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1. WJEC AS GCE in PSYCHOLOGY PY2 - CORE STUDIES & APPLIED RESEARCH METHODS - 1332 PART 1 - TEN CORE STUDIES The ten Core Studies cover research drawn from the main…
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  • 1. WJEC AS GCE in PSYCHOLOGY PY2 - CORE STUDIES & APPLIED RESEARCH METHODS - 1332 PART 1 - TEN CORE STUDIES The ten Core Studies cover research drawn from the main areas of Psychology. The focus for the Core Studies is for candidates to be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of psychological research, reflecting the diversity of psychological enquiry. Candidates will also be expected to be able to assess critically each of the Core Studies in terms of its methodology and in terms of complemetary/alternative research findings. The selection of studies will be changed in future years. 1 ASCH (1955) - Opinions and Social Pressure 2 MILGRAM (1963) - Behavioural Study of Obedience 3 RAHE et al. (197) - Prediction of near-future health change…. 4 BENNETT-LEVY and MARTEAU (1984) - Fear of Animals: what is prepared? 5 GARDNER & GARDNER (1969) - Teaching Sign Language to a Chimpanzee 6 LOFTUS & PALMER (1974) - Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction 7 LANGER & RODIN (1976) - The effects of choice…..for the aged 8 GIBSON & WALK (1960) - The Visual Cliff 9 BUSS (1989) - Sex differences in humans mate preferences 10 ROSENHAN - On Being Sane in Insane Places For each Core Study, candidates should be able to describe: • Aims and Context • Procedures • Findings and conclusions For each core study, candidates must be able to evaluate: • The methodology used in the core study • The findings/conclusions in comparison with complementary/alternative research findings
  • 2. THE TEN CORE STUDIES 1 OPINIONS & SOCIAL PRESSURE 04 - 07 Solomon ASCH (1955) 2 BEHAVIOURAL STUDY OF OBEDIENCE 08 - 12 Stanley MILGRAM (1963) 3 PREDICTION OF HEALTH CHANGES FROM PRECEEDING LIFE CHANGES 13 - 15 Richard RAHE (1970) 4 LANGUAGE & MEMORY 16 - 20 Elizabeth LOFTUS and PALMER (1974) 5 HUMAN MATE PREFERENCES 21 - 24 David BUSS (1989) 6 FEAR OF ANIMALS: What is prepared? 25 - 28 Bennett-Levy, J. and Marteau, T. (1984) 7 THE VISUAL CLIFF 29 - 32 Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk (1960) 8 SIGN LANGUAGE TO CHIMPANZEE 33 - 36 Gardner and Gardner (1969) 9 BEING SANE IN INSANE PLACES 37 - 41 David ROSENHAN (1973) 10 THE EFFECTS OF CHOICE & ENHANCED PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE AGED 42 - 46 Langer, E.J. and Rodin, J. (1976) 2
  • 3. AN EXAMPLE OF THE EXAMINATION PAPER (15 May 2009) PSYCHOLOGY - PY2 PSYCHOLOGY: CORE STUDIES AND APPLIED RESEARCH METHODS 1 ¾ hours Instructions To Candidates Answer all questions in Section A and Section B Answer all parts of either question 7 or Question 8 in Section C SECTION A Answer all questions in this section You are reminded that the focus of your response must be the skill of knowledge and understanding. 1. Summarise the aims and context of Asch’s (1955) research ‘Opinions and Social Pressure’. [12] 2. Outline the procedures of Rahe, Mahan and Arthur’s [1970] research ‘Prediction of near- future health change from subjects’ preceding life changes.’ [12] 3. Describe the findings and conclusions of Loftus & Palmer’s (1974) research ‘Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction: An Example of the Interaction Between Language and Memory’. [12] SECTION B Answer all questions in this section You are reminded that the focus of your response must be the skill of analysis and evaluation. 4. Evaluate the methodology of Mailgram’s (1963) research ‘Behavioural study of obedience’. [12] 5. With reference to alternative evidence, critically assess Gibson & Walk’s (1960) research ‘The Visual Cliff’ [12] 6. Evaluate the methodology of Buss’s (1989) research ‘Sex differences in human mate preferences.’ NB: SECTION C of this examination paper will focus on Research Methods. 3
  • 4. 1 CONFORMITY - Opinions and Social Pressure Solomon ASCH (1955) CONTEXT and AIMS Conformity can be defined as the ‘change in a person’s behaviour or opinions as a result of real or imagined pressure from a person or a group of people’. In other words, ‘the essence of conformity is yielding to group pressures’, in whatever way and for whatever motives. Group pressure is a common factor in most explanations of conformity. Conformity is an important process for psychologists to understand as it is thought to have a significant impact on many of our behaviours and the decisions we make in many situations, such as how juries make decisions. Asch aimed to investigate the effects of group pressure on individuals in unambiguous situation. By this we mean that Asch wanted to find out if individuals, under group pressure, would give an obviously incorrect answer, conforming with the majority, or whether they would give an independent response. Asch felt that previous work done on conformity by psychologists such as Sherif (1935) did not really test conformity because Sherif – who had made use of the visual illusion known as the autokinetic effect - had not placed the participants in a situation where they were put under group pressure to conform to an answer that was clearly wrong. In contrast, Asch was interested to see whether individuals would conform to the obviously wrong answer to a task when they knew the correct answer. Sherif’s experiment. Sherif (1935) reported research which had used the autokinetic effect (this is where a stationary spot of light projected on to a screen appears to move in an otherwise dark room). Sherif told them he was going to move the light and they were to estimate by how far the spot of light had moved. All participants were initially tested individually, however they were then exposed to the estimates of two other participants and Sherif found that when exposed to these other participants’ estimates the individuals estimates tended to converge to a group norm which was an average of these individuals’ estimates. 4
  • 5. PROCEDURES 1. A group of seven to nine male students from nearby colleges are told that they will be taking part in a “psychological experiment in visual judgement”. The researcher informs them that they will be comparing the lengths of lines. 2. He shows the group two large white cards. On one card there is a single vertical black line – the ‘standard’ line. On the other card there are three vertical lines of various lengths. 3. The participants are asked to choose the line on the second card that is the same length as the standard line (one of the lines is the same length; the other two lines are substantially different in length to the standard line). 4. The group of participants verbally report their visual judgements in order. This task is repeated 18 times. 5. The last but one participant in each group (participant no. 6) is a ‘naïve’ participant. They do not know that the other ‘participants’ in the group are actually ‘confederates’ (accomplices) of the experimenter. These confederates have been told to give the same obviously wrong answer on 12 of the 18 trials. These 12 trials are called ‘critical’ trials. 6. The naïve participant was always sat in the last but one seat to ensure that the majority of confederate participants gave their unanimous replies before the naïve participant was asked to verbally report their judgement. 7. 123 participants found themselves in the ‘naïve’ participant seat (n.b. the naïve participants at this point think the other students in the group are just like them). Asch wanted to see on the 12 critical trials: (i) Whether the naïve participant would verbally report the same answer as the rest of the participants (an obviously wrong answer), in other words would they give a conforming response? or; (ii) Whether the naïve participant would verbally report a different answer to the rest of the participants (the correct answer), in other words do they give an independent, non-conforming, response? 8. After the completing the trials, Asch revealed the true nature of the research and interviewed the naïve participants about their responses and behaviour. 5
  • 6. FINDINGS/CONCLUSIONS Participants conformed to the incorrect answer on 36.8% of critical trials. Whereas in ordinary circumstances individuals matching the lines will make mistakes less than 1% of the time. Asch found that 24% of participants never conformed to the majority judgment and answered independently on all trials, compared with 5% of participants who conformed on all trials all of the time. Furthermore, approximately 75% of the participants conformed at least once on critical trials. Participants were interviewed afterwards and gave a number of reasons for why they did conform: 1. Distortion of perception – they really did believe their answers to be wrong and others to be right. 2. In order to please the researcher, and not quot;spoilquot; the results. 3. Many participants construed their difference from the majority as a sign of some general deficiency in themselves, which at all costs they must hide in order to avoid ridicule. This study demonstrates that some people are extremely willing to conform with group norms, even when their answer is clearly wrong. The strong desire for intelligent and well meaning young people to conform and give incorrect answers in an obvious clear cut situation raises questions about education and about the values that guide conduct. However it is important to note that on two thirds of trials the participants remained independent. This shows that those who strike out on the path of independence do not as a rule succumb to the majority, even over an extended series of trials. While those who chose the path of compliance were unable to free themselves as the ordeal is prolonged. CRITICISMS Asch’s experiment has been criticized because the task, estimating the length of lines, was rather trivial and insignificant. Some participants would be willing to conform to save face. On a more important task we would expect conformity levels to drop. The fact that participants