top-rated free essay


By sophie2310 May 28, 2014 6916 Words
The Controversies’ Question

You will have a choice of two questions in this section:
Part A is the starter question, for which you are awarded a maximum of three marks. You need to explain the term, then in order to get full marks you will need to give an example:

The only terms you will be asked about are the following:
science, scientific benefits, ethical costs, genetic influences, environmental influences, cultural bias, gender bias, free will and determinism.

In the second part – Part B you will be asked to either – describe, discuss or evaluate one of the following , for which there is a maximum of 22 marks –

psychology as a science
the balance of scientific benefits measured against ethical costs in psychology the balance of genetic and environmental influences on human behaviour issues of cultural bias
issues of gender bias
the question of free will and determinism in respect of human behaviour.

The essay needs to be in the form of an argument- a dialogue between opposing views.

To get full marks your argument needs to be presented in a structured manner, clearly interpreted and analysed, you need to have range and depth of evidence, reasoned conclusion, use appropriate terms throughout. Up to 15 marks will be awarded for this (AO3).

When providing evidence, the mark scheme says that these do not need to be provided in equal measure. This means that you can equal and depth range of evidence or, you can give a very wide range, but not so much depth, or discuss a couple of pieces of research in depth, but thereby not showing quite as much range.. Note that to be in the top mark band you have to have research!

Up to 7 marks will then be awarded for evaluation (A02). This must be relevant, clearly structured and thorough, coherent and displayed, but ‘not in equal measure’.

In their report on the June 2012 examination, WJEC examiners said about this section - “Precision and detail in AO1, using results to make evaluative points and having a deeper and overall appreciation and grasp of the important issues in AO2 are the characteristics of a full mark answer.” You will always get a choice of two questions on section A. Each will be broken down into two parts – A and B.

Starter question (part A):
Define what is meant by… (3 marks):
1. Science
2. Genetic influences
3. Environmental influences
4. Cultural influences
5. Gender bias
6. Free will
7. Determinism

What the examiners has said -
“Controversies remained, as it is intended to be a difficult section . The concept of an argument eludes most students, as does the reflection on the issues posed (e.g. what having free will might mean; is it just ‘do as you please’; what might free will suggest as an evolutionary advantage?”

“The three mark question is intended as a relatively starter. An extended definition an a relevant example will gain full marks.”

Present your argument as follows – that scientific research is desirable and that psychology shares the goals of all science. Scientific method - it must have only one current explanation or theory

it should be carried out under objective conditions, unaffected by biases or expectations a hypothesis is formed then tested, allowing for checking of validity and reliability on a representative sample from a target population. it controls extraneous variables through the use of the lab experiment to investigate the impact (if any) of the IV on the DV. inferential statistics can be applied to assess where the results are significant or due to chance. science allows the rejection of certain theories and a body of evidence to emerge supporting relationships between events, cause and effect to be established and predictions to be made.

Challenge with the view that psychology has no single paradigm (a number of different approaches) and that it lacks objectivity and control. Psychology uses methods which are not scientific, such as case studies which can be very subjective. Challenge with the view that at least some ‘levels’ of psychology are scientific, but conclude with the argument that not all psychologists think science with its nomothetic approach is an appropriate for psychology and this leads to the use of therapies which reflect this dual approach. Chemotherapy, for example, which might be thought of as the more scienctific response to abnormal behaviour has been shown at times to be less successful than CBT, a more person-centred and subjective approach, in which the success has been found to be affected by the competence of the therapist as well as the service-user’s perceptions of their competence. Psychology’s eclectic use of several approaches and a range of methodologies lead to the conclusion that it is in part scinetific, but employs subjective strategies to explore behaviour when deemed more appropriate. This has been acknowledged within the British Psychological Society with its recently founded qualitative methodological group.

Use the following research to support your answer:

Psychology as a Science
Arguments against Psychology as a Science
One of the arguments against psychology as a science is that it lacks objectivity and control. Issues of experimenter bias and demand characteristics can compromise objectivity and validity However, disconcerting research by John et al (2012) has also found evidence to suggest that, in some instances, the research process is manipulated to suit the researcher (rather than to reveal any objective fact) further undermines Psychology’s status as a science. Ironically however, Psychology’s claim to be a science means that results which are deliberately manipulated or distorted by the researcher (through one or more of a variety of questionable research practices) are given greater credence than they deserve because they are ‘scientific’. Trading on Psychology’s scientific status, the assumption is that the adulterated results are accurate and objective representations of reality.

