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“Psychology involves the scientific study of the mind, the

brain and the person’s experiences. It seeks to understand
why people behave in the way that they do”.
The six areas covered in the AS course include:

Cognitive Psychology [thinking and learning processes]

- Critical issue Eye Witness Testimony.

Developmental Psychology [how children develop into independent people]

- Critical issue Day Care.

Physiological Psychology [the links between the functioning of the mind and the body]
- Critical issue Stress Management.

Individual Differences [what used to be called “abnormal” psychology]

- Critical issue Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa.

Social Psychology [the way in which people affect each other]

- Critical issue is the British Psychological Society Ethical Guidelines.

Research Methods [how psychologists research and collect the data to study the mind and behaviour
of people and animals]
- There is no critical issue.
- The standard text book that will be used by all is ‘Psychology for AS Level - 3rd Edition’,
By Michael W. Eysenck - ISBN: 1-84169-378-2, 348pp.

The teachers of psychology are Ms K. James, Ms C. Moore & Ms J. Chahal (Head of Dept.)
School Tel.: 0116 241 3984

The word Psychology is derived from two Greek roots: 'Psyche' meaning 'mind' or 'soul' and 'Logos'
meaning 'study of'. Psychology therefore literally means study of the mind.

Psychology is an ideal “bridging” subject.

The skills and qualities that you will need include:
- The ability to be objective
- Thorough scientific skills.
- The skills of sifting and analysing information and evidence before coming to your
own conclusion.
- No prior knowledge is required but students need an open mind, good reading habits
and the ability to construct a reasoned argument both orally and in writing.

Points You Should Consider:

- Am I the sort of person who contributes to lessons? (Examples, ideas, reading, prepared materials).

- Am I good at understanding quite complex, technical writing?

- Am I willing to voice my opinions in class and argue in a reasoned way?

- Am I happy to accept that there may be no "correct" answer?
- Can I express my own ideas and thoughts clearly using the precise technical vocabulary?
- Am I interested in people and what makes them tick?
- If the answer to most of the points is YES! Then AS should suit you.

Why study AS Psychology?

Studying AS psychology gives students an insight into the working of the human mind
and how this affects aspects of our everyday lives. It will inform students about the
methods that psychologists use.

An understanding of psychology is invaluable for all careers that involve working with
people and will help those choosing to pursue a University career that includes psychology to make an
informed choice about their future courses.

How Does The Course Work?

Students will be assessed on all six areas delivered through three AQA examination papers
that are one-hour long. Each examination paper addresses two areas and you will have

thirty minutes to answer each area. For each area a choice of two questions will be given.

All the examination papers have equal weighting.

The examination paper PYA1 addresses Cognitive and Developmental Psychology

The examination paper PYA2 addresses Individual Differences and Physiological Psychology
The examination paper PYA3 addresses Social Psychology and Research Methods

To maximise your examination performance the PYA3 paper will be sat in January and the
other two examination papers will be sat in May.

1. What is social influence?
2. Describe conformity/majority influence
3. Why do people conform? – informational (look to others for guidance – superior knowledge)
and normative influence (look to others for acceptance – what is the group standard/norm).
4. Describe the three kinds of conformity – identification, compliance, internalisation
5. Describe and evaluate Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison experiment (conformity/majority influence)
Conformity: It can be defined as yielding to group pressure. It is the influence a group has over an individual. This is
why it is often referred to as majority influence. Authority figures might request or demand that you act
in a certain way.

Key Study – Asch: Aimed to investigate the question of whether people would conform in highly unambiguous
situations. Asch set up a situation in which seven people all sat looking at a display. In turn, they had to say aloud which one of the
three lines A, B or C matched X.

