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AQA A-Level Psychology A Unit 2: Biological Psychology, Social Psychology and Individual Differences

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Emma Higginbottom

on 18 May 2014

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Transcript of AQA A-Level Psychology A Unit 2: Biological Psychology, Social Psychology and Individual Differences

Psychology A2
Social Influence
Normative Social Influence: conforming for approval and acceptance, results in compliance (publicly conforming but privately maintaining one's own views)

Informational Social Influence: based on the desire to be correct/ looking to others for information on how to behave, results in internalisation (a true change of private views to match those of the group)
Acute stress = Sympathomedullary pathway
Stress and the Immune System
Life Changes and Daily Hassles
=acting in response to a direct order from an authority figure
Independent Behaviour
Resisting Conformity
Biological Approach
Psychodynamic Approach
3 Definitions:
Deviation from social norms
Deviation from ideal mental health
Failure to function adequately

violating the accepted ways to behave
following society's implicit and explicit rules
following norms is majority behaviour and so is expected
can be desirable: having high IQ
social norms change over time e.g homosexuality
there can be benefites to deviate social norms: Suffragettes
Jahoda 1958: Ideal mental health =
accurate perception of reality
resist stress
environmental mastery
sense of identity
over demanding
ethnocentric - autonomy undesired in some african tribes
perception of reality changes over time
Unable to cope with everyday life:
Rosenhan & Seligman 1989
personal distress
maladaptive behaviour
observer discomfort
abnormality not not always accompany dysfuction e.g Harold Shipman
context: maladaptive behaviour could be a hunger strike but not abnormal
normal abnormality e.g grieving
Behavioural Approach
Cognitive Approach
pp asked last out of 7
unambiguous task
found NSI (feared exclusion) and ISI (pps doubted own judgement and used others as a reference)
75% conformed at least once in 18 trials