John et al (2012)’s work involved carrying out an anonymous electronic survey about the use of ten questionable research practices. These included things such as the researcher failing to a report all dependent variables, collecting additional data after checking for significance, selectively reporting studies that ‘worked’ (i.e. significant findings) and falsifying data. The researchers also asked participants to make estimates of the proportion of other psychologists who engaged in those practices, and the proportion likely to admit to carrying out those practices in the survey. They incorporated into their work an incentive to encourage participants to tell the truth. Some respondents were told that a larger charity donation would be made by the researchers if they answered honestly) and this did lead to a higher rate of admission amongst those given the incentive.

The results were astonishing and raise important questions concerning the use of scientific method in Psychology. One in ten psychologists admitted falsifying data; the majority to selectively reporting studies (67%), not reporting all dependent variables ( 74% ); collecting data after checking for significance (71%); reporting unexpected findings as expected (54%) and excluding post data post-hoc (58%). A considerable number (35%) admitted that they had doubts about the integrity of their research, with differences being found amongst disciplines within Psychology. There were relatively higher rates of questionable practice amongst cognitive, neuroscience and social psychologists, than among clinical psychologists.

John et al (2012) concluded that the findings of their study could help explain the ‘decline effect’ in Psychology and other sciences (the tendency for the particular effect size to decline when a study is replicated). If dubious practices were used in the first instances to obtain results then it would be expected that effect might be reduced in a replication.

WJEC Example question –

Jan 2011
Q.5 Discuss the disadvantages of the use of the scientific method in psychology. [15]

Credit could be given for the following:
•Problems with the nature of scientific methods.
•Issues of ecological (external) validity.
•Issues of researcher and participant effects (e.g. bias and demand characteristics).
•Ethical issues due to the use of the scientific method.
•Problems regarding human behaviour as quantifiable.
•Any other relevant material.
Marks AO3
Discussion is appropriate and well detailed. Material is used in an effective manner (evidence of coherent elaboration) and is thorough. Depth and range of knowledge is displayed, though not necessarily in equal measure. Specialist terms are used throughout.

Present your argument as follows – that there can be a conflict between the research process ‘s goals to establish objective evidence and the rights of the participant/s involved in that research, whether those participants are human or non-human animals. In 2013 the drive of ethical committees has been towards carrying out a cost-benefit analysis, however, this has not, historically, always been achieved and there continue to be cases when the costs are higher than benefits. Discuss here the costs and benefits of the Milgram study and the Zimbardo study.

Equally, it could be argued that ethical concerns are inappropriately limiting psychological research the Milgram study provided real insights into human behaviour. Social research raises often ethical questions precisely because it is raising important questions about human behaviour in certain social situations. – the greater the potential benefit, the more likely the study is to raise ethical questions.

It could be argued that psychological research (and in particular studies such as Asch, Milgram and Zimbardo) has helped to move the ethics’ debate in research forward and beyond psychological research, feeding into other areas, raising issues that had not previously been fully considered. Our understanding of human behaviour has often been advanced through studies which have not taken into account or fully respected the rights of the participants. To manage the conflict between the needs of the researcher and the rights of participants, stringent efforts through the continuous up-dating of the BPS ethics regulations, the Scientific Procedures Act and university ethics committees, all directed at ensuring the rights of human and non-human participants are not contravened, Research on animals includes some such as the 1958 Brady study which inflicts direct physiological harm, along with other ethically debateable procedures such as the enculturing of Washoe in the Gardner and Gardner (1969) study, Harlow’s (1962) work on monkeys and this perhaps puts this into a special category of research, where there is disagreement over the extent to which animals should be protected (Gray speciesism [1985] versus Singer’s and Ryder’s[1991] anti-speciesism).

The conflict centres on the distinction between absolute and relative morality: Absolute morality: the ends cannot justify the means – some acts are basically immoral regardless of the consequences they produce. Relative morality: the acceptability of any act depends in part on the benefits it produces – the ends can justify the means Costs and benefits: decisions about the use of animals in research should be based on an analysis of the benefits and costs involved

The debate is complicated. It is often impossible to know what the benefits and costs of a piece of research are going to be until after it has been carried out. Moreover, one person’s assessment of the costs and benefits may not agree with another’s. In terms of the inflicting pain on animals and humans it is not always easy to accurately assess how much psychological pain or the physiological consequences that could occur as a result of that psychological impact (the stress and illness relationship), humans and non-humans behaviour can guise true feelings. and given this the debate within psychology is likely to continue, with further revision of ethical guidelines at both the level of government legislation, professional bodies (e.g. BPS), university level as well as by the individual researcher.