Asch made sure that they all have good eyesight. All but one of the participants (Ps) was told to go for A. The study
was conducted 17 times to make sure that the findings were not an ambiguous result. Only one of the Ps was naïve. The others were
stooges, who were told to give out the wrong answer.
The findings show that the incorrect answer was given 32% of the time by the naïve participant. There were important
individual differences, for example, no one conformed on all the trials, about 25% of the naïve Ps did not conform, and 75% of the
naïve Ps conformed at least once (because the answers on the list were obviously incorrect). Asch’s findings show the impact that a
majority can have on an individual. However, the majority does not have an impact on every individual. In fact, Asch was interested
in the social and personal conditions that help individuals resist peer/group pressure.
The task was unambiguous; control of the Ps who performed the line-matching task individually hardly ever made
mistakes. Therefore, conformity rate could be measured in an objective way. The Ps might have been stressed when the stooges
gave the wrong answer, hence breaching the ethic guidelines ‘the participants must leave the experiment in the same physical and
mental well-being’. Furthermore, Ps were deceived and were being observed without there knowledge. In everyday life people are
unlikely to disagree with each other so fundamentally about the “correct” answer, in real life it is hardly as clear cut as this
experiment is.
The experiment was uneconomical and time consuming as only 1 participant was tested at a time, whereas
Crutchfield tested Ps in separate booths, each booth had a panel of lights, which supposedly showed the results of the other Ps,
so he was able to test more than 1 participant at a time. Task difficultly; in yet another experiment, the lines were made more similar,
hence making it harder to determine the line, so the conformity rate was increased. Many replications of Asch’s study were made
across the world, some found that the rates were higher and some were lower, and others were about the same, this tells us that there
are cultural variations concerning, conformity is different in different society/countries. The numerical majority (the stooges)
actually represent an unorthodox, unconventional (minority) viewpoint. The naïve Ps represent the conventional, traditional
(majority) “Truth”. This minority influenced the majority 1/3 of the time (depending on the conditions).

Key Study – Zimbardo : Aimed to investigated conformity to social roles through the
role playing of either a prisoner or a guard, he also aimed to find out whether the
conforming behaviour was due to the nature of the person (Dispositional factors) or was it the fact that they would be in a prison
(Situational factors). He hoped to apply this knowledge to real-life prison behaviour and the abusive interrelations that there are
between prisoners and the guards.
Twenty-four male American (white) undergraduate volunteers were chosen from lots of applicants (who had applied to
Zimbardo’s advertisement that told them they would be paid $15 a day for up to two weeks for partaking in the prison experiment).
They were assessed to be emotionally stable. There was a 50:50 chance for the Ps to be either a prison guard or the prisoner. It was
a controlled observational study, which was made as realistic as possible. This was done by arresting the prisoners at home, without
their knowledge; this breached some guidelines such as invasion of privacy, etc. Once arrested at home they were taken to the local
police station and they were booked for a felony, and their fingerprints were taken, before they were taken to the basement in
Stanford University, however all the P’s thought that they were going to “Stanford County Prison” (the Ps were blindfolded and
didn’t know where they were really taken).
Once at the mock prison the Ps were striped naked, deloused, and issued with a prison uniform, they were given an ID
number and told that they would be identified by that number alone (similar to a real prison). The guards were issued with uniforms
and given 16 rules (i.e. gaining permission to go to the toilet and only allowed to eat at specified times etc.), which they had to
enforce to maintain a “reasonable degree of order.” The guards worked 8-hour shifts, and the prisoners were allocated into cells
which were only 6x9 ft. (there were three prisoners per cell). The interaction between the guards and the prisoners was studied, such
as the mood state, self-perception, and coping behaviour were identified as indicators of conformity. Data was collected via a video
tape, audio tape, direct observation, questionnaires, and interviews.
There was an extremely high level of conformity to social role in both the guards and the prisoners. The initial
“rebellion” by the prisoners was crushed. After this, they began to react passively towards the guards, as the guards conformed to a
sadistic role, for example they gave punishment to the prisoners who were not conforming to the guards’ demands on a regular
basis. At first the punishments were loss of privileges, but then it increased to food and sleep deprivation, solitary confinements and
humiliation, such as cleaning the toilets with there bare hands. The prisoners began to feel helpless and no longer in control of their
lives. Five prisoners were released early after becoming violently sick, and showed signs of extreme “emotional disturbance.” The
study was supposed to last two weeks but was abandoned after just six days because 1). The guards were too extreme with their
power and authority that came with their uniforms, and 2). Zimbardo’s wife told him that she would leave unless the experiment
was stopped. This was because the prisoners were robbed of their dignity, human rights, etc. The prison environment was the main
cause of the abusive interrelations between the guards and the prisoners.
Zimbardo et al. rejected the entire dispositional hypothesis, they argued that their findings supported the
situational hypothesis, which claimed that it was the condition of the prisons (physical, social and psychological aspects), and not
the characteristics of prisoners and guards. Therefore anyone who was given the role of prisoner or guard would have behaved like
Zimbardo’s participants did. This research also shows the strength of conformity as a form of social influence. The Ps showed
“public conformity”: many reported that they acted out of character, and so there was no lasting change in private opinion.
Both the environment and the behaviour of the Ps were “realistic” and the findings can be applied to real-life
prisons, the Ps were simply acting out the role, which they were given, and conformed to how an actor may behaved in a movie. The
fact that the guards did not initially behave in an aggressive way suggests that the situation as itself was an important factor in
influencing their behaviour. A major criticism after ethics was that Zimbardo only used a self-selected sample when recruiting the
Ps, so not all of Americans would/should behave in the conforming way.

