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Sociocultural level of analysis

General Learning outcomes:


OUTLINE PRINCIPLES THAT DEFINE THE SOCIOCULTURAL LEVEL OF
ANALYSIS. (8)

This essay will give a brief summary of the principles that define the sociocultural level
of analysis (SCLA).

Definition: the SCLA is the scientific study of how peoples thoughts, feelings and thus
behaviours are influenced by actual, implied or imagined presence of others. Therefore
it is:

1. The scientific study of individuals and groups in sociocultural conditions.


2. How we think, feel and thus act in the presence of others.
3. And therefore how this presence of others affects our behaviour.

Principles
1. Humans are social animals and thus have the need to Belong.
2. Culture influences behaviour.
3. Humans have a social-self (*Social-self: How self-knowledge influences interactions
and perceptions*.)
4. Peoples views of the world are resistant to change and developed by the community
and culture.

Purpose of the Principles

These principles are the main ideas that have driven focused research on specific areas
of how our environment can influence our behaviour in the SCLA.

They also allow us to understanding how behaviour can be caused or influenced by


social factors.

Principal 2: Social and cultural environment influences behaviour.

- social and cultural environment can influence behaviour.


- For example: in a social and cultural environment: you eat with a knife and
fork whereas in some other places/cultures, you may eat with chopsticks or a
spoon and fork.
- Culture can be defined as the norms and values that define society.
- Conformity outlines social norms and also how, in the form of internalized
standards of behaviour, they regulate our social behaviours.
- Conformity also shows that strong situational influences may cause us to put
our own believes values and morals to the side in order to fit in and be
accepted by our social world (thus influencing behaviour).
- This principle is further supported by research conducted by Asch (1951)
*explained on the next question*.
Asch conducted a study that demonstrated conformity.
This study thus shows that our social and cultural environments may
affect us thus result in conforming to a group or social norm
May result in a change in behaviour.
o Thus because of the multicultural society we live in today; where is a need to
understand the effect of culture on a persons behaviour, because the study
of culture may help us to better understand and appreciate cultural
differences.

Principle 4: humans have a social self

This social self is how we construct our social identity and is also dependent on the
types of groups that we belong and identified with.

These identities reflect the influence of society on oneself and have


been seen to extensively affect our behaviour.
Building who we are around our culture and environment (studies
have shown that 'norms' considered in one culture may be completely
opposite in another).

This principle gives rise to the fact that people not only have an individual identity but
also a collective or social one.
Likewise our social identity is important as it defines who we are and these
behaviours are determined by social groups (such as memberships, communities, clubs,
nationality or family).

A study that supports this principle is Zimbardo et al. (1971).

The study showed that our social self is constructed by our own
conceptions (prisoner or guard) and thus we will act in a way that fits
with these conceptions.

However, views from all levels of analysis need to be taken into account before
reaching a determined decision on influences on human behaviour, as sociocultural
factors such as the environment are not the only cause of the behaviour, but certainly
play a role in the interaction between itself and behaviour.

EXLAIN HOW PRINCIPLES THAT DEFINE THE SOCIOCULTURAL LEVEL


OF ANALYSIS MAY EB DEMONSTRATED IN RESEARCH (THEORIES AND
STUDIES). (8)

This essay will give a brief summary of the principles that define the sociocultural level
of analysis (SCLA).

Define Socio Cultural level of analysis, state its principals and purpose of principals
described in the question above.

Principal 2: Sociocultural psychologists believe that social and cultural


environment influences behaviour.

o Describe the principal *question above*.


o Supporting study: Asch (1951)
Aim: To test the extent of conformity in a non-ambiguous task.
Method:
- 1 real subject among 7 confederates
- They were asked to judge which of the 3 lines on the right
corresponded to the line presented on the left (in regards to
length)
- Confederates of the study were told to give incorrect answers
(that were obviously incorrect)
- There was also a separate condition where the participant was
told to write down their answers individually
- Also, in another part of the experiment, the subject was given
a supporting confederate
Results:
- 32% conformity rate
- 74% of subjects conformed at least once
- When given a supporting confederate, the conformity rate
dropped to 5.5%
- When participants were allowed to answer privately,
conformity rate dropped again
Conclusion: People change their behaviour in accordance with others
This study thus shows that our social and cultural environments may
affect us thus result in conforming to a group or social norm.

Principal 4: we construct our individual and social self through our


conceptions.
o Describe the principal like done in the previous question.
o Supporting study: Zimbardo et al. (1971) Stanford Prison Experiment.
Aim: To investigate how people react in difficult situations.
Method:
- Zimbardo created a simulation of a prison in Stanford
University basement.
- He randomly assigned the volunteers/participants to be either
the guard or prisoner in the prison simulation. Therefore the
IV was role (prisoner or guard).
- DV was behaviour observed through direct observation, video
and audiotape.
Results:
- After a while, the volunteers playing the role of guards started
to show acts of empowerment, aggression and a more
confident attitude compared to the volunteers playing the role
of the prisoners.
- Whilst the prisoners became passive, depressed, anxious and
experienced loss of control over life.
- The volunteers acted like what their roles in their
situation/predicament would be in real life prison conditions.
Conclusion:
- Zimbardos study is a prime example of how people can use
either dispositional situational attribution to explain the
behaviours of certain people.
- Prison environment had influenced the guards into
performing brutal and sadistic behaviours even though none
of the guards had shown any previous tendency before the
experiment.
- People will readily conform to social roles that they are
expected to play.
- The roles that people play shape their attitudes and
behaviours.
Showing that our social self is constructed by our own conceptions
(prisoner or guard) and thus we will act in a way that fits with these
conceptions.
Discuss why and how particular research methods are used at the sociocultural level
of analysis. (22)

This essay will attempt to offer a balanced review of how and why particular research
methods are used at the sociocultural level of analysis (SCLA).