Illustrate the point that the consequences of research can not always be predicted, and researchers might then need to deal with unpredicted ethical issues. One example of this is the recent study by Clark et al (2012). Recent research into memory has looked at the experience of having memories of events which have not taken place, but Clark et al (2012) have now tried to create non-believed memories in the lab. In laboratory studies participants were led to believe that they had indeed mimicked certain actions (amid many actions), even though they hadn’t. Later participant were told the truth, however there was a further dimension to the study. They were then asked to memory and belief ratings for different actions and for 25% of the fake actions, participants still reported strong memory scores, leading the researchers to conclude that the memory of having performed the fake actions persisted even though they no longer believed they had performed the actions. This research then raised serious ethical questions. Firstly, is it ethical to induce false memories if they cannot be easily erased? Secondly, is ethical for participants to leave research labs with the remnants of non-believed false memory content still in their minds?

It is interesting to note that psychologists do still carry out experiments involving electric shocks. Berns et al (2006) scanned the brains of 32 participants while applying electric shocks to their feet in a study exploring the biological consequences of dread. The latter was induced in participants by giving them information before each shock about how painful it would be and how long it would be applied. They found that extreme (as opposed to mild) dreamers showed more activity in their caudal cingulate cortex, an area of the brain known to be involved in paying attention to the location of pain.

A further controversy emerged in that the Clark et al (2012) study illustrates the point that ways of dealing with ethical issues (in this case debriefing) might not always be successful. The research demonstrates that debriefing does not always work and therefore, that ethical committees, even with their considerable expertise, are not always able to foresee the ethical issues which might arise within a piece of research work.

Definitely use the work of Sharpe and Faye (2009) in this context. Controversy over the ethical costs of research is fueled by the argument that there is research which indicates that researchers do not always try very hard to meet ethical requirements. They surveyed over two hundred researchers who had published articles from 2006 until 2007 (a twelve month period) in one of two journals – The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and The Journal of Traumatic Stress. They found that just one third of articles in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology had mentioned debriefing and less than one in ten in The Journal of Traumatic Stress. Moreover, where it was mentioned, discussion of debriefing was described as being cursory. Sharpe and Faye (2009) argue that debriefing is important for ethical, educational and methodological reasons and that it should be given far greater priority. Research often uses psychology students as participants, the very group who need to be observing, learning about good practice so that they replicate it themselves in their own research.

Ethical issues in the use of non-human animals in research in psychology. Examples of research using animals, the first of which you could query in terms of cost/benefit analysis. Soltysik and Jelen (2005) induced fear in sixteen rats by training them to expect an electric shock after they heard an auditory tone, but not to expect a shock if a light came on after the tone. They then monitored the rats breathing and found that rats sighed in relief as these sighs tended to be exhaled during the ‘relief phase’ that followed a light coming on. Soltysik and Jelen (2005) plan further work to see whether sighing is more prevalent in the company of other rats, or impaired in rats raised in social isolation.

One classic example of electric shocks being given to animals is the Sheridan and King study in (1972) which replicated the Milgram obedience study (and found high levels of obedience) using participants who were instructed to give real electric shocks to puppies. You could use this effectively in conjunction with the Soltysik and Jelen (2005) study to show historical continuity.

PY4 June 2011
(b) Discuss the balance of scientific benefits measured against ethical costs in psychology. [22] Credit could be given for discussion of:

What constitutes a scientific benefit?
•What constitutes an ethical cost?
Evaluation of evidence.
•Standard of evidence used in the argument presented.
•Any other relevant material.

Descriptions of scientific benefits (e.g. understanding and predicting behaviour, therapies). Types of ethical cost (e.g. discrimination, psychological harm caused by techniques such as sensory deprivation). Various balances between scientific advances, social advancement, social morality (e.g. can science be value free, use of knowledge to oppress). •Any other relevant material.

Marks AO2
6-7 Evaluation is relevant, clearly structured and thorough. There is evidence of coherent elaboration in the material presented. Depth and breadth of evaluation is displayed though not necessarily in equal measure.

Marks AO3
12-15 Evidence is clearly interpreted and clearly analysed. Conflicting arguments are presented in a structured manner that clearly and accurately addresses the question and reaches a reasoned conclusion. Range and depth of evidence are displayed though not in equal measure. Appropriate terminology is used throughout.

PY4 June 2010
(b) Using psychological knowledge and research evidence, discuss the balance of scientific benefits measured against ethical costs in psychology. [22]

Credit could be given for discussion of:
What constitutes a scientific benefit?
Descriptions of scientific benefits (e.g. understanding and predicting behaviour, therapies) What constitutes an ethical cost?
Types of ethical cost (e.g. discrimination, psychological harm caused by techniques such as sensory deprivation) Various balances between scientific advances, social advancement, social morality (e.g. can science be value free, use of knowledge to oppress) Any other relevant material.

Evaluation is relevant, clearly structured and thorough. There is evidence of coherent elaboration in the material presented. Depth and breadth of evaluation is displayed though not necessarily in equal measure.

