The aim of this handbook is to help you prepare and revise for the unit named
PSY2 in your A Level course in Psychology. It is not intended to take the place
of your class work nor of the full textbook covering the course, but it should
help you revise and prepare for the examination.
Solomon ASCH (1956)
Stanley MILGRAM (1963)
Richard RAHE (1970)
Elizabeth LOFTUS and PALMER (1974)
David BUSS (1989)
John BOWLBY (1944)
Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk (1960)
Gardner and Gardner (1969)
David ROSENHAN (1973)
Roger SPERRY (1968)
03 - 04
23 - 31
05 - 06
07 - 08
09 - 10
11 - 12
13 - 14
15 - 16
17 - 18
19 - 20
21 - 22
PSY 2 - The Ten Core Studies - An Overview
The ten Core Studies cover research drawn from the main areas of Psychology. These
studies give you the chance to study a wide range of studies so that you can become
familiar with the diversity of psychological enquiry into human behaviour, emotion, and
cognition. In the examination you will be expected to demonstrate your knowledge and
understanding of the aims, procedures and findings of the research involved in the core
studies. In addition, you will also be expected to assess each of the core studies critically.
This means evaluating each study, and identifying its strengths and weaknesses.
For each Core Study, you should be able to describe:
 Procedures
 Findings/conclusions
You should also be able evaluate the core studies in these areas (where appropriate):
 Ethical implications of the research
 Validity (experimental and/or ecological)
 Reliability
 Sampling biases (gender and/or cultural)
SOCIAL 1 – ASCH (1956)
Opinions & Social Pressure
Behavioural study of obedience
– RAHE et al. (1970)
– SPERRY (1968)
Prediction of health changes from
preceding life changes
Hemisphere deconnection and unity in
conscious awareness
– LOFTUS & PALMER (1974)
Teaching sign language to a chimpanzee
– BOWLBY (1944)
– GIBSON & WALK (1960)
Forty-four juvenile thieves: their
characters and home lives
The visual cliff
– BUSS (1989)
– ROSENHAN (1973)
Sex differences in human mate
On being sane in insane places
Reconstruction of automobile
destruction: language & memory
1 CONFORMITY - Opinions and Social Pressure
Solomon ASCH (1956)
Everyone is open to pressure from the people around them, especially when the people
applying the pressure are in the majority. In other words, we are all under social pressure
to conform to the views and opinions of the majority. Conformity can be defined as the
tendency to alter our beliefs, opinions, attitudes and behaviour to fit in with the majority
view. In fact, it is suggested that even our perceptions, the way we see things, can be
affected by group pressure.
Solomon Asch (1956) investigated how far the perception of individuals in the minority
could be affected by pressure from groups in the majority even when those in the
minority could clearly perceive that those in the majority were wrong in their responses.
In total 123 American male undergraduates were tested in groups of six to nine
participants seated either in a straight line or around a table. All the participants, except
one (the naïve participant), were stooges/confederates of the researcher.
Asch showed the participants a series of lines – a standard line and three similar lines.
The task was to call out, one at a time, which of the three lines (A, B or C) matched the
standard line (X) in length.
There were 18 trials. The confederates were instructed to give the same incorrect answer
on 12 critical trials. Answers were called out loud, and the naïve participant was always
last or second last to call out his answer.
In control trials, fewer than 1% of participants made errors when there was no pressure to
On the 12 critical trials, nearly 37% of the responses made by the naïve participants were
incorrect. This means these responses conformed to the incorrect responses given
unanimously by the confederates.
25% of the participants never gave a wrong answer; thus 75% conformed at least once.
Just to confirm that the stimulus lines were clear and unambiguous, Asch conducted
control trials with no confederates giving the wrong answers. Asch found that people
made mistakes about 1% of the time.
Asch’s experiment shows that there is a surprisingly strong tendency for people to
conform to group pressures even when the answer is clear and unambiguous. In fact, the
findings surprised Asch who had anticipated there would only be low levels of
conformity, if any at all.
Asch also noted the fact that on two-thirds of the trials his participants resisted the
pressure to conform, remained independent, and gave answers that corresponded to the
evidence before their eyes.
Asch then went on to investigate the factors that influence people to conform and those
factors that influence people to resist conforming to social pressure.
Asch’s experiment has been criticized because the task, estimating the length of lines,
was rather trivial and insignificant. Some participants would be willing to conform to
save face. On a more important task we would expect conformity levels to drop. The fact
that participants had to answer out loud, and in a group of strangers, meant there were
special pressures on them to conform, such as not wanting to sound stupid and wanting to
be accepted by the group. The findings, therefore, only tell us about conformity in special
The participants in the study were not a representative sample. They were all American
male undergraduates, and it has been claimed they belonged to a particularly conformist
society, America in the 1950s. When Asch’s experiment was repeated in England in the
1970s, only one student conformed on nearly 400 trials.
There are also ethical issues about the experiment. The naïve participants did not enjoy
informed consent. In fact, they were deceived about the purpose of the experiment, and
they were not informed they could withdraw at any time. Asch himself reported that
some of the participants were distressed and uncomfortable during the experiment.
On the positive side, Asch demonstrated the influence of conformity in a clear and
unambiguous way. The task was unambiguous. He tested the participants’ ability to
choose the correct answer before the main study. The answers were clearly correct or
wrong. Therefore, conformity could be measured in an objective way.
Stanley Milgram’s Shocking Obedience Study (1963)
Following the Second World War, many people believed that the Germans had carried
out their atrocities in the concentration camps because ‘the Germans are a highly
obedient nation who follow orders whether or not these orders are moral or immoral.’
Stanley Milgram wanted to disprove the ‘Germans are different’ hypothesis. Milgram
wanted to investigate the conditions under which people would obey instructions from
authority even when those instructions went against their moral beliefs.
Stanley Milgram (1963) investigated how obedient people would be when asked to
commit immoral acts by people perceived to be in authority.
Male participants for the experiment were recruited by an advertisement offering $4.50 to
take part in a study of memory and learning. This was a deception as the experiment
actually investigated how far they were willing to obey orders given by authority. The
experiment took place at the Yale University psychology department. When they arrived,
they were met by the experimenter wearing a grey lab coat. They were introduced to a Mr
Wallace, who was a confederate pretending to be another participant – the learner.
The experimenter told the naïve participant that the experiment was about the effects of
punishment on learning. The experimenter explained the punishment was to take the form
of electric shocks delivered via a shock generator by the teacher, the naïve participant.
