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  • Created on: 19-04-18 09:01


Psychologists possess beliefs and values that have been infleunced by socialand historic contexts and so bias is an aspect in the research process.This  undermines the claims of universaility (conclusions can be drawn and applied to  everyone regardless of gener and culture. But gender and culture threaten this. 

Gender bias - Alpha bias is tat which exxagerates differences between the sexes, thhe differences are  presenetd as fixed, inevitable and real. These differences are more likely to devalue women in relation to men. e.g. sociobiological thoery of relationship formation which explains humon sexual attraction by survival effiecency.Men try to impregnante as much women as possible,women pereserves her genes by ensuring healthy survuval of her offspring. So sexual promisicty in males in genetically determined but women who do  the same are seen as going against their nature - this is an example of essentialist argument.

Beta bias ingnores or minimised differences between men and women normally women arent included as a part of the research but ppl still assume you can apply it to both sexes.

Androcentrism - A consequence of beta bias is androcentrism - if our understanding of wat is normal behaviour is drawn from all male samples then any behaviour that deviates from this is judged as abnromal. This leads to  female behaviour being misunderstood. e.g. PMS stereotypes and trivalises female experiences of  anger by saying they are hormonal but male anger is seen as a rational response to external pressure.

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Implications of gender bias - May create misleading assumptions about female behviour and fail to challenge negative stereotypes. May also provide scientific justification to deny women job oppurtunites or in wider society (PMS). Tavris said if men are the  set standrad of normalcy then women feel abnormal. So gender bias has dmaging consequences for real lifes (women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression).

Sexism within the research process - A lack of women appointed at senior reserach levels  means that female concerns may not be reflected in research questions asked. Male researchers are more likely to have  their work published. Studies that find evidence of gender differences are more liekly to appear in journal articles than those that dont. Also lab experiments may  disadvantage women because they are placed with male researcher who has the power to label them unreasonable and irrational. 

Essentialism - Many gender differences reported are based on essentialist perspective (the gender difference in question is fixed in nature).  Walkerdine revealed that in the 1930s revealed that an intellectual acitvity would shrivel a womans ovaries and harm her chances of birth. Such essentialist accounts are disguised as biological facts. This often creates a double standard.

Feminist psyhcology - Feminsits have put foward  criteria that should be adhered to in order to avoid gender bias. Worrell said women should be studied in real-life meaningful contexts and genuinely participate in the  study rather than being objects of the study. Diveristy wihtin groups of women should be examined. 

Reflexivity - Many reserachers are reecognising their own values and assumptions on thier work. They dont see this bias as a threat to their reserach but they embrace it as a crucial aspect of the research process. Dambrin study of lack of women in executive positions in accountancy firms, she included relfection on ow thier gender related experinces influence thier reading of events. Relexivity leads to greater awareness of role of biases.

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Statistics owuld suggest that psychology is mainly the study of white American males.

Critics argue that psyhcology has ignored culture as im[portant influecnes on uman behaviour and has assumed findind from studies carried out in Western cultures can be applied to all over the world e.g. Asch and Milgram orignally done their studies with US particpants, when done rpelicated all over the wolrd the results were very different. If the norm of a behvaiuour is judged of one particular culture then any any behviour that deviates from this will be seen as abnormal.

Ethnocentrism - Is a form of cultue bias which beliefs ones own culture is superior. In psychology this is seen that if behaviour do not conform to normally western models then the behaviour is deficent, and underdeveloped. Ainsworths ** only relfected the norms of American culture, this led to German mother sbeing seen as cold and rejecting rather than encouraging indpeendence for the infant.

Culture relativism - Ainsworths reserach is an exmaple of imposed etic because it was  a theory develope in American culture and then used to study people in different cultures. Berry drew a distinction between etic and emic. Etic looks at behaviour from outside of a given culture and tries to describe it as universal. Emic is from withing a certain culture and identifies behaviours that are specific to that culture.

