a more controlledor artificial way. This is done both to improve our understanding of theanimals themselves but also to help us understand many aspects ofhuman behaviour.The two main questions that arise when studying animals inpsychological research are ‘is it valid?’ and ‘is it ethical?’Is it valid? – evolutionary theory suggests that humans are justanother form of animal. We are quantitatively different to otheranimals but in many respects not qualitatively different. This is knownas behavioural contiguity. Therefore it is justifiable to study animalsto shed light on our behaviour. On the other hand many peoplequestion whether it is possible to gain any knowledge of humans fromthe study of animals because they are different from humans in somany ways. They claim that the problem of extrapolation preventsthe use of animal research to explain human behaviour. They suggestwe cannot generalize to suggest that what happens in animals is alsowhat happens in people.Is it ethical? – many people will say that it is never acceptable to useanimals in psychological research. The Animals (Scientific Procedures)Act sets out clear legislation control the use of animals in medicalresearch. The Act includes the need for licensing and inspection,constraints on numbers and species, requirement for suitable facilitiesand suitable qualifications for the researchers. In addition the BritishPsychological Society sets out even stricter guidelines for the use ofanimals in psychological research. This is an emotional debate, but inthis country it has been agreed that, within certain restraints, a certainamount of psychological research with animals can go on, although itis rare these days.
  • 8. Animals in psychological ResearchOutline one example of animal research in psychology which raisesquestions of validityOutline one example of animal research in psychology which raisesproblems of ethicsExplain two reasons why psychology should use animals in research1.2.Explain two reasons why psychologists should not use animals inresearch1.2.
  • 9. Ethical concernsThe British Psychological Society has issued a clear set ofguidelines for conducting research, with humans and with animals, inan ethical way. Briefly the 10 commandments of conducting researchwith humans are: 1. General – we will look at this under socially sensitive research 2. Consent 3. Deception 4. Debriefing 5. Withdrawal 6. Confidentiality 7. Protection 8. Observational research 9. Giving advice 10. Monitoring colleaguesThese guidelines inform psychological practice as well as research andoverall stress the importance of psychology being objective, competentand non-wasteful.The ethics of socially sensitive research – psychologists sometimescarry out research which can have significant implications both for theparticipants themselves and for the wider community that theparticipants represent.The American Psychological Association 1982 statement sums up theproblem “Just as results of research in atomic physics can be used forthe treatment of cancer as well as for destructive weapons, somethods discovered to reduce prejudice towards minority groups, toeliminate troublesome behaviour problems or to facilitate learning inschool may also be used to manipulate political allegiance, to createartificial wants or to reconcile victims of social justice to their fate.”Are there research questions that possibly shouldn’t even be askedbecause of the potential misuse to which the findings could be put.Think of three questions that could be researched but which couldhave serious negative implications for some people1.2.3.
  • 10. Debates : nature-nurture; free will–determinism; reductionism.The nature-nurture debate – the debate about the roles of heredityand environment is one of the most enduring, as well as one of themost heated and controversial, both inside and outside psychology….The debate is concerned with some of the most fundamental questionsthat human beings … ask about themselves: ‘how do we come to bethe way we are?’ Gross 2007.Or as Shakespeare said“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some havegreatness thrust upon them” Twelfth Night.Why does it matter? It matters because of the implications andconsequences of deciding whether any particular behaviour, ability,trait or problem is a result of our inheritance or of our environment. Itcan affect how people are treated by society, which government orhealth policies put in place, educational opportunities offered andresearch questions that are asked.Put each of the following words into the correct box: culture,inheritance, genetics, innate, acquired, learned, hereditary,biological, social.Nature NurtureIdentify two topics in psychology where the nature-nurture debate isparticularly important. Explain what the potential implications andconsequences of the debate are in this topic.
  • 11. Debates – Free will – determinismDeterminism – this is concerned with the orderly and predictablenature of behaviour. It is the idea that all of our behaviour isinfluenced by external or internal forces; external forces would bethings like upbringing and learning, internal forces things such asgenes, chemicals and hormones. O’Connor explains determinism asfollows ‘1. every macroscopic event has a cause, 2. every humanaction is a macroscopic event, 3. therefore every human action iscaused, 4. any event that is caused could not have happenedotherwise than it did, 5. therefore no human action could havehappened otherwise than it did.’Free will – could be the opposite of determinism in that it means weare all free to choose what we do and that any action a person doesthey could have done differently had they so wished. Others howeverwould rather see free will as the freedom to choose what one does,free from coercion and other financial, moral or social constraints.If we accept a deterministic approach to psychology then we canaccurately explain and predict human behaviour, which bringspsychology into the realms of other sciences, such as chemistry andbiology.If we accept the free will arguments then we cannot consider ascience of psychology, for this would imply that all people (andpossibly animals) have the choice to stay outside of the theory.However without the notion of free will we cannot consider moralresponsibility. The apportioning of blame and praise, reward andpunishment requires the possession of free will. However one of themajor problems with the notion of free will is defining the concept in away that reaches general consensus. Suggest three different definitions of free will 1.2.3.What is the difference between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ determinism?
