• Created by: DBaruch
  • Created on: 23-02-17 09:21

Culture Bias- Cross cultural

  • Psychologists carry out cross cultural studies to see whether cultural practices affect behaviour.
  • Such studies allow us to consider whether behaviour is innate, if behaviour is part of all cultures then it must be genetics. David Buss(1989) looked at relationships in 36 countries and found men and women look for the same things in all cultures.
  • However western researchers carrying out researcher in a different culture may fail to understand local practices. In Buss's study he used indigneous resarchers . His study collaborators had to emply 3 billingual speakers one to translate the original study, the second to translate the answers into english and the third to resolve any discrepancies
  • A second problem is that cross cultural research may use tests and procedures developed in the US and are not valid to other culutres. This is called imposed etic. 
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Culture Bias- Difference or Bias

  • It is easy to confuse difference with bias. Many studies have found differences between cultural groups. Myers and Diener (1995) noted that more people in individulist cultures report subjective well-being than in collectivist cultures. Such differences are a fact. Cultural bias is not concerned with these differences; it is concerned with the distrorted view that psychologists have because of their own cultural affiliations and how this bias affects their theories and studies.
  • Finding a difference in SWB may be due to cultural bias, for example if SWB is measured using a questionnaire developed in the west (imposed etic) then the questions are probably based on Western (individualist) assumptions of what constitutes SWB. The result is that people from collectivist cultures may appear different. They may not be different in terms of SWB but due to the methods used they show a difference.
  • As non-western countires develop their involvment in psychological theory and research, this bias is slowly being adressed. Indigenous psychologies show alternative views of behaviour
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  • Ethnocentrism- refers to the use of our own ethnic or cultural group as a basis for judgments about other groups. It is something that needs to be minimised in research. Rachel Hare-Mustin and Jeanne Maracek (1988) suggest that there are 2 different ways theories can be biased:
  • Alpha bias- refers the assumption that there are real differences between cultural groups. In terms of ethnocentrism this is the belief that ones culutre is considered to be different and better, and the consequence of this is that other culutres and their practices lose value
  • Beta bias- refers to theories that ignore or minimise cultural differences. Ethnocentrism may lead to a beta bias if tests (kohlbergs moral tests) are assumed to have the same meaning in all culutres
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Historical and social context

  • The concept of culture does not just apply to geographical location. There are sub culutures such as students or delinquetns etc. that do not have a geographical identity but have a common set of customs and beliefs. A issue with using students is that students are a unique sub-culture. 
  • Different historical periods can be regarded as different cultures. For example Bowlby's study into separation took place 60 years ago at a time when child care was different to today. His study may not generalise well with modern child care arrangments. Nowdays much more time is spent on ensuring the emotional well-being of children and this may lead people to misjudge the standards in the 50's
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Ethics- benefits to society and economy

  • Psychological research offers many benefits to society. Research into psychoactive drugs is important in the treatment of mental health. The McCrone report (2008) estimates the direct cost of mental health in England at around £22.5 billion and states that the number of people receving medication provides a much greater economic gain that psychological therapies offer.
  • Bowlby's research put greater emphasis on emotional care in early child development. Before Bowlby's research people believed that physical care was all that was necessary and this attitude persists in some parts of the world
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Individual participants

  • Watson and Raynes study- this study was a major demonstration that emotions could be learned. However the study had quite a high cost to little Albert, who was deliberately subjected to psychological harm which may have lasted a lifetime. Little Alberts mother moved away before he could be debriefed. The real albert may have had lifelong aversion to animals, according to Russ Powell et al (2014).
  • Milgrams study- his findings had a massive impact on our views of obedience- people are shocked by the extent to which people are willing to harm others. Some of milgrams participants said themselves that it taught them important life lessons. 'when i was debreifed afterward....I was....really, really horrified. They kept saying "you didnt hurt anyone, dont worry, you didnt hurt anyone" but its too late for that. You can never.... really debrief after an experiment like that. You have given shocks, you thought you were really giving shocks and nothing can take away from you the knowledge of how you acted' (Slater, 2004)
  • This participant goes on to say that the experience caused him to re-evaluate his whole life and he realised how vulnerable he had been to authority.
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Negative consequences for society