6. What is minority influence?

7. Describe and evaluate Moscovici’s blue/green slide ‘minority influence study’

Key Study

• To study minority, as opposed to majority, influence.

• Lab-based research study
• Took place in Europe, rather than America

• There were six participants in each group at a time (4 naïve, 2 confederates) all of whom were
tested for colour blindness first.
• All shown 36 blue slides – varying in intensity (ambiguous stimuli).

• The CONTROL GROUP (no confederates) – 0.25% green
• The EXPERIMENTAL GROUP 1 – Inconsistent confederates – 1% green
The EXPERIMENTAL GROUP 2 – Consistent confederates - 8% green
• Minorities can influence majorities, especially if they are consistent.
• Shows us the opposite of Asch’s three lines study – a minority can have influence.

Theoretical Explanations
• Lack of Ecological validity – however all laboratory studies have this criticism.
• Not ethical as participants were deceived.

8. Explain the minority effect – consistency, flexibility, commitment and relevance

9. Majority & minority influence can both be explained by Latane and Wolf’s social impact


According to Moscovici, minorities must act in a certain way in order to influence others and produce conversion.

Consistency The minority must be consistent in their opinion.

Flexibility The minority must not appear to be rigid and dogmatic.

Relevance The minority will be more successful if their views are in line
with social trends.
Commitment A committed minority will lead people to rethink their
position – this is conversion.


All of us seek to make ‘attributions’ (judgements) about the behaviour of others (i.e. kind, silly, devious

We seek to attribute behaviour to internal (I won because I practised hard), or external causes (I lost
because the weather was). In other words we seek to attribute behaviour to internal or external causes.

We find judgements that we judge to be internal more convincing.

Why might the minorities’ judgement be seen as internal?

10. What is obedience?
11. What is obedience to authority?
12. Describe and evaluate Milgram’s classic research into obedience (electric shock study).
13. What is experimenter validity?
14. How does obedience differ to conformity?
15. What is ecological validity?
16. Describe cross-cultural findings into obedience research – Meeus and Raaijmakers.
17. What are the ethical issues raised in obedience research?- Ethics is also the CRITICAL ISSUE
Consent, deception, debriefing, withdrawal from the investigation, confidentiality,
protection of participants and observational research.

Obedience: Behaving as instructed, usually in response to individual rather than group pressure.
It is unlikely to involve a change in private/personal opinion.

