• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Describe and discuss methodological and ethical issues that have occurred in empirical studies of social influence

Extracts from this document...


Describe and discuss methodological and ethical issues that have occurred in empirical studies of social influence. The two possible empirical studies of social influence that had methodological and ethical issues are Asch's study on conformity and Milgram's study on obedience. Asch's study on conformity was to see if individuals conform to the majority view with an unambiguous task with a right or wrong answer. A control group was given a task for comparison with an experimental group. Participants shown two cards, one card was a standard line, the other had three comparison lines. Participants were asked to judge which comparison lines was the same as the standard line. ...read more.


Another methodological issue is external validity. This is to do with whether the results of the study apply to other situations, times, populations, other than those in the study. Asch's experiment took place in the 1950's and only used male students in the experiment. It lacks external validity as its dated and the sample may not be representative of the wider population. However it could be argued it has external validity as it was replicated numerous times, with different samples and during different periods. The last methodological issue is ecological validity. This is to do with whether the results can be applied to real life situations. ...read more.


Firstly the participants were deceived. They were deceived in terms of the aim of the experiment, i.e, it was to do with conformity and also the fact that the other participants were confederates. Also by deceiving them, they never got their consent to they real aim of the experiment. However they did this to avoid demand characteristics. If the participants knew the experiment was about conformity they would less likely behave naturally and the results would be invalid. Participants were not given the choice of withdrawal and because they were being paid they may have felt pressured to stay. However the experiment had nothing to do with anything physical harm or any major psychological effects so in that sense withdrawal was not really an issue. ?? ?? ?? ?? 17/02/2011 17:07 17/02/2011 17:07 17/02/2011 17:07 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

3 star(s)

Response to the question

The Response to the Question is good. The candidate makes a good argument about Asch's study into majority influence, with a good level of description into the study. However, the candidate does not appear to have finished their answer, or ...

Read full review

Response to the question

The Response to the Question is good. The candidate makes a good argument about Asch's study into majority influence, with a good level of description into the study. However, the candidate does not appear to have finished their answer, or has most likely forgotten to incorporate the description and discussion for Milgram's study into obedience to authority. Because the question clearly states a requirement for two studies, and the candidate's introductions mentions Asch and Milgram, it is expected that the candidate provide an answer adequate to satisfy the question. As a result of ignoring Milgram's study, the candidate can only achieve half-marks at most. They give an excellent attempt at scoring all marks subsequently available to them, and come very close to half-marks, but there isn't enough body to the methodological or ethical evaluation of the study.

For future reference, if a question asks for two studies and two types of issues with these studies, provide one methodological issue and one ethical issue for each study. It is admirable to see this candidate try to cover all possible methodological and ethical issues raised in the Asch study, but this is not a substitute for dividing the focus equally between two studies.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is fair. The analysis of the methodological issue of internal validity is the best, though perhaps a little more precision is required - what is the specific name given to results that do not measure what they say they're measuring? The same story goes for the comments on external validity, which also has another specific name (internal and external validity are umbrella terms) that should be used instead of external validity; ecological validity is a type of external validity, for example, so to call all external validity a test of whether the study can be replicated or the results generalised to another sample, time period, experiment venue is not entirely accurate and it's in this slight lack of precision that prevents the candidate's efforts from reaping the marks they could otherwise achieve.

The ethical evaluation fares better, with a nicely integrated approach linking certain issues onto others, but again, slightly more accuracy would bring the marks higher - the candidate's did have the option to opt out of the Asch study as they were not paid. They were paid $4.50 in the Milgram study but seeing as Milgram is not mentioned anywhere else in the essay other than the introductory paragraph, the examiner may assume the candidate has mixed the studies up. Also, it must be noted that being paid for your participation in psychological studies does not mean you categorically cannot withdraw if you want to - it merely inhibits the idea as a result of an obligation to continue due to the payment, but we mustn't forget that 45% of Milgram's participants did drop out, despite being paid.

So again, this lack of accuracy and detail lets the candidate down. Their efforts are good (aside from the omission of the obligatory second study in the answer) but they're not quite precise enough, particularly at A Level.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is fair. From a psychological perspective, the candidate makes few errors in misusing or forgetting to use important psychological terminology, so the answer does feel very professional and confident. However, some parts, from an English perspective, are not so impressive. Candidates should steer away from colloquial expression such as "this [ecological validity] is to do with" - try "is the measure of how far the results found from the study can be said to represent real life behaviour, in the future.

Did you find this review helpful? Join our team of reviewers and help other students learn

Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 24/08/2012

Read less
Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk explores the theme of masculinity through clever characterisation, exploration ...

    4 star(s)

    This odd use of language can be seen throughout the novel. At one point in the novel Joe is travelling between a lot of airports and Palahniuk uses very short sharp sentences.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Psychology Coursework - Conformity

    4 star(s)

    Even though this experiment was carried out nearly half a century ago it explains conformity well and also it will be interesting to focus on any difference in conformity levels nowadays. Studies like the Asch experiment (as already referred to in the background knowledge)

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The effect of the Level of Processing on the amount of information recalled

    4 star(s)

    Some words required semantic processing whereas others involved structural processing. The number of words recalled was the dependent variable. Many variables were controlled. Participants were given standardised question sheets. (see appendix 2). This prevents any bias from the way instructions were set out.

  2. Pro and Anti Social Behaviour

    Therefore, the study may suffer from demand characteristics. Also, the study is restricted to short term altruistic behaviour, which can be contrasted with real-life in which altruistic behaviour can involve proving almost non-stop care for an ageing relative for many years.

  1. A Replication of the Study by Murstein Investigating the Matching Hypothesis

    Repeat the whole procedure exactly with the remainder of the participants, one by one, directing each participant back to the holding room. Once everyone has taken part, carry out the debrief within the holding room. Hand each participant a debrief sheet (included in appendices)

  2. Physiological Arousal and its Effects on Females interpretations of physical attractiveness

    The men in the bridge studies may have liked the "stunning" young woman because they associated her with a reduction in fear or anxiety. They saw the woman as someone else in their predicament of being on the bridge so there was less fear to feel.

  1. An Investigation to see whether the halo effect is present when rating personality ...

    Another extraneous variable is that of skin colour/ethnicity. Skin colour could highly affect the ratings given by participants as they may be prejudice towards someone who is a different skin colour to themselves. Also participants may find that different skin colours are more attractive due to each individuals perception of

  2. Social influence, its concepts and ethics

    go through a process of deinviduation where you become a faceless member of the group Roles in society also can dictate on what we do, for example we know that red light means to stop and this is because this is the law, and we have to obey the law or face the consequences.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work