Coming soon – ‘Psychology Sorted’, the book!

Hi Psychology teachers from all over the world! Yes, I know that summer is beckoning but wouldn’t you like a sneaky peak at a BRAND NEW RESOURCE that is due to be out around October 1st? Written by Laura Swash and Claire Neeson, this resource will solve all those pesky teaching dilemmas such as: ‘Which studies should I use for each topic and how can I re-use them to create less bulk for the students to learn?  How can I find a streamlined, easy, cross-referenced resource that’s user-friendly (for me and my students)?  What can I use for both teaching AND revision?’ Here is a sample for you to taste, to get the ‘flavour’ of what we’re doing. Add us to your school shopping list: #1 Order ‘Psychology Sorted’ next term.  Sorted!

Sample_Section 1_Bio. updated

Bio KS1 Fisher et al_2005

Introduction to a topic – acculturation


Acculturation is the process of adaptation to another culture, both by the people who move to the new ‘host’ culture and those already living there, who are receiving the immigrants.  It is an interesting topic, with many complex layers, encompassing as it does the ideas of ‘acculturative stress’ and ‘culture clash’ as well as issues of bilingualism and transmission of values. For a touching introduction to the topic, see this Youtube film – Refugees in Europe on their adopted homelands.  I identified language, sport and food as adaptations that the refugees had made in order to integrate. You will probably find others.

Berry (2008) argues that the process of acculturation leads to cultural and psychological changes in both parties. Instead of one rather homogeneous global society ensuing, as the ‘non-dominant group’ (the minority group) is absorbed into the host culture, the behaviours of those engaged in acculturation are varied and complex, and he identifies four acculturation strategies used by immigrants.  He points out that the responses of the host culture are crucial in shaping these.

Assimilation When individuals do not wish to maintain their own culture and seek daily interactions with people from the host culture.
Separation When individuals wish to maintain their own culture and do not wish to integrate, therefore they avoid contact with the host culture. This can only be pursued if the host culture does not impose marginalisation or assimilation.
Integration When individuals wish to interact with the host culture and be an integral part of this culture, while maintaining their own identity as well. Integrated individuals are bicultural. This can only be pursued if the host culture is open and welcoming and does not impose marginalisation or assimilation.
Marginalisation Often follows on enforced cultural loss, and is when individuals have no interest in integration or assimilation into the host culture, even though they have lost their own.

Application of this theory can be seen in the works of Lyons-Padilla et al. (2015), who have developed a hypothesis that marginalisation in a globalised society leads to radicalisation. See her TEDx talk on ‘cultural homelessness’.

Maybe you are living in a culture that is not your own?  Think about the adjustments you make each day, and how people adjust to you.  This is a part of the psychology course that you can really make your own!

Theories of stereotyping

According to Tajfel (1970) we are naturally inclined towards Social Categorisation and Social Comparison. This tendency to think about people in terms of the groups they belong to and to make comparisons between our group and others would support the development of stereotypes.

This relates to the concept of ‘outgroup homogeneity’, researched by Qualtrone & Jones (1980). This theory proposes that we tend to perceive outgroup member as more similar to each other than they really are whilst recognising variation and individuality in ingroup members (whom we see as hetergenous). Taylor & Porter (1994) suggest that this tendency to see the outgroup as homogenous  is the product of social interaction patterns; we interact much more with people from our ingroups and thus get to know their individual differences and idiosyncrancies. However, we interact far less with outgroups which encourages us to develop a simplified social representation of them.

This still leaves us with the question of where the particular stereotypes come from – on what basis, for example, did the stereotype that ‘old ladies like cats’ come from?

The Formation of Stereotypes: how and why are stereotypes formed?

Our social world is very complex and has a great deal of information. To avoid information overload, we use stereotypes because they save energy and can easily be applied to people.

Why and how do stereotypes form, where do they come from?

Personal experience with group members and the groups themselves.

We make generalisations based on our experiences with people.

Gatekeepers like the media, family members, and authority figures.

Studies and Theories of Stereotype Formation:

‘Grain of truth’ hypothesis (Campbell, 1967)
Illusory Correlation (Hamilton & Gifford, 1976)
Confirmation Bias
Cohen (1981)

Some examples of research on stereotyping:

Hamilton & Gifford’s (1976) experiment tested the illusory correlation theory. This demonstrates illusory correlation, because there was no association between the traits and the group membershipIllusory correlations can lead to people remembering information that confirms the expected relationship. This is due to confirmation bias, or when one favours information that supports their preconceptions.

Cohen (1981) performed an experiment to determine whether stereotypes can affect the memories of people. Participants were shown a video, and half were told the woman in the video was a waitress; half were told she was a librarian. When participants recalled details about the video, they remembered details that seemed to be consistent with the commonly accepted stereotypes of the careers. Those who thought she was a librarian were more likely to remember she wore glasses. Those who thought she was a waitress were more likely to remember her drinking alcohol.

Therefore, stereotypes can affect the type of information we focus on and what we remember.

Emic and Etic Explained


Are you confused by the terms ’emic’ and ‘etic’ when applied to research methods?  It is hardly surprising, for a quick Google of these terms will produce diverse definitions, applied to both language and culture.  Once you get further into reading about how culture influences behaviour you will find that some writers even use them as nouns (’emics’ and ‘etics’) rather than as adjectives applied to particular approaches and research methods.

The origin of the words lies within the field of linguistics, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, and has been used in the terms ‘phonetic’ (representing speech sounds by symbols) and ‘phonemic’ (related to specific underlying sounds that distinguish two similar words).  Their first use in anthropology seems to date back to the 1950s, according to several dictionaries, and the way they are used in psychology is the same.

Etic research is research that compares data from different cultures in an effort to uncover general rules regarding human behaviour. Think eTic = ‘T for telescope.’  A telescope allows us to take a large comparative view of landscapes and see a lot from a distance.   This is often quantitative research that generates data tables.  (Höfstede’s research into cultural dimensions is a good example of  etic research).

Emic research is conducted within one culture or sometimes within one social group within the culture, and focuses on uncovering the individual and group meaning of people’s actions, communications and attitudes.  Think eMic = ‘M for microscope.’ A microscope allows us to take a very close look at very small details, and see the meaning of changes in cells, for example.  This is almost exclusively qualitative research that generates written data, often from video- or audio-recorded observations or interviews.  (Howarth’s focus group interview method researching the construction of social identity of Brixton youth, with detailed transcription of the interviews, is a good example of emic research).