  • There could be instances in which not carrying out research could result in negative outcomes for society. Joan Sieber and Eve Stanley (1988) drew especial attention to studies in which there are social consequences or implaications either from the participants or the individuals represented.
  • Asking research questions such as are there racial differences in IQ or is homosexuality inherited you may be damaging certain members of a particular racial group or sexual orientation because it appears to add scientific credibility to prevailling prejudice just by asking.
  • There are always some social consequences to participation in research but with socially sensitive research there is also increased potential for a more indirect impact on the participants.
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What is the solution

  • It can be easy to avoid socially sensitive research. However this would leave psychologists with nothing to examine but unimportant issues.
  • Sieber and Stanleys view is that to ignore sensitive reseach is not a responsible approach to science. They suggest that avoiding controversial topics, simply because they are controversial is also an avoidance of responsibility. Psychologists have a duty to conduct such research. The researchers should be aware of there results leading to abuse and discrimination.
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Risk management techniques used by psychologists

  • Psychologists manage ethical risks through the development of professional guidelines for the conduct of their studies. In Britain, psycologists are bound by the guidelines of the British Psychological Society (BPS) code of conduct and ethics (2009). This identifies 4 core principles: respect, competence, responsibility and intergrity. The BPs also advises on specific situations, giving instructions as to what is appropriate.
  • The Canadian Psychological Society (CPS) takes a different approach and instead of just stating ethical principles, the CPS emphasises ethical decision-making. One of the criticisms made of ethical guidelines is they close off discussion and discourgage individuals from taking personal responsibility for their behaviour. The CPs provides hypothetical ethical dilemmas to encourage psychologists to open up the discussion.
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BPS guidelines for working with animals

  • The BPs publishes guidelines for research with animals: Conform to current legislations, heed the 3 Rs(replace reduce refine), choose species that are suited to the research purpose, be aware of animals previous experience, remember that responsiblities extend to the care of animals not being studied including the provision of companions for social animals, pay special attention to any procedure that may cause pain and ensure procedures are evaluated and alternatives considered, consider food intake so that normal food intake and metabolic requirements are met.
  • The animals (scientific procedures) act (1986) requires that research with non-human animals is only permitted by licensed researchrs on licensed projects and licences are only granted by the home office if: the knowledge gained from the study justifies harm or distress to the animal participants, the research cannot be done using non-animal methods, any discomfort or siffering is kept to a minimum by apprporiate medication. This act only relates to vertebrate animals and only those more than halfway through their gestation period. Primates, cats, dogs and horse have special protection
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Comparative psychology

  • This is the study of non-human animals often with the intention of making comparisons with humans. One example is the work of Harry Harlow (1959), where is the harm in his experiment, the monkeys developed into emotionally maladjusted adults despite their contact comfort- they couldn't socialise with other monkeys and rejected their own infants. However the research had very important influence on infant emotional developemnt- the recognition that feeding alone was not the basis of the bond between caregiver and infant. It should be acknowledged that some comparative research may be applied to benefit animals lives. Harlows research could be used to improve the lives of monkeys in capativity
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Ethological psychology

  • Ethologists seek to study animals in a way that does not affect their behaviour observing the animals in their natural environment with relatively little interference. For example Konrad Lorerz (1935) arranged for some gosling eggs to hatch so he was the first moving thing they saw. These goslings followed Lorenz everythwere as if he was their mother. It had an important influence on emotional development.
  • Dian Fossey (1983) observed gorllias in their natural habitat in orcer to reach a greater understanding of their social relationships
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Animals as a therapeutic device