Evidence is clearly interpreted and clearly analysed. Arguments are presented in a structured manner that clearly and accurately addresses the question and reaches a reasoned conclusion. Range and depth of evidence are displayed though not in equal measure. Appropriate terminology is used throughout.

Present your argument as follows:
One controversy which has persisted in psychology and shaped the way in which much research has been carried out, has been the extent to which human behaviour is determined by genetic and environmental influences. Whilst some psychologists have explained behaviour through biology, others, such as the behaviourists have taken a completely different approach. In recent times the controversy has focused on the extent to which biology and environment are influential, the interaction between the two. What has become apparent is the very complex interplay between the two, established in such work as that of McGuire, who demonstrated the impact of experience (driving a taxi) on the biology of the brain.

Use the research evidence to illustrate the following points  - 1) the nature/nurture debate is longstanding and based on two philosophical orientations - the view that aspects of behaviour are inherited (nativism) and the other beginning with John Locke, , that all newborn babies are born alike - the mind is a tabula rasa (empiricism [discovery through the senses]).  Note that whilst empiricism sounds like an active and interactive process, operant and classical conditioning, conceptualised learning as a passive activity - the potential for learning is innate, but the human as a product (or a victim) of his or her experiences.     2) Each of those two positions has profound implications and there continues in society to be evidence of how they are randomly applied, often to the detriment of societal growth and well-being.   You could use at this point psychological work on intelligence tests to illustrate how they have been used to create and justify social inequalities in society. 3)  The nativist position has shifted and a distinction is drawn between the genotype (genes) and phenotype (the observable characteristics of an individual which are the consequence of the interaction between genes and the environment.  When looking at behaviour, all that can be accessed is phenotype, the product of experience on genes.  As twin studies demonstrate, even in the womb there are transgenerational effects (diet, alcohol, drugs on the already formed female foetus's eggs - the next generation but one).  Gottesman (1963) referred to 'reaction range'  (similar to diathesis stress), as genes limiting the range of potential development, but actual development (phenotype) being the quantity and quality of environmental experiences on those genes.     4) Heredity and the environment interact, therefore the polarisation that is suggested by between nature and nurture is unhelpful.  Bandura talked about 'reciprocal determinism', making the point that the child interacts with the environment affects that environment which in turn affects the child.   Plomin et al (1977) argued that the environment created is related to their genes, but transmitted through the environment they create to the child, but that the child's genes (appearance, difficulty/ease of temperament) trigger responses from the environment, which in turn affects that environment.   5) The debate focuses now on the extent to which genes or environment has an impact on the mind and behaviour (not ‘whether’, but ‘how much’), with the latest research showing that environmental experience can trigger physiological change in a dramatic way (McGuire, 1980).  

Genetic and Environmental Influences – the latest research

Use the latest research and commentary intelligently to support and challenge arguments in your examination essays.

Robert Plomin who has spent many years researching this debate has said the following:

About nature: “Behavioural genetic research has shown that genetics is important throughout psychology. I want to find these genes in order to use them to explore the nature-nurture interface in psychology. During the past decade methods have become available that can identify specific genes, but it has proven extremely difficult to find these genes; the most likely reason is that many genes are involved and each gene has a very small effect.” 

About nurture: “Behavioural genetic research has shown that environmental influences in psychology generally make children growing up in the same family different, called non-shared environment. I want to know why children growing up in the same family are so different, but this has also proven difficult.”  Plomin (2012)

The genetic environmental debate continues. For example, whilst research findings have shown that girls prefer pink and boys blue (giving support for to the view that these preferences are innate), a recent study LoBue and DeLoache (2011) has established that these preferences only emerge at around the age of two. Only by two and a half are children demonstrating clear preferences.

Ronald (2012) has used twin studies to explore the influences of genetics and the environment on the development of autism. Twin studies provide psychologists with a natural experimental design, (through the use of monozygotic [identical] and dizygotic [fraternal] twins. In the case of autism, she points out that this has helped to establish the role of genetics. Identical twins are highly similar in their degree of autistic behaviours, whilst fraternal twins are much less similar. Moreover in a diagnosis of autism, when one twin has this in 60% of cases their twin also has this diagnosis. However, this experimental design is also then providing conclusive evidence of the role of the environment – in 40% of cases where one identical twin has autism, the other does not. Autism then, is not completely genetically determined; clearly there are environmental factors.

Twin studies have also been used to tease out the relative contributions of genetics and the environment on the development of exceptional abilities. Haworth et al (2009), in a cross-national meta-analysis of 11,000 twin pairs, aged between 6 and 71 established that genes exert a significant influence on cognitive ability, similar in magnitude to their influence on the normal range of intelligence, challenge the ‘discontinuity hypothesis’(the theory that the relative contribution of nature and nurture changes for exceptional ability (‘genius’ or innate talent).

