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Example Answers for Issues & Debates in Psychology, Paper 3, June 2018 (AQA)

A Level

Here are a series of suggested answers for the Issues & Debates questions in AQA A Level Psychology Paper 3 in June 2018.

Question: 01 (4 marks)

Cultural relativism = A (appreciating that behaviour varies between cultures)

Ethocentrism = D (emphasising the importance of the behaviour of one’s own culture)

Holism = C (considering all aspects of experience, including culture)

Universality = B (understanding that whole cultures have the same experience)

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Question: 02 (2 marks)

A nomothetic approach involves studying groups of people in order to produce general laws about behaviour. One limitation is that it loses sight of the ‘whole person’, due to the extensive use of group averages.

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Question: 03 (2 marks)

It is an example of biological reductionism because heart rate is only a narrow physiological measure of excitement. Excitement is made up of many different components, such as how we feel and how we behave.

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Question: 04 (4 marks)

They could develop a questionnaire where people in the queue could be asked to rate their excitement on a scale of 1 to 10. They could also conduct observations on people in the queue, using behaviour categories that suggest the person is excited (e.g. jumping up and down) and tallying up how many are seen.

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Question: 05 (4 marks)

One strength is that it is allows for scientific research because human behaviour can be studied effectively in relatively simple experiments where complex behaviours are reduced to isolated variables.

One limitation is that analysing the behaviour in terms of its component parts means that we can lose sight of what that behaviour actually means within the social context where it occurs. For example, the physiological processes involved in smiling are always the same, but we can only understand why someone smiled if we have knowledge of the social context.

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Question: 06 (8 marks)

Implications are consequences and research in psychology can have consequences for either the participants in the actual study or on the wider public after the research has been published.

Sieber and Stanley used the term socially sensitive research to describe studies where there are potential social consequences for the participants or groups represented by the research. For example, Bowlby’s research into attachment can be seen as socially sensitive as it encouraged the view that a women’s place was at home with her children. Partly as a result of this, childcare facilities in the UK remain inadequate.

In addition, research linking intelligence to genetic factors can be seen as socially sensitive. For example, Cyril Burt studied identical twins separated early in life and raised apart to support his view that intelligence is largely affected by genes. His views greatly influenced the selection at 11 for different types of education, meaning that generations of children were affected by the 11+ exam.

Ethical guidelines are inadequate when it comes to Socially Sensitive Research. Scarr argued this is because researchers can usually be fairly accurate when predicting the direct effects of their experiments on the participants, but are unlikely to be able to predict the indirect effects on the groups to which the participants belong until the outcomes of the experiment are known.

However, it is important to recognise that not all socially sensitive research is controversial. Some is desirable and beneficial to society, for example, research into the effects of stereotyping on eye-witness testimony, has been able to show that it can be unreliable and helped to present miscarriages of justice.

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