The teacher then saw the learner being strapped into a chair with his arms attached to
Sitting in an adjoining room, the teacher/participant was instructed to deliver a shock to
Mr Wallace each time he made a mistake or did not answer on a task involving pairs of
words, e.g. girl-blue. The teacher gave the electric shocks using the generator which had
a number of switches. Each switch was clearly marked with a voltage level (starting at 15
volts) and a description (‘slight shock’). The shocks went up 15 volts at a time and
reached a maximum of 450 volts.
The learner gave mainly wrong answers and received his (fake) shocks in silence until
they reached 300 volts (very strong shock). The teachers were given 4 verbal prods to
encourage them to keep on shocking the learner to the maximum 450 volts. For example,
“You have no other choice, you must go on.”
Of the participants, 65% continued giving shocks to the maximum of 450 volts. Before
the experiment, a group of staff at the university had predicted only 0.1% would give the
maximum shock.
Many of the participants showed signs of distress (such as twitching, giggling nervously,
digging their nails into their flesh, and verbally attacking the experimenter). Three of the
participants suffered uncontrollable seizures.
Milgram concluded the ‘Germans are different’ hypothesis was false. Milgram’s
participants were 40 ‘ordinary’ Americans living in a fairly small typical town. Their
high level of obedience shows that we all tend to obey authority figures in particular
situations. If we had lived in Nazi Germany during the 1930s, we might have acted just as
obediently. Milgram concluded that people are likely to obey orders if they feel they are
following orders from people who have power and authority over them. In addition, the
less accountable and personally responsible they feel, the more likely people are to obey
orders. In other words, “I did it because I was ordered to and therefore I had no choice.”
The experimental and ecological validity of the experiment have been questioned. Critics
argue that Milgram’s experimental situation was absurd – participants were asked to
shock someone to death if necessary, because they could not remember that ‘blue’ was
paired with ‘girl’. The situation was unreal, the task unbelievable, and therefore the
conclusions had low experimental and ecological validity.
Critics such as Orme and Holland (1968) claim participants did not believe what was
happening in the experiment, so they relinquished (gave up) personal responsibility for
their actions and relied on ‘experts’ who ‘must know what they’re doing’. Indeed, one of
the verbal prods was “I’m responsible for what goes on here.” In effect, Milgram was
testing participants’ trust in, and not obedience to, authority.
Milgram’s research has regarded as unethical. The participants were not only deceived
about the nature of the experiment, but they were also exposed to the risk of emotional
and psychological harm. Many of the participants were clearly distressed during the
experiment; in fact, three had seizures and many were ‘prodded’ to continue to the
maximum by the researcher. To be fair, the participants were debriefed after the
experiment, and several months later 74% said they had learned something of personal
importance from the experiment.
In addition, Milgram’s research did provide crucial information about a crucial aspect of
human behaviour, by showing how easy it is to give in to powerful authority.
LIFE CHANGES - Richard RAHE (1972)
Thomas Holmes & Richard Rahe (1967) demonstrated that there is a relationship
between changes in our lives and the state of our health. They demonstrated that life
changes, desirable or undesirable, can trigger illness. Using their Social Readjustment
Rating Scale to measure Life Change Units, Holmes & Rahe (1967) suggested that a
score of 150 or more increased the chance of illness by 30%, while a score of 300 or
more increased the odds of illness by 50%.
However, Holmes & Rahe (1967) based their conclusions on research using participants
already suffering from stress-related illnesses. These people looked back over a two-year
period and recorded any life changes that had happened. In 1970, Richard Rahe
investigated whether Life Change Units could be related to the development of illness in
generally healthy participants.
Richard Rahe (1970) investigated if there is a prospective correlation between life
changes and subsequent/future illness.
Rahe’s (1970) sample consisted of 2664 sailors on three cruisers in the American navy.
The participants came from a wide range of backgrounds in terms of education, naval
rank, and experience at sea. The study had two major advantages: (a) all the participants
were exposed to the same conditions at sea, and (b) the researchers had access to the
detailed medical records of the participants, including any medical problem while they
were at sea.
In addition, a double blind was used. Neither the participants nor the medical staff on
board ship knew the research was taking place; therefore they could not be influenced by
such knowledge.
At the beginning of each naval mission, the participants completed a Schedule of Recent
Experience (SRE). This was a version of the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, which
recorded any changes in their lives during the previous two years. The SRE was used to
calculate a Life Change score for each participant.
As each ship returned from its mission, a research doctor came on board and reviewed all
the health records. It was then possible to calculate if there was a significant correlation
between Life Changes and the health of each participant.
Rahe (1970) found that there was a positive relationship between the Life Changes
recorded over a two-year period and the health of the participants. In other words, sailors
with high Life Change Unit scores had, in general, suffered from more illnesses during
the mission than those with low LCU scores. Rahe (1970) also found that married men
were more likely to develop illnesses than young, single sailors.
The results of the study support the idea that there is a correlation between LCU scores
and illness rates. This is important because we can use LCU scores to predict the
development of illness in healthy people, and offer them support and advice.
It is important to note that the men on board ship generally suffered from minor illnesses
only, and that they had report mainly minor life changes. However, this does not detract
from the important conclusion that too many changes in our lives during a short period
can lead to the development of illness.
EVALUATION – Strengths and Weaknesses
Strength - The results from this research support other research that suggests that Life
Change scores do have a low, but significant correlation, with stress and health
breakdown. This has proved very useful in helping people understand the nature of their
illnesses, and what can be done to improve their health. Variations of the Social
Readjustment Rating Scale are now widely used.
Strength – The research was carried out in well-controlled conditions. Neither the sailors
nor the medical staff on board ship knew the nature of this study (double-blind), and this
increases the experimental validity of the research. In other words, neither sailors nor
staff were influenced by demand characteristics.
Weakness - The sample used in this study consisted entirely of American sailors.
Therefore, we might question its ecological validity. Would the findings and conclusions
hold true for women and for people from different, e.g. non-Western cultures?
Weakness - Different people react differently to the same stressful situations; some
people might hate them while others actively enjoy them. For example, a wife might
happily welcome getting divorced while it may have a very negative impact on the
husband. However, in this research there was no allowance for individual reactions to
stress. In other words, every participant was allocated the same LCU score whether they
found the event/change desirable or undesirable. It might have been better to assess them
only on changes they perceived as negative.
LANGUAGE AND MEMORY - Loftus & Palmer (1974)
You are walking home and you see a child being knocked down by a car in the street. It is
not clear to you if the victim is a boy or a girl. A few minutes later a friend says, “Did
you see that little girl being knocked down?” You may question whether or it was a girl
or a boy. However, that evening, describing the accident to you family, you may well say,
“I saw a little girl being knocked down in the High Street this afternoon.” What you have
done is build into the original memory the later suggestion that the victim was a little girl.
