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Outline the strengths and weaknesses of the social approach .

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Introduction

Outline the strengths and weaknesses of the social approach (12 marks) The first strength of the social approach is it utilises experimental methods. Experimental methods manipulate one variable to see the effect it has on another variable. This allows for cause and effect to be established. The social approach can therefore be seen as being scientific. An example of a social study that uses a field experiment method is the Piliavin et al subway study on bystander behaviour in emergency situations. This study manipulated a number of variables including race of the victim. It then recorded if passengers on the tram helped the victim and how long it took for them to help. ...read more.

Middle

This is a strength because it shows that psychology is relevant to real people meaning psychological research has justification to be conducted. An example of a social study that shows the social approaches applications to everyday life is the Piliavin et al study (1969) on the influences on bystander behaviour. In this study participant helping behaviour was observed and it was identified that helping was based on a cost reward decision making process. From this a heuristic (general strategy) can be formed to identify when an individual will help in an emergency; this can be used to identify the likelihood of people helping in situations such as terrorist attacks and car accidents. ...read more.

Conclusion

One individual even had a seizure. The second weakness of the social approach is samples can often be unrepresentative of the wider population. This means that the sample is biased in someway to a particular type of person. This is a weakness because Social approach research findings cannot be generalised to every person in the population if this is the case. An example of a social study that suffers from this problem is the Reicher and Haslam (2002) study on group identity and role acceptance. Of the 332 volunteers only 15 were used. All of these participants were male. As the number is statistically small (less than 30 is not significant) and there were only male participants used, the sample cannot be generalised to the wider population, and in particular females. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This may seem like a very prescriptive essay worthy of criticism for the lack of introduction and conclusion, but OCR G542 questions on strengths and weaknesses of psychological approaches do not require them. Therefore, this answer includes everything and more ...

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Response to the question

This may seem like a very prescriptive essay worthy of criticism for the lack of introduction and conclusion, but OCR G542 questions on strengths and weaknesses of psychological approaches do not require them. Therefore, this answer includes everything and more that is required of a candidate taking AS Psychology. There is a fairly balanced discussion into the evaluation of the social approach, with two strengths and two weakness, and an integrated weakness in the first paragraph. I would suggest an integrated strength to balance it out, or maybe dropping the comments about reductionism. Examiners would prefer the former because the candidate would then show glimpses of A2 knowledge by discussing reductionism by way of integration - something quite remarkable at AS.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is exceptional. The answer is perceptive and tightly succinct and shows a diverse range of knowledge of the social approach in psychology. The examples given are relevant and nicely cited, showing an adeptness in evaluating psychological evidence, which naturally encourages a stronger essay due to this. Though the answer may seem prescriptive, given the exam requirements and allotted time to complete them in, this is actually a very nicely-written essay. There is just the right amount of information, which is all wonderfully presented with confidence and knowledge.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is very good. From both an English and a Psychology perspective the candidate demonstrates excellent control over their use of language, incorporating specialist terms where appropriate. There is no cause for concern when it comes to grammar, punctuation or spelling.


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 11/09/2012

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