Monday, 22 June 2015


Planning and conducting research:
  1. Semantic differential scale - this is a type of rating scale which allows participants to choose between two extremes. For example boring/exciting, friendly/unfriendly, like the scale that was used in the Baron-Cohen eyes task. 
  2. Practical problems – a type of extraneous variable including issues of cooperation of participants, practicalities of equipment and measurement, bad weather. 
  3. Single blind - this is when the participants are unaware of the level of IV in which they are participating in. This helps reduce demand characteristics. 
  4. Double blind - this is when neither the researcher nor the participants are aware of the condition in which they are in. This reduces chances of demand characteristics and researcher bias.
Data recording, analysis and presentation:
  1. Nominal data - is data that are produced as named categories, think of 'nom' meaning 'name' i.e. named categories. These categories can be allocated numbers, but these numbers bare no meaning. For example you may ask someone what their favourite chocolate is and provide them with the nominal categories; 1. milk choc 2. dark choc 3. white choc. As you can see they have been allocated numbers, but the number does not mean anything, white choc is not seen as better than dark choc. Closed questions often produce nominal data, as well as observations which code behaviour.  
  2. Ordinal data - is data which can be ranked in 'order' - ordinal. There needs to be an increase in the value of points along your data (therefore the numbers of your data do have meaning), but the size of each increase does not need to be equal. For example; a rating scale is a classic example of ordinal data, lets say a participant needed to rate how good they think their memory is, and the scale was; 1 very poor, 2 poor, 3 average, 4 good, 5 very good. As you can see, the measure is ranked in order, so that the higher the score, the better the memory and vice versa. However, if someone rated themselves as 'very good' we would know that they are better than someone who rated themselves as 'average' but, we couldn't know for sure if this means they were twice as good, triple, a small fraction? Other examples of ordinal data are; people competing in a race, rating scales, ranking top films etc.  
  3. Interval data - similar to ordinal data, but the divisions between the points on an interval scale are equal. For example, time, volume, speed, height, weight etc. The difference between 1 second and 2 seconds will always be equal. 
  4. < - less than 
  5. > - greater than 
  6. - greater than or equal to
  7. - less than or equal to 
  8. p - probability 
  9. Type 1 error - when you think you've won. i.e. you have accepted your alternate hypothesis when you should have rejected it. 
  10. Type 2 error - when you think their poo i.e. you have accepted your null hypothesis when you should have rejected it. 
  11. Internal reliability - this is the consistency of the items within the measure itself i.e. the questions) This shows that items in a self-report tool are measuring the same phenomenon. 
  12. Split-half reliability - is a measure of internal reliability in which scores from two halves of a test are compared. For example a questionnaire on self-intelligence may contain 20 questions. if scores from the first 10 questions are similar to the second set of 10 questions, the measure is seen to have high internal reliability. In addition, if certain questions do not produce consistent responses, they can be removed in order to improve reliability.  
  13. External reliability - does the measure produce the same results in the same situation with different people.
  14. Test-retest reliability - if a participant responds to the same test in a similar way, the test has high external reliability. 
  15. Mundane realism - the extent to which an experimental task represents a real-world situation. 
  16. Internal validity - are you measuring what you intend to measure; for example, in an experiment, whether changes in the DV are caused by the IV rather than extraneous variables. I will use the example of a self report to consider the many different validity terms:
  17. Face validity - this is whether your measure appears, at face value, to test what it claims to. For example if you took a quick glance at a questionnaire about fears of spiders, does it look like it is actually measuring fear of spiders? If yes, it has high face validity. 
  18. Criterion validity - this is whether a factor measured in one way will relate to, or predict, some other related variable. For example; can your CAT tests in year 7 predict the grades you will get in your GCSE's? This is also known as predictive validity.   
  19. Concurrent validity - whether a measure will produce similar results for a participant as another measure, that measures the same thing. For example; in Baron-Cohen, using the Strange stories task and the eyes task. 
  20. Construct validity - is the foundation of the theory you are testing valid? Does it actually exist? For example does Freud's Oedipus complex have construct validity? The answer would be no in this instant, as he had no valid evidence to support his theory.      
  21. External validity - this relates to the issues beyond the investigation, particularly whether the findings will generalise to other populations, locations, contexts and times than the ones investigated i.e. will the findings still be valid if I carried out a study in the UK and I'm trying to generalise it to America, if yes you have high external validity. 
  22. Population validity - following on from external validity, this is the extent to which findings from one sample can be generalised to the whole population from which the sample was taken and to other populations. If you have a small sample, say 50 participants, you are likely to have low population validity. Many things affect population validity such as; the sampling method used, sample size and narrowness of the sample, in relation to what is being studied. 
  23. Representative - does your sample represent your target population. To achieve representativeness, the sample studied should include a good cross section of the population, so that all categories of people within it are included. 

