Here is the final unit of four, giving advice as to what to include in the Evaluation section and how to avoid mistakes. Enjoy!
Here is a guide to writing the Analysis section. Enjoy!
This unit of work covers the topic of what culture is, Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, a guide as to how to navigate Hofstede’s page and a focus on the Individualistic/Collectivist dimension. There are lots of videos, tasks and input from students required.
Here is the link to the video:
Many of us are now teaching our classes through a virtual learning environment. Most had very little notice, maybe one or two days, and are now on the steepest learning curve ever. Here are a few tips, followed by some very useful sites and links:
Several online sites are very kindly offering teachers free access to psychology resources for at least a month, and often through to the end of June 2020.
- Quizlet Teacher
- Zoom.us – not resources, but a great free meeting platform for running discussion groups
Thank you to those teachers who have sent their students home with copies of Psychology Sorted. Our sales have held steady through March, and we’re sure, with the key studies summaries, QR codes and links to many online resources, all students will appreciate this.
Finally, for those who would like to use psychology as a lens for discussing the current pandemic:
- Independent article by author Steven Taylor
- Psychology of Disasters
- The Ghost Map
- Asian news article from 6 weeks ago about reactions to the coronavirus. Interesting in retrospect.
I am sure there will soon be more resources available on this topic.
Cognitive biases like those listed on the Raconteur site (see this link, and below) can be a useful way to describe not only our own reaction to all the troubling news of the Covid-19 virus, but also to analyse the ever-changing reactions of some of the more prominent politicians! Here’s hoping your families and you keep safe, and stay online 🙂
It’s that time of year again, when students who have only been studying psychology for a few months are asked to think of an area of research in which they are interested. And out come the titles, and questions: ‘What makes a psychopath?’ ‘Does the media cause eating disorders?’ ‘Why do more girls than boys get depressed?’ Aaargh!
Teachers sigh and raise their eyebrows, because none of these is a good question for an extended essay, though of course all are potential topics, and students’ interest in them is understandable.
This is where Psychology Sorted can help. Underneath the overview tables are links to stimulating news articles, journal discussions and TED talks that will extend the students’ thinking beyond the superficial. The hyperlinks and QR codes are included, and an hour or two of browsing can help direct students’ interests. For example, if students are interested in the area of new biological treatments for mental disorders, see this page. If they would like to research the effects of digital technology, see here, and if they are interested in strategies of acculturation and immigrants, see this section.
Even if some students are determined to stick to eating disorders, the book can give them a new approach – to opportunistic eating and obesity, for example. Preface any of these topics with ‘To what extent?’ and you get much more nuanced, in-depth and interesting questions to research:
- To what extent can neural feedback techniques treat phobias?
- To what extent can artificial intelligence enhance working memory?
- To what extent may marginalisation be responsible for terrorism?
- To what extent can brain chemical dysfunction explain overeating?
It is not that there are any ‘off-bounds’ topics; just that a new approach is needed, to get your students out of the trees and on the sunlit route to extended essay success!
This is a useful task to get students to focus on the command term of ‘contrast’ which they tend to find quite tricky. I give them the essay that I’ve written and they have to highlight all of the phrases/sections that really address the ‘contrast’ aspect of the question i.e. those which explicitly point out the differences between theories/studies/evaluation issues. I also ask them to fill details in the right-hand column so that they know why the essay works. This is a good active learning task, particularly for year 13s and they seem to really engage with it. I have highlighted some examples of explicit ‘contrast’ terms below:
|The two theories of prosocial behaviour that will be contrasted in this essay are reciprocal altruism which takes the biological approach and the negative-state relief model which views prosocial behaviour using the cognitive approach. Research into prosocial behaviour is problematic in that it is difficult for psychologists to operationalise prosocial behaviour as a variable and to measure it precisely because it is a very subjective variable which may differ from person to person. Investigating it from a biological perspective (RA) involves using different methodology to that of a cognitive approach (NSR).
Reciprocal altruism is a biological theory that is based on the principles of evolutionary psychology, namely that altruistic acts are performed in order to gain some future benefit from the recipient. The basis of reciprocal altruism is that the donor’s fitness is temporarily compromised in order to help another, fellow organism. This help is given with an expectation of future help from the recipient to the original donor. It is difficult to find empirical support for evolutionary theories – unlike lab-based NSR studies – so psychologists use the idea of ultimate causes to account for current behaviour that may be rooted in primeval instincts.
In contrast to reciprocal altruism, the negative-state relief model considers the extent to which personal discomfort at the sight of another’s distress motivates altruistic acts. The assumption of this model is that when someone witnesses another in need of help they experience a negative mood such as concern, anxiety, guilt. This negative mood may then prompt the individual to offer help in order to improve their own mood, so prompting an egoistic motivation to help rather than being a purely altruistic act. This is a cognitive approach to prosocial behaviour which does not assume evolutionary instincts as the basis to behaviour (which is RA), rather researchers can use the model to draw inferences about behaviour.
Reciprocal altruism is based on the idea that there is a reasonably good probability that two organisms (e.g. two unrelated individual human beings) will meet again at some point in the future, making reciprocity possible. The negative-state relief model, however, focuses on a here-and-now approach, with the individual seeking relief from negative feelings in the moment rather than for some future gain. This is a real point of contrast between the two theories as reciprocal altruism assumes that human beings are programmed to instinctively help someone in need as a way of storing up future favours whereas the negative-state relief model is possibly easier to relate to as it identifies egoistic motivation as a factor in prosocial behaviour. In other words, most people are unlikely to believe that by helping a stranger in the street they are protecting themselves against future misfortune: they may never see this person again, their paths may never cross.