Research has shown that information can be added to a particular memory after the event
itself (post-event information), and later recalled as part of the event itself. In other
words, the original event is reconstructed to include/incorporate the later information
Loftus & Palmer (1974) investigated how information supplied after an event can
influence the witness’s memory/recall of that event.
Student participants were shown a film of two cars involved in an accident. The
participants were then asked questions about the speed the cars were going when the
accident happened. However, the questions were varied by the inclusion of verbs such as
‘collided’, ‘hit’, ‘smashed’, and ‘bumped into’. For example, “How fast were the cars
going when they smashed into each other?” and “How fast were the cars going when they
bumped into each other?”
The researchers found that participants varied their estimates of speed depending upon
the particular verb used in their question. For example, the verb ‘smashed’ elicited the
highest estimates of speed. It seems the verb in the question influenced the estimate of the
One week later, the participants were asked if they had seen any broken glass after the
accident. There was actually no broken glass involved. However, 32% of the ‘smashed’
participants claimed to have seen broken glass while only 14% of the ‘hit’ participants
remembered seeing broken glass. In addition, 12% of the control group, who’d been
asked no questions at all, remembered having seen broken glass!
This study consisted of two laboratory experiments. In both conditions, the IV was the
verb used. In the first condition, the DV was the estimate of the speed of the cars; in the
second condition, the DV was whether or not the participant had seen broken glass.
The researchers concluded that the memories of the car accident could have been
influenced by the verb used to describe the intensity of the crash. In other words, this
post-event information influenced participants’ recall of what they had seen in the film.
They also suggested that participants might have integrated the original memory of the
accident with the idea of the cars smashing, hitting, colliding, or bumping. They then
reconstructed a memory in which broken glass might have appeared because that is
something to be expected in car crashes.
The researchers admitted that some of the participants could have given estimates of the
speed they thought the researcher wanted. For example, using the verb ‘smashed’
suggests a higher speed regardless of what they had witnessed on the screen, so that’s
what some participants gave.
This investigation consisted of well-controlled experiments. The researchers were able to
manipulate the IV, the verb used, and observe its effect on the DVs (the estimate of speed
and the recall, or not, of broken glass). All of the variables were well-controlled. For
example, Loftus & Palmer (1974) were able to control the ages of the participants, the
use of the filmed crash, and where the experiments took place. In addition, all of the
participants were asked the same, standardized questions – apart from the changes in the
critical verbs.
The ecological validity of the investigation is questionable. The experiments were not
typical of real-life situations. They were artificial in the sense that they were different
from how people normally witness events. For example, when we witness events in
everyday life, we often feel personally involved with the people or the action. This was
not true in this investigation. Therefore, it may be difficult to generalise the conclusions
of the investigation to eye-witnesses in general.
In addition, the filmed car accident had very little emotional impact on the participants.
Research has shown that events with strong emotional impact often remain detailed and
accurate for a long time afterwards.
A further problem with the study is the sample of participants. For example, students are
used to remembering lots of information, and are usually good at memory tasks compared
with other people. Students are not representative of the wider population, so the results
are difficult to generalise. It would be useful to replicate the investigation using a crosssection of people in the sample.
David BUSS (1989)
David Buss (1989) investigated the characteristics that appealed to human males and
females in their selection of a mate – husband, wife, partner. He investigated these
characteristics across a large number of cultures because he wished to find out what was
typical for the human species across these cultures.
Buss and his team surveyed 10,047 men and women in 37 samples from 33 countries.
The participants were located on 6 continents and 5 islands. The age of the participants in
the sample groups ranged from 17 years in New Zealand to 29 years in West Germany.
Sampling techniques varied across the different countries. For example, in New Zealand
the sample consisted of high school students from three schools. In West Germany the
sample was selected through newspaper advertisements. Occasionally, questionnaires
needed to be amended to reflect the cultural differences of the various cultures. For
example, in Nigeria polygyny is practised, so questions had to be added to reflect the
possibility of multiple wives.
The questionnaire included a four-point rating scale where participants had to rate 18
characteristics. These included good financial prospects, good looks, chastity and
ambition. The research data was collected by native residents of each country and mailed
to the researchers in the USA for analysis. Research assistants were unaware of the main
hypotheses of the investigation.
Buss found some things were universally desired by men and women everywhere, in all
cultures. For example, intelligence, kindness, dependability, emotional stability, good
health, and mutual attraction were desired by both men and women in every culture.
However, Buss also found there were clear differences between what women desired and
men desired. Women valued economic resources and financial stability more than men.
They also valued men who had the qualities, such as ambition and industriousness,
necessary to secure these resources as and when they were needed. In short, women
preferred men who could provide, protect and support.
In contrast, men valued only two things more than women did. One was physical
attractiveness (smooth skin, shiny hair, an attractive figure), the second was youth. Men
wanted women who were younger than they were; how much younger depended upon the
age of the man. As men got older, they desired partners who were increasingly younger
than themselves.
Buss found there were some variations between cultures, and that the most importance of
these was the importance of chastity, i.e. being a virgin before marriage. Some cultures
such as China feel that virginity before marriage is absolutely essential; chastity is of
middling importance in countries like Ireland and Japan; and in Scandinavia chastity is of
little importance.
Buss concluded everyone, regardless of culture, wants a mate who is intelligent, kind,
healthy and dependable. Everyone also wants a relationship that offers love or mutual
attraction. And everyone seeks a mate who can help produce and care for their off-spring.
Buss also concluded that men and women do have different priorities. Men place great
emphasis on physical attractiveness and men often desire women who are younger than
themselves. This may be linked to the male need to secure the best females to bear and
nurture their off-spring as a way of carrying on their genes. For women, on the other
hand, the priority in choosing a mate is his status, his ability to provide for the family,
and his ability to secure resources when they are needed. Women also desire men who
are older then themselves; this may be because being older and more mature is linked
with having greater resources.
Buss (1989) concluded that these sex differences “… appear to be rooted in the
evolutionary history of our species.” In other words, Buss is offering an evolutionary,
sociobiological theory of what humans want in a mate.
Buss’s (1989) research does provide some support for an evolutionary, sociobiological
explanation of human mate preferences. It is true that men’s chances of reproductive
success should be increased if they mate with younger, healthy, adult females. In their
turn, women may prefer men who can act as a provider to take care of them during
pregnancy, nursing, and the raising of children. It is not surprising if women select men
who can provide, protect and support them and their children.
The evolutionary explanation is determinist. It suggests that human mating behaviour is
determined by genetic drives the individual is hardly aware of. Yet we know that mate
selection often depends on individual choices, or on cultural pressures such as arranged
marriages. We also know that romantic love plays a huge role in mate selection,
particularly amongst Western women, and that this desire for romantic love often overrides considerations such as financial resources and support.