had to answer out loud, and in a group of strangers, meant there were special pressures on them to conform, such as not wanting to sound stupid and wanting to be accepted by the group. The findings, therefore, only tell us about conformity in special circumstances. Some individuals conformed to the majority knowing the correct answer, but some reported after the experiment that they had been unsure about the instructions and did not want to spoil the experiment. Other participants reported they were convinced the majority were giving the right answer – but were they still conforming or trying to save face by saying this? The participants in the study were not a representative sample. They were all American male undergraduates, and it has been claimed they belonged to a particularly conformist society, America in the 1950s. When Asch’s experiment was repeated in England in the 1970s, only one student conformed on nearly 400 trials. 6
  • 7. On the positive side, Asch demonstrated the influence of conformity in a clear and unambiguous way. The task was unambiguous. He tested the participants’ ability to choose the correct answer before the main study. The answers were clearly correct or wrong. Therefore, conformity could be measured in an objective way. There are ethical issues about the experiment. The naïve participants did not enjoy informed consent. In fact, they were deceived about the purpose of the experiment, and they were not informed they could withdraw at any time. Asch himself reported that some of the participants were distressed and uncomfortable during the experiment. Some interesting modifications to the original research Findings and Conclusions A - F – when the naïve participant had a partner their number of incorrect answers dropped to a quarter of level of the incorrect answers offered by naïve participants with no partner. A - C – “the presence of a supporting partner depleted the majority of much of its power” B - F – initially naïve participants gave independent answers but after their partner deserted them, for no good reason, they tended to give incorrect conforming responses. C - F – initially naïve participants gave independent answers but if their partner deserted them, with a good reason (meeting with the dean), the naïve participants number of incorrect answers increased BUT less markedly than if the partner had ‘deserted for no good reason. B&C - C – “a supporting partner’s influence can outlast his presence if the partner has a good reason to desert”. 7
  • 8. 2 BEHAVIOURAL STUDY OF OBEDIENCE Stanley Milgram’s Shocking Obedience Study (1963) CONTEXT and AIMS At the end of the Second World War, people were horrified to discover the atrocities that had been carried out by the Nazi regime. In particular, they could not understand how apparently ordinary German people had obeyed orders and murdered over six million people in the Holocaust. Most people explained this by saying that ‘Germans are different’ and only Germans could carry out such monstrous crimes. Initially Stanley Milgram, too, believed that the German people were different to other people, and, because of the type of socialisation that existed in German society, and that Germans were more ready to obey authority figures. So Milgram designed an experiment that would involve obedience to an authority figure to the point of apparently harming (or even killing) a complete stranger. The expectation was that American participants would not obey the authority figure Obedience to authority means compliance with the demands of an authority figure (a parent, an employer, a teacher, a policeman). It is the abdication of personal responsibility due to the social power and status of the authority figure in the social hierarchy. Stanley Milgram (1963) investigated how obedient people would be when asked to commit immoral acts by people perceived to be in authority. 8
  • 9. PROCEDURES 1. 40 males between the ages of 20 and 50 were selected, via a newspaper advert, from the New Haven area. Each believed that they would be taking part in research about memory and learning. The men in had a variety of jobs, postal clerks to engineers. They also varied in educational level, one hadn’t finished elementary school to one had a doctorate. Each was paid $4.50 for their participation, but they were told that the money was for just coming to the laboratory, the money was theirs whatever happened after they got to laboratory. 2. The research takes place in a laboratory at Yale University. The ‘experimenter’, a 31 year old man dressed in a grey lab coat, greets them with an impassive and stern appearance. 