Psychological Research - Sample Essay
Psychological Research often shows one main problem, which is “ecological validity”. This in simplified terms means that the various studies have little application in real life situation. Below are reasons, which highlight the problems we face when we try to apply this information to everyday life. Firstly, the main problem facing the application of Milgram’s study in real life is once again ecological validity. The results Milgram obtained from his research bear resemblance to ‘response bias’, which is related to the idea of ‘demand characteristics’.
This means that the participants tried to anticipate beforehand what the purpose of the test was and also tried to do what they though would please the experimenter and what they thought was being asked of them. Therefore showing that the majority of the results obtained would be based on demand characteristics. For example many of the participants might have withdrawn if it were not for the ‘prods’. Also the experimenter said, “You cannot withdraw now”. Financial incentives were also given if the participants participated right to the end of the experiment, again leading to a ‘response bias’.
The location of the study was also another reason why some carried on as they perceived this as a study rather than something real life. Another reason why this study would be difficult to apply is the fact that the so-called ‘teachers’ were following all these commands when they couldn’t even see the subjects. This is very unreal and in real life situations we are more likely to see as well as hear the person. If the teacher could see the subject, the results may have been different.
Secondly, in Piliavin’s study the problem was not related to ecological validity but to other variables such as the; age of the bystanders; their colour and race; what past experience they may have; whether they were tired and so on. Variables such as these can have an effect on the way that the bystanders behave in a real situation. The age of the bystanders will be a factor as some may be too young to help and other too old. As the experiment showed that people from the same race helped out, the race of the bystanders can’t be controlled.
Another aspect of the experiment, which cannot be controlled if the past experience which people, may have. It can incidentally have an effect on the outcome of the experiment as past experiences can either make people help or it can prevent them from helping. Similarly factors such as tiredness, mood and others can either prevent people from helping or infact make them help. The main problem with Zimbardo’s ‘Prison Stimulation’ was the fact that it was exactly how a real prison would be. The guards had no one above them, which meant that they could misuse power to whatever extent they felt like.
Also there were only a limited amount of prisoners who were all white. In prisons there are all races and so the behaviour of the prisoners may have been different. Also Zimbardo’s prison did not have any guideline, which the prisoners and guards had to adhere too, once again making it different from a real life prison. Finally, Gardner and Gardner’s experiment had one main problem, which was ‘ecological validity’. Not all of us know ASL, which would therefore make the experiment of no use to us.
Another problem would be the tendency to anthropomorphise, which means that we may interpret the chimp’s behaviour in human terms. QUESTION 1C The impacts of this psychological research have had many advantages and disadvantages on life. Firstly, Milgram’s study has unearthed some very I important facts about human behaviour, which can lead to a many problems, which can be split in two categories. First being the disadvantages for the individual and the second being the disadvantage for the society. Milgram’s study suggests that we seem to obey people in authority.
This would incidentally mean less control for an individual and what’s more it can mean in he/she having to do what they are told and not necessarily what the individual wants to do. This can lead to other severe other problems such as a lack in self-confidence and also maturity as other would be making most of the decisions for the individual. If a whole society was full of people who did not have their own say in a matter it would mean that the society itself would just be a computer game, which just a few people can play, and control.
Other problems for the society would include a lack of dissent and therefore no pressure for social change. Although these are just the disadvantages, there are of course some advantages. Firstly, advantages for the individual include less aggravation and more acceptance. This would then result in a much more settled society and it would mean that there would be greater social order. This would then result in far less fights, wars and disputes.