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Psychology Phobias Coursework

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Phobia Coursework Introduction Hannah Ingram Title: An investigation to see if there is a strong correlation between fear and some characteristics of animals. Abstract: The area studied for this study is phobias, by adapting the work of Bennett Levy and Marteau. The alternative hypothesis was whether the participant disliked a particular thing about the animal; in particular it being likely to bite, being ugly, or having a strange texture, they will also give a high fear rating. A survey was completed by 30 participants aged over sixteen years old, using an opportunity sample, to find their opinions about how likely the variables are likely to occur. The principle finding was all the variable results gave a positive significant correlation. The main implications of the findings were it supported the research by Bennett Levy and Marteau that there is a strong correlation between an appearance of an animal and fear. Introduction: The definition of a phobia is a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the conscious awareness that it is not dangerous. Explanations to how a phobia develops differ between schools of psychology. The behaviourist theory argues that phobias are learnt by classical conditioning and reinforced by operant conditioning. An experiment on phobias supporting the behaviourist theory was executed by Watson and Rayner in 1920. The aim of the experiment was to show how classical conditioning could be applied to condition fear of a white rat into "Little Albert", an 11 month old boy. The psychodynamic theory sees phobias resulting from the displacement of repressed impulses to an object or situation which becomes a focus for a phobia. ...read more.


Picking the animals randomly was important as there will be no personal bias, as each individual has their own opinion of what is scary and what is not. Three variables were chosen to correlate with fear. The variables were chosen so the researchers would be able to make more than one hypothesis. Psychological concerns: The researchers have to operationalise the variables so participants with no knowledge of psychology could understand. The choice to operationalise the variables was made by making the questions closed so it would be quicker for the participant to answer and easier to analyse the data quantitatively. The questionnaire was typed up on a computer using a common font, so that it would be easy to read. The questionnaire was kept to a maximum of two pages to encourage the participant to complete the survey to the end. The rating scale for each variant was chosen for two reasons. The first reason is that the rating scale had five choices instead of seven or more, which kept it reasonably simple for the participant to choose from. The second reason is that five is an odd number, allowing participants to choose a neutral answer. A midway point gives participants who are unsure an option they can use without feeling pressured, however, demand characteristics may make people choose the midway point just because they are bored. Next to each animal, a photo of the animal was chosen in case the participant did not know the animal by its name. The researchers did not include any scary or gross photos, such as attack photos or animals with faeces. Ethical concerns: The researchers could not collect data concerning the name of the participant for confidentiality; however, gender, age, and ethnicity can be collected. ...read more.


A possible modification could be to either find participants using an opportunity sample at a place where different aged people go, such as, in a shopping centre on Saturday. Another alternative could be to use a different sampling method altogether, such as a quota sample. A limitation of the questionnaire is it cannot be done by illiterate people. Although there were photos to show which animal was which, the numbers may have confused some less educated individuals. A possible modification could be that a computer oral programme where the questions are said out loud, and the participant clicks on the suitable smiley face. Further research for this experiment by could be to increase participant sample, as the sample used for this experiment was only 30, which is relatively small. Further research could also be done by doing a cross cultural study, using the same method at the present study. A suggestion for further research on this topic, being a correlation between fear and appearance, could be to see if a possibility as to why children bully other children who look different, such as wearing braces on teeth, could be because they are scared of them. This research could dramatically help children who are bullies, as instead of punishing them, they could receive counselling. Due to the relationship between "Is it ugly?" and fear was found in this study to be significant (Rs = 0.57, P< 0.005) demonstrating a strong positive correlation between these two variables, it is significantly likely that similar results may be recorded from the idea of finding a correlation between fear and whether a person looks different. Conclusion: After replicating the study, originally done by Bennett-Levy and Marteau, the results found were the same. This supports the conclusion that there is a strong correlation between fear of animals and an animals' appearance. ...read more.

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