social psychology

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What are the 5 ethical guidelines?

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What are the 5 ethical guidelines?

  1. Debrief

  2. Informed consent

  3. Right to withdraw

  4. Competent researcher

  5. Deception

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What are the 4 ethical principles?

  1. Respect

  2. Competence

  3. Responsibility

  4. Integrity

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What is an alternate hypothesis?

A specific testable prediction containing variables, and will state either a difference or relationship.

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Directional hypothesis

States the direction the results will go in (more, less, positive, fewer)

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Non-directional hypothesis

Does not state the direction of the results, leaving it open

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What is the aim of sampling methods?

To ensure a representative sample of participants is used, so can be successfully generalised.

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Opportunity sampling

Sample of those who are available at the time of the study

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Random sampling

Every member of the population has an equal chance of being chosen.

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Stratified sampling

Involves classifying the population into categories and then choosing a sample which consists of participants from each category in the same proportions as they are in the population.

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Volunteer sampling

Volunteering when asked or in a response to an advert.

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Advantages of random sampling

  • No bias

  • Clear how the sample is chosen, process can be explained

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Disadvantages of random sampling

  • Difficult to ensure everyone is available

  • Some people might not want to take part in the study

  • There can be bias in that there may be more of one group than the other, such as more male soldiers than female

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Advantages of stratified sampling

  • Each group is represented, so conclusions can be drawn

  • Efficient to ensure representation from each group

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Disadvantages of stratified sampling

  • Difficult to know how many of each group to choose

  • Some groups may not be important fro the study

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Advantages of volunteer sampling

  • More ethical as they chose to take part

  • Volunteers are likely to be interested so less likely to give biased information, less likely to have social desirability or demand characteristic.

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Disadvantages of volunteer sampling

  • Takes long time to get sufficient numbers

  • Participants may be similar, so there may not be representation

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Advantages of opportunity sampling

-More ethical because the researcher can judge if the participant is likely to be upset by the study

  • Researcher has more control over choosing, more quick and efficient

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Disadvantages of opportunity sampling

  • More chance of bias - choosing people you know, people of own age, friendly looking people etc.

  • Self selected, so would rule out anyone not available or not willing

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2 types of questions in questionnaires

Closed ended or open ended

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Types of closed ended questions

  1. Fixed choice questions, with yes/no response

  2. Likert scale questions, selecting from a fixed set of choices to rate agreement to statements

  3. Ranked scale question, ranking choice relative to other options

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Strengths of closed ended questions

  • Quick and easy to answer

  • Researchers can easily analyse data, percentages and averages can be worked out

  • Questions are all the same so is more reliable

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Weaknesses of closed ended questions

  • Limited amount of information

  • Answers may not match what the participants would like express

  • Choice answers could mean different things to different respondents, such as 'unsure' could mean 'don't know', so lacks validity

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Strengths of open ended questions

  • Respondents can answer freely

  • Allows them to elaborate on their answers and justify opinions -More detailed and valid, true to real life

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Weaknesses of open ended questions

  • More time and effort for respondents

  • Qualitative analysis which can lead to subjective interpretation that is difficult to analyse

  • Respondents often fail to complete their answers

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Social desirability

When a respondent gives an answer that puts them in a more favourable light, desirable to social norms.

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3 types of interviews

  1. Structured

  2. Semi-structured

  3. Unstructured

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Structured interviews

Standardised so all respondents are asked same questions

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Strengths of structured interviews

  • Easy to administer

  • Do not need to establish a rapport between researcher and respondent

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Weaknesses of structured interviews

  • Data can be superficial and lack depth

  • Respondent may not be able to express opinions fully

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Semi- structured interviews

More conversational and dynamic. Researcher has a set of questions they want to be answered but do not have a standardised format to follow.

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Strengths of semi- structured interviews

  • Conversation can flow better

  • More comfortable having a relaxed atmosphere

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Weaknesses of semi- structured interviews

  • Flexibility of interviews may lessen reliability

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Unstructured interviews

The interviewer needs to be analytical. No set of questions or format, just asking questions and making direct reference to quotes from respondents.

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Strengths of unstructured interviews

  • More flexible as questions can be changed

  • Increased validity

  • Usually in depth and detailed answers

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Weaknesses of unstructured interviews

  • Time consuming

  • Employing and training interviewers is expensive

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Response bias

If the respondents answer a certain way for a list of questions, they may continue to answer in that way out of habit.

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Thematic analysis

Qualitative data is made numerical by counting the instances certain themes and categories appear in the data

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Aim of thematic analysis

To analyse data without losing its meaningfulness, but making it more manageable by reducing it into patterns, trends and themes.

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2 approaches in thematic analysis

  1. INDUCTIVE- Researcher would read and re read data and themes would emerge without imposing ideas or expectations.

  2. DEDUCTIVE- Specify themes that they will look for before analysis of data.

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10 steps of thematic analysis

  1. Gather

  2. Journal

  3. Prepare data

  4. Appoint coders

  5. Familiarise

  6. Ideas

  7. Identifying themes

  8. Naming themes

  9. Reliability/ validity check

  10. Report of the results

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Strengths of thematic analysis

  • Encourages researcher to derive themes, so achieves better validity

  • Large data sets, many researchers can apply their interpretation to the data

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Weaknesses of thematic analysis

  • Highly subjective data as it requires interpretation, so unscientific

  • Open to researcher bias, not very reliable

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Measures of central tendency

Mean, median and mode

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The mean

Adding up all values and dividing them by number of scores. Interval/ ratio level data is obtained. Most sensitive and can be affected by extreme values or when there is skewed distribution.

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The mode

Most frequent score. Nominal data is obtained. Easy to calculate, not affected by extreme scores, but is not a useful measure on small datasets with frequently occurring same values.