Aggression is another context in which the relative contributory influences of genetics and the environment have been debated. Bandura’s work has for example been challenged by Coccaro et al’s (1997) findings that nearly 50% of the variance in aggressive behaviour could be attributed to genetic factors. More recently, Chang et al (2011) demonstrated, in a series of four experiments, the impact of attractive women on the apparent generation of war-related responses (as distinct form merely aggressive responses) on male heterosexual participants. Judgments on hostile countries became more bellicose, the ability to locate an armed soldier on a computer screen, and the ability to recognise and locate war-related words all increased. Moreover, the war-priming impact of attractive women was greater than any other stimuli, as for example the national flag. Furthermore, in contrast, the equivalent effects (looking at pictures of attractive men) were not found for female participants. These findings lend support to evolutionary explanations for a mating-warring association, along with anthropological findings that male warriors have more sexual partners than other men, as do male members of modern street gangs.

Present your argument as follows:
The debate centres on the extent to which psychological theory and research is limited by the culture in which it originates; whether psychology can be culture-free . Research often demonstrate behavioural diversity between and within cultures; that once thought of as being an etic is later revealed as an emic, or at the very least, not as universal as previously thought and this is particularly in many areas such as intelligence, moral development, personality, attachment behaviour, relationships, mental abnormality and new findings generate new areas of difference where once cultural diversity is shown again to be a critical factor.

Think about the nature of the controversy, as this is what the examiner wants you to focus on. Does cultural bias in psychology theory and research limit its conclusions to the society in which it originated, or are the findings and conclusions applicable cross culturally?    Make the point that twenty first century psychologists are alert to these issues, but that does not necessarily mean that they will recognise all instances of this in their work.   

The emic –etic distinction was first made by Pike (1954); whilst the etic looks at behaviour from outside (culturally general concepts) the cultural system, the emic from the inside (culturally specific concepts). However, there are numerous examples of imposed etics; instances in which research have declared their emic findings to be evidence of emics, as was the case with Kohlberg’s work on moral development and was rejected by Gilligan for its gender bias, but also for its culturally limited perspective. The attainment of stage 3, Levels 5+6, in Kohlberg’s theory were limited to wealthy, urbanised, Western nations with well developed bureaucracies and strong economies, with clear evidence from Snarey’s (1985) research, which established that for people from poor rural or village cultures (rural Kenya, rural Turkey, New Guinea and Guatemala the attainment of stage 3 was impossible because of the culturally biased nature of the test. Though moral development may well be a universal process, the exact nature of that process is likely to differ across cultures. Kohlberg’s work was culture-bound.

Any psychology test which is thought to be culturally neutral, but is actually culturally biased can make another culture appear seriously inferior and an analogy might be a game where one group knows the rules, lets another play, but doesn't share the rules of the game.

Lack of awareness of cross cultures and within culture diversity amongst psychologists in the twentieth century to some erroneous conclusions being drawn. It has often been assumed that the same abilities of problem solving, reasoning, memory define ‘intelligence in every culture’, but Berry (1974) argued that the meaning of intelligence is different in each culture. Is the emic of ‘mental quickness’ (as measured by Western IQ tests) universally valid? Among the Baganda people of Uganda ‘intelligence’ is associated with slow, carful, deliberate thought (Wober 1979), nor is it a valid emic for schoolchildren within a culturally diverse country like the USA (Brislin 1993). Research evidence provided by Cole et al (1971) – asked all members of the Kpelle tribe in Africa to sort familiar objects into groups. In most Western societies, people would sort the objects into categories (e.g. foods, tools). Instead the Kpelle tribes people sorted them into functional groups (e.g. a knife with an orange because an orange can be cut by a knife). It was not he case that the Kpelle people did not use categories, they did, it was simply that they used different categories than those used in western societies. What is regarded as intelligent behaviour in one culture is not necessarily the same in another. The psychologist, Phllip Vernon (1969) argued that "There is no such thing as a culture-fair test, and never can be".  Culturally biased tests of intelligence helped to embed structural inequalities in society, particularly in terms of ethnicity and social class.  The Army Alpha test (designed as a non-verbal test of intelligence) in the 20th century on Polish, Italian and Jewish immigrants to the USA, for example, was steeped in cultural meaning which was meaningless for immigrants.