  • The presence of pets have been show to reduce stress. Karen Allen (2003) reported that pets can lead to reduced blood pressure in children reading aloud, buffered the elderly against life event stresses and reduced cardiovascular risk.
  • The bond between client and animal is developed through physical interactions such as grooming or feeding the animal. Later verbal interactions are encouraged, such as commands to a dog. This is the beginning of a social bond. The aim is to transfer the social skills from the animal to other humans.
  • Erika Friedmann and Heesook Son (2009) reviewd 28 studies using animal assisted therapy (AAT) and foudn that all studies reported beneficial effects for emotional problems and developmental disabilities.
  • However Michael Anestis et al (2014) reviewed 14 studies of equine therapy and identified a number of serious methodological issues- the sample sizes were very small, there were no control groups and individuals were not randomly allocated and any benefits may be due to having speical attention from a therapist rather than the animal interaction
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  • Peter Singer (1975) argued that discrimination on the basis of membership of a species is no different from racial or gender discrimination and thus suggested that the use of animals is an example of speciesism. On the other hand Jeffrey Gray (1991) suggested that we have a special duty of care to humans and therefore speciesism is not equivalent to racism
  • Animal rights- Tom Regan (1984), who believes there is no circumstance under which animal research is acceptable. Singers view is a utilitarian one, whatever produces the greater good for the greater number of individuals is ethically acceptable. This means that if animal research can alleviate pain and suffereing, it is justifiable. Regan's position is an absolutist one. He claims that animals should be treated with respect and should never be used in research.
  • Animal rights arguments can be challenged by examining the concept of rights. Having rights is dependent on having a responsibility in society, so as animals dont have any responsilibilities they have no rights.
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Benefits of being a science

  • The use of the scientific approach in psychology is important because people might claim, for example, that men are more aggressive than women or that certain drugs cure depression, but people have demanded evidence for these claims. This is why early psychologists sought to create a science of psychology to produce verifiable knowledge distinct from common-sense "arm chair psychology".
  • Using evidence-based data makes the research more useful to society both ethically and economically- ethically because its wrong to give someone a drug that treats depression without knowing its effectiveness. Economicallysuch research is useful so we can aplpy it in ways that saves money
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Subject matter of psychology

  • In psychology there have been 2 recent changes. One concerns the types of behaviour being studied. For example the positive approach has sought to change the focus of psychological research to look at the positive aspects of human behaviour. Many researchers believe that, as a discipline, psychology has been dominated by a focus on pathology- understanding mental illness- and thats a shift that is needed to understand how people may floruish as individuals.
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Methodology of psychology

  • The second recent change in psychology has been the methods used. Psychologists sought to quantify behaviour and have used quantitative methods which permit statistical analysis. This is sometimes reffered to as the nomothetic approach which aims to make general laws of behaviour based on the study of groups of people. It attempts to summarise the differences between people through generalisations.
  • In contrast the idiographic approach focuses on individuals and emphasises uniqueness favouring qualitative methods in research. Such an approach was common in early psychology but fell out of favour with the rise of behaviourism. Psychologists have established much more rigorous qualitative technqiues which are scientific .
  • Triangluation- is a further method of systematic analysis. This is the process of looking at a number of different research findings (quantitative and qualititave) to see to what extent do they all point in a similar direction. 
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Costs- determinist and reductionist

  • Determinist- the scientific approach is determinist as it aims to demonstrate a cause and effect in relationships between things. Such understandings enable us to control our world but may also misrepresent it because the idea of simple determinism may be mistakn, even in physics. Chaos theory proposes small changes in intial conditions can result in major changes (AKA the butterfly effect). Trying to produce cause and effect answers in psychology is therefore misleading and doesn't represent what actually happens.
  • Reductionist- the scientific approach is reductionist because it seeks to identify single variables that can be manipulated, which means breaking complex behaviour into individual elements. This approach may limit psychological insights. R.D Laing (1965) argued that reductionist explanations of schizophrenia missed important elements of the disorder. Such psychologyst prefer a more holist approach. This focuses on the system as a whole rather than individual parts and suggests that we cannot predict how the whole system will behave just from the knowledge of individual components. 
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Focus on the general rather than individual

  • In addition Laing claimed that the aim of the scientific approach is to make generalistations about behaviour (nomothetic) whereas he felt treatment could only work if each patient was assessed on an individual basis. This suggests that the scientific approach may not be sutiable for at least some of the concerns of psychologists. 
  • Perhaps the way to decide whether science is appropraite for psychology is to look at the results of the research.
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Methodologies used by various approaches

  • Biological- brain scans, experimental research, genetic research using twin and family studies
  • Psychodynamic- case study approach, including semi structured interviews
  • Behaviourist- As behaviourists believe that there are only quantitaive differences between humans and animals, they advocate studying animal learning and applying it to humans, they endorse the use of lab experiments
  • Cognitive- experiments often in a lab setting, make inferences about what is going on in someones mind, case studies of abnromal individuals are used
  • Positive- meta-analysis, questionnaires
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Sexism- alpha bias