Imposed etic is using tests devised by Western soceties to test other cultures. Etic is an approach that believes perceptions and behaviours are shared by all cultures. Emic recognises the uniqueness of every culture.

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Indivualism and collectivsim - individualist culture is western countries who value independence and freedom. Collectivist like china ro india place more emphasis on needs of groups. Howevr critics have said that global communication has increased and that such a simplistic distinction doesnt apply anymore. Takano found 15 out of 15 studies that compared YSA and Japan have found no distinction between indivudlaism and collectivism. So clture bias may be less of an issue than it once was.

When conducting research in western cukltue the ppts have familiarity with aims and objectives. However this may not be the saem for those in other cultures. So demand charcteristics may be exxagertaed when working members of the local population and this will effect the validity.

Operationalisation of variables - Another issue is that the varibale under review may not be experienced in the same way by all ppts. e.g behaviour of emotions such as aggression in china where ppl see inavsion of personal space as normal whereas in the west it may be threatening .

Doing cross cultural research will challenge our western ways of thinking, because it may promote a greater sensitivity to individual difference. This will  stop scientific racism and also the conclusions we draw will have more validity if they recognise the role of culture.

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Free will - Human beings are self-determining and free to choose our own thoughts and actions. Doesnt deny biological froces but says we are able to reject these. Used in humanistic approach.

Determinism - Behaviour controlled by internal or external forces. Hard determinism (fatalism) says free will isnt possible and our behaviour is beyond our control. It's compatioble with the aims of science. Soft determinism by James said that human behaviour does have causes but there is some roomfor our behaviour to be determined by out conscious choices an important feature in the cognitive approach.

Biological determinism is the belief that our behaviour is caused by biological influences such as genetics,hormones etc, things we cannot control. Many mental disorders have a genetic basis and resreach has highlighted the hormone testerone in aggression.

Environmental determinism is the belief that our behaviour is caused by features in the environment such as rewards and punishment. Skinner says behaviour is a result of condtioning, we may think we are acting independently but our behaviour has been shaped by environmental event and people.

Psychic determinism is the belief behaviour is caused by unconscious conflicts that we cannot control, this was put foward by Freud, determined by unconscious conflicts repressed in childhood. No such thing as an accident.

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Determinism the case for - Consistent is consistent with the aims of science becasue of the notion that human behaviour ir orderly and obeys laws. Also it has led to dvelopment of treatments such as anti psychotics for sz. Mental illnesses where ppl suffer total loss of control would cast a doubt on concept on free will because who would choose to have sz. 

Case against - Is not consistent with out legal system becasue offenders are held morally accountable for their actions. Determinism is unfalsifiable because it is based on the diea that causes of behaviour will always exist even though they havent been found and this is impossible to prove wrong. So it may not be as scientific as it appears. 

Free will the case for - Has face validity because we have the impression we are constanlty making choices everyday. Also reserach says those will internal locus tend to be more mentally healthy. Roberts showed adolescents with strong beleif of fatalism were at a greater risk of depression. So even if we dont havefree will, thinking we dohas a positve impact on our mind.

Case against - Libet demonstrated the brain acitivity thaty determines outcome of simple choices may predate our knwoledge of actually made the choice. Found if decidng whether to press button with right or left hand occurs in the brain 10 secs before being consciously aware of making such a descion. 

Compromise - An interactionist approach provides us the best compromise. Such as the SLT which adopts a soft detrmisn approach. 

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Early nativists arguedthat human charcteristics are innate, the result of heredity. However empiricits said the mind is a blank slate and learning and behaviour writes on it. The heritability coefficent is used to assess heredity between 0 and 1, 1 is entirely genetic. 

Environmental influence in a childs life begins as soon as it is born, so nature and nurture are so closely intertwined that it makes little sense to seperate them. e.g. iin twin studies concordance rates hard to tell if its gentic or shared environment. 

The interactionist approach - Childs innate temperament influences how the parents will respond to it and then their response will in turn effect the childs behaviour. So nature will create nurture.