Similarly, most studies of personality in non-Western Cultures have assessed personality by means of translated Western tests, rather than devising new culture relevant tests. (imposed etic) Personality tests, like intelligence test are particularly vulnerable to cultural bias given the lack of agreement cross-culturally over what these concepts mean. The entire notion of semi-permanent personality traits determining behaviour is less applicable in collectivist cultures in which it is assumed that individuals will fit in with group expectations. Norrenzayan et al. (1999) found that people from Western cultures regard personality traits as stable, whereas East Asians regard them as much more flexible and changeable.

Cross cultural research can be equally problematic as cultural bias can be unwittingly embedded in theoretical perspective, method, design, sampling, analysis (e.g. categorisation) and interpretation of the research data. Language can both assist and abet the research process depending of the accuracy of translations of questionnaires and instructions. Observational studies are dependent on the accurate recording and interpretation of cultural practices.

Jan 2011
Discuss issues of cultural bias in psychology. [22]
Credit could be given for discussion of:

Standard of evidence used in the argument presented.
Evaluation of specific studies and theories.
Identification of biases (e.g. historical, imposed ethic, ethnocentric, implicit). Any other relevant material.

Bias towards Western cultures (e.g. exclusion of non-Western psychology in academic work, exclusion of sub-cultural variations, implicit Western norms). Assumptions of Western psychology (e.g. universality of concepts, behaviour and social relationships). Ethnocentrism in action (e.g. in diagnosis of mental disorder, theories of moral behaviour). Any other relevant material.

Marks AO2 Marks AO3
6-7 Evaluation is relevant, clearly structured and thorough. There is evidence of coherent elaboration in the material presented. Depth and breadth of evaluation is displayed though not necessarily in equal measure.

12-15 Evidence is clearly interpreted and clearly analysed. Arguments are presented in a structured manner that clearly and accurately addresses the question and reaches a reasoned conclusion. Range and depth of evidence are displayed though not in equal measure. Appropriate terminology is used throughout.

4-5 Evaluation is relevant, structured and shows some coherence in the material presented. Depth or breadth of evaluation is displayed.

8-11 Evidence is interpreted and analysed. Arguments are presented effectively and address the question. There are limitations in either the range or depth of evidence presented or in the structure of the argument or in the overall conclusion. Some appropriate terms are used.

2-3 Evaluation shows some relevance but is basic and limited in detail.

4-7 Evidence is basic. The material is used in a relevant manner to address the question but the structure of the answer and the conclusion are limited. Few appropriate terms are identifiable.
1 Some very limited, relevant, evaluation is present.
1-3 There is little evidence relating to the question. The answer is confused and/or severely limited in scope.

Present your argument as follows –
The extent to which gender bias pervaded psychological research is critical, as it challenges psychology’s scientific basis and in particular, the extent to which psychology can honest make generalisations about human behaviour. Gender stereotypes are perhaps most famously evident in the work of Freud (“anatomy is destiny”). The controversy in psychology centres on whether those stereotypes are from real or culturally-determined differences between the genders. Research has indicated that there are real differences between males and females. Maccoby and Jackson’s work (1974) indicated that there were four key differences in verbal ability (girls have superior abilities in this area), visual-spatial abilities (boys superior), mathematical abilities at adolescence (boys superior), aggression (boys more aggressive), whilst Shaffer (1993) pointed to other differences in emotional sensitivity (girls more than boys), less vulnerability to developmental problems, such as learning difficulties (girls), physical activity (boys more than girls and greater timidity in unfamiliar situations (girls). Further research by Williams and Best (1982) into gender stereotypes in 430 different countries found cross-cultural similarities with men seen as being more dominant, aggressive, autonomous and as having a more instrumental role, whilst girls were seen as being nurturing, deferent, interested in affiliation and were encouraged to develop an expressive role. Teasing out whether these differences are in fact culturally determined or genuine remains a difficult challenge.

This has led psychological theories and research to vacillate between two extremes of either ignoring (beta bias) or exaggerating (alpha bias) the differences. In western societies alpha bias (with Freud’s work being a prime example) has been more common than beta bias. Bem’s (1974) theory of psychological androgyny (that it is psychologically healthy to be androgynous, rather than to have only male or female traits as it enables an individual to respond flexibly in all situations) has been used as an example of beta bias (Hare-Mustin and Maracek (1974). Kohlberg’s theory of cognitive development, which assumed that there were minimal differences in moral thinking between men and women and led to Kohlberg g concluding that men were morally superior to women (an argument which corresponds to that postulated by Freud) was challenged by Gilligan on the grounds that it was beta biased. Rather than beta bias, much western psychological research, particularly that carried out in the 1960s and 1970s (Kohlberg, Asch, Milgram, Zimbardo) is seen as having an andocentric (male) bias and this androcentrism has led female behaviour to be seen as being abnormal (given that the norm is male). Replications of these important studies in the 1980s sometimes repeated the bias, as in the case of the Perrin and Spencer study. Even Bem (1993) argued that the encultured lens is a distorted perception of male and female behaviour and that through this process, this lens, that female differences are perceived as disadvantages.