Obedience to Authority: Behaving as instructed, usually in response to individual rather than group pressure. This
usually takes place in a hierarchy, where the person issuing the orders is of higher status than the person obeying the
order. Obedience occurs as the individual feel like the have little choice or cannot refuse/resist. It is unlikely to involve
a change in private/personal opinion. (Milgram’s SOS)

Key Study - Milgram: Investigated the study of obedience to authority, the experiment is usually referred as the
“remote victim” condition, and he aimed to test the hypothesis, “Germans are different to us”, due to the fact that it was pretty close
after World War II. He believed that Hitler could not have put his plans of extermination if the country had not co-operated/
conformed to Hitler’s plans. Milgram was sceptical that these atrocities were due to a national character defect. As a result, he aimed
to investigate how the situational context could lead ordinary people to show obedience to authority and inflict harm on others. He
chose 40 male volunteers to take part in a controlled observational study, who were deceived (hence breaking one of the BPS ethical
guidelines) into thinking they were taking part in a learning study (a paired association memory test). This experiment was to taken
place in the University of Yale. On arrival the Ps were met by the experimenter, who was incidentally wearing a white lab coat.
They were introduced to the stooge, Mr Wallace. The experimenter told the naïve Ps that the experiment was about the effects of
punishment on learning.

Note – the learner was a stooge

called Mr Wallace – no electric
shocks were received. However, the
teachers (real participants) thought
they were electrocuting the learner.
Learner (victim) strapped into chair

The experiment was rigged in such a way that the “teacher” would always be the P and the “learner” would always be
the stooge (Mr Wallace). The experimenter told them that the punishment would be in form of electric shocks, which was on a scale
of 15 to 450 Volts, with a 15 Volts increase for every wrong answer or unanswered question. Mr Wallace was strapped into the chair
with electrodes attached to his arms, by the experimenter and the “teacher”.
The “teacher” delivered the shocks via a shock generator. This was situated in an adjacent room. The Generator had
labels from slight shocks to danger severe shock. There were marked effects in the naïve Ps behaviour, with most, showing signs of
extreme tension. For example, they trembled, sweated, stuttered, groaned, etc. Three Ps had uncontrollable seizures. The Ps were
prodded by the experimenter “Please Continue”, “The Experiment requires you to continue”, “It is absolutely essential that you
continue”, “You have no other choice you must go on”. The research showed that obedience to authority is due to situational factors,
(the setting of the experiment, the status of the experimenter, pressure on the Ps) than to a “deviant” personality. Psychiatrists
guessed that 1 in 1000 would go to 450 volts (only “true psychopaths”) but, in the original study, 26/40 went all the way. The
“Germans are different to us” hypothesis was clearly false as 65% of Ps continued to shock until the fatal 450 volts.

Implications include the relevance of this research to the real-life atrocities of WW2, and the need to identify ways of
preventing people from showing misplaced obedience to authority. Milgram’s Ps were 40 “ordinary” Americans living in a typical
small town. Their high level of obedience showed that we all tend to obey people we regard as authority figures in particular
situations. If we had lived in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, we might well have acted just as obediently.
Milgram’s research represented the first major attempt to study obedience, experimentally, that is, under controlled
conditions. Milgram established a basic method (a paradigm) for studying obedience in a laboratory. This is equivalent to Asch’s
paradigm for studying conformity. This study was unethical as the Ps did not have the right to leave the experiment at any point, and
they were placed under severe stress. Orne et al. claimed that the experiment lacked experimental realism. They thought that the Ps
were alerted to the fact that the electric shocks were not real, as electric shocks are not a believable punishment for making a
mistake on the test. Thus, the research lacked internal validity, as the obedience was not a genuine effect. However, the Ps stress
reactions contradict this. They also claimed that the research lacked mundane realism. The research set-up is unlike real-life as it
was an artificial, controlled, environment. Consequently, the findings have low ecological validity as they lacked generalisability to
real-life settings. However, experimental realism can compensate for a lack of mundane realism, which could be argued is the case
with this study. Also, Milgram did not provide a clear explanation for the high levels of obedience to authority that he obtained.
Although all of the Ps gave their permission for each of these experiments, they weren’t told the true nature of
the experiment, they were deceive and most of them weren’t allowed to withdraw from the investigation. The Ps were not protected
from anxiety. However, when Milgram debriefed the Ps it became clear from the questionnaire that 84% of them felt glad that they
participated, 74% learnt something of personal importance.