3. Another ‘participant’ (accomplice of Milgram) is with the experimenter, a mild- mannered and likeable 47 year old man. 4. The participants draw slips of paper to decide which of them will play the role of teacher and of learner. The selection was rigged. The naïve participant was always assigned to the teacher role and the accomplice was always assigned the learner role. 5. The teacher then sees the learner strapped into an “electric chair” apparatus. Leather straps are used to “prevent excessive movement” and an electrode paste “to avoid blisters and burns” is applied before an electrode is placed on the learner’s wrist. The teacher is told that this electrode is linked to a shock generator in the adjoining room. 6. The teacher is then taken to the adjoining room and sat down in front of the shock generator. This machine has 30 switches on it, each showing an incremental rise in voltage start at 15 going to 450 volts. For every four switches there are ‘shock’ labels, starting at ‘slight shock’ ranging to ‘XXX’. On depressing each switch an electric buzzing is heard, a voltage meter moves and various relay clicks are heard. 7. The experimenter then uses the third switch on the shock generator (marked 45 volts) to give the teacher a ‘sample’ shock (the shock is generated by a battery housed within the generator). 8. The teacher is to administer a shock when the learner gets an answer wrong. They are told the shock they give should “move one level higher on the shock generator each time”. 9. As the ‘memory task’ proceeds, the learner gives incorrect answers and the teacher has to start shocking the learner. Eventually the learner starts to protest and scream after receiving the shocks. The learner begs to stop and be let out. 10. If the teacher hesitates about delivering the shock or asks for guidance, the experimenter gives them a sequence of 4 verbal prods such as “the experiment requires that you continue” (2) “you have no other choice, you must go on” (4). 11. Milgram wanted to know if the ‘teachers’ would shock the ‘learner’, and after hearing the protests of the learner, would the teachers continue to administer the shocks? If they ‘disobeyed’ the experimenter, stopped administering shocks, at what voltage would they stop? He also made detailed observations of the teacher’s behaviour. 12. After the research, the teacher is thoroughly debriefed and the experimenter reunites the teacher and learner. They are then interviewed about their experience in the procedure. 9
  • 10. THE PROCEDURES - A SUMMARY Forty male participants, between the ages of 20 and 50, were recruited for the experiment by an advertisement offering $4.50 to take part in a study of memory and learning. This was a deception as the experiment actually investigated how far they were willing to obey orders given by authority. The experiment took place at the Yale University psychology department. When they arrived, they were met by the experimenter wearing a grey lab coat. They were introduced to a Mr Wallace, who was a confederate pretending to be another participant – the learner. The experimenter told the naïve participant that the experiment was about the effects of punishment on learning. The experimenter explained the punishment was to take the form of electric shocks delivered via a shock generator by the teacher, the naïve participant. The teacher then saw the learner being strapped into a chair with his arms attached to electrodes. Sitting in an adjoining room, the teacher/participant was instructed to deliver a shock to Mr Wallace each time he made a mistake or did not answer on a task involving pairs of words, e.g. girl- blue. The teacher gave the electric shocks using the generator which had a number of switches. Each switch was clearly marked with a voltage level (starting at 15 volts) and a description (‘slight shock’). The shocks went up 15 volts at a time and reached a maximum of 450 volts. The learner gave mainly wrong answers and received his (fake) shocks in silence until they reached 300 volts (very strong shock). The teachers were given 4 verbal prods to encourage them to keep on shocking the learner to the maximum 450 volts. For example, “You have no other choice, you must go on.” FINDINGS and CONCLUSIONS - Findings and Conclusions F – Milgram surveyed 14 Yale Psychology Majors. They estimated between 0% and 3% of the participants would administer 450 volts. F – None of the participants stopped administering shocks before 300 volts, (5 stopped 300 volts). F – 26 of the 40 participants administered 450 volts (65%); therefore 14 defied the experimenter’s authority at some point. F – Remarks and outward behaviour indicated the participants were acting against their own values by punishing the learner. 10
  • 11. F – 14 of the 40 participants demonstrated “nervous laughter and smiling”. In the post experimental interview these participants explained that they were not sadistic and their laughter did not mean that they were enjoying shocking the learner. F – The participants were “observed to sweat, tremble, stutter, bite their lips, groan and dig their fingernails into their flesh” F – 3 of the 40 participants had seizures. One participant had such a violent convulsion that the research had to be stopped C – Milgram concluded that “the phenomenon of obedience must rest on the analysis of the particular conditions in which it occurs”. In other words he
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