Travis (1993) argued that “Men are taken [in Psychological research] to be some sort of standard or norm against which women are compared and judged.” According to Denmark et al (1988) gender bias is found at all stages of the research process 1) question formulation; 2) research methods and design; 3) data analysis 2) data analysis and interpretation 4) conclusion and formation. Cooligan (2009) pointed out that several studies have demonstrated the differential effects of female and male interviewers, especially on issues of sexual relationships (Wilson et al 2002) and gender (Rubin and Greene 1991). Sex of interviewer effects have been found in other studies. Stephenson et al (1999) found that in cross sex interviews, women talked almost twice as much about their career, education and work experience than in same sex interviews. In comparison, men emphasised their families more as part of their identities. Despite (or perhaps because of ) a growing awareness of gender bias, there can be a tendency to reduce or minimise gender differences in research analysis. Ms and Fs are used in most studies, but often there is no attempt to analyse the data to see whether there are significant sex differences, leading to further beta-bias. Eagly (1978), for example, found that W may be even more conformist or are more oriented to interpersonal goals and therefore appear to be more conformist in experimental situations, but unless differences are explored in the data, they might remain uncovered.

Equally, sex differences might emerge in some psychological research because researchers ignore the differential treatment of participants. Certainly historically there is evidence that male experimenters treated their female participants differently from their male ones. Rosenthal (1966) found that Ms were more pleasant, friendly, honest and encouraging with F rather than they were with M ps. These differences in treatment could lead to differences in results, with the confounding variable invalidating the research findings. Unless the confounding variable is identified however, the results are accepted and lead to misleading conclusions drawn about human behavior, which then become part of ‘psychological knowledge’.

As is the case with the controversy over cultural bias, the controversy over gender bias in psychology is an important one, which leads to questioning the validity of psychological theory and research, and its usefulness in identifying cause and effect and in predicting behaviour.

June 2011
(b) Discuss issues of gender bias in psychology. [22]
Credit could be given for discussion of:

Standard of evidence used in the argument presented.
Evaluation of specific studies and theories.
•Any other relevant material.
Types of gender bias (e.g. alpha, beta, androcentrism).
The historical invisibility of female psychologists (e.g. Loftus, Gibson). The assumption of gender differences in theory and research (e.g. biological determinism). Examples of appropriate psychological evidence (theories and/or studies) which display gender bias (e.g. psychoanalytic, aggression). Ways of overcoming these types of gender bias (e.g. redefinition of psychological disorders, feminist perspectives in research). •Any other relevant material.

Marks AO2
6-7 Evaluation is relevant, clearly structured and thorough. There is evidence of coherent elaboration in the material presented. Depth and breadth of evaluation is displayed though not necessarily in equal measure.

Marks AO3
12-15 Evidence is clearly interpreted and clearly analysed. Conflicting arguments are presented in a structured manner that clearly and accurately addresses the question and reaches a reasoned conclusion. Range and depth of evidence are displayed though not in equal measure. Appropriate terminology is used throughout.

Present your argument as follows –
From a determinist perspective all behaviour is determined by internal forces (genetics, hormones, brain structure) and external forces (nurturing, other experiences, and the environment). The opposing argument is that individuals have free will and that behaviour is determined by conscious thought and decision-making. The debate relates to whether or not psychology can be viewed as being a science. If scientific methods are applied (as by the biological (e.g. genetic determinism), behaviourist and cognitive approaches, then behaviour must be determined; if it is not determined then it is not scientific. Note that the psychodynamic approach is, in part, also deterministic (psychic determinism) in that it is determined by the external forces in early childhood, which shape personality.

Challenge with subjective experience and the evidence that people are self-determining. The humanist approach supports the idea of behaviour being the consequence of free will, of decision making and that denial of this is dehumanising. Free will challenges determinism on one level, but also scientific methodology as being an appropriate research tools to explore human behaviour. Free will points to individual decision making which limits the making of generalisations. Attempts to resolve the controversy over the opposing positions led to models incorporating both factors. Bandura suggested that there exist ‘reciprocal determinism’ – the environment determines our responses, but the environment and how we react are the consequence of decision making.

There is a further argument that free will itself can be explained within a biological framework, an argument is supported by the research evidence below, which can be seen as either fuelling the debate or helping to reconcile the two approaches. The evidence suggests that belief in free will affects the physiological response (we put in more effort when we feel we are doing it freely).

