AQA AS Questions and Answers on Social Psychology

Here are some questions to test your knowledge of the Social Psychology section of the AQA Specification A paper, I've put my answers down also to help :) hope it's alright!

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  • Created on: 27-05-12 00:26
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Maybe try and answer these yourself first
Explain one difference between compliance and internalisation.
Compliance is an example of shallow conformity where an individual will conform
publicly, but not privately. For example, publicly laughing at a joke, when secretly you
don't find it funny. Whereas internalisation is a deeper form of conformity, where the
individual takes on the beliefs of the group both publicly and privately ­ so it
becomes part of their belief system.
Describe one study that has investigated conformity.
Asch conducted a study on normative social influence, to see what would happen
when a majority disagreed with the opinion of an individual ­ would they conform to
fit in, or not? Asch used 123 male students in what he told them was a task on
`visual perception'. He placed each into a separate group with 7-9 confederates who
sat in a line. The experimenter showed two cards ­ one with a standard line and one
with 3 comparison lines ­ participants were asked to call out which of the
comparison lines was the same length as the standard line.
The true participant sat either last or second to last ­ so they could hear the answers
of the confederates. The confederates were asked to give the incorrect answer on
12/18 of the trials ­ these were the clinical trials. The answer was quite obvious ­ but
the test was to see whether the individual would conform or act independently and
give their answer.
Identify and explain two evaluation points on Asch's study.
Ethical issue of deception ­ the 123 male participants were told that they would be
taking part in a `visual perception' task, when they weren't. This means it is
impossible for them to give fully informed consent also, as they are unaware as to
what they are actually consenting to. But this is because it is difficult to test
conformity without deceiving the participants about the nature of the experiment ­
otherwise they would show social desirability.
Only male participants are used ­ this is not representative of the whole target
population and doesn't present data on conformity rates for women. Therefore you
have a biased sample.
You could also mention:
Relatively small sample size ­ impacts generalizability + external validity
Lab experiment ­ this means high internal validity (control over variables) but
low ecological validity, as it does not represent what would happen in a
real-life situation.
The fact that strangers are used, again impacts the ecological validity ­
because in real life conformity situations, they usually includes friends and
people we know.

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Explain what is meant by normative social influence, informational social
influence and referent social influence?
Normative social influence is conformity based on the need to be accepted and fit in
within a group. This may be because being part of the group is rewarding or the group
has the power to make life difficult for those who don't fit in.
Informational social influence is conformity based on the need to be right and
correct.…read more

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Explain what is meant by `obedience' and `validity'.
Obedience is complying with the orders of someone else to carry out an action ­
usually someone with legitimate authority and power ­ such as a boss.
Validity is when something measures what it claims to measure.
Discuss one ethical criticism of Milgram's research into obedience.
Baumrind (1964) argued that Milgram's research deceived the participants ­ by
claiming that they would be participating into a `punishment and learning' experiment.…read more

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Locus of control is the extent to which an individual believes they can alter what
happens and have control over the events in their lives. Someone with an internal
locus of control believes that they have control over their lives, whereas someone
with an external locus of control will strongly believe that most events in their lives
are out of their control. They believe that control of their lives lies with external
forces such as the government, their parents, God, fate, the stars etc.…read more

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Another way that they could improve their social status is through social action, in
the form of campaigns and protests for equal rights and by challenging the existing
power base in society.…read more

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