John BOWLBY (1944)
John Bowlby believed that very young children need to form a strong emotional bond
with their mother, or a mother figure, in order to grow up as happy, healthy, wellbalanced adults. He suggested that children separated from or deprived of mother love
and attention in early childhood might suffer social, emotional and cognitive damage –
the so-called Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis. According to Bowlby, possible long-term
effects of maternal deprivation included juvenile delinquency and affectionless
In his Forty-Four Juvenile Thieves Study (1944), John Bowlby investigated if there was a
link between early maternal separation and the development of juvenile delinquency and
affectionless psychopathy.
In this research Bowlby used the case study method. Bowlby looked at case studies of 44
‘juvenile thieves’ (teenagers convicted of theft) and 44 emotionally-disturbed teenagers
to see how many in each group had experienced early maternal separation – in particular,
a period of 6 months or more of separation in the first 5 years of their lives.
Bowlby used detailed interviews with the participants. He also analysed their personal
records, including past school and medical records. Bowlby was also interested in
diagnosing a condition he called ‘affectionless psychopathy’ where the individual is
incapable of giving or accepting affection.
Bowlby found that 40% of the juvenile thieves had been separated from their mothers for
at least 6 months during the first 5 years of their lives. In the emotionally-disturbed
group, only 5% had experienced similar separation in their early years.
He also classified a significant number of the juvenile thieves as affectionless
psychopaths. And out of the 14 classes as affectionless psychopaths, 12 had experienced
maternal separation. None of the emotionally-disturbed group was classified as a
Bowlby concluded that there was a link between maternal separation and the
development of juvenile delinquency and affectionless psychopathy. It is important to
note that he did not claim that maternal separation ‘caused’ these conditions, but that
children who suffered from maternal separation were at risk of developing these
Bowlby’s research is important because it reminds us that maternal separation can have
damaging effects of a child’s emotional, social and cognitive development.
However, several criticisms have been made concerning Bowlby’s procedures and
conclusions in this study.
The study was retrospective. The participants, including disturbed teenagers, were
asked to recall and describe any periods of separation from their early childhood.
This was asking them to recall events at least 10 years before the study. These
juveniles had to reconstruct their memories, and they might have been able to
recover memories of painful events in childhood. In addition, there was no
guarantee that the participants’ written records were complete and unbiased.
There were no experimental controls in this study. Bowlby knew which group
was which. He expected to find ‘affectionless psychopathy’ amongst the juvenile
thieves, and this expectation might have influenced his findings.
In addition, there was no random sampling of the participants, and no random
distribution between the groups. He could have compared a group who had
experienced separation from their mothers with a matched group who had
experienced no separation. If there was a difference in the outcomes between the
two groups, he could have concluded the difference was due to maternal
Bowlby ignored the fact that 60% of the juvenile thieves had not experienced
maternal separation but had gone on to develop juvenile delinquency. From these
finding he could have argued that the lack of maternal separation leads to
Finally, Bowlby used the term ‘maternal separation’ to describe three different
conditions: failure to form any attachment, temporary separation from an attached
figure, and the permanent loss of an attached figure. Each of these conditions
might have had different effects.
7 THE VISUAL CLIFF – Depth Perception in Infants
Gibson & Walk (1960)
Suzie is 7 months old. Out on a family picnic, she crawls away and reaches a fairly steep
drop. She peers over the top, then edges cautiously back from the drop. Is her reaction to
the danger innate (inborn) or has she learned to avoid such dangers?
Developmental psychologists have been fascinated by the ways in which infants perceive
the world. In classic research, they have found that infants generally respond to cues for
depth by the time they are able to crawl about, that is, by about 6 to 8 months of age. It
thus appears that we can say that most infants will avoid “going off the deep end.” They
won’t crawl off ledges and tabletops into open space.
Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk (1960) investigated the development of visual depth
perception in infants. They investigated whether depth perception is innate, learned or a
combination of both. They also investigated the depth perception in infant goats, chicks,
kittens and rats.
The researchers created a ‘visual cliff’. This was actually a glass-topped table that could
safely support the weight of the infant participants. A check-patterned tablecloth was
positioned just beneath the glass on one half of the table (the ‘shallow side’) and 4-feet
below the glass on the other side (the ‘deep side’). This gave the visual impression of a
steep drop, a visual cliff, at one en of the table.
The researchers tested 36 infants ranging from 6 months to 14 months on a ‘visual cliff’.
Each child was placed on the centre board, and its mother called to her infant from the
cliff side, then from the shallow side successively. In other words, the infants were
encouraged to crawl over the edge of the visual cliff in order to reach their mothers.
Of the 36 infants, only 3 of the infants crept onto the plexiglas above the drop. Many of
the infants crawled away from the mother when she called to them from the cliff side.
Others cried when she stood there because they could not come to her without crossing
the apparent drop. Often the infants would peer down through the glass on the deep side
and then back away. Some infants patted the glass with their hands as if testing the
surface but even then they would refuse to cross the plexiglass and the ‘drop’ below it.
Gibson and Walk (1960) concluded that most human infants can discriminate depth by
the time they are able to crawl around. It seems our ability to perceive depth matures
more quickly than our ability to get around by crawling or walking. They also concluded
that human beings depend upon vision to make their way around the world from a very
early age.
Gibson and Walk (1960) accepted their experiment does not prove that the development
of depth perception is innate. They accepted that learning, perhaps by trial and error, also
helps the development of depth perception.
They suggested that the development of depth perception could be an evolutionary
mechanism designed to help infants avoid danger and so have a better chance of survival.
Developing the ability to see in depth is vital when you creatures, human and non-human,
start moving around independently.
The researchers supported their conclusions by further experiments involving young
animals, including goats, chicks, kittens and rats. They found that kittens whose eyes had
just opened would not venture onto the apparent drop. On the other hand, young rats
would run across the drop but would refuse when their whiskers were removed; this
demonstrated that touch is a more important sense than vision for rats.