Diasthesis-stress model - In sz

Epigenetics - The change in our genetic activity without changing our genetic code. Happens when we interact with the environment, aspects of our lifestyle e.g smoking, pollution leave epigenetic mark on our DNA, these marks tell our body which genes to ignore and which to use, this may infleunce our offsprings genetic codes aswell. Dias gave mice electric shocks everytime they were exposed to the smell of acetophenone, the mice showed fear everytime they smelt it. Also their children also feared the smell.

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Implications - Nativists says our inherited genetics determine our charcteristics. This extreme determinist stance had led to controversy such as that which attempted to link race, genetics and intelligence - socially sensitive reserach. In contrast behaviur shaping is used in therapy, desirbale behaviours are reinforced and undesirbale are punished or ignored. Extreme conditions this may lead to a society that controls and manipulates its citizens. 

Shared or unshared environments - Dunn said that individual differences in siblings means that they exerience life differently e.g. age/temperament would mean life events such as divorce would have a different meaning to each sibling. This explains that MZ twins do not show perfect concordance rates.

Contructivism - People create their own nurute by selecting environments that are appropriate for their nature.  So a naturally aggressive child will feel more comfortable around children who show similar behaviours and wil choose their environments accordingly. This environment then effects their development. It is impossible to try to seperate nature and nurutre.

Genotypes - Scarr put foward gene-environment interaction that includes 3 types: 1) passive intertaction - parents gene infleucne the way they treat their children. 2) Evocative interaction - The childs genes influence and shape the environment in which they grow up. 3) Active interaction - child creates its own environment through the people and experiences it selects.  Again this hows a complex and multi layered relationship between nature and nurture.

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Holism is the idea that any attempt to break up behaviour and experience is inappropriate as these can only be understoof by analysing the behaviour or person as a whole. This view is shared by the humanistic approach. Reductionism analyses behaviour by breaking it down into its consituent parts based on the scientific principle parsimony (all phenomena should be explained using the most basic principles.

Levels of explanations in psychology - suggest there are differen ways of viewing the same phenomena in psychology - some mor reuctionist than others. e.g. OCD may be understood in a socio-cultural context most ppl regard the complusion as odd, psyhcological level experience of having obsessive thoughts, physical level is a sequence of movements involved in ones hands, neurochemical level as underproduction of serotonin. Each is more reductionist than the one before.

Biological redcutionism - All behaviour can be explained at a biological level through genes, chemicals etc. Assumption of biological approach and is applied to the effect of psychoactive drugs on the brain which has helped us understand neural processes and it might be possible to explain mental disorders at a biochemical level.

Enivronmental reductionism - Behavourists break comlex learning into simple stimulus-response links that are measureable in the lab. 

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The case for holism - There are aspects of social behaviour that only emerge within a gorup context such as conformity or de-indivduation of zimbardos prison officers. This could not be understtof by studying ppts individually. 

Case against - Doesnt lend themselves to rigorous scientific testing and can be vague and speculative. e.g. Humanistic approach is criticsed for lack of empirical evidenceand is seen by many as a loose set of concepts. These explanations also provide researchers with a problem because if there are many factors for say depression, it is hard to recognise which is the most influential and which would be the best for therapy. So for real world problems reductionsim may be better.

The case of reductionism - Forms basis of scientific reserach, in order to operationalise variables it is necessary to break target behaviours down into constiuent parts. This makes it possible to conduct experiments in a way that is reliable and meaningful. 

Case against - Accused of oversimplifying complex phenomena which leads to a loss of validity. Explanations that include gene, neurotransmitters do not include an analysis of the social context within which the behaviour occurs and this is where the behaviour may derive its meaning. So redcutionist explanations can only ever form part of an explanation. 

Interactionist - Diathesis stress model explains sz. Sz comes about by a predisposition often genetic which is triggered by a stressir which is often an experience. This has led to a more multidisciplinary approach to treatment such as combining drugs and family therapy leads to lower relapse rates.