  • Alpha biased theories assume there are real and enduring differences between men and women. Sigmund freuds theory of psychosexual development is an example of an alpha biased theory because he viewed feminity as failed masculinity. In his discussion of female development, Freud claimed that we must not allow ourselves to regard the two sexes as completely equal in position and worth (Freud, 1925). As Ruthelien Josselson (1988) points out : classical psychoanalytic theory is grounded in the genital inferiority of women and deduces their morale inferiority as well. The deficiency of women was according, to Freud, caused by the absence of a penis. Women are jealous of men's penises and they are morally inferior because the superego, which governs moral behaviour, develops from the Oedipus complex and women don't experience this.
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Sexism- beta bias

  • Beta biased theories tend to ignore or minimise differences, in this case between men and women. Such theories tend to ignore questions about the lives of women, or assume that results from data can be applied to both men and women. There is an androcentri bias in psychology meaning that studies tend to be carried out by men and therfore favour the male perspective.
  • Kohlbergs (1968) theory of moral reasoning looked at how people think about moral descisions. The theory is androcentric for 2 reasons- the dilemmas used to assess moral reasoning were based on a male perspective and the stage theory was based on research with males. However the evidence was applied to both men and women. However Kohlberg found that females did not reason at a higher level than males did. The beta biased in the theory produced evidence of a difference which may not be real and the end result is that the female perspective is devalued
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  • Heterosexism is the assumption that the "natural" kind of sexual/romantic relationship is between men and women. For many years mainstream social psychological research tended to concentrate on romantic relationships among heterosexuals. This was challenged by Wood and Duck (1995) in their book called Understudied relationships in which they argued that research ignored long-distance relationships, online relationships, lesbian and gay relationships ETC.
  • Alpha or beta bias- research on homosexual relationships are socially sensitive- by distingushing between hetero- and homosexual relationships this may cause sterotypes to be made(alpha). By disregarding the differences one group may be devauled(beta)
  • Nature or nurtue- there is more socially sensitive issues related to gender research for example if a region in the brain was identified as being unique to gay men then it might help people to be more accepting of gay-ness(because they are made to be like that). However it may make individuals feel like their behvaviour is inevitable rather than by choice
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Historical and social context

  • A study by Smith and Lloyd (1978) observed mothers playing with an infant who was either presented as a boy (name and clothing) or as a girl. This study showed that mothers selected gender-appropriate toys and also responsded mroe actively when a boy showed increased motor activity. This shows that parents differentially reinforce gender stereotypes from a young age.Young children are also exposed to gender stereotypes in the media. 
  • More recent research indicates that gender stereotypes are still with us. Emily Mondschein (2000) asked mothers to predict how successful their babies would be at a crawling task. There were no gender differences but the mothers had lower expectations for girls.
  • Corinne Moss-Racusin (2012) sent job applications out to academics. If the application was from "jennifer" if was perceived as less competent than when labelled "John".
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Biological Research

  • Traditionally males have been used in research, even biological research as it was argued that female hormonal variations would have an effect on behaviour and was therefore it was best to use. Consider the fight or flight response- the view that people respond to high anxiety situations by producing an aggressive response or fleeing. Shelley Taylor (2000) produced evidence that this is not a typical response in females who react to stress with a tend-and-befriend response. So for a long time we presumed flight or fight was a universal reponse but it turns out to be an example of beta bias
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Feminist psychology

  • Feminst psychologists aregue that there may be real biologically based sex differences byt socially determined stereotypes make a far greater contribution to perceived differences than bioloical ones. Feminist psychology takes the view that a prerequisite to any social change with respect to gender roles must be a revision of our facts about gender. Feminst psychology is a branch that aims to redress the imbalances in psychology
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The "invisibility" of women in psychology

  • The academic practice of using last names mean we are often not aware of the researchers gender. Only six women were featured on the American Psychological Associations list of 100 top psychologists of the 20th century.
  • The gender imbalance is strange because most undergraduate psychology students are female. Fionnula Murphy (2014) argue that the problem lies with women's own implicit stereotypes about gender; women endorse male superiority. She recommends that women should become more aware of there biases
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