Define what SCLA is.

Researchers need to have a method for collecting and analysing data.

There are many different/various methods researchers and psychologists use to conduct
their studies.

Research methods are ways that researchers use and manipulate to conduct their
studies.

There are 6 main research methods used in psychology, which consists of the
following:

o Experiments

o Case Studies

o Observational Studies

o Interviews

o Surveys/Questionnaires

o Correlational Studies

Sometimes in research, researchers incorporate the use of 2 or more research


methods of investigation to explore the same aspect, as using 2 or more may be
more suitable and effective in finding out the necessary aims of the researcher.

o It also increases credibility.

In psychological research, certain biases are present, which may affect or influence
the findings of the experiment, sometimes in a positive way, but mostly in a
negative light/nature.
There are two major types of biases, which are:

o Researcher bias: The researcher/s sees what they are looking for, in which the
expectations of the researcher consciously or unconsciously affect the findings
of the study.

o Observer bias: The participant/s act differently or accordingly due to the


consciousness of being observed by people (researchers), which may influence
the nature of the study

In sociocultural psychology, testable theories, and assumptions of a human"s social


self and how we come to communicate and interact with the environment are
observed through the social environment, which, unlike in the BLA and CLA, can
be undergone.

These ideas are tested and observed using research methods such as experiments,
case studies, correlational studies, and interviews to focus on groups and
individuals, in order to collect to develop and or support a theory.

At the SCLA the main research methods used are experiments, observations,
interviews, and questionnaires.

Research method 1: Experiments


o Experiments are used to determine the cause and effect relationship between two
variables (independent (IV) and dependent (DV) variables).
o In sociocultural research, the goal is to see how people interact with each other.
Though experiments are sometimes used, the majority of research today is more
qualitative in nature. It is important that the behaviour of the participants is as
realistic as possible, to avoid studies that lack ecological validity.
o Therefore, a significant amount of research is naturalistic that is, as it really
is. Much of the research is done in the environments in which the behaviour is
most likely to take place.
o Early research mostly carried out laboratory experiments, because that was
considered to be the most scientific way of obtaining data.
o There are three different types of experiments, which include a laboratory
experiment, a natural (QUASI) experiment and a field experiment.
o Outline the experiments used in SCLA: Asch and Sheriff.
o Study 1: Sheriff (1935)
Aim: To demonstrate that people conform to group norms when put
in an ambiguous situation.
IV: The autokinetic effect the distance of how far a light beam
"appeared" to move in a dark room --> therefore, changing the
amount of people to represent a group sample to test the level of
conformity in the group, in relation to their estimated answers.
DV: Their estimate on how far the light moved (except for the fact
that the light didn't really move which is an issue, because how can
you test conformity to something that doesn't actually happen).
- But really Sheriff was testing the level of conformity within a
group, not the actual estimate of how far people think the
light had moved (the autokinetic effect). The conformity was
based on if the individuals conformed to the more similar
answers within a group, if their estimate had a large
difference.
IV: Experimental Type: Laboratory Experiment because the study
was conducted in a laboratory setting and the IV was manipulated
Why was an experiment used?
- Allowed a cause and effect relationship to be developed and
recognised
- Cause: The group situation formed when Sheriff brought the
participants together to tell the answer in front of the group.
- Effect: Level of conformity between the individuals in the
group (How many people conformed to the answer which was
the most popular, from their first or original guess).
- The cause and effect relationship would not have been able to
be found using other research methods (e.g. observational or
interviews, etc.)
- This would not be able to be able to be found as effectively
with other research methods such as a survey or case study, as
experiments are the most suitable type to use for this
particular study.
o Study 2: Asch (1951).
Aim: To investigate conformity in an unambiguous task.
IV: Line Judgement Task He manipulated the length of the "test"
lines to the "original" line but since he was investigating conformity,
the IV was the confederates (correct or incorrect)
DV: The participants" line judgement (how they match up two lines
of the same length); when really Asch was measuring the level of
conformity between the individuals in a group situation.
Experimental Type: Laboratory Experiment because the study was
conducted in a laboratory setting and the IV was manipulated
Why was an experiment used?
Allowed a cause and effect relationship to be developed and
recognised
- Cause: The group situation formed when Asch asked the
participants to tell what they thought each answer was in front
of the group.
- Effect: Level of conformity between the individuals in the
group (How many people conformed to the answer which was
the most popular, from their first or original guess).
The cause and effect relationship would not have been able to be
found using other research methods (e.g. surveys or interviews, etc.)
This would not be able to be able to be found as effectively with
other research methods such as a survey or case study, as an
experiment was the most suitable type to use for this particular study.