It seems then that the survival of a species requires that its members develop discrimination
of depth by the time they begin moving around independently, whether at one day (the
chick and the goat), three to four weeks (the rat and the cat) or six to 10 months (the human
Gardner and Gardner (1969)
If you want to start a fierce argument, simply ask the question: “Do you think that
animals can think?” If they can think, they need some kind of language – a language
similar in some ways to human language. Of course, no animal has a human voice box,
so if they are to communicate with humans it will probably be through visual
communication, such as symbols or sign language. If there is such an animal, it’s
probably a primate, and if it’s a primate, it’s likely to be a chimpanzee. Chimpanzees are
our closest relatives; we share more than 98% of our DNA with them. So, the question is:
can a chimpanzee learn to communicate with human beings through symbols or sign
Allen and Beatrice Gardner were pioneers in trying to teach primate apes to communicate
in a non-spoken language. Gardner and Gardner (1969) attempted to demonstrate that a
chimpanzee does have the ability to learn to communicate with a human being in sign
The study, which lasted four years, involved teaching American Sign Language to a
female chimpanzee named Washoe who was removed from other chimpanzees when she
was 11 months old. The Gardners chose a chimpanzee because chimps are intelligent,
sociable and often form strong attachments to human beings.
The Gardners decided to teach American Sign Language to Washoe because chimps can
move hands, fingers and thumbs flexibly, and because ASL would be equivalent to
spoken language. They also thought ASL would be useful because this would allow them
to compare Washoe’s progress with that of deaf children who were also learning ASL.
The Gardners made sure that Washoe had lots of companions who were also learning
The Gardners used the case study method during her four years of training. Washoe was
taught ASL mainly using imitation and operant conditioning, i.e. she was rewarded by
being praised and tickled when she produced the correct signs in ASL.
Records were kept about the amount of signing behaviour and the number of signs used. A
sign was recorded if it was reported by three different observers that Washoe had used it
spontaneously and in the correct context.
After four years, Washoe was able to use about 130 signs, and she could combine them
into short messages, such as ‘Give me sweet’ and ‘Washoe sorry’. Later, she could
produce three-word sentences. She was also able to invent some novel phrases, such as
‘water bird’ to mean ‘swan’. Washoe also demonstrated displacement ability, which
means referring to something that is not present at the time. For example, she could refer
to a bottle when there was no bottle in the room. By the age of five, Washoe’s linguist
ability was reported comparable to that of a three-year-old human child.
The Gardners hoped that Washoe would pass on what she had learned to her own offspring. Unfortunately, her two babies died soon after birth. However, she adopted an 11
months old chimp named Loulis, and used sign language with him. Loulis learned to
imitate and use a number of these signs.
The Gardners’ research has been criticised by psychologists who claimed Washoe had
been merely trained like a circus animal to use sign language. In other words, she didn’t
really understand what she was doing; she had simply been conditioned through imitation
and operant conditioning. They suggest there were probably many experiment effects
such as the Gardners’ own facial movements and expressions. This unconscious cueing
may have influenced Washoe’s performance without them being aware of it.
Linguists also pointed out that human children do not acquire language in this artificial
way. They claimed human beings were ‘wired for sound’ in a way that non-human
animals are not.
Critics also claimed Washoe rarely satisfied the criterion we call arbitrariness.
Arbitrariness means there is no obvious connection between the form or sound of a word
and its meaning. For example, there is no obvious connection between the word ‘boy’
and what the word refers to – a boy.
Ethical questions have also been raised about research using primate apes such as
Washoe, Loulis, and those who have followed in their footsteps.
1. Do we have the right to remove wild animals from their natural habitats for our
research purposes? Should Washoe have been returned to the wild when she was old
enough to cope?
2. Can we justify using animals so close to us in DNA in psychology research?
3. Was the study important enough to justify the use of an infant chimpanzee?
4. Should Washoe have been removed from all contact with other infant chimps?
5. Should Washoe have been taught something, human sign language, which is
something she would never use in her natural life and situation?
David Rosenhan (1973)
Would you know the difference between a sane and an insane person if he/she were
sitting beside you right now? Perhaps you wouldn’t. But you would expect an expert, say,
a psychiatrist to notice the difference, especially if he was actually treating that person.
Simple, yes? ‘Fraid not.
In 1973 sociologist David Rosenhan designed a clever study to test the hypothesis that
psychiatrists cannot reliably tell the difference between people who are sane and people
who are insane. He was particularly interested in how staff in mental institutions
interpreted the behaviour of their patients. He decided the best way to get this
information was from inside mental institutions through participant observation.
The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that psychiatrists cannot reliably tell the
difference between people who are sane and those who are insane. Rosenhan was also
interested in how the staff, doctors and nurses, interpreted the behaviour of their patients
in mental institutions.
The study consisted of two parts. In the first part of the study Rosenhan and seven
confederates had themselves committed to different mental hospitals by complaining they
were hearing voices (a common symptom of schizophrenia). There were three women
and five men. The staff did not know these ‘pseudopatients’ were actually part of
Rosenhan’s field experiment. The staff assumed the pseudopatients were like any other
patients and had no reason to believe the reported symptoms were fake. This allowed the
pp’s to observe and take part in the routine of the mental hospitals (participant
The pp’s gave a false name and job, but all the other information they gave was true,
including their life and medical histories. After they were admitted to the psychiatric
ward, the pp’s stopped simulating any symptoms of abnormality. They took part in the
ward activities, speaking to staff and patients, as they might ordinarily. When asked how
they were feeling by staff, they said they were fine and were no longer experiencing any
unusual symptoms. In order to be released from hospital, the pp’s had to convince the
staff that they were sane. The pp’s spent time writing notes about their observations. At
first this was done secretly, but when they realised the staff ignored this note-taking, they
did it quite openly.
In the second part of the study, a mental institution was falsely informed that
pseudopatients were going to be ‘planted’ amongst their patients. They were asked to try
and spot these pp’s; in other words, to spot the patients who were sane. In fact, no pp’s
were planted in any of these hospitals. However, many of the regular patients in these
hospitals were assessed by the staff as being completely sane.
Not one of the pseudopatients was detected by the staff, and seven of them were
diagnosed as schizophrenic. They were all eventually discharged with a diagnosis of
‘schizophrenia in remission’, suggesting the mental illness could return at any time. The
shortest stay for a pp was 7 days, the longest was 52 days, and the average stay was 19
Although no pp was detected by the staff, many of the regular patients suspected there
was nothing wrong with them; 35 out of the 118 regular patients voiced their suspicions
but they were ignored by the staff. A lot of the pp’s normal behaviour was interpreted by
the staff as ‘abnormal’ and symptoms of their schizophrenia. For example, even their
note-taking was interpreted as abnormal ‘writing behaviour’.
The pp’s observed that even their life histories and medical histories were sometimes
changed so that some past events were interpreted as examples of schizophrenic
behaviour. Finally, pp’s were often treated as ‘objects’ rather than as fully human
individuals. Very often their requests and inquiries were ignored by staff who treated
patients, pseudo and genuine, as if they were invisible.
