Issues & Debates

Who proposed that there are 2 different ways that theories may be biased in regards to gender?
Alpha bias - theories that assume that there are real & enduring differences between men/women & Beta-bias - theories that ignore or minimise gender differences
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How do they do this?
By assuming that all people are same and therefore it is reasonable to apply same theories/methods with both men & women
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What is the aim?
To produce theories that can claim to have universality
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What is androcentrism?
For most of psychology's life its been male dominated as almost all psychologists were and are men. So, theories may produce end to represent a male world-view
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What does an alpha bias exaggerate?
Difference between men & women and as a consequence of this, theories that are alpha biased devalue one gender in comparison to another
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What can androcentrism result in?
People assuming that what is true for men is also true for women, mistakenly minimising the differences between men & women. Consequence is that the needs of one gender are ignored
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Whats an example of beta bias?
Research on fight-or-flight stress response. Biological research is usually conducted with male animals as in females variations in their hormone levels would make result more difficult
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What did Hare-Mustin/Marecek suggest?
Before being able to decode if there are cultural differences one must consider the extent to which any research is biased & only then can truth be separated from way psychological research has found it
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What is an example of alpha bias in relation to cultural bias?
Distinction that is often made between individuals and collectivist cultures. E.g. would expect members of individualist cultures to be less conformist as they are less orientated towards group norms
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How did Takano et al assess the validity of this view?
Reviewed 15 studies that compared the US common view that differences in conformity
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What did the findings suggest?
That the individualism/collectivism dimension may not be a real distinction suggesting that the distinction between individualist & collectivist cultures is no longer a useful one
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How do people ignore/minimise cultural differences in regards to beta bias?
By assuming that all people are the same and therefore it is reasonable to use the same theories with all cultural groups
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What is an example of beta bias in relation to cultural bias?
Intelligence testing as psychologists use IQ tests devised by Western psychologists to study intelligence in many difference cultures & assume that their view applies to all cultures equally
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Outline the differences of intelligence in Western/ Collectivist cultures
Western - see intelligence as something within individual/ Collectivist - Such as Uganda see intelligence as a functional relationship depending on shared knowledge between individual and society
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What does ethnocentrism refer to?
The use of our own ethnic/cultural groups as a bias for judgments about other groups. There is a tendency to view the beliefs, customs & behaviours of our own group as normal & even superior
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What is ethnocentrism an example of and why?
Alpha bias as ones own culture is considered to be difference & better and so consequence is that other cultures and their practices are devalued
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What is an example of this?
Individualist attitudes towards attachment where independence is valued & dependence is seen as undesirable. In collectivist cultures, dependence tends to be more highly valued
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What is cultural relativism?
Idea that all cultures are worthy of respect and that in studying another culture we need to try to understand the way that a particular culture sees the world
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What can cultural relativism lead to?
Alpha bias where assumption of real differences leads psychologists to overlook universals
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What is an example of this?
Mead's research in Papua New Guinea where she initially concluded that there were significant gender differences due to culture but later recognised that there were universals
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What is biological determinism?
Research into human genome is producing increasing evidence of genetic influences on behaviour. More we discover, the more it appears that our behaviours are determined by genes
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What is an example of biological determinism?
Research on intelligence has identified particular genes found in people with high intelligence such as the IGF2R gene
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What is environmental determinism?
Behaviours believe that all behaviour is caused by previous experience, through the process of classical/operant conditioning
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What is an example of environmental determinism?
Considering how phobias may develop as a consequence of conditioning - a new stimulus response relationship can be learned if the item dog is paired with being bitten such as phobia response is also unlearned through conditioning
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What is psychic determinism?
Freud’s psychanalytic theory of personality suggests that adult behaviour is determined by innate drives and early experience i.e. both internal and external forces. Behaviour is driven by the libido, which focuses sequentially on erogenous zones
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What happens if a child is frustrated at any stage during development?
Libido remains tied to relevant erogenous zone & individual is then fixed on that zone which will dominate their adult personality
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What did humanistic psychologists such as Maslow/Rogers argue?
That self-determination was a necessary part of human behaviour. Without it, healthy self-development & self-actualisation are not possible
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What did Rogers claim?
That as long as an individual remains controlled by other people or other things they cannot take responsibility for their behaviour & therefore cannot begin to change
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What is the basis of moral responsibility?
That an individual is in charge of their own actions i.e. can exercise free will.
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What does the law state about moral responsibility?
That children & those who are mentally ill do not have this responsibility but otherwise there is the assumptions, in our society that normal adult behaviour is self-determined - humans are infant accountable for their actions, regardless of innate
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What is meant by 'nature'?
Innate influences
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What does this not simply refer to?
Abilities present at birth but to any ability determined by genes, such as secondary sexual characteristics which appear at puberty or a condition like Huntington's disease
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How are environmental influences acquired?
Through interaction with the environment which includes both the physical & social world and may be more widely referred to as experience. It includes effects on an infant before birth e.g. mother who smokes
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Outline genetic explanations for influence of nature
Family, twin and adoption studies show that the closer two individuals are genetically that the more likely that both of them will develop the same behaviours
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Whats an example of this?
Concordance rates for a mental disorder such as schizophrenia is around 40% for MZ twins & 7% for DZ twins. This closer similarity for individuals with same genes shows nature is major contribution to disorder
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Outline evolutionary explanations for influence of nature