Research method 2: Participant observation.


o Today, social psychologists frequently attempt to see the world through the
eyes of the people being studied. In order to do this, participant observation
is often utilised.
o Participant observation is when researchers immerse themselves in a social
setting for an extended period of time and observe people"s behaviour.
o Participant observations are used to observe normal behaviour of participants
in their normal environments.
o Observations involve informal interviews, direct and indirect observation,
collective discussions and participation in the life of a group, where the
researcher/s decide if they want to be involved in the life of the person they
are observing/studying.
o Researchers try to gain the trust of the participants
o Observations are a qualitative research method
o Recording observational data often involves constructing a grid based on the
nature of the study and number or participants and observers
o Researchers sometimes use vaguely defined protocol to record behaviour
o There are two types of participant observation covert and overt
observation.
Covert observation participants are not informed that they are being
observed.
Overt observation participants know they are being observed.
o Ethical considerations:
The researcher has little capacity to act beyond what a situation
demands which reduces their capacity to ensure the well-being of
those around the
In covert observations, informed consent is not obtained
- Therefore, it is unsure whether participants are willing to
have their data used in the study
It is argued whether participants should be informed after the study
has ended
- But this may cause distress and be unethical as participants
may feel paranoid, insecure, etc.
In overt observations, participants know they are being observed
- But informing them of the true nature and aims of the study
may reduce validity or credibility of conclusions of the study
Covert observations involve deception as people do not know they
are being observed
Participants do not know the true reasons for the presence of the
researchers

o Supporting Study 1. Festinger et al. (1956)


Festinger et al. (1956) conducted a study called, "When Prophecy
Fails" that utilized participant observation.
a religious cult believed that the world would end on 21 December,
and that they would be rescued by flying saucers if they followed the
rituals and read sacred texts
Participants are likely to behave normally because they are in their
normal environments
Covert observation was used because the cult would not approve of
an outsider observing their behaviour
Cult members were not allow to interact with non-believers To study
and monitor the group"s doubt, debate and rationalisation when
"nothing" had occurred.
Participant observation allowed researchers to gain enriched
qualitative data including detailed conversations and descriptions of
participants" feelings
In depth qualitative information would not be able to be collected by
using other research methods (e.g. experiments, survey, etc.)
Ethical issues:
- Privacy may be violated by the researcher.
- Informed consent was not obtained
- Participants were not informed of their right to withdraw
- Researchers used deception to study the group"s behaviour
- Participants were not debriefed.

o Supporting Study 2. Kolo and Baur (2004)


Aim: To investigate the MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role
playing games) Ultima Online.
Researchers observed player dynamics (by registering online and
playing) and mining data from Ultima developers and servers.
This allowed them to observe the behaviours of the group"s members
in their natural environment
Participants are likely to behave normally because they are in their
normal environments
Covert observation was used because the participants may not
approve of an outsider observing their behaviour
Participant observation allowed researchers to gain enriched
qualitative data
In depth qualitative information would not be able to be collected by
using other research methods (e.g. experiments, survey, etc.)
Ethical issues:
- Privacy was violated by the researcher.
- Informed consent was not obtained
- Participants were not informed of their right to withdraw
- Researchers used deception (they acted as gamers) to study
the group"s behaviour
- Participants were not debriefed.
Discuss ethical considerations related to research studies at the sociocultural level of
analysis.

This essay will attempt to offer a balanced review of ethical considerations related
to research at the sociocultural level of analysis (SLA).
Define SCLA.
Define Ethics:
o In psychology, ethics must be considered to ensure participants (humans and
animals) are not harmed and that research conducted is ethically valid.
o Ethics can be defined as moral principles and rules of conduct that guide and
govern an individual or groups behaviour.
o Researchers should always conduct research in an ethical manner and studies
should always be critically evaluated for ethical issues.
Participants shoukd be given a consent that informs them with the aim and
methodology of the study.
Participants should be given the right to withdraw at any point during the
experiment.
Participants should be ensured that their results will remain confidential.

In the SCLA, there are studies which claim to be of an unethical nature because of
certain principlesr methods in which the researcher/s undertook. Some of the major
ethical studies in the SCLA include:
o Zimbardo, Haney and Banks (1971)
Zimbardo created a simulation of a prison in Stanford University

basement

There were a set of ethical issues in this study, which include:


- Informed consent: participants were not informed that they
would be arrested and taken to the police station.
- Deception: participants were arrested by real police and
driven to a police station. Zimbardo reports that this was the
only deception; the rest was explained in the consent.
- Participant protection: in the study, the guards became
aggressive despite the fact that it was prohibited. Guards
withdrew many of the prisoners rights. Prisoners became
depressed. Zimbardo did not stop the study immediately when
participants began feeling distressed However, he argues that
the decision to terminate the experiment early showed his
ethical concern.
- Withdrawal: a prisoner wanted to leave the study however
was encouraged not to until he ended up believing he wasnt
allowed to.
o Milgram (1963)
The nave participant received the role of teacher
Another 'participant' who was a confederate had the role of learner
The naive participant was in a room with another confederate acting
as an experimenter
The teacher gave the learner a word, with which the learner had to
identify its pair
The teacher was to administer electric shocks when the learner
provided a wrong answer
The shock generator was never actually used on the learner in the
study
- They only pretended to receive electric shocks
Learner gave mostly wrong answers and received shocks in silence
until 300 volts when they pounded on the wall and gave no response
to the next question
When the teacher felt unsure about continuing, the experimenter
would give them standard "prods" urging them to continue
There were a set of ethical issues in this study, which include:
- Withdrawal: participants were encouraged to continue the
experiment.
- Participant protection: participants showed signs of extreme
tensions however, Milgram did not stop the experiment.
- Consent: participants were not informed of the real aim of
the study; however this was done to avoid bias.
- Deception: participants were not informed of the real aim of
the study. They were deceived about the confederates (they
believed that the confederate who was the learner was a
participant, and the confederate in the room with them was an
experimenter).
o Asch (1955)
Asch was interested to see if the participant would conform to the
majority view.
There were a set of ethical issues in this study, which include:
- Consent: participants were not informed of the true nature
and aim of the study, in order to avoid bias.
- Deception: participants were deceived about aims and nature
of the study. Participants believed that the confederates were
fellow participants.
- Participant protection: participants experienced stress from
pressure to conform. Participants may have felt embarrassed
or lost self-esteem.
Sociocultural cognition:
Describe the role of dispositional and situational factors in explaining behaviour.

