psychology AS core studies.


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  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 30-05-11 17:07

The social approach: Pilliavin, Milgram, Reicher a

assumption - an indivdual behaviour is influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others. our behaviour should be studied in a social context such as family and friends. And our behaviour is also influenced by the context we find ourselves in.

strengths:The social approach uses field experiments to study human behaviour, this means the research is high in ecological validity and avoids demand characteristics. The study by Piliavin,  was a field experiment that took place in a New York subway. This meant the particpants were not aware they were taking part in an experiment and their behaviour occured naturally.

The social approach has many practical applications in a wide range of areas. Piliavin has shown that different situations can influence helping behaviour. This means that they can explain, apply and offer solutions to problems in the real world.              The social approach has provided explanations for a great many phenomena. Reicher and haslam demonstrated how the breakdown of groups can lead to conditions under which tyranny can flourish. This means they can explain and offer solutions to problems in the real world. for example Nazi Germany.

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the social approach


studies in the social approach are often not ethical. It has been aruged that the particpants in Milgrams study did not have informed consent, were decieved and were not protected from harm. However it is diffcult to study social behaviour without negatively affecting the particpants in the study. Nowadays psychologists have strict ethical guidelines which they should follow when conducting studies.

With field experiments it is not possible to have the same level of control as with laboratory experiments. Piliavin could not control extraneous variables such as the type of particpants on the subway. Extraneous variables can cause an effect on the dependent variable so makes it difficult to establish cause and effect.

The social approach attempts to make generalisations about social behaviour but often the samples used are very restricted. Milgram onlu used male particpants from a self selected sample. This would be diffcult to generalise to females and a self selected sample are often more motivated to take part in studies.      The research often carries an ethocentric bias, as a lot of it was carried out in america. Milgram carried out his experiment at Yale and Pilliavin's expierment was done in New York. this makes it diffuclt to generalise to other cultures around the world, particuarly non-western.

sim: Milgram and Reicher & Haslam both used self-selected male particpants. Milgram had 40 self selected males. In Reicher Halsam Male particpants were recruited through leaflets and advertisments in the national press. 332 selected, reduced down to 15.dif: Pilliavin was a field experiment conducted in a New York subway, whilst Reicher and Haslam was a lab experiment conducted in a prison.

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The psychodynamic perspective: Freud and Thigpen+C

The main assumption of the perspective is that human behaviour has unconscious causes that indivudals are not aware of. many important influences in behaviour come from a part of the mind over which the indivdual has no direct awareness.

sim: Freud and Thigpen and Cleckley were both longitudual studies. both used psychoanalysis as a methodology? Both had a small sample, only one particpant. dif: Thigpen and Cleckley met eve a number of times, whilst Freud only met little hans once.

strengths:The perspective was the first theory to focus on psychological causes of disorders. Thigen and cleckley did this with Eve black, and her mutliple personality disorder. Prior to this the focus had been on physical causes such as possession by evil spirits.               Freud's ideas made a large impact on psychology and psychiatry and are still used and discussed today. for example the Oedipus Complex. His theories such as the unconscious mind are also used today in psychoanalysis to treat mental disorders.


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The Developmental Approach: Samuel+Bryant, Bandura

The perspective uses unrepresentative samples as the studies tend to use only one indivdual. Freud and Thigpen and cleckley both did this. You cannot use the sample to generalise to a larger population because the sample was only one unique indivdual.                 psychoanalysis may take very long. Thigpen and Cleckley worked with Eve for 14 months. it is very expensive,and other therapies such as CBT may be more suitable.

Assumption: looks at the development of behaviour, the approach assumes that development is a life long process, not just limited to children.

strengths:the approach can sometimes gathers alot of Qualatative data, like the study of little hans by freud. the father recorded the information about little hans and transferred this to freud over a 2 year period. so rich data was collected and development monitored.         The approach is very useful. for example the study on samuel and bryant provided useful information showing at that children's conservation abilities increases as they get older, the conclusions drawn from this study could be applied and help in real life school situations and lessons.

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Cognitive Approach: Baron-Cohen, Savage Rumbagh, L

weaknesses:it can be diffcult to generalise to wider populations. Bandura's study on agression only had particpants from stanford university so come from a different social and cultural background, and may have a different IQ, to children in general. The study on Little Hans by freud, only used one particpant, an very unique indivdual that may be hard to generalise to all children.

The approach can sometimes carry researcher bias. Freud's study on little Hans'. Freud was looking for evidence for his already establishe Oedipus Complex in his mind. he may have just picked evidence that supported his theory, therefore the results lacked objectivity.

dif: Freud used only one person in his sample, so was not very representative, whilst Samuel and Bryant used 252 boys and girls from a variety of devon schools and pre-schools.sim - both bandura and samuel and bryant used children in thier studies as a sample. samuel used 252 boys and girls and bandura used 72 children from stanford university.

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The perspective has enormous explanatory powers especially in relation  to mental disorders and anxieties, so is very useful. Thigpen & Cleckley study on Eve Black. Can explain and allow us to treat people with MPD. they realised she saw someone being slaughtered into three when she was younger which could be a potential cause for her disorder.



The psychodynamic perspective's assumptions are based on Freud's subjective interpretations of his patients dreams. In Freud's case on little Hans, his interpretations of Hans' dreams and his fantasies were only corroborated by Hans' Father, who was a follower of Freud. This means that the interpretations had not been objectively analysed, the perspective is hard to test scientifically so cannot be proved right or wrong.

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Six very useful revision cards for OCR students, thank you Emma!

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