1. The main experiment demonstrated a failure to detect sanity. The second experiment
demonstrated a failure to detect insanity. Therefore, Rosenhan claimed that
psychiatrists cannot reliably tell the difference between people who are sane and those
who are insane.
2. Rosenhan suggests that psychiatric labels for mental illness tend to influence how a
person is seen in a way that medical labels do not. And that everything a patient does
is interpreted to fit that label once it has been applied.
3. Rosenhan noted that mental patients tend to be depersonalised and rendered
powerless when they are in institutions. For example, their medical records are
open to all members of staff; many of the toilets do not have doors; and staff
members may treat patients quite brutally in front of other patients, but not when
other members of staff are present.
4. Rosenhan suggested that instead of labelling a person as insane, we should focus on
the individual’s specific problems and behaviours. In other words, we should treat the
person and not the label.
AWARENESS - Roger Sperry (1968)
The human brain is divided into two hemispheres – a left hemisphere and a right
hemisphere. The hemispheres communicate with one another by the corpus callosum, a
bridge of fibres that connects them. Although the two hemispheres look similar, they
have different functions. For example, the left hemisphere is usually responsible for
language while the right hemisphere is better at spatial tasks, for example drawing and
pointing at objects. This division of tasks between the hemispheres is called lateralisation
of function.
In patients suffering from severe epilepsy, surgery is sometimes used to severe the corpus
callosum to prevent a seizure spreading from one hemisphere so the other. Such patients,
whose hemispheres have been deconnected are described as having a split-brain.
Roger Sperry (1968) investigated the effects of hemisphere deconnection, in particular to
demonstrate that each hemisphere of the human brain carries out different functions.
The participants in this study were 11 patients who had undergone deconnection of their
cerebral hemispheres because they suffered from intractable epilepsy that could not be
controlled by medication. These patients were therefore ‘split-brain’ patients.
Sperry used a number of tasks in order to investigate lateralisation of brain function. The
tasks were carried out in laboratory conditions, using specialised equipment and were
highly standardised. The tasks all involved settings tasks separately to the two brain
hemispheres. The performance of the ‘split-brain’ patients was compared with that of
participants with no hemisphere deconnection (the control group). The study also makes
use of the case study method. The case studies were in-depth investigations of the 11
For example, in one task patients were asked to respond to tactile information. For
example, a spoon was put into the patient’s hand without the patient being able to see
what the object was. The patient was then asked to name the object. According to Sperry,
if the spoon is placed in the left hand of a split-brain patient, he should not be able to
name it because the object had not been seen by the right hand side of the brain.
Similarly, Sperry predicted that if an object is flashed in the left field of a patient’s vision,
he is likely to report he saw nothing.
As predicted by Sperry, when participants were presented with an image in one half of
their visual field and then presented with the same image in the other half, they responded
as if they had never seen the image before. In addition, participants were not able to
describe an image presented only to the left side of their visual field. The image was
either not noticed or just appeared as a flash. For example, two symbols were presented at
the same time – a dollar sign to the left field of vision, a question mark to the right field
of vision. Patients were then asked to draw and name what they had seen. They drew the
dollar sign but named it as a question mark.
Sperry also found that hemisphere deconnection did not affect the patients’ intelligence
(as measured by an IQ test), nor did deconnection affect their personality. The effects of
the surgery did affect the patients in that they had short-term memory difficulties, limited
concentration spans, and orientation problems.
Sperry argued that his studies give considerable support to his argument of lateralisation
of function, i.e. each hemisphere of the brain is specialised for the performance of certain
tasks. The left hemisphere specialises in language tasks while the right hemisphere
specialises in tasks involving spatial analysis.
Sperry showed that each hemisphere can operate as a separate ‘brain’ if the whole brain
is divided surgically. He also went on to argue that each hemisphere has its own
perceptions, memories and experiences.
A strength of Sperry’s procedure is that he combined cases studies of the ‘split brain’
patients with well-controlled tasks. This provided him with qualitative and quantitative
information. This combination of methods allows for the reliable data gathered to be
enhanced by the participants’ description of their personal experiences.
A major weakness of the study was Sperry’s small sample – only 11 ‘split brain’ patients,
but this was probably beyond his control because of the small number available.
However, this did allow him to gather more in-depth data in the case studies.
The 11 split-brain patients were the experimental group. The control group – people with
no deconnection – could have been improved by using epileptic people who had not been
Finally, there is the question of ecological validity. In real life, people whose hemispheres
have been deconnected use both eyes to compensate for any loss of function.
In this section of PSY2 you will be given two novel situations. You choose one of these
situations and then describe how you would conduct research into the situation you have
chosen. You are guided in the design of your research by these topics: method;
reliability OR validity; ethical issues; ways of dealing with these ethical issues;
sampling techniques; and methods of analysis.
Here is how this section of PSY2 looks:
Answer either question 7 or question 8.
You are reminded the focus of your response must be the application of knowledge of
research methods to the novel situation.
7. You have been asked to investigate whether having a dog as a pet has a beneficial
impact on the individual’s psychological health and physical health.
Discuss how you would conduct research into this area, explain the design of the
research in terms of: method; reliability OR validity; ethical issues; ways of
dealing with these ethical issues; sampling techniques; and methods of analysis.
8. You have been asked to investigate whether there are differences in the games that
boys and girls engage in when they are in the school playground area.
Discuss how you would conduct research into this area, explain the design of the
research in terms of: method; reliability OR validity; ethical issues; ways of
dealing with these ethical issues; sampling techniques; and methods of analysis.
When designing your research, make sure you
Explain the design of the research in terms of method;
Explain how you would ensure the reliability of your research; OR
Explain how you would ensure the validity of your research;
Discuss ethical issues that might arise in your investigation;
Explain how you would deal with these ethical issues;
Explain what sampling techniques you would use and why
Explain how you would analyse and display the data.
Identifying the Method
Perhaps the greatest challenge in designing your research is your choice of method.
Depending on the novel situation, you could choose to conduct a questionnaire survey,
interviews, naturalistic observation, correlational study, or an experiment.
If an experiment is appropriate, will it be a laboratory experiment, a field experiment, or a
natural experiment? If it is an experiment, can you identify the IV (independent variable)
and the DV (dependent variable)? And you will also need to choose and identify an
experimental design – repeated measures, independent groups, matched participants.
When you are deciding on your method, ask and answer these questions.
What’s the aim of this investigation?
What would be a suitable hypothesis?
Where will the research take place?
Who will the participants be?
How should the data be gathered?
Now apply these questions to the following hypotheses and decide on the most
appropriate method to investigate them.
Students learn more in the morning than in the afternoon.
Girls watch more ‘soaps’ than boys.
People remember emotionally-charged words better than emotionally-neutral words.
