Social Psychology Section C Notes

Section C  - OCR AS LEVEL 

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Social Approach

 The social approach is concerned with the interactions between people and how our behaviour is influenced by the presence, attitudes and actions of other people'.


Assumptions of the approach :

  •  one assumption is that individuals and groups affect our behaviour.
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Describe how the social approach could explain...

Obedience - it can be easily influenced by other people, their environment or group activity for e.g. the Milgram study shows that the victim was influenced by the money, the legitimate authority ( wearing a lab coat made him look like he knew what he was doing - must follow him) , and many other circumstances. 

Helping Behaviour - people might help or not help due to what other people in their surroundings are doing for e.g. in the Piliavin study, more people helped when they were in groups ( probably because they had people to back them up with their actions)  than being alone which shows that they would be influenced by the people around them. 

The Psychology of Tyranny - the approach could explain this by the way people feel they need to act when put in a rank or a group for e.g. the Reicher and Raslam study shows that prisoners were inferior to guards even though they weren't really prisoners and guards. 

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Describe 1 similarity and 1 difference between...

 ( EXAMPLE) Milgram/Piliavin :

  • Similarity - Both "Victims" in each study were all male + both conclusions contradicted something ( In the Milgram study - the 14 psychology undergraduates thought that no more than 3% would continue to 450v whereas 65% went all the way. In the Piliavin study , Latane and Rodins study showed that people didn't help as much when in groups however in Piliavin , more people helped when the size of the group increased.)   
  • Difference - Milgram conducted more than 20 variations of his study whereas Piliavin only did the one. 
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Strengths

  • Helps us understand human behaviour more e.g Milgram study - helped us understand the Holocaust, helped us understand how people could do such destructive things, helped us understand what conditions were needed to make the majority of people obey. 


  • Helps solve real life problems e.g. Piliavin - helped us understand why nobody helped kitty genovese who was murdered in the streets, helped us find explanations for the bystander behaviour and also with James Bulger - why nobody interfered with the kidnapping. 
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Limitations

  • Does not lend itself to tightly controlled experiements e.g Reicher and Haslam - They cant control everything that happened in the prision cells > majority are feild experiments which cant be controlled as much as lab experiments. 
  • Hard to find an appropriate methodology that allows us to make inferences about human behaviour, while at the same time allowing that behaviour to occur as naturally as possible e.g Milgram - They had to do many versions of the same experiemnt to see which one would allow human behaviour to occur as naturally as possible 
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