Psychology Unit 1

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  • Created on: 22-05-18 18:29

Why do we forget?

Interference: things that we have learnt that make it difficult to recall other information that we have learnt.

Retroactive interference: when new information interferes with something you have already learned.

Proactive interference: when previously learned information interferes with new information.

Underwood and Postman:

Aim: To see if new learning interferes with previous learning

Method: Participants were split in to two control groups, Group A were asked to learn a list of word pairs. They were asked to learn a second list of word pairs. Group B were asked to learn the first list only. Both groups were asked to recall the first list.

Results: Group B remembered more of this list

Conclusion: Learning the second list had interfered with Group A's ability to remember the first.

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Why do we forget?

Practical Applications:

Developing better study habits.

Skills learnt for one sport may interfere with developing skills for a different sport - such as tennis and badminton

If you have more than one subject to revise in an evening, try to avoid studying two subjects that are the same.

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Context: The general setting or enviroment in which activities happen.

Godden and Baddeley -

Aim: To see if people who learn and are tested in the same enviroment will recall more information than those who learn and are tested in different enviroments.

Method: Divided deep sea divers in to 4 groups, 1 learn and recall underwater, 2 learn underwater and recall onshore, 3 learn and recall onshore, 4 learn onshore and recall underwater. All 4 were given the same list of words to learn.

Results: Participants recalled 40% more words when tested in the same enviroment as they learned in.

Conclusion: Recall of information will be better if it happens in the same context that learning takes place.

Practical Application - Better to take exams in the same room exam is taken, make the place you revise similar to the place u learn information.

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Brain Damage

Clive Wearing:

Clive contracted a virus that damaged his brain (temperal lobes and hippocampus) - this caused the brain damage which meant he was unable to form new memories. He was unable to transfer memories to LTM and essentially his world would restart every 18 seconds or so.

However research with Cliver Wearing cannot be generalised to the whole population as they are case studies and had problems with his memory.

Anterogarde Amnesia - being unable to learn new info after suffering brain damage

Retrogarde Amnesia - loss of memory for events that happened before brain damage occured

Hippocampus - a brain structure that is crucial for memory

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Eyewitness Testimonies

Loftus and Palmer -

Aim: To see if asking leading questions affect the accuracy of the recall

Method: Getting participants to watch a car crash on a video. They were asked questions about the crash and asked to estimate the speed the car was travelling. Some were asked "Howfast the car was travelling when it hit the car?" Others were asked "How fast the car was travelling when it smashed into the car?"

Results: Participants who heard the word "Smashed" gave a higher speed estimate than those who heard "Hit"

Conclusion: The conclusion is the use of leading questions will affect the accuracy of what witnesses remember.

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Eyewitness Testimonies

Reliability: the extent to which it can be regarded as accurate

Leading questions: hints that a particular type of answer is required

Cognitive Interview: a method of questioning witnesses that involves recreating the context of the event.


Well controlled study - IV affected the recall

Students were used - cannot be generalised

Practical Application:

Police should avoid using leading questions and adopt a neutral style of questioning, Cognitive interviews have been developed through work on memory - here the witness is interviewed in a similar enviroment to the crime scene as possible.

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Paralinguistics: non-verbal elements of language that express emotion and the meaning of the message. It includes pitch, urgency of expression and speed of talking

Argyle, Alkema and Gilmour -

Aim: Investigated the effect of tone of voice on how a verbal message is interpreted.

Method: Different groups listened to a friendly or hostile message spoken in a friendly or hostile tone. Therefore some participants heard hostile message in friendly tones and friendly messages spoken in hostile tones.

Results: It was found that tone of voice had 5 times the effect of the verbal message itself.

Conclusion: They concluded that tone of voice is very important in interpreting verbal communication.

Evaluation - may suggest they are not truthful, artificial conditions.

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Eye Contact

Argyle -

Aim: To seehow interrupting eye contact affects conversation

Method: Pairs of participants were observed having convos. In half the convos, one of the participants wore dark glasses so that the other could not receive eye contact.

Results: When one of the participants wore dark glasses, there were more pauses and interruptions then when were not worn.

Conclusion: Eye contact is important in ensuring the smooth flow of conversation.

