Social Approach (3)
Strengths: A main strength of social psychology is the attempt to use real life situations when studying behaviour. Because social psychology is interested in human interaction this is best studied in real situations where participants have the opportunity to interact such as with the field experiment method used by Piliavin et al. or a simulated situation such as that carried out by Haslam and Reicher. Field experiments are experiments carried out in a real world situation. Field experiments are usually high in ecological validity and may avoid demand characteristics as the participants are unaware of the experiment. Simulated situations such as the BBC prison study are high in experimental realism because even though the situation is not high in ecological validity the participants still did believe in the situation. However with field experiments it is not possible to have the same level of control as with laboratory experiments. When laboratory experiments though are used by social psychologists such as the experiment carried out by Milgram we have to be careful generalising the findings as participants may behave differently in the real world.
Another strength of the social approach is the contributions it makes about understanding social behaviour. Social psychology makes useful applications because it can explain and even offer solutions to problems in the real world. For example, Haslam and Reicher demonstrate how the breakdown of groups can lead to conditions under which tyranny can flourish and Milgram identifies many situational factors which can lead to obedience. However we do have to recognise that studies which measure social behaviour may be specific to the time they were done. For example obedience rates in the 1960s might be different to obedience rates in the noughties.