Friday, 19 June 2015


Nature/Nurture debate:

  • This debate is the argument that behaviour is either genetically determined (nature) or whether they are acquired through experiences or influences from the environment (nurture). 
  • Both sides of the debate view human behaviour in a very deterministic way as neither account for freewill. 
  • However, many psychologists acknowledge that both nature and nurture can influence behaviour. 


Strengths of the debate:
  • Understanding and identifying certain behaviours that are inherited or learned can help us to intervene accordingly i.e. useful applications. For example if we understand schizophrenia is influenced by certain chemicals and hormones, we can administer medication to help balance these biological irregularities to treat schizophrenia. On the nurture side, if we understand that when children are brought up in violent families they are highly likely to commit violent crimes later on in life, we can try to place interventions that help to prevent this, possibly education on parenting. 
Weaknesses of the debate:
  • It is too simplistic to divide explanations into either nature or nurture, as the two always combine in complex ways to influence behaviour. It is impossible to study nature, without the effect of nurture as an extraneous variable, and vice versa. 
  • Discovering that certain behaviours are inherited (e.g. personality, intelligence) may not be helpful. It can lead to the assumption that these types of behaviour are difficult to change through the environment. This restricts the useful applications.    


There are two forms of ethnocentrism. The first, more severe is an explicit belief that ones own group (ethnic, social, cultural) is the most important. For example: a judicial/law system that is run by white males, and is highly likelihood to provide a death sentence to people of a black ethnicity compared to a white ethnicity. 

The other type is a softer version, it is the idea that individuals (who are brought up in a certain culture) find it difficult to think outside their own cultural experience. This leads to people assuming that the way things happen in their own culture, is the same as the things that happen in all other cultures. For example: a white British nurse giving a Muslim patient a full English for breakfast. She has assumed that her British culture of eating that food, also applies to other cultures.  

This ethnocentric view means that, in research psychologists might design research or draw conclusions in a way that makes sense to their on cultural group, but may have little meaning to other cultural groups. This means that psychologists should be very careful when generalising their findings to other culture groups. This is because the sample in one piece of research may only reflect one culture. 

In addition, ethnocentrism can also occur when a researcher is analysing or interpreting data. Again, because the researcher has been brought up in a certain culture, this cultural influence may play a role in the way data is interpreted, making the data invalid, and extremely ungeneralisable to the culture being studied. For example an American male researcher has gone to Uganda to assess how parents interact with their children. These cultures are extremely different, and some behaviours maybe misinterpreted due to the researchers views from his American culture. 

Strengths of studying ethnocentrism:
  • Ethnocentrism causes prejudice and discrimination, by understanding this it can help us to understand how discrimination arises in the first place. 
  • By understanding ethnocentrism, researchers are better prepared in addressing it, in order to improve researches generalisability. Researchers must be aware of ethnocentrism when generalising and interpreting data in order to avoid biased and invalid findings. 

Is psychology a science or not?

This is the debate to whether psychology can actually be considered as a science or not. 