In the psychological world, there are many different methods and approaches to the
understanding and explaining of why or how people behave in certain situations.

Fritz Heider (1958): suggested that all people have a tendency to try to predict,
understand and explain human behaviour, in terms of what causes people to behave in
the ways that they do.

Introduce attributions:

o One way that people interpret and explain causal relationships in the social
world is through attribution --> which has laid the foundations for the
attribution theory (AT) proposed by Heider (1958).
o Attributions are "the beliefs about why people behave as they do" the end
result of a process in which people use available information to make
inferences about the causes of a particular behaviour.
o Therefore, AT is concerned with explanations of how each of us attributes
causes for our own and others" behaviour.
o According to Heider, when we observe somebody"s behaviour we are
inclined to attribute its cause to either dispositional (internal) factors of that
person or to situational (external) causes.
There are two types of attribution:
o Dispositional attribution: We explain people"s behaviour in terms of
factors which are specific to them as a person, such as their personality or
other internal and generally unchanging characteristics, traits, feelings,
moods and abilities.
Can be positive or negative.
Eg: They are always late; they have been like that since they were
born, etc.
o Situational attribution: One"s behaviour is assumed to be/dependent upon
their current circumstances, situation or the environment that they are in.
Eg: Blaming the weather for something that has happened

Another scenario would be for example,


o Situation: A person is sitting in a restaurant, waiting for their date to show
up, but he or she is late.
o This would result in us looking for explanations or "attributing" possible
situations as to why he or she has not yet arrived.
o Possible attributions might be:
We attributed his lateness to the dispositional factor of their nature as
being late all the time.
Or towards a situational basis, that he had missed his/her bus, or
heavy traffic may have occurred or even the result of their car
breaking down.
Thus, outline the purpose of your essay:
o As such, this essay response will aim to give a detailed account in the role of
dispositional and situational factors in explaining behaviour.
Why do we attribute?
o We tend to attribute behaviour because humans are "social animals" (as
underlined by one of the fundamental principles of the SCLOA) and have a
need to understand why things happen in the world around us.
Limitations:

o However, when judgements are passed there is usually some form of bias, as
both situational and dispositional factors are not considered from every
viewpoint/angle.
FAE:
o An example of a common error when attributing one"s behaviour is humans
tendency tver- emphasize dispositional factors over situational factors,
especially when they are judging other people"s behaviour; this is known as
the fundamental attribution error (FAE).
Generally attributions follow this trend
o Positive outcomes (individual behaviour): Dispositional
o Negative outcome (individual behaviour): Situational
o Positive outcome (other individuals): Situational
o Negative outcomes (other individuals): Dispositional
Exploring FAE gives us more insight on the roles of situational and dispositional
factors when explaining behaviour, and also helps us to be more open-minded to the
possible alternative factors that cause people to behave in a certain way
Supporting Study: Zimbrado (1971):
o An example of how people attribute dispositional and situational factors to
explain behaviour is through Zimbardo"s Stanford Prison Experiment
(1971).
o Aim: To investigate how people react in difficult situations.
o Method:
Zimbardo created a simulation of a prison in Stanford University
basement.
He randomly assigned the volunteers/participants to be either the
guard or prisoner in the prison simulation. Therefore the IV was role
(prisoner or guard).
DV was behaviour observed through direct observation, video and
audiotape.
o Results:
After a while, the volunteers playing the role of guards started to
show acts of empowerment, aggression and a more confident attitude
compared to the volunteers playing the role of the prisoners.
Whilst the prisoners became passive, depressed, anxious and
experienced loss of control over life.
o Conclusion:
This study demonstrated that situational rather than dispositional
factors caused negative behaviour and thoughts found in prison
settings.
Zimbardo"s study is a prime example of how people can use either
dispositional situational attribution to explain the behaviours of
certain people.
Discuss two errors in attribution.

Humans are very social and have a need to understand why things happen and how
and why people behave in certain situations.
Fritz Heider (1958) proposed a theory in which he suggested that we tend to
interpret and explain our own behaviour and the behaviour of others by assigning
attributes to behaviour.
Attribution: Attribution is how people interpret and explain causal relationships in
the social world and society.
o This has laid foundations for the attribution theory (AT), proposed by Heider
(1958), which attempts to provide an understanding and explanation for how
people attribute causes to their own and other people's behaviour.
o We do this by observing others' behaviour and considering their intentions &
responsibilities in that situation
Describe two types of attribution (dispositional & Situational).
Attribution errors: Psychologists have discovered that when attributing behaviour,
people can often make errors and biases.
o An attributional error (AE) can be defined as a false assumption or distortion
in perception or judgement about the causes of our own or other peoples
behaviour.
Theories and studies have shown that there are two main AEs in attribution: the
fundamental attribution error (FAE) and self-serving bias (SSB) , which will be
discussed in this essay