Recent research suggests that the conclusions drawn by psychology as to whether human have free will or not can themselves affect human behaviour. Voks and Schooler (2008) found that encouraging a belief in determinism increases cheating, whilst more recent work by Rigoni et al. (2011) indicated that beliefs about free will can change brain processes to a very basic motor level, suggesting that abstract belief systems might have a much more fundamental effect than people would expect. Undermining a person’s belief in free will alters the way the brain prepares for a voluntary movement, people put less intentional effort into the movement.

The controversy between free will and determinism is likely to continue.

Jan 2011
(b) Discuss the question of free will and determinism in respect of human behaviour. [22] Credit could be given for:

Difficulties in establishing the measurement of free will or determinism. Implications of each approach for therapeutic intervention.

Research questioning brain functioning and free will (e.g. Libet) Behavioural approach and relevant findings (e.g. instrumental conditioning) Psychoanalytic approach and relevant research findings (e.g. fixations) Humanistic approach and findings (e.g. self-actualisation)

Cognitive approach and findings.

Marks AO2
6-7 Evaluation is relevant, clearly structured and thorough. There is evidence of coherent elaboration in the material presented. Depth and breadth of evaluation is displayed though not necessarily in equal measure.

Marks AO3
12-15 Evidence is clearly interpreted and clearly analysed. Conflicting arguments are presented in a structured manner that clearly and accurately addresses the question and reaches a reasoned conclusion. Range and depth of evidence are displayed though not in equal measure. Appropriate terminology is used throughout.

Reminder - what the examiners said about the answers to this question in 2012 - To get full marks you must ….
Go beyond listing the approaches and ‘their free will content’. This is a difficult question that differentiates.
To get full marks you must…
Construct an argument
Reflect on the issues posed (e.g. what having free will might mean; is it just ‘do as you please’; what might free will suggest as an evolutionary advantage?)’

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Psychology Py4

    ...Discuss the scientific benefits measured against the ethical costs within psychology The ethical issues when working with humans is that participants have the right to withdraw, not to be deceived, confidentiality, protection from physical and psychological harm and the right to be debriefed after the study. There are also a number of ...

    Read More
  • ICT - AS - Notes (WJEC)

    ...Data can arise from : Topic 1 Automatically taken environmentally measurements Results of a survey Results from an experiment Business Transactions Output from a management information system Topic 1 Faster to input coded data Sometimes relies on value judgements Coarsens Data Encoding Data Less typing so less likelihood of RSI Data ...

    Read More
  • Psychology Py4 Discuss the Methods of Approaches to Offender Profiling

    ...Discuss the approaches to offender profiling When solving a crime, police investigate a number of different factors and different types evidence which could have a possible lead to how and by who the crime was conducted. This could include DNA tests, finding finger prints and blood stains as well as fibres from clothes. These methods are seen a...

    Read More
  • WJEC Example Shakespeare English Literature GCSE A* Paper

    ...Task Look at the way conflict is investigated in Romeo and Juliet and in poems chosen from the selection. Throughout Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet', one of the main themes is conflict and conflict gradually escalates as the play reaches its tragic climax. From the start of the play, in the prologue, we are told of the futility of...

    Read More
  • Great Gatsby Essay - Wjec Exam Board Gcse English Lit: "Views on the Role of Nick as Narrator in the Great Gatsby Have Varied Greatly. How Do These Two Views Relate to Your Own View of Nick's Function in the Novel?"

    ..."Views on the role of Nick as narrator in The Great Gatsby have varied greatly. How do these two views relate to your own view of Nick's function in the novel?" I aim to explain effectively my opinion that Fitzgerald's use of Nick as the narrator of The Great Gatsby is a very successful literary technique. I shall do this by the analysis of ...

    Read More
  • decision making in juries

    ...Decision making in juries To study the decision making of juries mock juries and shadow juries are used ( i.e. ‘real’ juries are not used as this is banned by law). Mock juries do a role play of a case, shadow juries observe a real case then discuss guilt/innocence but their opinion is not given to the real court. In mock juries variabl...

    Read More
  • Unseen poetry Analysis of The Hurricane

    ...The Hurricane. The poem ‘The Hurricane’ creates a tense and fearful atmosphere to such an extent that the reader is made to feel as though they have lived through the hurricane themselves. The poet also uses many poetic devices to express this feeling, as well as almost exaggerating the aftermath. All of this creates the vivid atmosphere...

    Read More
  • Psychoanalysis in Regeneration

    ...Psychoanalysis in Regeneration (Pat Barker) Barker, influenced by the work on Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud, used her character of Dr. Rivers in her novel Regeneration to explore the mental effect of trauma on the soldiers during the war. On pg. 31 of Regeneration, Barker directly references Freud's work through the character of Dr Rivers- ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.