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Rosenhan, Thigpen and Cleckley - Describe what each of the studies tells us about individual difference.

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Psychology Essay. Some of the core studies take an individual approach to human behaviour and experience. This includes individual factors such as intelligence, mental health and race and how these characteristics determine our behaviour and experiences. Using the studies below, answer the questions: Gould Hraba and Grant Rosenhan Thigpen and Cleckley a) Describe what each of the studies tells us about individual difference.(12) b) Using examples, give 2 strengths and 2 weaknesses of the individual differences approach. (12) a) Gould's study looks into the fundamental problems involved in the attempts to measure intelligence. Gould analysed the procedure completed by Yerkes and found that he had ignored individual differences when doing the intelligence tests. Yerkes believed that intelligence was down to genetic differences in races and tested the participants with three tests, the alpha test, the beta test and the individual examination. ...read more.


The children were asked questions which showed their racial preference, awareness and knowledge and racial self-identification. The study showed that the white children were significantly more ethnocentric and the black children were more likely to pick a doll with the same colour as themselves. Rosenhan's study tested the hypothesis that psychiatrists cannot reliably tell the difference between a mentally sane person and an insane one. The study showed that in all cases the pseudopatients were admitted to the hospital and once they had got in it was difficult for them to leave. When doing relatively normal things such as write in a diary, the nurses took this as abnormal. It was also found that individual differences such as abnormality tended to stick as a psychiatric label whereas if it were just a medical label the patient would not have been treated in the same way. ...read more.


For example, in Rosenhan's study the hospitals were deceived, with no consent and no right of withdrawal. In Thigpen and Cleckley's study, it is not certain that Eve gave her consent for her case to be so widely publicized. Also not all her personalities gave their consent to be studied and it is unclear which personalities Thigpen and Cleckley should have blocked out. Another weakness to the individual approach is that in some cases it is not very valid. An example of this is in Hraba and Grant's study as the doll may not have been a good representation of a black child or a white child. The participants may have just chosen those dolls because they had to choose one of them and not because it was their preference. Also the question, 'which doll looks bad' is unclear as it may mean a number of things and the children may have interpreted it in a number of ways. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This essay consists of two answers to two questions, which are both weighted equally at 12 marks each. The first question concerns AO1 (Assessment Objective 1: knowledge and understanding) only, and the candidate displays a very extensive knowledge of a ...

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Response to the question

This essay consists of two answers to two questions, which are both weighted equally at 12 marks each. The first question concerns AO1 (Assessment Objective 1: knowledge and understanding) only, and the candidate displays a very extensive knowledge of a selection of studies concerning individual differences. The comments about Gould/Yerkes' study are entirely valid and are nicely linked to the individual differences approach and the difficulty presented by using one test to measure intelligence of people of many different racial and social backgrounds. The comments about Hraba & Grant's, Rosenhan's, and Thigpen & Cleckley's studies are considerably lesser than Gould/Yerkes' study, but there is still a good link to the individual differences approach, However, the candidate cannot expect to achieve top marks because there is simple not enough detail in the last three studies. Some examiners may argue that there is too much detail in Gould/Yerkes' study, so an equal application of detail to each studies is important to achieve this. As it stands, the marks for this question (with 3 marks attributed for each study) would look something like 3 (Gould/Yerkes) + 2 (Hraba & Grant) + 3 (Rosenhan) + 2 (Thigpen & Cleckley = 10/12.

As for question two, the candidate is marked on AO1 (Assessment Objective 1: knowledge and understanding) and AO2 (Assessment Objective 2: critical evaluation). This question requires a very regimented structure and is often very prescriptive. Whilst some candidates worry about this it may be the only way to write all that is required in the time allotted. This candidate makes a very good argument for and against the practical and psychological application of the individual differences approach, each time citing a useful piece of evidence and clearly stating why the mentioned weakness/strength is as such. For this question, the candidate would elicit the full twelve marks.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is also going to be prescriptive and often very rehearsed-sounding. This will not prevent candidates from scoring highly if they manage to cover everything that is required. 3 marks are awarded for each strength and each weakness, though, as this candidate has been good to adhere to, the question does ask for only two of each, meaning the discussion must be balance and there must not bee 3 of one and 1 of the other. This candidate forms two strong strengths and two strong weaknesses with the individual differences approach, and gains their three marks for each of them by mentioning a strength/weakness (e.g. - ethics), giving a study to validate them (e.g. - Rosenhan) saying WHY it's a strength/weakness (e.g. - no right to withdraw from Rosenhan's study can cause mental harm).

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is very good. From both a psychological and an English perspective. There are no issues with grammar, punctuation or spelling and the candidate writes fluently, using psychology-orientated terminology where appropriate.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 03/08/2012

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