Older people sleep fewer hours than younger people.
Teachers give higher marks to attractive students than they do to unattractive
6) Boys are more aggressive than girls in the playground.
7) A-level grades improve as revision time increases.
8) Students who have a computer at home do better in exams than students who do
not have a computer.
9) Good-looking people have higher levels of self-esteem.
10) Customers remember the faces of shop assistants who smile and make pleasant
comments than shop assistants who do not.
Ethical Issues
You probably noticed that a number of the situations above involve ethical issues.
Can you identify at least one ethical issue involved in each study, and how it could be
dealt with?
Ethical issues include:
 Participants must be protected from psychological or physical harm
 Consent/Informed Consent
 Deception
Right to withdraw from an investigation
Anonymity and confidentiality
Follow-up counselling
Sampling Techniques
Let’s say you wanted to investigate if the boys in your school were more aggressive than
the girls. In an ideal investigation you would include every boy and girl in the study but
that’s impossible. The boys and girls in your school would be the target population, and
you would select only a representative sample. There are different ways of selecting your
sample. These include: opportunity sampling; volunteer or self-selected sampling;
random sampling; stratified sampling.
 Explain how each sampling is carried out
 Describe one advantage of each sampling method.
 Describe one disadvantage of each sampling method.
Identify an appropriate sampling method for each of the 10 novel situations above.
Reliability – A Reminder
There are two kinds of reliability:
 Internal reliability refers to the extent to which a test provides consistent
findings. An IQ test that gave you a score of 130 on Monday and a score of 80 on
Tuesday would clearly be unreliable. The split-half method can be used to test
internal reliability. For example, you could split the IQ test into two sections. If
the participant scored very differently on the first section compared with the
second section, the test would not be reliable.
 External reliability means the test is consistent over a period of time. For
example, an IQ test should produce the same results as it did last year. We often
test reliability by using the test-retest method.
Explain how you would ensure reliability when
investigating each of the 10 hypotheses outlined above.
Validity – Internal and External
 Internal validity refers to the extent to which a test measures what it is supposed
to be measuring. There are quite a number of factors that can undermine the
validity of an investigation, and if internal validity is low, the results have little
value. These factors include: participant awareness that he is taking part in an
investigation; demand characteristics, investigator effects, experimenter bias – for
example, the experimenter’s expectations affect the participants’ performance.
Ways of dealing with these include the single blind design, the double blind
design, and experimental realism. A pilot study, a small-scale trial, is often
carried out to check the validity of what will happen in the full investigation.
 External validity refers to the extent to which the findings/conclusions of an
investigation can be generalised beyond that particular investigation. There are
different kinds of external validity. Ecological validity is concerns the extent to
which our findings can be generalised to the real world and the extent to which
these finds are representative of the real world. Population validity concerns
generalising the findings to different people or populations. Historical validity
concerns generalising the findings to people who lived at different times, e.g.
modern times and medieval times. To test external validity we should try and
replicate our study, using exactly the same standarised procedures, to check it
produces the same findings.
Explain how you would ensure validity when investigating each of the 10 hypotheses
outlined above.
Correlational Analysis
Correlation allows the researcher to compare two variables where one is related to the
other; for example, ice-cream sales increase as the temperature increases (a positive
correlation), and umbrella sales decrease as the days get drier (a negative correlation).
The correlation co-efficient is a statistical way to measure the relationship between two
variables: +/1.0 means a perfect correlation while 0.0 means no correlation at all.
Correlation allows predictions to be made (global warming’s here – order more icecream!) but it can never say that one variable causes the change in the other variable.
In the 10 hypothesis, identify the investigations where correlational analysis would be
appropriate, why it would be appropriate, and have a guess at what the correlation
coefficient, if any, might be.
Warning! These are not model answers. These are answers given by students. They are
included here for you to read, discuss and think about. How well do you think each student
has done? Are there things that are wrong? Or things that could be improved? Remember
it’s understanding that helps you learn, not simply repeating what you have been told, no
matter how well you have been told it.
1. You have been asked to investigate the attitudes towards dieting in young people
from different backgrounds.
The aim of my study is to investigate the relationship between young people’s
background and their attitude towards eating and dieting.
I would do a questionnaire survey and an interview to gather the information from the
participants. The questionnaire would involve closed questions and forced answers to
provide me with quantitative data. Using questionnaires is quick and cheap, and they
can gather a lot of data from a large sample of participants. I would interview a sample of
these participants, using an unstructured interview, to check the responses they gave on
the questionnaire. This would provide qualitative data.
I would check the reliability of my investigation by doing a pilot study first. This would
check the questions I asked really were all about the backgrounds and the eating habits of
the participants. I would make sure that my investigation could be replicated step-bystep and get the same results from the same target population. I would also interview the
sample myself to avoid researcher bias.
I would keep in mind any ethical issues that might arise. Young people, especially girls,
are sensitive about dieting, so I would reassure participants that their confidentiality and
anonymity would be respected. I would give each participant a number and I would not
record any details that could identify particular participants. My investigation would start
when I had obtained the participants’ informed consent.
I would obtain my participants by using volunteer sampling amongst the members of the
Sixth Form in my school. Volunteer sampling has the advantage of being easy and it
gives you a variety of participants, but it can be biased because volunteers are not usually
representative of the target population. I would pin up a notice in the Sixth Form common
room and see how many volunteers I could attract. From these volunteers, I would select
about 20 males and females from a wide variety of backgrounds.
I would divide the participants into three groups, according to their backgrounds. I would
analyse the quantitative/numerical data, using the measures of central tendency – the
mean, the mode and the median (high scores correspond to the frequency of dieting). I
would then display the data using graphs and charts. For example, a scattergraph would
show the correlation, if any, between backgrounds and dieting habits. A bar chart would
also allow the data to be assessed at a glance.
2. You have been asked to investigate the suggestion that small children playing outside
do not wander far away from their mothers.
The aim of my study would be to see how close children stay to their mothers during
play outside. My hypothesis would be that children playing outside stay close to their
I would use naturalistic observation as my method. This has the advantage of studying
behaviour where it naturally occurs and in situations where the variables cannot be
manipulated. It has the disadvantage that the researcher cannot control any extraneous
variables that might occur. In this case, I would observe children, under 5, with their
mothers in a popular local park near where I live.
To ensure reliability I would make up a Table to keep a record of my observations. This
might include the child’s distances from his mother, the number of times he achieved
these distance, and the number of observations. This would provide quantitative data. I
would also do a pilot study to test the reliability of everything I planned to do. I might
also use the test-retest method and do the same observations a week later to check my
There are always ethical issues in observing people. It would be unethical to watch
mothers and children in a park without first obtaining informed consent, and potential
participants would have the right to decline to take part in the study. I would also
ensure the participants knew their anonymity and confidentiality would be respected,
and I would take no personal information that could identify the participants.