limited sample used: all male students
Perrin & Spencer repeated study and concluded Asch's results reflect time and culture where pressures to conform were high
laboratory used so lacks ecological validity
autokinetic effect
questioned invidually, in a group of 3, individually again
personal norms converged when in group
group norm replaced individual norm
ISI when an ambiguous task
all male pps used
laboratory used so artificial setting = low ecological validity
but strict control over variables
Social Change
Workplace Stress
Personality Factors
Coping with Stress
Milgram 1963
research to understand behaviour of ww2 soldiers and how ordinary people can be influenced into performing atrocities
100% went to 300V and 65% went to the full 450V
pps were encouraged to continue if protested
Higher obedience when someone else used the switches
Lower when not in university, when teacher and learner were in the same room and when orders were given through the phone
deception - pps believed they were taking part in a learning/memory experiment and believed they had equal chance of being teacher or learner so couldnt give informed consent H/E were debriefed
protection of participants - pps were seen to be very stressed in the situation
weren't told of their right to withdraw
may have lacked internal validity as pps may have not believed
may not apply to Holocaust as soldiers had no buffer or supervision
Hofling 1966
Nurses were given an order through the phone from an unknown doctor to give a patient a drug so it would've taken effect before the doctor arrived.
To follow the order would be breaking several hospital rules (acting without a signed order from a doctor, taking a telephone instruction from an unknown person, giving twice the allowable dosage for this drug). The drug was a placebo however 21 out of 22 followed the order.
The study provides support for the ecological validity of Milgram as high levels of obedience are found to also be obtained in real life settings.
Bickman 1974
field study
found visible symbols of obedience increased levels of obedience
3 experimenters wore different uniform (milkman, suit, police officer) and asked passersby to help them in some way (pick up a bag or provide them with money for the parking meter)
higher obedience for the police officer
use of real life setting (Pro) and opportunity sample (Con)
provides support to Milgram finding lower obedience in a run down office than in Yale Uni
Why do people obey?
request by legitimate authority
: we feel obligated to those in power because we assume they know what they are doing and legitimate authority is seen to have the right to exert control over others(Hofling, Bickman)
gradual commitment
: 'foot-in-the-door effect' evident in Milgram's study, obeying small seemingly trivial request making it more difficult to refuse more serious escalating requests, explained with the desire to seem consistent
desirable language
: in Milgram's experiment pps were told they must continue to 'help the experimenter'
: Milgram's pps were more obedient when they couldn't see or hear the consequences of their actions as there was a buffer protecting them
Milgram's Agency Theory
: pps felt like they were just acting like an agent for the person making the requests and that the blame lay on the person giving orders not the individual, "just doing what i was told"
When an individual doesn't respond to group norms and isn't influenced by how others are behaving
Influence of Individual Differences
Resisting Obedience
having moral support from a dissenter reduces the need to be accepted by the group
in Asch 's study, a dissenter reduced the conformity levels from 32% to 5% even when they gave a different wrong answer
Group Size
In an Asch variation (1956), with only 2 confederates conformity levels were 14% and with 3 were 32% but it remained similar after that.
Very small majorities are easier to resist but influence doesnt keep increasing with the size of the majority.
When Asch used lines that were a more similar size and the answer was less obvious the levels of conformity increased. When the correct answer is obvious then not following the group may make the pp look foolish.
the presence of other 'rebels' diminishes the impact of the experimenter
in Milgram's experiment, having a confederate refusing reduced obedience to 10%
suggests it is much easier to refuse if you are not alone in making the decision
Time to think and discuss
Rank & Jacobson(1977) repeated Hofling's study but instead used a known drug and a known doctors name. The nurses were therefore in a better position to discuss what had happened with others. In this study only 2 of 18 obeyed the orders given to them. The obedience levels were lower due to talking to a colleague and being able to question the request and R&J creating a more realistic scenario than with Hofling.
Feeling responsible or empathetic
In Milgram study variations, obedience dropped when the pp was able to see or touch the learner to 40% and 30% respectively.
Also in the original experiment there was a pp who refused and afterwards said it was because she had been bought up in Nazi Germany and didn't wish to inflict pain on someone else. Milgram believed the memory had awaken her from the agentic state making her feel responsibility for her actions.
Disobedient pps revealed they were uneasy about the pain being suffered by the learner.
Disobedient role models
Rosa Parks became a role model for black people to resist white control. Similarly when a confederate was present in a Milgram variation, obedience levels dropped to 10%
Locus of Control
High internal: what happens is largely a consequence of their own behaviour and therefore are more likely to take personal control
High external: what happens to them is controlled by external factors and influences such as luck and fate
Atgis carried out a meta-analysis on studies looking at the relationship between LOC and conformity. He found high external LOC were more easily persuaded and likely to conform (correlation of 0.37)

Williams and Warchal studied 30 uni students using Asch's paradigm and found no link between LOC and conformity
= peoples beliefs and expections about what controls events in their lives
Milgram conducted two studies to see if gender had an effect on obedience. He found 65% of both entirely female and entirely male samples went to 450V. Some believed this was incorrect due to self report being used.
Blass conducted a meta-analysis of Milgram replications and found only 1/9 studies found gender differences.
Crutchfield found from his conformity experiments that non-conformists had higher levels of self esteem that perhaps gave them the confidence to be independent.