Attribution Error 1: Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE)


o Ross (1977) defines the FAE as
The "tendency to attribute another's behaviour to dispositional
qualities, rather than the situation itself."
And the "overestimation of dispositional attributions rather than to
situational factors..."
Occurs even when there are clear situational factors present.
o State examples for FAE: might attribute actors as a "crazy" person in real
life due to the many roles in movies he had to play, which were mostly
"deranged, crazy, and out-there." However, some might not take into account
that he auditioned for and were given these roles in the films (situational).
o Supporting study 1: Ross et al. 1977
Aim: To see if student participants would make the FAE even when
they knew all the actors were playing a role
Method: Participants were assigned to one of three roles:
- Game show host asked to design their own questions
- Contestant tried to answer questions
- Audience member watched the game show
After the game show, audience members were asked to rank
intelligence of the hosts and contestants.
Results: Participants ranked the host as the most intelligent, even
though they knew they were randomly assigned this role and that
they had written the questions.
Conclusion: They failed to attribute the host's behaviour to situational
factors of the role they had been randomly assigned
- instead attributed his performance to dispositional factors
intelligence
Limitations:
- Participants were college students; they often listen to
professors who ask questions like the host, and are seen as
authority figures. They believe that authority figures who ask
questions are intelligent; it could be a learned response rather
than attribution error.
- Small sample of participants (low ecological validity).
o Explanations for FAE:
When judging others, we usually do not have enough information
about circumstances, so we use dispositional attributions.
- However this is not the explanation for Ross (1977) as
participants new they were assigned the role of host.
Other psychologists argue that it is because information required to
make situational attributions is generally less salient (obvious) than
the information required to make dispositional attributions
Miller et al (1978) argued that FAE provides us with a sense of
control over the world
- E.g. if we think that bad things happen to people because of
dispositional rather than situational factors then we can
believe that we have the power to stop bad things happening
to us.

Attribution Error 2: Self-Serving Bias (SSB)


o SSB is the tendency to attribute success to stable, dispositional factors and
failures to temporary, situational factors.
o Supporting Study 1: Lau & Russel (1980)
American football coaches tend to attribute:
- Wins to dispositional factors (skills, talent)
- Losses to situational factors (injuries, referees)
o Supporting Study 2: Johnson et al. (1964)
Aim: To investigate the effect of pupils' learning on teachers' SSB
Method:
- Participants were psychology students
- They taught two children how to multiply numbers by 10 and
20
- worksheets were made available to participants to assess
children's learning progress
- Worksheets were made in a way that
o pupil A gave all correct answers on both sheets
o pupil B
did poorly on both sheets (participant failed in
teaching)
did poorly on the first sheet and improved on
the second (participant succeeded in teaching)
Results:
- Participants attributed pupil B's improved performance to
their abilities as a teacher
- Participants attributed pupil B's failure to the pupil's lack of
ability.
Conclusion: When attributing pupils' learning progress, teachers
demonstrated SSB to enhance and protect the image of their own
ability.
Limitations:
- Lack of ecological validity
- Artificial environment.
if students are successful, teachers will attribute it to dispositional
factors (their teaching ability)
but if students are unsuccessful, teachers will attribute it to situational
factors, external to themselves (child's ability)
o Explanation of SSB:
Attributing success to internal factors puts ourselves in a positive
light to others - 'impression management'
Dissociating ourselves from failure protects self-esteem
Culture.

Comparison:

The FAE and the SSB are two different errors in attribution that differ primarily is
their general theoretical explanations of the causes of erroneous attribution:
o the FAE primarily describes a trend
o while the SSB makes predictions on the basis of factors such as
While these errors are similar in many ways, they exhibit differences in their general
theoretical explanation of the reasons behind attribution error, the strengths,
weakness and approaches of research supporting these theoretical claims and the
role of culture in each attribution error.
They are both errors in attribution, since they propose flaws in attribution theory and
how people explain behaviour.

Evaluate Social Identity Theory, making reference to relevant studies.

This essay will attempt to make an appraisal by weighing up the strengths and
limitations of the social identity theory, with studies supported.
Introduce Social Identity Theory (SIT):
o SIT proposed by Tajfel and later developed by Tajfel and Turner (1971) to
understand intergroup relations and group processes.
o SIT is based on the assumption that individuals strive to improve their self-
image by trying to enhance their self-esteem, based on either personal identity or
through various social identities (in-groups/out-groups).
o SIT is based on 4 main concepts which will be further discussed in the following
essay.

1st main concept: Social categorization:


o Tendency to divide and therefore categorize individuals into ingroups (us) and
outgroups (them).
2nd main concept: Category accentuation effect:
o Exaggeration of intergroup differences and intragroup similarities
Underestimates (to rate or rank too low) perceived difference within
ingroup and outgroups
- E.g. Nerds all wear glasses
Overestimates (to attribute too high an estimated value) variability
between the ingroup and outgroups
- E.g. We are different from them because we like books and they
do not
3rd main concept: Social Identification:
o We adopt the identity of the group we have "categorized" ourselves as
belonging to, which means we may adopt some of the values and behaviours of
that group.
o When relating to another as a member of a social group, our social identities
affect our behaviour towards them
o Individual identities partly come from group memberships
o having this social identity enhances our self-esteem
4th main concept: Social comparison and positive distinctiveness
o Social identity contributes to our self-image so we seek positive social identities
to maintain and enhance self-esteem.
o We compare our in-group with out-groups of a similar status to enhance thus
establish the superiority of our group.
o SIT states that the in-group will discriminate against the out-group to enhance
their self-image.
o Positive social identity is achieved by social comparison
o Positive distinctiveness is motivation to show that our ingroup is better and more
preferable to an outgroup
o Need for positive distinctiveness --> Social comparison --> Positive self-concept