My sampling would be a combination of opportunity sampling and volunteer
sampling. I would have to use the mothers and children who happened to be in the park
at the time of my investigation, and I would have to ask potential participants to volunteer
to take part when I invited their informed consent. One limitation of this approach is that
there might not be typical cross-section of participants present at the time of my
investigation, and playing in a park might cause different behaviour from playing outside
in different conditions, for example at the swings.
Because I have secured quantitative data, including the ages of the children, I would be
able to use the measures of central tendency, the mean, the mode and the median. This
might show that older toddlers are more likely to wander further away from their mothers
than younger children. I could also use scattergraphs and bar charts to display the
results. My findings might also be useful in measuring levels and kinds of attachment
between mothers and children.
3. Most students say they feel very stressed during examinations. Some students claim
they feel little or no stress at this time. Students claim that stress can affect their
examination performance. How would you investigate whether stress levels affect
students’ performance?
This investigation would examine whether stress levels affect students’ performance
during examinations. My hypothesis would be that examination performance deteriorates
as stress scores rise. This would be a directional hypothesis as I am predicting the
direction of the outcome of the investigation.
After I obtained my sample, I would measure each student’s stress level just before
he/she took each examination. After the examinations, I would obtain each student’s
examination scores. This means I would have two scores (stress levels and scores) for
each student. I would then use correlation analysis to measure the relationship between
the co-variables - stress levels and examination performance overall.
To ensure the reliability of my investigation, I would measure stress levels by using the
galvanic stress response (GSR), which is a measure of ANS (autonomic nervous system)
activity. This would give me a numerical score for each student (quantitative data). I
would also use a questionnaire to let each student assess his/her own stress levels. It
would be a good idea to run a pilot study to check my method was reliable.
I would obtain a random sample from the students in the Sixth Form at my school. This
would everyone an equal chance of being selected. I would put the names of everyone in
the Sixth Form in a hat, and the first 20 drawn would constitute my sample. Of course, I
would need informed consent from each student/participant taking part in my
Informed consent is ethically important, especially when young people are involved in
an investigation. The BPS ethical guidelines suggest that consent must be given for all
studies unless there is a good reason for deception. In this case, I would explain fully
(using a standardized notice) to ever participant the nature and procedure of my
investigation. I would also get permission from my head teacher, and I would ask the
participants to sign an informed consent form.
When I had obtained all my data, I would produce a scattergraph to show the
relationship between stress levels and examination performance. The line of best fit
would show at a glance if there was a negative correlation between the two sets of
scores. I would also prepare a summary table showing the scores. I would then use an
appropriate statistical test to calculate the correlation coefficient, and see if the
correlation was significant or not.
4. In recent years there has been a great emphasis on encouraging healthy eating in
schools. How would you investigate whether the students in your school have
healthy eating habits?
My aim would be to investigate whether students in my school have healthy eating habits
or not. In order to investigate this I would construct a suitable questionnaire, and I would
use the questionnaire to carry out my survey.
The advantage of using a questionnaire is that you can obtain a lot of data quickly and
cheaply. They can provide large samples, and the researcher does not have to be there
when they are being completed. One disadvantage is that participants may give you the
answers they think you want, or they make give you totally false answers (the s-called
‘screw you’ effect.
I would use closed questions with forced answers in the questionnaire. For example: Do
you smoke? Never – Occasionally – Frequently – Far too much. And: How many
portions of fruit do you eat every day? 0 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5. It is much easier to analyse
data like this than qualitative data I would get from an unstructured interview.
To check reliability, I would carry out a pilot study, a mini-version of the real thing.
This would check the design of the questionnaire, and make sure the questions were
clear and unambiguous. I would also make sure there were no upsetting questions in the
questionnaire. I might also use the test-retest method by asking my participants to do the
questionnaire again a week later and then compare the responses.
There are usually ethical issues when asking people for personal information, for
example about their eating habits. As mentioned, I would make sure there were no
upsetting questions in the questionnaire. I would also ensure that participants did not put
their names on the questionnaires, and I would explain their rights of confidentiality
when I was obtaining their informed consent.
I would use a volunteer sample to select about 50 participants. I would ask teachers from
Years 1 to 5 to ask for 10 volunteers each to take part. The teachers would also explain
the nature and purpose of the investigation, using my standardized information. The
teachers would also collect in the completed questionnaires and return them to me.
I would use a range of graphics to analyse and display my results. For example, I could
use pie charts and bar charts to display the results. I might also publish my results on the
computer network system to show how healthy – or not – our school is.
5. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that giving rewards encourages behaviour. How
would you investigate the suggestion that rewards encourage desirable behaviour in
your school?
The hypothesis for my investigation would be that rewards encourage desirable
behaviour. I would select a directional hypothesis because previous research suggests
the hypothesis will be supported by my study.
Basically I would conduct a field experiment in my school. This would involve two
groups from Year 7, Group A and Group B. These groups would come from the same
ability band, and they would be independent groups. Both groups would be set the same
task, for example memorising the capital cities of 10 European countries. Group A would
not know that Group B were promised a reward if they did very well in the task. Both
groups would have 30 minutes to memorise the capitals, then they would be tested for
To ensure the reliability of my investigation, I would ask the class teachers to carry out
my procedure in class. I would also ask them to follow my standardised instructions.
This might help reduce researcher bias. I would also choose capital cities the students
were not likely to know, and I would test these out on a similar Year 7 class first. I
would make sure that my procedure was easy to replicate step by step.
There are a number of ethical issues in my investigation. Obviously I cannot get
informed consent, so I would use presumptive consent; this means asking a group
similar to the real groups if they would be willing to take part in such an investigation. If
they are willing, I can presume the real groups would consent. I am also using minor
deception in my study so I would debrief all of the participants at the end of the study. I
would also reward Group A to make them equal with Group B.
My investigation would use opportunity sampling because I would take the opportunity
of using two Year 7 classes in my school. Opportunity sampling has the advantage of
being easy but it may not be representative of the target population. For example, Year 7
students may react to promised rewards more readily than students in the Sixth Form. But
I would try to match my participants by choosing two classes from the same ability
My investigation would provide numerical data so I would calculate the measures of
central tendency for Group A and Group B. I would calculate the mean, the median,
and the mode. In this case, the mean is probably the most significant measure because it
uses all the raw data. However, it can be skewed by extreme scores, in which case the
median would be better.
I would also display my findings on a bar chart so that the results can be assessed at a
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