Oliner & Oliner found that those who had gone against the majority and protected the Jews during the holocaust tended to have high internal LOC
= a change in institutions, behaviour or relationships within society
Implications from conformity and obedience research that influence changes in society
Milgram & Zimbardo:
ordinary, decent people, when put in the right situation may commit evil acts.
To reduce the likelihood of such behaviour society needs to be made aware of the circumstances that lead to blind obedience or a failure to empathise to prevent events such as in Iraq and the My Lai Massacre
Resisting unwanted influences
Educating Nurses
Hofling's hospital experiment raised awareness on the influence senior staff hold over junior personnel and how if it were to be manipulated important hospital rules could be broken.
Doctor and nurse education now includes courses in psychology in hope to change hospital practice for the better.
Implications from research on minority influence
Minority Influence
Research: Moscovici
Zimbardo's study on Deindividuation
1970-replicated Milgram's study with the variable of the pp being in their own clothes and being spoken to as an individual or wearing a hood and being spoken to as a group.
used duration of shock as dependent variable rather than level of shock
average duration was double for pps wearing hoods
when pps were deindividuated they beacme more obedient and more antisocial and stopped taking personal responsibility - also later demonstrated in Stanford Prison Stimulation (1973)
helps explain rioting behaviour and suggests maybe wearing a hood makes people more likely to behave in an antisocial way
also can explain why US prison officers behave the way they do
Moscovici argued that majority influence is a case of normative social influence due to the power in numbers over rewarding or punishing minorities whereas minority influence makes use of informational social influence and providing the majority with new information to lead to internalisation.
Using his blue-green study of 1969 (in which pps were asked what colour a slide was when all slides were blue but confederate minorities said some were green) Moscovici found that a minority had to have a certain behavioural style to exert social influence (e.g consistency, flexible in how they perform their arguments, resisting social pressure)
Why people yeild to minority influence
Social crytoamnesia
: due to gradual change, not being able to remember when your opinion changed or where the ideas came from. Perez argued this was how minority influence worked. E.g the suffragette movement wasn't directly associated with when women gained the right to vote as it was general opinion by then.
The snowball effect
: as the size of the minority increases, so does its influence and power thus gaining new members until eventually the previous minority becomes the new majority
Chronic stress = Pituitary adrenal system
branch of the
Adrenal Medulla
Increase Adrenaline and
muscle tension
Convert stored fat and protein to replace energy being used in the fight or fight response
automatic nervous
'Fight or flight'
e.g increased
= a psychological and physiological response to the environment
Stressors are causes of the stress reaction
Two bodily responses to stress are:
The immune system is made up of cells that seek and destroy foreign bacteria and viruses that enter the body.
Brady et al 1958
Kiecolt-Glaser 1984
Cohen 1993
Research on the effects stress has on the immune system include:
Monkeys were put in pairs and given electric shocks every 20 seconds. One monkey (executive) in each pair could postpone the shock by pressing a lever. The executive monkeys were more likely to develop ulcers and later die due to the stress of their role.
extrapolation means the results may not generalise to humans as monkeys are less developed
monkeys were not randomly selected as faster learner was chosen as the executive and so it may have parallels with the human world
Took blood samples from 75 medical students one month before and on the first day of their final exams.
Natural killer cell activity declined between the samples
Students were also given questionnaires
Immune responses were especially weak in students reporting they felt lonely or had experienced other stressful life events
Conclusions: stress is associated with lowered immune response and there are a number of different sources of stress
natural experiment
students volunteered
non artifical independent variable
394 pps completed questionnaires on the amount of stressful life events they had experienced in the last year, their degree of stress and level of negative emotions (e.g depression)
The three scores werecombined into a stress index
Pps were then exposed to common cold virus
The chance of developing a cold was significantly correlated with stress index scores
indirect study as not directly measuring immune function or directly manipulating the independent variable (stress index)
doesnt show which element of stress index is most important
= a major life event such as getting married or the death of someone close
Holmes and Rahe developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) to measure life changes in terms of Life Change Units (LCU)
They examined 5000 patient records creating a list of 43 life events that seemed to preceed illness
They then asked over 400 people to rate the events in terms of how much stress they caused using marriage at 500 as a reference. These ratings were averaged and divided by 10 to create representative Life Change Units.
Holmes and Rahe used a variety of groups and found strong agreement.
Rahe et al
good sample sizes used
scale is ambiguous
ethnocentric and specific to the time e.g. christmas may be a more stressful event than it used to be & change in church activities may not be relevant to other religions
SRRS is not usable for all ages e.g. vacations are less stressful for the children than for the parents
doesnt take into account daily hassles
SRRS requires self report which may be unreliable
Stress is based on perception and so individuals may have see some events as more stressful than others
2500 US naval personnel answered self report questionnaire using SRRS
Their health was recorded over 6 months and compared with their LCU score
Weak positive correlation was found
Concluded that life events is linked to increased risk of illness
Correlation used so may be a third intervening variable that could explain the link
Gender specific (all male sample)
Some events on the SRRS may be caused by the illness such as change in sleeping and eating habits rather than the life events causing illness
Large sample size so should give more accurate representation but cannot be generalised
= minor short lived stressors in day to day life
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