The results of the similar studies investigating Milgram’s obedience research

Key Study – Hofling: conducted a naturalistic study into obedience in a more realistic setting
(Milgram’s experiment was a lab experiment at Yale University), this was to avoid criticisms in past
obedience research concerning ‘lack of ecological validity’. The aim of the research was to examine
obedience in the workplace/institutional settings.
The procedure involved a naturalistic field experiment involving 22 night nurses (real). A Dr.
Smith (apparently) phones a nurse at hospital (on 22 separate occasions) and asks her to check to see if they
have the drug astroten, when the nurse checks she can see that the maximum dosage is supposed to be 10mg.
When they reported to the ‘Doctor’, they were told to administer 20mg of the drug to a patient.

If the nurse administers the drug, they will have broken three hospital rules:
21/22 nurses 1. They are not allowed to accept instructions over the phone.
2. The dose was double the maximum limit stated on the box.
3. The medicine itself as unauthorised i.e. not on the ward stocklist.

21 out of the 22 nurses obeyed and would have administered the drug without question if
they had not been halted by the observer. The study suggests obedience does occur in a
real-life setting.

Evaluation - The study has ecological validity and experimental realism, however ethics
were a problem as there was no informed consent obtained from nurses and the results
were not confidential.

1). Obedience may have occurred as nurses are in an agentic state – the status of setting
(hospital); authority figure (Doctor Smith) and ideological justification (patient needs their
medicine as the doctor will get annoyed).

2. The situational factors made the nurses loose their moral autonomy. Milgram calls this
autonomous state (being aware of the consequences of our actions and therefore taking
voluntary control of our behaviour).

18. Describe three reasons for the resistance to authority - social support, individual differences and
minority influence.

Milgram (variation of ‘electric shock study’) - 2 confederates join the ‘teacher’

Confederate 1 stops at 150 volts Confederate 2 stops at 210 volts

Findings - only 10% of teachers (real participant) then continue on to 450V


Experiences Personality Type

Gretchen Brandt refused to obey in one of Adorno et al. the ‘authoritarian personality’
Milgram’s after 210 volts as she had grown up in(AP). A dispositional explanation for obedience.
Nazi Germany and quotes she did not obey Childhood experiences play a key role in the AP,
because “perhaps we have seen too much pain”. as adults they are most likely to be obedient and
prejudiced. Adorno developed the F (Fascism)
Scale to measure AP.

Moscovici found that minorities can influence us to resist obedience (key study above)
Try to use one of the above definitions for a 3-mark exam question instead of Moscovici’s study.

Ethics Describe the BPS guidelines and link to social influence research


Ensure you are able to understand and apply the following definitions to psychological research.
This section does not have a critical issue. All the questions will be worth between one and two
mark. There will not be any key studies to learn or any essays to write.



