Social Approach (4)
Weaknesses: A problem which arises when studying social behaviour relates to ethics. It is difficult to study social behaviour without negatively affecting the participants in the study. Nowadays psychologists have strict ethical guidelines which they should follow when conducting studies. The Milgram study is often criticised for the way in which participants may have been harmed in the study. For example it can be argued that Milgram did not take adequate measures to protect his participants from the stress and emotional conflict they experienced. However, the ethical guidelines that psychologists nowadays must follow were not introduced when Milgram carried out his study and Milgram did not expect the results that he found. Reicher and Haslam did anticipate that their study could have a negative effect on their participants but ensured that their study was monitored by independent psychologists and believed that their study demonstrates that large scale social psychological studies can be ethical. A further problem with the social approach is related to the generalisability of the findings. The social approach attempts to make generalisations about social behaviour but often the samples used are very restricted. Both the Milgram study and the study by Reicher and Haslam were carried out on male participants and therefore we would have to be careful generalising these findings to females. Furthermore both of these studies used a self-selected sampling technique which may mean that participants who volunteer may not be representative of the target population for a number of reasons. For example, they be more obedient, more motivated to take part in studies and so on. This is in contrast to the Piliavin et al. study where participants were an opportunity sample of males and females.