Supporting Study 1: Cialdini et al. (1976):


o Aim: To investigate the tendency to associate one"s self publicly with successful
others, referred to as basking in reflected glory (BIRG).
o Method A:
Fans from large U.S. prestigious football universities were participants in a
field experiment (in large lecture halls across 7 different schools) where they
observed student clothing/apparel on a Monday following a big football
game.
o Results A:
Students tended to wear more apparel associating themselves with their own
university (e.g. jersey or sweatshirt) when the football team won compared
to when they lost.
o Method B:
Based on these findings, researchers decided to call students and interview
them about the performance of their schools football team following a
game.
o Results B:
People tended to use the pronoun "we" more to describe their team when
they won and "they" more when the team had lost.
The researchers were able to show that people tend to associate with positive
others most closely when their own public image is threatened.
o This study supports the SIT as it demonstrated the concept of social identity.
Peoples self-image was affected by their in-group in that the victory gave a
sense of "positive- distinctiveness" for the group and therefore enhanced
self-esteem.

Supporting Study 2: Jane Elliot (1968) Blue eye/Brown eye


o Another study which demonstrates SIT to increase self-esteem is by Jane
Elliot"s (1968) Blue-eye/Brown- eye study.
o Aim: To emphasise the effects of discrimination and group bias on personal
traits and self-esteem.
o Method:
Segregated primary school class into two groups based on eye colour.
Told blue eyes meant you were smarter, quicker and more successful.
Brown eyes meant you were lazy, untruthful, and stupid. Blue eyed
children were given privileges.
A few days later the roles were reversed.
o Results:
Blue eyed children became bossy, arrogant, and smarter + showed
discriminatory behaviour towards brown eyes.
Brown eyes became timid, submissive and performed less well
academically.
The same thing happened when roles were reversed.
This was despite any personal traits that may have been present
previously
o Conclusion:
Being part of a group affects how you view yourself, and your behaviour
towards out groups.
o Evaluation:
Lacks ecological validity
Task was unrealistic to real life
o Ethics:
Some children were given negative labels, which caused stigmatization
o This study relates to SIT because social identities affected intergroup behaviour
o People with blue eyes discriminated against the group of people with brown
eyes

Evaluation of SIT:

Strengths of SIT Weaknesses of SIT


Supported by many empirical studies Studies are restricted by the
Demonstrates the role of social methodological limitations (low
categorization in intergroup behaviours. ecological validity), unrepresentative
Difference between personal and social samples.
identity. Self-esteem hypothesis is no longer
Explores how basic need to belong central to SIT.
affects social interaction. o The increase on self-esteem is
Contributes to explanation of other too short to have long term
areas of psychology (stereotypes, effects on personal identity.
conformity). o Social comparison to make
Original SIT has been expanded on and ingroup superior does not
continues to generate further research. change personal identity.
Aim of SIT to favour situational factors
rather than dispositional is not
supported by evidence.

Explain the formation of stereotypes and their effect on behaviour.

Our social world is very complex and thus presents us with too much information.
Since our capacity to process information is limited, our social world needs to be
simplified.
One way to avoid this information overload is through social categorisation.
The information is used in social categorisation is stereotypes.
Stereotype: a mental representation and a form of social categorization made about
specific individuals or a group and its members.
o Once a set of characteristics is used to describe a group of people, those
characteristics are often attributed to all members of the group, thus affecting
the behaviour of the people or individual who hold the stereotype, and those
who are labelled by a stereotype.
o This generalization may either be positive or negative, based on certain
group membership or physical attributes, however most stereotypes of today
are negative, exaggerating the quality and cognitively-associating such trait
to all individuals that are part of the group leading to discrimination and
prejudice, thus increasing self-esteem about themselves and their in-group.
However positive stereotypes may also exist (Asians are intelligent).
Stereotypes are now also argued to be a schema process that conditions those who
hold the stereotype and also those labelled after the stereotype, as they are organized
internal representations of individuals and or groups, therefore guiding how people
act towards them.
Theories of stereotypes:
o There are several theories on the development of stereotypes, including
social categorization grain of truth hypothesis, and illusory correlation.
o Old Theory Social Categorization & Social Identity Theory:
Tajfel (1971) argued that stereotypes developed through a natural
process of social categorization, which is when people categorize
groups of people based on common traits or characteristics.
However, this does not explain how it actually happens.

o Introduce stereotype threat, as a result of categorization:


Stereotype threat occurs when one is in a situation where there is a
threat of being judged or treated stereotypically, or a fear of doing
something that would inadvertently confirm that stereotype.
Steele (1997) claims that the stereotypes" of prejudice is the cause of
spotlight anxiety, an emotional stress that inhibits a stereotype-
targeted individuals performance.

Supporting Study 1: Aronson and Steele (1995):


o Aim: To investigate the effect of stereotype threat on performance in a test.
o Method:
Gave a 30 minute verbal test to African American and European-
American participants.
Tested two groups of the participants and told one group that it was
an articulation test whilst the other group was told it was a laboratory
task
o Results:
African Americans scored lower than the European Americans when
they were told it was an articulation test but when told it was a
laboratory test the African Americans scored higher than the
European Americans.
o Conclusion:
Shows that stereotype thret can affect an individuals performance in
a task.
This can explain why some racial and social groups believe they are
more or less intelligent than others.

