Unit 1 Social Psychology Edexcel

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Unit 1: Social Psychology The Social Approach
Key assumptions of Social Psychology:
Social psychology examines human behaviour ­ the role of the individual's relationships with other people
and groups, and how culture and society affect behaviour
Key Features of the Social Approach:
We are constantly influenced by other individuals, often being obedient to their commands or wishes,
especially those with authority
We could also imitate others, or conform to what groups of people do
On a cultural level, we are also influenced by society
Ethical Guidelines acronym:
C(an) ­ Consent
D(o) ­ Deception
C(an't) ­ Confidentiality
D(o) ­ Debriefing
W(ith) ­ Withdrawal
P(articipants) ­ Protection
Other factors that should be considered Observational research (experiment can only be done in public
places) and Competence (experimenter has to be qualified and adhere to safe practise)
Study (1) ­ Stanley Milgram 1963
Obedience ­ a type of social influence whereby someone acts, following a direct order from a perceived
authority figure
Destructive obedience ­ command from perceived authority figure to harm another person
Reasons why we obey authority:
Assume people have more knowledge or expertise
People dislike confrontation
1) Investigate whether Germans were obedient to authority figures genetically as an explanation for
the Holocaust (intention of preventing anything like it happening again)
2) Investigating how far ordinary people would go in obeying an instruction from an authority figure if it
meant harming others
Milgram gained his participants by advertising in a local newspaper
Offered participants $4 for their participation
There were 40 male participants aged 20 to 50
Study took place in Yale University
Participants were told the experiment was about punishment and learning (DECEPTION)
Participant introduced to another participant (actually confederate)
Drew straws to determine role of `teacher' or `learner' (the real participant thought this was
random but in fact they were always the `teacher')
`Teacher' witnesses `Learner' being strapped into chair and samples 45V `shock' (this was so the
participant believed the machine actually works)
`Learner' learns a list of words he has been given
`Experimenter' is in the room with the participant
Every time `learner' answers word pair incorrectly `teacher' was ask to administer a shock
Shock intensity increased by 15V each time an answer was incorrect

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Unit 1: Social Psychology The Social Approach
At 270V the `learner' gave agonising screams and at 300V the `learner refused to answer
If `teacher' refused to administer a shock the `experimenter' would say one of four scripted verbal
> `please continue'
> `the experiment requires that you continue'
> `It is absolutely essential you continue'
> `you have no other choice, you must go on'
Some participants reacted by sweating, trembling and stuttering during the experiment
After the experiment participants were fully debriefed and…read more

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Unit 1: Social Psychology The Social Approach
had the least effect the orders of the experimenter had the most effect. This suggests that the conclusion
that obedience results from orders given by an authority figure is correct.
Theory (1) ­ Milgram's Agency Theory 1973, 1974
participants in Milgram's study experienced moral strain (when people become uncomfortable with their
behaviour because they feel it is wrong and it goes against their values).…read more

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Unit 1: Social Psychology The Social Approach
Theory (2) ­ Social Identity Theory, Tajfel 1970
Social Identity Theory acts as an explanation as to why prejudice develops
Prejudice = making a judgement, usually negative, about something or someone, without full knowledge
Discrimination = treating people differently according to their group membership (acting on prejudice)
Stereotyping = a general assumption about a group of people
Prejudice has three distinct stages:
1) The cognitive element ­ belief or stereotype about a group
2) The affective element ­…read more

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Unit 1: Social Psychology The Social Approach
U ­ Explains prejudice and discrimination in football violence, gang violence/warfare, and terrorism.
However, many have said the theory presents racism as `natural' but many others disagree. Also, it does
not explain individual differences, different people act differently towards the outgroup.
T ­ It does not measure how much prejudice there is, such as whether there are some situations in which
there is greater prejudice against the outgroup.…read more

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Unit 1: Social Psychology The Social Approach
Research Methods
Strengths Weaknesses
Closedended questions
Generate standard replies that Not valid because they force a
can be easily analysed and choice of answer (might not be
compared the answer respondents would
If questions are repeated, they Answers may mean different
tend to get the same responses things to different respondents, so
reliable answers are not comparable
Strengths Weaknesses
Openended questions
Data is detailed, has depth and is Difficult to compare and analyses
rich questions, as they…read more

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Unit 1: Social Psychology The Social Approach
Usually involves good controls Reduces information about
such as wellstructured questions people to over simplified statistics
or clearly specified set of
answers, so can be replicated
and tested for reliability
Types of Sample Advantage Disadvantage
Random Provides the best chance of an The larger the population the more
(every member of the target population unbiased representative sample difficult it becomes
has an equal chance of being picked)
Stratified There is no bias in selections and every Can become…read more

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Unit 1: Social Psychology The Social Approach
Semistructured interview = has set questions, some of which can be explored further by
Subjectivity and Objectivity:
Subjectivity = when the analysis of results includes input from the person doing the analysis
Objectivity = when there is no bias affecting the results, including no bias from the researchers opinion.…read more


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