Topics: Psychology, Sociology, Psychoanalysis Pages: 5 (1430 words) Published: July 13, 2013
DD307 - TMA 01

Outline and assess the use of experiments in social psychology drawing on the cognitive social perspective and one of the other three perspectives in the module (discursive psychological, phenomenological or social psychoanalytic).

This essay will provide a description of the experimental method for both the cognitive social perspective and social psychoanalytic perspective. A compare and contrast will be given for the two perspectives in a critical evaluation as an approach to doing research in social psychology.

The cognitive social perspective ontology is that, researchers view the person as a thinker in society. Thought processes are believed to have been shaped by and help create the world in which they live in. This perspective has to offer two approaches in the mainstream, social cognition and social identity. Social cognition views the person to be a cognitive miser thereby, being a social thinker and information processing. As a result forms limited opinions based on categorizing and prejudices. Social identity traditions gives emphasis to the socialised thinker whereby, ones’ cognitions are structured by group memberships located in a particular social system. The cognitive social approach follows a statistical methodology by which, researchers gather their results in the form of quantitative data to analyse. This is an experimental, social psychometric method. Researchers conduct studies in which they collect quantitative data and test theory based hypothesis using standard statistical techniques. The researcher’s primary tool is the laboratory – based experiment not confined to the field, such as, the classroom, work place, the crowd. The various techniques include, survey, questionnaires, case studies, and observational methods. As psychology takes part within the individual, this is the primary unit of analysis. The individual’s psychology is significantly affected by the social context. For example, attention to group memberships, inter group relations, a broader social structure that impinge on the individual. The approach is interactionist, which analyse the individual’s cognitions but, also appreciate the way in which these are structured by the social world they inhibit and helped to create.

The social psychoanalytic perspective ontology is that, identity is formed psychically and socially in dynamic and inter-subjective relations with others. Human behaviour and consciousness are partly shaped by unconscious motivations. These unconscious motivations are frequently in conflict with conscious thoughts and intensions. Conflict is provoked by unconscious anxiety which is defended against through unconscious defence mechanisms. These defences play an important part in the construction of the individual, social, institutional, cultural lives. The social psychoanalytic approach follows a qualitative and interpretative methodology with the assumption that to understand social life, we need to understand how language is used and how the meaning is constructed. It also takes from psychoanalysis the notion that people are never consciously aware of what unconsciously motivates them or all the meaning of what they say and do. People are viewed as having unique biographies and identity that are made up of psychic defences that are partly developed from their social context. Many researchers explore the methods that people use to make sense of everyday life. For example, the use of narrative interviews because this allows research subjects to talk at length and freely as possible. Researchers seek to analyse contradictions and conflicts that arise from unconscious desires, anxiety and demands of the outside world. This is taken from applications such as, projection, splitting, and projective identification. The focus of analysis is the interconnections between the internal world of the psyche and ones’ understanding of their responses to the actions and on their external world. Meanings...
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