Issues and Debates - Psychology

?
  • Created by: Luke
  • Created on: 27-12-17 12:11

Gender in Psychology: Gender Bias

  • Androcentrism - psychology and society is male-dominated, so world view focused on men. 
  • Alpha Bias exaggerates differences and results in a gender (usually women) being devalued.
    • e.g. Freud's psychoanalytic theory viewed femininity as failed masculinity.
  • Beta Bias minimises differences, so women's needs are ignored.
    • e.g. stress research done on male response and assumed women responded in same way, but it was argued that women respond with tend-and-befriend.
  • Universality can be achieved by acknowledging differences without superiority, such as fight-or-flight versus tend-and-befriend.

Evaluation

  • Feminist  psychology - real differences, but social stereotypes cause more damage than any real biological differences; identifying these stereotypes can redress the balance. 
  • Bias in research methods - poor methodology may disadvantage one gender.
  • Reverse alpha bias - change preconceptions with research that over-values women, e.g. women are better learners (Cornwell et al.).
  • Avoiding beta bias - equal rights may disadvantage women as they have difference needs.
  • Assumptions need examining - Darwin's theory of sexual selection has been challenged as females are just as choosy and aggressive as men when needed to be.
1 of 13

Culture in Psychology: Cultural Bias

  • Bias produces differences that don't exist
  • e.g. of alpha bias - individualist vs collectivist cultures; difference not found in meta-analysis of conformist behaviour.
  • e.g. of beta bias - Western-based IQ tests used to measure other cultural groups who appear less intelligent.
  • Ethnocentrism - assuming one's own beliefs are the correct ones. 
    • Alpha bias because differences leads to devaluing the other groups.
    • Beta bias because of assumptions that there are no differences in intelligence and therefore it is acceptable to use western IQ tests.
  • Cultural relativism - relating the behaviour of cultural groups to their own standards. 
    • Beta bias because may mistakenly assume symptoms of mental disorder are universal; results in misdiagnosis.
    • Alpha Bias if psychologists assume there are differences and overlook universals. 
2 of 13

Cultural Bias Evaluation

Evaluation

  • Indigenous psychologies, each rooted in their own culture, such as Afrocentrism that seeks to understand the culture of Africans.
  • The emic-etic distinction - indigenous psychology is an emic approach; an etic approach can use indigenous researchers for data collection.
  • Bias in research methods - samples in textbooks mainly American and mainly middle-class, young adults. 
  • Consequences of cultural bias - US Army IQ tests led to enduring and damaging stereotypes about black and immigrant populations. 
  • Worldwide psychology community meets much more now than 50 years ago, which should reduce ethnocentrism and cultural bias. 
3 of 13

Free Will and Determinism

Determinism

  • Hard Determinism - all behaviour is determined, there is NO free will.
  • Soft Determinism - biological factors and past experience present a range of choices; we feel more free in situations with a little more constraint.
  • Biological Determinism - individual genes or neurotransmitters.
  • Environmental Determinism - all behaviour caused by previous experiences, as in classical and operant conditioning. Stimulus-response (S-R) can explain phobias, aggression and gender development.
  • Psychic Determinism - adult personality is caused by a mix of innate drives and early experience.
  • Scientific Determinism - science seeks causal relationships by manipulating the IV and observing the effect on the DV.

Free Will

  • Humanistic approach - self-determination is required for mental health, otherwise can't take control of negative behaviours. 
  • Moral responsibility - adults accountable for behaviour regardless of innate factors or poor early environment.
4 of 13

Free Will and Determinism Evaluation

Determinism Evaluation

  • Genetic Determinism - twin studies do not show 100% concordance rates even with identical genes. 
  • Environmental Determinism - twin studies also show that there is some genetic contribution; therefore experience is not sole determinant.
  • Scientific Determinism - even in the physical sciences relationships are regarded as probabilistic; determinist research in psychology oversimplifies human behaviour. 
  • Does it matter? - A determinist position suggests criminals might excuse their behaviour on genetic grounds or that mental disorder must be treasted using drugs or conditioning. 

Free Will Evaluation

  • The illusion of free will - being able to make choices does not mean you are free, still under the laws and rules. 
  • Culturally relative - free will may be less important in collectivist cultures.
  • Research support - brain activity before a decision was made; however, it was found it is a readiness potential, not an intention to move.  
5 of 13

The Nature-Nurture Debate

  • Nature - innate influences which may appear at any stage of life.
    • Genetic explanations - MZ twins more likely to both develop SZ than DZ twins.
    • Evolutionary explanations - attachment is adaptive because it aids survival and reproduction; it reliws on genetic transmission.
  • Nurture - the social and physical environment/experiences; we are born as a blank slate.
    • Behaviourism - classical and operant conditioning can explain the formation of attachment.
    • Social learning theory - the urge to be aggressive may be biological, but we learn how to express this through direct and indirect reinforcement (Bandura).
    • Other explanations, e.g. Bateson's double bind theory of SZ is based on experience. 
6 of 13