Evaluation - help us to understamd what we can do to make the conversation run smoothly

Practical Implications - help us to understand why we might feel uncomfortable talking to someone who either constantly loos at us or never looks at us.

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Facial Expressions

Sackeim -

Aim: Investigated the relationship between facial expressions and the hemispheres of the brain.

Method: He cut pictures of people showing different emotions down the middle and created new ones by joining mirror images of each side. Each pair of new faces was shown to participants and they were asked which picture they preferred.

Results: Most preferred the pictureof the mirrored left side because it looked warmer.

Conclusion: They concluded that the left side of the face seems to express more emotion than the right.

Evaluation - Studies that involve still pictures are artificial. We dont look at facial expressions in isolation when we are with people.

Practical Implications - If facial expression is inherited this means that it happens instinctively and it is more likely to be truthful.

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Body Language - Posture

McGinley - Aim: to see the effect of postural echo when having a conversation

Method: Investigated postural echo by having a confederate approach participants in a social setting and having conversations with them. The confederate echoed the posture of the participants in half of the conversations and did not in the other half.

Results: It was found that when postural echo was used, people liked the confederate and thought they got on well together. When postural echo was not used, the confederate was not liked as much and the conversation felt awkward.

Conclusion: McGinley concluded that postural echo gives an unconscious message of friendliness.

Evaluation - The individuals who were approached by the participants did not know they were taking part.

Practical Implications - shows how people in the real world may be using this info to their advantage.

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Body Language - Gestures and Touch

Lynn and Mynier -

Aim: Investigated the effect of gestures by waiters on the tipping behaviour of customers in a restaurant

Method: Waiters and Waitresses were instructed to either stand upright or squat when taking orders.

Result: Those that squatted received larger tips than those that stood upright

Conclusion: They concluded that squatting to increase eye contact had a positive effect on tipping behaviour.

Evalutation - Other reasons for difference in tips given, for example size of bill.

Practical Implications - One famous restaurant chain trains its waiters/waitresses to squat down when taking orders.

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Personal Space

Argyle and Dean - Aim: To see if sex differences affect personal space

Method: One at a time, participants were asked to sit and have a conversation with another person who was actually a confederate of the experimenter. Sometimes the confederate was the same sex as the participant and at other times the confederate was of opposite sex. The confederate sat at different distances from the participants and continually looked in to the participants eye's

Result: The participants tended to break eye contact with the confederate of the opposite sex at a greater distance apart than when the confederate was of the opposite sex

Conclusion: We prefer to have a greater amount of personal space between ourselves and member of the opposite sex during normal conversation.

Evaluation - These different factors that affect personal space are generally useful, but can be misleading because they do not happen on their own without other forms of non-verbal communication

Practical Implication - standing close for comfort.

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Personality and Temperament

Thomas, Chess and Birch -

Aim: Investigated whether temperament remained stable throughout life

Method: Looked at around 136 children in a longitudinal study. Researchers collected data about the children and their behaviour from parents, school observations and teachers.

Results: Three different groups emerged - 'easy' (happy and found it easy to adopt?), 'difficult' (demanding, less flexible) and 'slow to warm up' (did not react well to new enviroments)

Conclusion: These traits remained stable over time, which led thomas to conclude that we are born with a temperament.

Evaluation - One of the few longitudian studies of temperament allowing researchers to support the view that temperament is innate.

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How is personality measured?

Eysenck -

Aim: to investigate the personality of 700 servicemen

Method: Each soldier completed a questionnaire. Eysenck analysed the results using a statistical technique known as factor analysis

Result: He identified two dimensions of personality: extroversion-introversion and neuroticism-stability.

Conclusion: Everyone can be placed along these two dimensions of personality. Most people lie in the middle of the scale.

Evaluation - There is some support for a genetic element to personality - neuroticism has been shown to be 80% inherited and extraversion has been shown to be 62% inherited.

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Antisocial Personality Disorder

Raine -

Aim: To support the theory that abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex cause APD

Method: Looked at MRI scans of 21 men diagnosed with APD and had a history of serious violent crimes and compared them to 34 men with no history of violence

Result: The APD group had an 11-14% reduction in the nerve cells

Conclusion: Raine concluded that APD may be caused by a reduction in the grey matter in the pre-frontal cortex.

