Psychology - Aggression Notes

Topics: Human behavior, Psychology, Violence Pages: 14 (3841 words) Published: January 19, 2013
Evaluate explanations of institutional aggression (16 marks) Strengths

In Irwin and Cressey (1962) study they don’t look at inmates having one value. They look at the subcultures within prison. This shows the nature of the inmates as well as how they were brought up and accept other values. This is also supported by Blomberg & Lucken (2000) study on inmates.

However you could counter this point by saying its reductionist because it reduces down behaviour to measurable units.


Clemmer (1940) or McKorkle and Korn (1954) tend to suggest than inmates imported "one holistic" criminal subculture into the institution. By taking this holistic approach they are ignoring the biological approach.

The importation model fails to provide suggestions for how to manage aggressive prisoners. Suggesting that you can manage prisoners and go against their freewill. Though they may be aggressive it might be because of how they were nurtured.

Delisi (2004), it is unethical to give away possible private records. This could be seen as a breach of data protection.
This can be linked to Issue and Debates. Especially the ethics and the confidentiality.

AO3 – 4 marks – how science works:
Methodological issues (internal validity, ecological validity, population validity, reliability) Bias (cultural bias, gender bias)
Debates (nature/nurture, free will/determinism, reductionism/holism) Approaches (psychodynamic, cognitive, evolutionary, biological, behavioural) ethics

A good psychology essay...

Be Selective In the exam you will only have 30 minutes per essay so you won't be able to write the same amount you do at home, therefore it is important to make a few points and evaluate them well (possibly by using opposing points) rather than make loads of points and rush the evaluation. You do not have to mention everything in the book in order to get a good mark, it's all about quality, so just make sure that if you say something, and it is relevant and well said.

Use Evidence If you make a point, it is useful to have evidence from studies/experiments to back it up. You don't have to go crazy with the methodology of these studies (but a little won't hurt) but the most important thing is to state how the research supports/ does not support the theory in question. It may feel like you're stating the obvious, but this is what gains marks.

Use Issues and Debates Determinism, Reductionism, Gender Bias (Alpha and Beta), Culture Bias, Socially Sensitive Research/Theory, Reliability and Validity, just to name a few! They aren't too difficult to work into your essay, but it is important you explain what each one means and how it relates to the theory in question. You won't gain many marks if you list them without explaining them thoroughly.

Be Synoptic This is really important. Could an idea be better explained by another approach? Has research in this area lead to any practical applications? (Such as treatments for psychological disorders) This will show your understanding of psychology in greater detail, and how it is important in real life.

Look at the Bigger Picture Does this theory/research raise or lower the reputation of psychology as a science? E.g.: does it rely on scientific testing or is it speculative? Have other studies produced similar findings or do other studies tend to contradict its findings? 

Don't be completely negative! Make some positive evaluations too, and when you criticise studies, you can always suggest ways in which they could be improved. You are expected to show a holistic view of psychology, and that means appreciating that there are both strengths and weaknesses to studies and theories.

Look at your watch Remember; you don't have much time to write your essays in the real exam, so try to stick to 30 minutes per essay. You'll lose more marks by spending too long on one essay and not enough on another, than by writing all essays, but leaving a few points out.

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