Nature-Nurture Evaluation

Evaluation

  • Nature/Nurture can't be seperated - nature and nurture have an impact on most things.
  • Diathesis-stress - a person's nature (diathesis) is only expressed under certain conditions of nurture (stressor).
  • Nature affects nurture - indirect genetic influences: reactive (behaviour changes the environment), passive (parents influence the home environment) or active (niche picking).
  • Nurture affects nature - Neural plasticity, as in research done on spatial memory in taxi drivers.
  • Epigenetics - material in each cell that acts as switches to turn genes on and off, which is passed on to subsequent generations. Explains why MZ twins and clones are not identical. 
7 of 13

Holism and Reductionism

Holism

  • Cannot predict behaviour of whole system from individual parts.
  • Gestalt psychology - concerned with perception; the whole does not equal the sum of the parts.
  • Humanistic psychology - we react as a whole rather than a set of S-R links.
  • Cognitive psychology - connectionist networks for memory behave as a whole. 

Reductionism

  • Levels of explanation - highest = cultural/social, middle = psychological, lowest = biological.
  • Biological reductionism - behaviour explained in terms of hormones, neurotransmitters, brain.
  • Environmental reductionism (S-R) - behaviour such as attachment explained in terms of a stimulus (e.g. food/mother) causing a response (pleasure). 
  • Experimental reductionism - use of operationalised variables in experimental research. 
8 of 13

Holism and Reductionism Evaluation

  • Danger of lower levels of explanation - the real meaning of behaviour may be overlooked,  e.g. prescribing drugs for hyperactivity which might be due to family problems.
  • Biological reductionism - drug therapies have only had partial success and may block possibility of more successful psychological therapies.
  • Environmental reductionism - may be appropriate for non-human animals but ignores influence from higher levels, e.g. emotion.
  • Experimental reductionism has been productive but may not represent real life, e.g. research on eyewitness testimony by Yuille and Cutshall didn't support experimental research.
  • The mind-body problem - materialism assumes that physical states (e.g. REM electrical activity) cause mental events (dreams); alternatively dualists suggest mind and body interact in both directions; the mind can cause physical changes.
9 of 13

Idiographic and Nomothetic Approaches to Psycholog

The Idiographic Approach

  • Focus on individuals and their unique characteristics as a way to understand human behaviour.
  • Qualitative research - focuses on depth (details) of one individuall use of qualitative methods (e.g. unstructured interviews).
  • Examples - Freud's case studies (e.g. Little Hans), humanistic research into subjective experience

The Nomothetic Approach

  • Study of large numbers of people to establish laws about behaviour.
  • Quantitative research - large data sets used to work out averages and conduct statistical tests, producing normative data about behaviour. 
  • Examples - biological approach (general principles, e.g. stress response), behaviour approach (laws of conditioning), cognitive psychology (case studies have to be used for abnormal behaviour), Eysenck's personality theory.
10 of 13

Idiographic and Nomothetic Approaches Evaluation

  • Focus on the individual level - humanistic and qualitative psychologists felt that nomothetic psychology has lost sight of what it was to be human.
  • Scientific basis - humanistic psychology may not be evidence-based but idiographic approaches do seek to be systematic and objective. 
  • Being able to make predictions - Allport argued that predictions can be made from individual cases, but that makes his approach nomothetic.
  • Time consuming - nomothetic techniques can produce large data sets and then analyse them more quickly.
  • Combined methods - the idiographic approach ends up being nomothetic (Holt); start with a nomothetic approach and then focus on idiographic (Millon); combine approaches, e.g. Freud.
11 of 13

Ethical Implications of Research Studies and Theor

Social Sensitivity

  • The research process may have social consquences:
    • Research question may damage some groups.
    • Conduct of research, especially confidential.
    • Institutional context may lead to data misuse or misunderstanding.
    • Interpretation and application of findings, e.g. IQ tests used to promote black stereotypes.
  • Ethical issues in socially sensitive research; for example:
    • Privacy - participants may reveal more than they intended.
    • Valid methodology - poor methods omitted from media reports.
    • Values - scientists seek general laws, whereas participants interested in individuals. 
12 of 13

Ethical Implications of Research Studies and Theor

  • The wider impact of research - family, co-workers, etc. may be affected and need safeguarding.
  • Inadequacy of current ethical guidelines, e.g. researchers not required to consider the use of their research.
  • May disadvantage marginalised groups who are not included as research participants and then research findings can't be applied to them.
  • Can't avoid socially sensitive research - psychologists have a responsibility to tackle difficult topics. 
  • Engaging with the public and policymakers - individual psychologists should actively promote the benefits of their research. 
13 of 13

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Issues and Debates resources »