The Social Approach Edexcel All You Need

An overview of the topics and studies with all relevant information for describing, evaluating etc.

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  • Created on: 16-05-13 23:49
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The Social Approach
Key Assumptions
The approach is about aspects of human behaviour that involve the individual's relationships to other
people, groups and society, including cultural influences on behaviour.
As a social species we are always influenced by and in turn influence those around us. This happens at
all levels. Individuals have an influence over us through social power and obedience. Groups influence
through conformity plus we behave differently when we are in a group as opposed to being alone.

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Milgram's Study of Obedience
The aim of Milgram's study was to test the level of obedience when a naïve participant was
instructed to administer an act of physical harm that conflicted with their personal consciousness
Milgram advertised in the paper for volunteers
There is a rigged draw so that the stooge is always the learner and the participant is always
the teacher.…read more

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Meeus & Raaijmaker
The aim was to test obedience where harm would be done but in a more up to date way, "violence typical of
our times". It was carried out in the Netherlands and Dutch culture is more liberal. The type of harm was in a
psychological nature rather than a physical one.
Based on Milgram's study where the naïve participant was ordered to inflict harm onto another
individual.…read more

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Milgram's Agency Theory
Autonomous State
The autonomous state is where you act under your own free will and are fully aware of your
behaviour and the consequence of your actions. For example you do something because you feel it is
right and you want to do it not because someone has told you to. The participants in Milgram's study
that didn't obey are said to be in an autonomous state.…read more

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Prejudice & Discrimination
Social Identity Theory
3 Stages
Social Categorisation
The act of placing ourselves into a group (in group ­ out group)
Social Identification
Where the in-group absorb the culture, start behaving how that group should, start dressing like
them and sharing the same attitudes etc.
Social Comparison
Where you believe that you in-group is better than the other out-groups, boost self-esteem as you
believe your group is best.
Strength of this theory is that there is clear evidence of this in society.…read more

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Studies in Detail
Hofling et al ­ Nurse Physician
The aim of Hofling's study was to test the nurse ­ physician relationship to see if they would administer a
banned drug to a patient when instructed to by a superior.
There were 3 hospitals involved.
There was 2 field studies and 1 control group.
The 2 field studies were given orders over the phone to overdose by an unfamiliar voice, the drug
wasn't allowed on ward.…read more

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Studies in Detail
Sherif et al ­ Robbers Cave Study
The aim of the study was to see if it was possible to instil prejudice between two very similar groups
by putting them into competition with each other.
22 boys at a summer camp.
Split into 2 groups on arrival. The researchers acted as camp councillors.
Each group were initially unaware of the others existence.…read more

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Key Issue
Obedience in Conflict ­ My Lai Massacre
Describing the Issue
US Army forces murdered over 350 unarmed Vietnamese civilians, mostly women and children.
Tortured and mutilated.
This caused outrage around the world. The soldiers said that they were just obeying orders.
Agency theory states we are agents of our superiors, no responsibility.
Soldiers aren't trained to be autonomous.…read more

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Research Methodology
Surveys: Interviews/Questionnaires
Survey is an umbrella term for a number of different research designs. Including questionnaires and
interviews, they usually gather self report data.
There are 3 types of interviews, structured, unstructured and semi-structured.
Structured ­ set of questions, y/n = quantitative
Unstructured ­ free flowing, open questions = quantitative
Semi-structured ­ halfy half
Open/Closed Questions
Questionnaires can use different styles of questioning; this can include open and closed questions.…read more


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