Psychology is a science:

  • It is a research-based subject with investigation as its core, very similar to other sciences such as biology and physics. 
  • Psychology uses the scientific method in its investigations. Research is carried out through experimentation and uses many controls, which means cause and effect can be established. 
  • Like other sciences, psychology has theories. Theories generate hypotheses and these are tested empirically, so that the theories are tested and refined. 
Psychology is not a science:

  • Psychologists study humans. They cannot be investigated in the same way as subject matter of e.g. chemistry or physics. People are aware of being investigated and this can alter behaviour. This makes psychology less of a science as it means humans will always have extraneous variables which will effect behaviour, lessening cause and effect. 
  • Much of psychology is about the mind. This is highly subjective and not open to scientific research because it is not actually observable. Psychologists only infer what is happening rather than what is actually happening. 
  • Psychological findings are always based on probabilities. Therefore, psychology is not a science as it finds probabilities not facts. 
  • Lots of material which is called psychology is clearly not a science e.g. Freudian theories. 

Individual and situational

The individual explanation argues that behaviour is a result of a particular feature or characteristic of an individual, whereas the situational explanation would look at the influence of social groups and the environment. For example; suppose a young lad is violent and commits a crime. Was this because he has a violent personality (individual)? Or was it because he was provoked, or that his parents encourage violent behaviour, or that all boys should be aggressive in order to fit in with social expectations (situational)?  


Strengths of the debate:
  • If psychologists can understand which behaviours are individually determined and which are situationally determined, such findings maybe useful for society when trying to understand or change certain behaviours. 
  • Discovering that behaviours may involve a complex interaction between individual and situational factors opens up new direction for further study. 
Weaknesses of the debate:
  • It is very difficult to separate the effects of a situation from the individual. This is very similar to the nature/nurture debate, in the sense that is is impossible to study them separately as they will always influence together. 
  • When situations are studied in a lab environment it is low in ecological validity. Therefore it is often hard to apply findings to real life. 
  • As with the nature/nurture debate, the situational/individual debate are direct alternatives and therefore there maybe a complex interaction between the two. 

The usefulness of psychological research 

This is more of an issue than a debate. This is the idea that some psychological research is useful, whereas other research may not be seen as useful.

Strengths of useful research:

  • Research is useful when it can benefit society and improve the world we live in
  • Research is useful when it enhances psychology as a subject i.e. we find value in studying subjective matter such as the mind. 
  • Research is useful when it can generalised to a wider population. 
Weaknesses of useful research:
  • Breaking ethics can make research less valuable, useful o respected (check out a psychologist called Harlow who went way too far with his research on monkeys). However, sometimes ethics may need to be broken in order to be more realistic to real life, and therefore more useful. 
  • Studies that are ecologically valid tend to be more useful as they more closely reflect true situations. 
  • Research should apply knowledge of ethnocentrism in order to be useful. Those that do not lead to research that is unrepresentative and therefore less useful. 
  • Any research that is reductionist is seen to be less useful. This is because many factors combined influence behaviour. Having a holistic approach is therefore more useful. 

 Freewill and Determinism debate

This debate is the idea that all behaviours, mental acts, thoughts, decisions, are determined by factors out of our control (determinism) or that behaviours and mental acts are a result of our own choice i.e. we exercise are own free-will and make our own conscious choices and decisions.   

Lets take the cheery example of suicide to show the arguments that the freewill/determinism debate has. 

Determinist explanations might say that the suicide could have been predicted through a number of possible factors that determined the individuals suicide. For example, the individuals upbringing, a genetic disposition of helplessness, faulty though patterns that focus on negativity. These deterministic explanations come from any approach - physiological, developmental, cognitive and so on. Determinists would argue that the individual did not actively choose to commit suicide (even if the individual believes they did), instead, the individuals suicide was the result of a long chain of events. Freewill would empathise that the person chose to take their own life and that equally they may have chosen not to commit suicide.         


There are too types of determinism - Soft determinism (humans do have choices to make and can exercise freewill, but often these choices are determined by certain factors), and Hard determinism (you have no free will whats so ever, and choice is just an illusion)

Free will:

Free will is difficult to evaluate. Freewill is a positive way to view behaviour, it enables a conscious reflection on our own behavior and is seen as the best way of achieving goals and learning from mistakes. Believing that our behaviour is determined can lead to people not taking responsibility for their actions. In addition, having freewill allows people to feel in control of their lives. 