Axelrod & Hamilton (1981) devised a computer-based model of chess games involving two players to test reciprocal altruism. Batson et al (1989) in contrast, used a lab experiment with some manipulation of naïve participants. Axelrod & Hamilton took the unusual route of analysing a range of strategies used in chess games that had been provided by economists, sociologists, political theorists and mathematicians. This contrasts to Batson et al’s more conventional use of a lab experiment involving 44 students taking an introductory psychology course at the University of Kansas. Batson et al’s sample represents a typical group of participants for psychological research whereas Axelrod & Hamilton’s represents a more diverse and less ethnocentric population.
In Batson et al half of the participants were told that they would be watching a video that would make them feel sad; the other half were told that the video would make them feel happy. The experimenter left the room and a confederate entered and asked the participant if they would be willing to give some time to help make phone calls related to blood donation. There were more offers of help from participants in the sad mood condition than in the positive mood condition. The researchers concluded that the participants in the sad condition may have helped in a bid to feel better (self-reward), thereby supporting the Negative State Relief model. Axelrod & Hamilton did not implement an independent variable, unlike Batson et al but their results, they claim, supported reciprocal altruism: the most successful way of achieving the highest average chess score was to employ a strategy known as tit for tat which may ultimately be more beneficial to an individual than pure self-serving acts.
There are limitations to each study, mainly linked to the operationalising of prosocial behaviour, for different reasons. Axelrod & Hamilton assumed that the players were drawing from evolutionary instincts to derive the most successful strategy but they may simply have been playing cautiously and using cognitive decision-making processes to plan their moves. This is the major flaw with reciprocal altruism: it is very difficult to use Axelrod & Hamilton’s research as evidence of a biological approach as chess is a highly skilled game at which players must constantly think, process information, form judgements and make decisions.
Batson et al’s research also has limitations but these are not at the level of the approach used (cognitive) but rather they are concerned with the issue of demand characteristics as a possible source of bias. The sample in this study were psychology students, (contrasted to Axelrod & Hamilton’s sample of experts) so they might have guessed the aim of the study or behaved in an artificial way due to the contrived nature of the procedure. It is also possible that individual differences affected the result (more likely with a small sample) i.e. some participants may be naturally less caring than other participants. It would be very difficult therefore, for the researchers to be confident that they had successfully operationalised the negative-state relief model in their study.
To conclude, the main points of contrast between the two theories is that reciprocal altruism assumes that people behave prosocially for an expected future benefit – and that they do so without real, conscious thought – whereas the negative-state relief model assumes that help is given in the moment for egoistic reasons. The main source of difficulty in accepting reciprocal altruism as a valid theory of prosocial behaviour is the paucity of evidence to support it whereas for the negative-state relief model the main problem concerns the operationalising of the negative state and its subsequent ego-driven motivation towards prosocial behaviour.
Let’s get started! This is a useful summary for teachers and students of the process for the new IA (internally-assessed student-conducted experiment…now you see why the name is shortened 🙂 This will first be assessed in May 2019, and I’m sure some of you are getting started soon.
Group work is mandatory. Up to 4 students in a group, and preferably each group conducting a different experiment, so you don’t run out of participants. The experiment is run together by the group to collect the raw data, but every section, and all data calculations, have to be performed and written about individually.
Statistical Analysis must be conducted by everyone. Descriptive statistics identify if there is a difference between the two conditions and inferential statistical analysis tells you whether or not this difference is significant at the p<0.05 level. Unless you are an expert statistician, it is easier to just manipulate the independent variable once to give two conditions under which you measure the dependent variable. Plan how you are going to do this, and which tests you need to use before even starting your experiment.
Ethical Considerations – be sure that your experiment will cause no harm or stress to the participants, who may not be animals or young children. Conformity experiments are not allowed, because they are stressful, and you may not ask your participants to eat or drink anything in order to test the effects. Neither may you deprive them of sleep. Your appendices at the very end of your report should contain a blank copy of the informed consent form, a copy of your briefing and debriefing notes, raw data tables and your calculations for the analysis.
IA Report – This needs a header containing the following information: title; your IB candidate code and the codes of all group members; date, month and year of submission; no. of words.
The Report should be between 1800 and 2200 words and split into the following 4 sections:
Introduction (6 marks) – Contains the aim of the experiment, and explains the link between the experiment and the model or theory on which it is based. (Most likely your experiment will be based on another study or experiment, but you need to know the underlying theory and show the link). The hypotheses should be written out carefully, and contain the operationalised independent and dependent variable. It is probably easier to write these separately first and then combine them to make the hypothesis.
Exploration (4 marks) – This is where you describe your procedure, including the design, sampling technique, participant characteristics, controlled variables and materials. Write it very carefully, as you will want to refer back to it later in your last (Evaluation) section.
Analysis (6 marks) – Consists of correctly chosen and applied descriptive and inferential statistics. The descriptive statistical analysis results should be shown in a bar chart (graph) that is carefully labelled. The inferential statistics results need to be interpreted in terms of what they show about the hypothesis. Do you have to accept or reject your null hypothesis, and why?
Evaluation (6 marks) – This is where you explain your results, in relation to the theory/model and study on which you based your experiment. You need to explain the strengths and limitations of your design, sample and procedure and suggest how you could have improved upon what you did. We cannot always anticipate the effect of decisions we made earlier when deciding how to conduct the experiment, but we can explain their effect at the end.
All IAs need a list of references at the back, and the appendices follow this. They do not count towards the word count.
Remember – it doesn’t have to be a complex experiment. The simpler the better. Old ‘favourites’ from Cognitive Psychology always do well: Loftus and Palmer, Stroop, Peterson & Peterson and Bransford & Johnson are all tried and tested studies from the area of memory.