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The idiographic apporach attempts to describe the nature of the individual, people are studied as unique entities each witht hier own subjective experiences. No attempt to compare to larger group. produces qualatative data such as case studies, unstructered interviews or self report. Humanistic apporach uses idiographic perspective. The psychodynamic approach is often labeled idiogrpahic because case studies were used when detailing his patients lives. However Frued assumed he identified universal laws.

The nomothetic approach aims to produce general laws of human behaviour , which can provide a benchmark against which people can be compared and measured and then future behaviour can be predicted/controlled. Aligns itself with scientific methods such as experiments. Research by behaviourists, cogntive and biological psychologists are normally nomothetic. Skinner stuided responses of rats, cats and pigeons in order to develop the law of learning, cogntive psychologits have been able to inferthe structure and processes of human memory by measuring performances of large samples in lab tests. Biological researchers have done brains cans. Most of these are reductionsits and determinists. Hypotheses are formulated.

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Case for idiographic - Has in depth qualatative methods which provides a complete global account of the individual and this may complement the nomothetic approach by shedding further light on general laws or by challenging laws. e.g. a single case may generate further hypotheses for further study. HM findings may reveal important insights that contribute to our overall undertstanding. 

Against - has a narrow and restricted mature of their work. Also Freuds key concepts like the Oedipuscomplex was largely developed by detailed studies of a signle case (little Hans). Meaningful generalisations cant be made without further examples. Also case studies tend to be not that scientific because conclsuions made are subject to subjective inetpretation and is open to bias.

Case for nomothetic - More scientific, testing under standardised condtions etc. Such processes have allowed psychologists to establish norms of typical behaviour so it gives the discipline of psyhcology gretarer credibility. 

Case against - 

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Ethical issues may arise when there is conflict between psychologys need to gain valid and valuable research and at the same time preserving the rights and dignity of the ppts. So ethical guidelines were established to help protect those involved. Its harder to guard the social impact once the research has been conducted. Reserachers have little say on how the reserach findings are represented in the media and how it may infleunce our perception of particular groups in society - ehtical implications.

Socially sensitive research - Studies in which there are potential consequences or implications either directly for the ppts in the research or for the class of individuals represented e.g. research about race and IQ. Reserach that looks at taboo topics such as race and sexuality attract alot of attention. However researhcers shouldnt shy away from socially sensitive reserach , they may have a social responsibility to carry it out.

Ethical issues in SSR: Seiber and Stanley 1) Implications - Studies may be seen as giving scientific credence to prejudice and discrimination e.g. IQ and race. However may be hard to predict implications at the beggining.  2) Uses/public policy - Whatis the resreahc going ot be used for and what about if its used for the wrong purpose.  3) Validity of reserach - Some fidnings that were presnted as objective have actually turned out to be highly suspect. However many researchers who takle socially sensitive areas are more upfront about their biases and comment on the reflexive nature of their work.

Sieber and Stanley (1988) identified four aspects in the scientific research process that raise ethical implications in sociallysensitive research: the research question, the methodology used, the institutional context,  interpretation and application of findings.  

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Benefits of SSR - Scarr argues that studies of underrepresnted groups and issues may promote greater sensitivity and underatnding and can help reduce prejudice and encourage acceptance. SSR has benefitted society e.g. the unreliability of EWT has reduced the risk of miscarriges in the justice system.

Framing the question - Sieber and Stanley said that the way question are phrased may infleucne the way our findings are represented. Coyle foudn that reserach into 'alternative relationships' have been guilty of a form of hetrosexual bias where homosexual relationships were judged against hetrosexual relationships. So researchers must approach their research with an open mind.

Social control - In America 1920-1930s, some states approved a law that led to compulsory surgery to make a person unable to produce offspring on the grounds that they were feeble minded and a drain on society - included people who were drug or alcohol addicts, mentally ill etc. This was supported by many sections of the psychological community at the time who said feeble minded people were unfit to breed

Costs and benefits - Some of the social consequences of research may be diffciult to anticipate.

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