Strengths of determinism:
  • Having deterministic views helps the world to be more understandable and predictable. This suggests that it could be worthwhile in trying to change certain things such as the education system or child-rearing practices as it could have positive effects
  • Determinism is the root purpose and goal of science i.e. explaining causes of behaviour. This makes this debate more acceptable in society with its explanations and scientific basis. 

Weaknesses of determinism:
  • It does not allow for freewill. An extreme determinist would say that free will in an illusion - we think we have choice, but we do not. This can be extremely difficult for someone to cope with in certain situations. For example, say if your family was murdered by a young man, could we truly claim any justice if we believe that the young man did not choose to do it. How could we punish him if it wasn't his fault, but it was other factors that determined him to kill?
  • Determinism can never fully explain behaviour because behaviour is far too complex and a deterministic view is often a reductionist one. 

Reductionism and Holism debate 

The reductionist view if the world looks for explanations which breaks things down into smaller parts. This can be powerful, but sometimes provides an explanation which too simplistic, ignoring other important factors.This means that it is often difficult to understand the whole meaning if you are only studying parts of it. A holistic view looks at the person as a whole, or perhaps looks at a number of complex factors which together might explain a particular behaviour. 

Again it is difficult to evaluate holism, as it will always be a positive thing to look at numerous influencing factors or to look at an individual as a whole. The only weakness of holism, is that sometimes research may not always consider how all the factors link and influence together, and researchers may lose detail in each factor if focusing on many of them. 

Strengths of reductionism:
  • It helps us to understand the world, as a fundamental way of understanding is to analyse, break things down into component parts, test them and then build them back up again. This is important in studying the world and humans in a scientific way. This is because it allows researchers to control for extraneous variables in order to establish cause and effect on certain variables and outcomes. 
  • In theory it is easier to study one component rather than several interacting components. If one component is isolated and others are controlled then the study is more objective and scientifically acceptable. In addition, if you are focusing on one factor, researchers are able to study that factor in great depth. 
Weaknesses of reductionism:

  • Because it can isolate factors, it does not always give a proper, valid and full account of behaviour.
  • components maybe difficult to isolate and so manipulate. Any behaviour may not be meaningful if it is studies in isolation from the wider context. 

Monday, 1 June 2015


This is a really useful tool if you are struggling to remember what studies fall into what topic. Each letter stands for the name of a study in that specified topic. For example FAF stands for Farrington, Akers and Faffchamps. 


Turning to crime:

Upbringing = FAF
Cognitive = PY 
Biological = BRD  

Reaching a verdict:

Persuading a jury = PPL
Witness appeal = CPR
Reaching a verdict = NAH 

After a guilty verdict:

Imprisonment = DGZ
Alternatives to imprisonment = MES
Treatment programmes = WIC 

This is a story to help you remember the order of the acronyms. I highly recommend learning in this way. After all Pennington and Hastie did prove that we remember things a lot more when told like a story!! 

There was a girl FAFfing around with a GYPsy BRD. 

The girl fell, and PPL gathered round, screaming 'give her CPR'. But they were like 'NAH'!

Randomly, some DGZ walked passed and did a MES near her WICked hair :/


Healthy living:

Theories of health belief = BRB 
Methods of health promotion = DJC 
Adherence to medical regimes = BLW - Because you blow into a fun-haler (Watt)!


Causes and Measures of Stress = JKG 
Managing stress = BMW   

There are 2 systems that are used to categorise mental health disorders:
DSM = Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 
ICD = International Classification of Diseases

Characteristics – 
SPADE = Rhymes with afraid e.g. anxiety disorder, 
FFLIRT = When you FLIRT and get rejected you feel depressed, DDDSNHS = Schizophrenia 
Explanations = GLM 
Treatments = SKP 

Another exciting story for you all :)
A young boy shouted 'BRB, I'm just going to see DJC and his new song BLW!

The boy laughed as he was JKG and actually wanted to drive his BMW.

On his drive he saw a girl with DDDSNHS carrying a SPADE. He started to FLIRT with her. 

But he got rejected and felt GLM

So to cheer himself up he went for a SKP