Illusory Correlation (Social Cognitive Theory)


o Hamilton and Gifford (1976) argued instead that stereotypes formed through
a type of cognitive bias, a persons tendency to make errors in judgement
based on cognitive factors, which is known as illusory correlation.
o A study done by Hamilton and Gifford (1976), argued that stereotypes are a
result of an illusory correlation, because people see a relationship between
two variables even when there is none, e.g. "blonds" or "women," etc.
o That is, for example, that people can form false associations between
membership of a social group and specific behaviours.
o Study: Hamilton & Gifford (1976):
Aim: To investigate illusory correlation of group size and negative
behaviour.
Method:
- Researchers asked participants to read descriptions about two
made-up groups (Group A) and (Group B).
- Descriptions were based on a number of positive and negative
behaviours.
o Group A (majority group) twice as many members
than B; performed 18 positive and 8 negative
behaviours.
o Group B (minority) performed 9 positive and 4
negative behaviours.
- Asked to attribute behaviours to group.
Redults:
- Although there was no correlation between group
membership and the types of behaviours exhibited by the
groups, in that the proportion of negative and positive was the
same for both groups, the participants did seem to have an
illusory correlation.
- More of the undesirable behaviours were attributed to the
minority Group B, than the majority of Group A.
Conclusion:
- Group B members and negative behaviours are both
numerically fewer and therefore more distinct than Group A
members and negative behaviour, therefore, stands out more
than the combination of Group A members performing such
behaviours causing illusory correlation.
- This study shows evidence for illusory correlation, as the
participants had formed an illusionary correlation between the
size of the group.
Social Norms:
Explain Social Learning Theory, making reference to two relevant studies.
The following essay will aim to give a detailed account of the Social Learning
Theory (SLT), whilst also making reference to two relevant studies
Norms: a set of rules based on socially and culturally shared beliefs of how an
individual ought to behave.
o Thus, norms regulate behaviour within a group and if people deviate or
break from these norms, they may be punished, marginalized or also seen as
creative and affecting change in society.
o Being "social animals," the need to belong plays a strong role in the desire to
confirm to group norms.
Social Learning Theory: One way in which society or culture passes on its norms
to individuals within the group is through social learning theory (SLT), proposed
and developed by Albert Bandura.
o SLT assumes that 'humans learn behaviour through the environment, but
most specifically through observational learning."
Observational learning: how people learn by watching and "observing" models
and imitate their behaviour, thus noticing the consequences it has on them and their
environments.
o By doing so, we learn without the need to perform the observed behaviours
ourselves.
o Thus, it also helps us avoid harmful situations without direct exposure to
them
We learn this behaviour and norms from people which are stated as role models.
o These are figures of authority (parents, teachers)
o Models can have a desire effect on the learner (teachers), or may act as
indirect models (older syblings).
The following essay will focus on the social learning theory of observational
learning.

Outline the components of SLT:


o According to Bandura, SLT is composed of four conditions (ARRM)
required for a person to successfully model the behaviour of someone else.
Attention: the person must first pay attention to the role model in
order to observe behaviour.
Retention: the learner must be able to store information about the
models behaviour.
Reproduction: the learner must be able to physically and cognitively
reproduce the desired behaviour observed.
Motivation: learners must reinforce that the behaviour observed is
rewarding and correct. Children are rewarded with candies or
punished when they behave wrong.
o SLT has been used to explain many things, but in particular, the role of
violence in the media on aggression in children.

Supporting Study 1: Bandura (1963) Bobo Doll Experiment


o One of the most significant research experiments on learning violence via
models through observational learning in the media or the environment is by
Bandura et al. (1963)
o Aim: To test the observation and modelling of aggressive behaviour.
Aim A: To see if children would imitate aggression modelled by an
adult.
Aim B: To investigate if children were more likely to imitate the
"same-sex" models.
o Method:
72 Children (36 boys, 36 girls) aged between 3-6 yrs. divided into 3
groups.
1st group (24) Exposed to adult models who showed aggression by
bashing inflatable "Bobo Dolls"
2nd group (24) Observed a non-aggressive adult who assembled
toys for 10 mins
3rd group (24) control (no model)
In some groups, some children watched same-sex models and the rest
watched opposite-sex models.
After watching the models, the children were placed in a room with a
Bobo Doll.
o Results:
Aim A Bandura found that children who had observed the
aggressive models were significantly more aggressive, both verbally
and physically.
- According to Bandura, SLT was demonstrated in the study, as
children showed signs of observational learning through
aggression.
Whilst, the children in the non-aggressive group showed almost no
aggression.
88% of children imitated the aggressive behaviour.
Aim B In regards to the second aim, Bandura observed that girls
were more likely to imitate verbal aggression, whereas boys were
more likely to imitate physical behaviour.
When boys observed women bashing the Bobo Doll, they often made
comments such as Ladies shouldn"t do that!
Therefore, children were more likely to imitate the same sex model.
o Conclusion:
Bandura"s study exemplified and supported features of SLT
Observational (vicarious) learning the children learned specific
aggressive behaviours through the observation of adult models.

Discuss the use of compliance techniques.