  • 12. Reductionism.Reductionism : formulating explanations of phenomena by breakingthem down into more fundamental units and processes. The wholeconsists of its parts and the relations between them.Holism : the idea that all the properties of a given system (biological,chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot bedetermined or explained by the sum of its component parts alone.Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way howthe parts behave.The reductionism (vs holism) debate is concerned with the questionof what is the most appropriate level of explanation in psychology.Should we seek to discover explanations in the biochemistry ofhumans and animals or is it more relevant to study society, groups,families and other ‘larger’ units of behaviour.Biochemistry, neuroscience, biology, psychology, sociology,anthropology are all concerned in some way with human functioning,so there is obviously some overlap in their subject matter. Anadvantage of reductionism is that it promotes cooperation betweendisciplines. There might be an increased understanding of psychologyfrom taking full account of the contributions from other sciences.The disadvantage, however, is that much of human behaviour cannotbe explained solely in terms of basic biological, neural, genetic orhormonal processes. It tends to not work very well in practice when itcomes to explaining complex phenomena, such as aggression,attachment, relationships etc.Suggest 2 other topics in psychology that may be problematic for thereductionist approach? (I.e. would possibly be better explained from aholistic perspective)1.2.Suggest 2 topics in psychology that would be better explained from areductionist perspective.1.2.
  • 13. In addition to being able to consider appropriate Issues and Debates inyour answers, to achieve the highest marks you need to show effectiveevaluation. The AO2/3 skills relevant to evaluation are • You must be able to • Analyse and evaluate scientific (psychological) knowledge and processes • Assess the validity, reliability and credibility of scientific (psychological) information • Describe ethical, safe and skilful techniques and processes, selecting appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods • Analyse, interpret, explain & evaluate the methodology, results and impact of experimental and investigative activitiesCriteria for evaluating theories and explanations • Assumptions & approaches • Effectiveness • Hypotheses • Evidence • Comparison with others • Contribution to psychology • Value and application • Issues and debatesCriteria for evaluating research • Research method • Techniques of data collection • Research design • Reliability • Validity • Sampling • Setting • Ethics • Bias (ethnocentric, androcentric, experimenter) • Social sensitivity
  • 14. Evaluation criteria: Definitions and examplesEvaluating theories & explanationsCriteria Explanation ExampleAssumptionsEffectivenessHypothesesEvidenceComparison withother theoriesContribution topsychologyValue and applicationIssues and debates
  • 15. Evaluation of researchCriteria Explanation ExampleResearch methodTechniques of dataCollectionResearch designReliabilityValiditySamplingSettingEthicsBiasSocial sensitivity
  • 16. There is always more than one way to try to explain anything. Thereare always several perspectives in any debate. Psychology is noexception. These different perspectives are known as the majorapproaches in psychology.It is generally accepted that the major approaches in psychology are:BehaviouralBiologicalCognitivePsychodynamicSome suggest that there are yet more approaches in psychology thatshould not be discounted. These include:EvolutionaryHumanisticFeministSocialNone of the approaches has the complete set of answers in psychologybut they all have a valuable contribution to make to the subject.You need to understand the key assumptions of each of the majorapproaches, as well as the strengths and limitations of each one. Eachapproach also tends to focus on specific topics in psychology that itseeks to explain and you need to be aware of these. In addition it isimportant to have some understanding of how each approach stands inrelation to the issues and debates outlined earlier in this booklet.On the following pages is a series of tables for you to complete foreach of the major approaches, plus one other of your choosing.Complete these tables as you go through A2 psychology, adding tothem as you learn about more topics.
  • 17. Approaches in PsychologyThe Behavioural Approach: Key assumptionsStrengths LimitationsMain topics of studyIssues:Gender biasCultural biasUse of animalsEthical concernsDebates:Nature-nurtureFree will – determinismReductionism – holism
  • 18. Approaches in PsychologyThe Biological Approach: Key assumptionsStrengths LimitationsMain topics of studyIssues:Gender biasCultural biasUse of animalsEthical concernsDebates:Nature-nurtureFree will – determinismReductionism – holism
  • 19. Approaches in PsychologyThe Cognitive Approach: Key assumptionsStrengths LimitationsMain topics of studyIssues:Gender biasCultural biasUse of animalsEthical concernsDebates:Nature-nurtureFree will – determinismReductionism – holism
  • 20. Approaches in PsychologyThe Psychodynamic Approach: Key assumptionsStrengths LimitationsMain topics of studyIssues:Gender biasCultural biasUse of animalsEthical concernsDebates:Nature-nurtureFree will – determinismReductionism – holism
  • 21. Approaches in PsychologyThe Evolutionary/humanistic/feminist/social* Approach:Key assumptions* choose oneStrengths LimitationsMain topics of studyIssues:Gender biasCultural biasUse of animalsEthical concernsDebates:Nature-nurtureFree will – determinismReductionism – holism
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