Evaluation - This study only looked at men making generalisations to women difficult, Participants were volunteers who again may behave differently than people who do not volunteer.

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Antisocial Personality Disorder

Amygdala - part of the brain involved with emotion

Grey matter (cereberal cortex) - the outer layer of the brain

Prefrontal cortex - the very front of the brain, it is involved in the social and moral behaviour and controls aggression

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Stereotype - an oversimplified, generalised set of ideas we have about others.

Rubin et al -

Aim: to find out if new parents steretope their babies

Method: Parents were asked to describe their new babies within 24 hours of the baby being born

Result: They found that parent of baby boys described their babies as being alert and strong, whereas parents of baby girls described their babies as soft and delicate

Conclusion: Parents stereotype their children from a early stage despite no steretypical behaviour being shown.

Practical Implication - Increased awareness that children observe and imitate those around them.

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Authotarian personality - a personality type prone to be prejudiced

F-Scale: the questionnare used by Adorno to measure personality characteristics.

Barrett and Short -

Aim: To look at the development of prejudice among young children

Method: Researchers interviewed 216 English children aged between 5 and 10 years old, on their views and opinions of people from different european countries.

Result: It was found that children already demonstrated more positive views towards some Europeans than to others. Germans were the least liked and french the most.

Conclusion: By the age of 10, children already hold prejudiced views towards other nationalities.

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Prejudice and discrimination between groups

Tajfel- In and out groups -

Aim: To show how easily people discriminate against their out groups

Method: 14-15 year old boys played a game where they had to allocate points to their team and another team

Result: Tajfel found that the boys would allocate points that meant the biggest difference between groups - not the pairings that would give them the most points

Conclusion: He concluded that people will discriminate against each other just because they are the member of an out group.

Evalutation - However, boys aged 14-15 were participants, this may mean we cannot generalise to females or different ages.

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Adorno - Authortarian personality

Adorno -

Aim: To find out if there is a relationship between a person's personality type and prejudiced beliefs

Method: Hundreds of people were interviewed and tested using the F-scale

Result: He found a relationship between personality and prejudiced views and concluded there is an 'authotarian personality' and people who have this type of personality are highly likely to be prejudiced towards others. He believed that this personality type was caused by having harsh, strict, critical parents. This type of personality is: Likely to dislike jews, likely to be resistant to change, likely to hold traditional values and beliefs.

Conclusion: There is an authoritarian personality and people with these characteristics are highly likely to be prejudiced towards each other.

Evaluation - The theory doesnt explain why people are only prejudiced to some groups of people.

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Experimental Methods

Experiments: the method of research in which all variables other than the IV and DV are controlled. This allows the researcher to dientify a cause and effect relationship between the IV and DV.

Advantages - Can control variables, so can identify the cause and effect. The experimenter can be sure there are no other factors affecting DV.

Disadvantages - Artificial setting that is unrealistic, lacks ecological validity. Demand characteristics may exist because participants change their behaviour.

Lab Experiment: tightly contolled condition

Advantage - Confounding variables can be controlled, allowing conclusions about cause and effect to be made.

Disadvantages - The study may lack ecological validity because it does not reflect normal behaviour.

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Experimental Methods

Natural Experiment:

Advantages - very high ecological validity

Disadvantage - cannot draw conclusions about cause and effect because there are too many uncontrolled variables.

Field Experiment: carried out in everyday situations, but still with the control of the IV.

Advantage - Behaviour in the field is more natural than in a lab, so it has greater ecological validity.

Disadvantage - It is not possible to have control over all variables in the field; therefore another factor may have influeced the result.

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Experimental Design

Repeated measures: when participants take part in all conditions of the experiment.

Advantage - All participants do each activity so there are no participant variables

Disadvantage - Participants might guess the aim of the study because they all do the task

Matched Pairs: When participants are matched with another group and complete only one condition of the experiment.

Advantage - Participants are matched on key variables

Disadvantage - matching takes a long time and is difficult.

Independant groups: participants only complete one condition of the experiment.

Advantage - the same task can be used, no order effects.

Disadvantage - you need more people to do the study, participants may be very different affecting the results.

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