This essay will attempt to offer a balanced review of the use of compliance
techniques.
Compliance: "a form of social influence, which is the result of direct pressure to
respond to a request." Aronson et al.
o Conformity occurs when the situation does not exert direct pressure to
follow the majority, but the pressure is often perceived by individuals as
influencing their behaviour.
o It also involves publicly conforming to the behaviour or views of others but
still privately maintaining one's own views.
o Compliance is used in advertising, marketing and sales.
o For example, when people comply to buy certain products, even though the
direct pressure may not always be apparent to the individual
Cialdini, a key researcher into compliance and persuasion has outlined compliance
techniques, ways in which individuals are influenced or persuaded to comply with
the demands or desires of others.
o Authority people comply more often with those in positions of authority,
e.g. famous people
o Commitment once people have agreed to something, either by their
behaviour or tfqfatement of belief, they are likely to comply with similar
requests
o Liking people comply with requests from people they like
o Reciprocity people often feel they need to return a favour
o Scarcity opportunities seem more valuable to people when they are less
readily available
o Social Proof people view a behaviour as correct if they see others
performing it
Two of these compliance techniques will be discussed in the following essay.

Compliance Technique 1: Foot In The Door (FITD)


o Getting to make a commitment and therefore increase compliance by first
asking for a small request, with the hope of persuading them to agree to a
larger request (actual target).
o Assumes that agreement with a small request increases the likelihood of
agreement with a subsequent larger request.
o Example: you may be asked to donate a small amount of money (gold coin)
which is followed by a request to sign up for a program that gets you to pay
$10 a week.
You are more likely to agree than asking for $10 a week straight
away.
o Why is FITD effective?
People perceive themselves as helpful for complying with the small
request and want to continue to be seen helpful so they continue
complying with requests.
People want to be consistent and therefore tend to comply with the
request.
Supporting Study FITD 1: Dickerson et al. (1992)
o Aim: To support the foot-in-the-door compliance technique.
o Methods:
The team wanted to see if they could get university students to
conserve water in the dormitory showers.
To do this, researchers asked them to sign a poster that said take a
shorter shower. If I can do it, so can you!
Then they asked them to take a survey designed to make them think
about their own water usage and water wastage.
Shower times were then monitored.
o Results:
It was found that those students who had signed the poster and done
the water survey (forcing them to think about their own eater
wastage) had showers of an average of 3.5 minutes.
This was significantly shorter than the average shower times across
the whole dormitory.
o Conclusion:
When participants signed up to the petition that they felt like they
had already committed to the cause.
This study demonstrated the use of FITD as participants were asked
to sign a poster (small request) and then take a survey (larger
request).
The FITD compliance technique was shown to be effective in
making participants save water and take shorter showers.
However, it lacks of internal validity as it is not demonstrate that it
was due to the survey that those participants took shorter showers.
Supporting Study FITD 2: Freedman and Freser (1966)
o Method:
Researchers asked households in California whether they would
allow them to place a big ugly public service sign reading drive
carefully, in the front yard.
Another set of homeowners were asked whether they would display a
small be a safe driver sign.
- Nearly everyone agreed to this request.
- Two weeks later, these homeowners were asked by a
volunteer worker whether they would display the bigger
and ugly drive carefully sign.
o Results:
In the first set of homeowners, only 17% of householders agreed with
putting the large sign in their front yard.
In the second set, 76% of them complied with this request.
o Conclusion:
o This study relates to FITD because when participants were asked a small
request (small sign), there was a higher compliance rate.
o FITD was shown to be an effective compliance technique.
o High Internal and Ecological validity.

Compliance Technique 2: Low-Balling (LB)


o Involves changing an offer to make it less attractive to the target person after
they have agreed to it.
For example, a car salesman offers a customer a good deal which
they accept. The salesman then finds an excuse to change the deal
and make it less attractive to the customer. Often customers agree to
the new, less desirable offer.
o Why is LB effective?
People want to act consistently with their internal
decisions/commitments.
People have become invested in and/or committed to the decision.
Supporting Study LB 3: Cialdini et al. (1974).
o Aim: A study demonstrating the LB technique
o Method:
Researchers asked a class of first-year psychology students to
volunteer to be part of a study on cognition that would meet at 7am.
A second group was asked the same, except they were not specified
with the time.
o Results:
For the first group, 24% of the students were willing to participate.
For the second group, 56% agreed to participate and all took part
after later having told that it was at 7am, despite being allowed to
withdraw
On the day of the meeting, 95% of students that agreed to participate
showed up for the 7am meeting.
o Conclusion:
Cialdini"s study shows the effectiveness of LB compliance technique
in that 56% of students complied with participating in the study when
LB was used, as opposed to 24% when LB was not used.
Supporting study LB 4: Burger and Cornelius (2003)
o Method:
Students were contacted by a female caller who asked if they would
donate five dollars to a scholarship fund for unprivileged students.
There were three experimental conditions:
- LB condition: students were told that those who contributed
would receive a free smoothie coupon.

o Students who agreed were then informed that the


caller had realized she ran out of coupons and the
students were then asked if they would still contribute.
- The caller made the same request as the LB condition, but
before they answered, the caller interrupted to let them know
that there were no more coupons.
- Participants were asked to donate money without mentioning
coupons (control).
o Results:
Conditions:
1. 77.6% agreed to make a donation.
2. 16% of participants made a donation.
3. 42% made the donation.
o Conclusion:
LB is only effective when people make an initial public commitment.
After which they feel obliged to act in accordance with it, even if the
conditions that they committed to had changed,
This study indicates that the LB technique is effective as the most
students complied with making a donation in the LB condition where
they were told that they would not receive a coupon after they agreed
to make the donation.