Any evolutionary explanation is based on the principle that a behaviour or characteristic that promotes survival and reproduction will be naturally selected as behaviours are adaptive & so genes for that behaviour will be passed onto futher generatio
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Whats an example of this?
Bowlby proposed that attachment was adaptive as it meant an infant was more likely to be protected & therefore more likely to survive. Attachment promotes close relationships which would foster successful reproduction
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Outline behaviourism explanations for influence of nurture
Behaviourists assume all behaviour can be explained in terms of experience alone. Skinner used concepts of classical/ operant conditioning to explain learning
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Whats an example of this?
Behaviourists suggested that attachment could be explained in terms of classical/operant conditioning
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Outline social learning theory explanations for influence of nurture
Bandura's view was little less extreme than traditional behaviourism. Proposed that behaviour is acquired through learning adding new dimension of indirect reinforcement. Bandura did also allow that biology had a role to play within the process
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Whats an example of this?
Acknowledged that the urge to behave aggressively might be biological but important point was way a person learns to express anger is acquired through environmental influences
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What does the reductionist approach in psychology suggest?
Explanations begin at highest level & progressively look at component elements
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Whats the highest level?
Cultural and social explanations of how our social groups affect our behaviour
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Whats the middle level?
Psychological explanations of behaviour
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Whats the lowest level?
Biological explanations of how hormones and genes
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How can we consider any behaviour in terms of all three levels in regards to memory?
Memory can be explained at a social level in terms how cultural explanations affect what we remember. Can be explained at psychological level in terms of episodical memories & be explained at a biological level in brain where memories stored
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Whats biological reductionism?
As all humans are made up of atoms, human behaviour must be explainable at this level i.e. can be reduced to a physical level. Biological psychologists reduce behaviour to action of neurons, neurotransmitters, hormones etc
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Outline the popular way to explain mental illness
In terms of such units e.g. it has been suggested that schizophrenia is caused by excessive activity of neurotransmitter dopamine as drugs that block this neurotransmitter reduce symptoms of disorder
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Whats environmental reductionism?
Behaviour explanations suggest that all behaviour can be explained in terms of simple stimulus-response links i.e. behaviour can be reduce to a simple relationship between behaviour/ events in environment
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What is an example of such explanations?
Behaviourist explanation offered for attachment as complex emotion of attachment is reduced to a set of probabilities the mother is likely to provide food which is reinforcing. So she's rewarding & becomes loved one
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Outline Holism - Gestalt psychology
Word Gestalten means the whole in German & was approach favoured by group of German psychologists first part of 20th century. They found especially on perception, arguing explanations for what we see only make sense through consideration of whole
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What do humanistic psychologists believe?
That individual reacts as an organised whole, rather than set of stimulus-response links. What matters most is persons sense of unified identity & lack of identity or sense of wholeness leads to mental disorder
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Outline cognitive psychology in regards to memory
Memory is complex system which in recent years has been understood in terms of connectionist networks. Idea of a network is that each unit is linked to many other units
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How do these links develop?
Through experience & with each new experience, the links are strengthened or weakened. Connectionist networks are described as holist as network as a whole behaves differently than individual parts; linear models assume sum of parts equals whole
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Why is the idiographic approach qualitative?
As the focus is on gaining insights into human behaviour by studying unique individuals in depth rather than gaining numerical data
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Whats the focus on?
Quality of information rather than quantity
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Outline Freud's case studies of his patients as a way to understand human behaviour as an example of ideographic approach
Case of Little Hans consists of almost 150 pages of verbatim quotes recorded by Han's father & descriptions of events of Han's life, plus Freud's own interpretations of events
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What did Freud produce?
Generalisations from his case studies but these are still idiographic as they are drawn from unique individuals
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Why else do humanistic psychologists favour idiographic approach?
Are concerned with studying whole person & seeing world from perspective of that person. What matters is persons subjective experience & not something that someone else might observe of their behaviour
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Why is the nomothetic approach quantitative?
Such calculations require data from groups of people rather than individuals and so research studies may only involve 20 people but normative research such as establish norms from IQ tests involve thousands of ppts
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How is biological approach an example of nomothetic approach?
It seeks to portray basic principles of how body & brain work. This approach sometimes mistakenly just studies men & assumed that same processes would occur in women e.g. stress response
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Outline behaviourist psychologists as nomothetic approach
Produces general laws of behaviour - classical/operant conditioning & their research may not have involved thousands of human pots which is more typical nomothetic approach but they were seeking one set of rules for all animals
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What did Sieber & Stanley produce in regards to ethical implications and social sensitivity?
Produced a landmark paper on issues related to research that has social consequences. Pointed out that ethical guidelines produced by American Psychological Association referred to social implications of research
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What did the research offer no advice about?
How such ethical issues might be resolved
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What are the four aspects of research process at which ethical issues with social consequence may occur?
The research question, Conduct of research and treatment of ppts, The institutional context & Interpretation and application of findings
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Siber & Stanley identified 10 types of ethical issues that related especially to social sensitive research what are some of these?
Privacy as during research process, a skilled investigator may extract more info from ppt than intended to give, Confidentiality, Valid methodology, Deception, Informed consent
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How do they do this?

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By assuming that all people are same and therefore it is reasonable to apply same theories/methods with both men & women

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What is the aim?

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What is androcentrism?

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What does an alpha bias exaggerate?

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