ORDINAL Capable of being ranked in order
INTERVAL Exact, precise, quantifiable data

Independent Measures Subject only undergoes one condition

Adv. No order effect / no demand effect
Disadv. Expensive / subject variables
Repeated Measures Subject undergoes more than one condition
Adv. Cheap / no subject variables
Disadv. Order effect / demand effect
Matched pairs S’s Independent, but matched along criteria
Adv. No order effect / less subject variables
Disadv. Expensive / difficult to match subjects
Correlational Studies Establishes relationship between two variables
Understand +/-, scattergrams Study difficult ethical areas / no demand effect

Correlation coefficients etc. Can’t imply causality / can’t manipulate variables

SAMPLING Selection of subject sample from target population

Opportunity Whoever you can find

Random Assign number, use random number generator
Stratified e.g. every tenth person on list
Structured ‘structured’ e.g. one from every class in college
Self-selecting Volunteers (problems?)
RELIABILITY Dependability / consistency of results
Inter – rater / scorer / observer Different judges agree
Split – half To halves of test are consistent
Test-retest Second attempt consistent with first
Equivalent form Different versions of tests give consistent results
VALIDITY Appropriate – measures what it sets out to
Face Looks right
Context / construct Fits theory
Concurrent Matches similar tests
Predictive Gives accurate info about future performance

Mean Average
Adv. Uses all data
Disadv. Can be skewed by extreme scores
Median Middle score
Adv. Unaffected by extreme scores
Disadv. Doesn’t work well in small samples
Mode Most frequently occurring score
Adv. Tells us about the majority
Disadv. Easily changed in small samples

DEMAND EFFECT S’s anticipate hypothesis and act accordingly

Countered by SINGLE-BLIND STUDY S’s don’t know which condition they are in
EXPERIMENTER EFFECT Experimenter’s expectations influence procedure
Countered by DOUBLE – BLIND STUDY S’s and Experimenters. don’t know which condition
ORDER EFFECT Outcome cond.1 affects outcome cond.2
Countered by COUNTERBALANCING Vary order of presentation of conditions
CONFOUNDING VARIABLES Uncontrolled, extraneous variables
Countered by STANDARDIZATION Ensuring conditions same for all participants

Laboratory Experiment Controlled environment, manipulate variables to test hypothesis
Know IV / DV / Hypothesis / Null Hypothesis Control
Adv. Control
Disadv. Low in Ecological Validity
Field Experiment Variables manipulated in less controlled environment.
Adv. Less control
Disadv. Higher in EV
Natural Experiment Variables not manipulated by experimenter, just happens
Adv. No control
Disadv. High in EV
NON-EXPERIMENTAL METHODS (Don’t worry if you don’t understand the points below –
just make sure you know some advantages and
disadvantages – even if not these ones)
Correlational Studies Establishes relationship between two variables
Adv. Study difficult ethical areas / no demand effect
Disadv. Can’t imply causality / can’t manipulate variables
Naturalistic Observation Natural setting / no manipulation
Adv. Higher in EV / less ethical concerns
Disadv. No control / privacy?
Case Study (often clinical) In depth qualitative study of individual or group
Adv. Depth of info / more ‘humane’ / less reductionist
Disadv. Subjectivity / difficult to generalise
Interview Methods vary–structured/unstructured/quantitative/qualitative
Adv. Flexibility / Sensitivity
Disadv. Confidentiality / interpretation

Control Group Group that does not undergo the I.V. to check that the D.V.
was not going to alter anyway.
They also establish a baseline with which to compare the
results of the experimental conditions.
Pilot studies Small scale 'trial run' performed before research itself is
conducted in order to:
- test clarity of instructions
- test appropriateness of measuring tools
- iron out difficulties or confusions
Range The 'spread' / dispersion of scores
- established by subtracting lowest from highest scores
Standard Deviation The spread / dispersion of scores around the mean (more
sophisticated approach)

Be able to know and state:

- Experimental Hypothesis – Adults will recall significantly more words than children will on a short-term
memory test measuring capacity.
- Null-Hypothesis – Adults will NOT recall significantly more words than children on a short-term
memory test measuring capacity. Any differences found will be due to chance.
- Directional Hypothesis (one-tailed) – state who is going to do better e.g. adults or children
- Non-directional Hypothesis (two-tailed) – don’t state who is going to do better e.g. There will be a significant
difference in the number of words recalled by adults and children on a short-term memory test measuring