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The median

Placed in rank order and is the middle score. Ordinal level data is obtained. Simple calculation and not affected by skewed distribution, but is less sensitive than the mean and not useful on small datasets.

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Measures of dispersion

The range and standard deviation

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The range

Difference between highest and lowest value. Affected by extreme scores and may not be useful if there are outliers. Does not indicate the distribution around the mean. If there are extreme scores, interquartile range can be used.

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Standard deviation

Useful for investigating spread of scores. Shows distance of each value from the mean. Standard deviation represents how the scores are spread around the mean, the higher the value, the greater the spread of scores around the mean value.

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Which graphs can be used to illustrate summary data or data frequencies?

Bar charts and histograms

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Bar charts

Present data from a categorical variable, such as mean, mode and median. Categorical variable on x-axis and height represents value.

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Present distribution of scores by illustrating the frequency. Bars are joined to represent continuous data. Possible values on x-axis and y-axis represents frequency.

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Normal distribution

Symmetry around the midpoint. Mean, mode and median aligned around the midpoint.

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Skewed distribution

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Obeying direct orders from someone in authority

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Going along with what someone says, while not necessarily agreeing with it, often with peers rather than those in authority

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Doing something against the individual's own inclinations, but not doing with the intention of matching the behaviour of the majority.

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Obeying an agreement

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What was the percentage obedience in self-administered variation?


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What was the percentage obedience in remote-feedback variation?


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What was the percentage obedience in verbal feedback variation?


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What was the percentage obedience in rundown office block variation?


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What was the percentage obedience in proximity variation?


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What was the percentage obedience in touch proximity variation?


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What was the percentage obedience in telephonic instructions variation?


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What was the percentage obedience in ordinary man gives orders variation?


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Where did Milgram conduct his study?

Yale University

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What was the background of Milgram's research?

Focused on conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience. Justifications for acts of genocide during WWII.

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Milgram's aim

Whether ordinary people will follow orders and give an innocent person an electric shock, and what conditions would increase or decrease the level of obedience.

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What sampling method did Milgram use?

Volunteer sampling - advert in a local newspaper

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What participants did Milgram ask for?

Male of military occupations

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What did Milgram say his study was about?

Memory and learning

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How much money were the participants paid?


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How many participants were in Milgram's study?

160 - 4 conditions, so 40 participants in each

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How many confederates in Milgram's study?

2 - the experimenter and Mr Wallace

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What were the roles?

Rigged - participant was always the teacher and Mr Wallace was the learner.

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What was the voltage of the sample shock?


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How many switches sin the shock generator?

30 switches increasing in 15 volts from 15V to 450V

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What did the participant have to do?

Teach the learner a list of word pairs and shocks were administered if an incorrect pair was given.

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What were the 4 verbal prods?

  1. Please continue

  2. The experiment requires you to continue

  3. It is absolutely essential that you continue

  4. You have no other choice but to continue, you must go on

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How many variations are there in Milgram's study?


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Remote-feedback condition

Learner banged on wall at 300V and refused to answer after 315V

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Verbal feedback condition

At 75V, learner grunts. 120V shouts that it is painful. 135V painful groans. 150V shouts "Experimenter get me out of here". 270V agonising screams. 300V refusal to continue.

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Proximity condition

Learner could be seen and heard as the learner and teacher are in the same room

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Touch proximity condition

Learner has to place his own hand on the shock plate to receive the shock. At 150V refuses to continue and experimenter orders teacher to force the learner's hand on the shock plate.

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What was given to the participants in the end of Milgram's study?

Debrief and a follow-up questionnaire

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What did Milgram conclude?

When learner could not be seen or heard, participant was more likely to follow orders. Provides evidence that people will obey orders given to somebody in a role of authority, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being.

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Strengths in Milgram's original study

  • Right to withdraw given

  • Deception was a necessity because the research was studying obedience, so prevents demand characteristic

  • Lab experiment - standardised procedure, scripted, quantitative and qualitative data gathered. Good controls, so replicable and reliable

  • Debriefed

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Weaknesses in Milgram's original study

  • Verbal prods and incentive prevents withdrawal from study

  • Stress was deliberately caused to the participants

  • Lacks ecological validity

  • Androcentric, ethnocentric, sampling method affects generalisability

  • Deception 4 times - shocks not real, Mr Wallace, not a study on memory and learning, allocation of roles

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Telephonic instructions

Initial instructions given face to face, then experimenter would leave the room and continue to give instructions via telephone. Shows presence of authority figure impacts obedience.

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Rundown office block

A rundown office building in Bridgeport was used. Shows that location impacts level of obedience.

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Ordinary man gives orders

Experimenter was an ordinary man. 1st confederate was the learner, 2nd confederate was the experimenter. Experimenter takes a phone call, and teacher is told to continue. Learner suggests that they should increase the shock level each time he makes a mistake.

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Self-administered shocks

Learner has to administer shocks to himself. If participant refuses, the teacher witnesses self-administered shocks.

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Sampling method used by Meeus and Raaijmakers

Volunteer sampling- newspaper advert

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How many participants in M + R

39 Dutch participants - 24 in experimental condition and 15 in control

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What did the participants have to do in M + R?

Make a series of 15 increasingly distressing remarks to the interviewees

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What was the experimental and control condition? (M+R)

Experimental - experimenter who gave the orders sat in the interview Control - experimenter was not present

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What classed as obedient? (M+R)

The participant who made all the stress remarks was obedient and those who refused was disobedient

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What were the results in M+R?

Experimental condition - 92% made all 15 stressful comments Control condition - 0% did

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What did M+R conclude?

People in everyday situations like a job interview will generally obey orders to abuse a stranger psychologically.

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