Issues and debates in psychology Gender and culture
Issues and debates in psychology Gender and culture in psychology universality and bias. Gender bias including androcentrism and alpha and beta bias; cultural bias, including ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. Free will and determinism: hard determinism and soft determinism; biological, environmental and psychic determinism. The scientific emphasis on causal explanations. The nature-nurture debate: the relative importance of heredity and environment in determining behaviour; the interactionist approach. Holism and reductionism: levels of explanation in psychology. Biological reductionism
and environmental (stimulus-response) reductionism. Idiographic and nomothetic approaches to psychological investigation. Ethical implications of research studies and theory, including reference to social sensitivity. universality The propensity to presume that one's personal traits and personality features, inclusive of outlooks and morals, are shared in the main social group or cultural society.
In regard to crowd environments, the propensity for people to presume that abnormal, uncommon actions are permittable since many other people in the environment or scenario are engaging in such acts. Androcentrism Androcentrism refers to perspectives concerned with masculinity or men to the exclusion of other perspectives. gynocentric
Example: A Look at Androcentric Bias Tom is a researcher interested in studying romantic relationships. He conducts a study that asks each participant to rate characteristics he or she looks for when choosing a partner. Four hundred males and forty females complete Tom's study. He finds that seventy-five percent of the males chose physical appearance as the most important characteristic. The women were evenly split among their preferences - primarily finances, a family-oriented demeanor and emotional
openness. In fact, thirty-three percent of the women selected each of the three on their questionnaires. Tom analyzes his research findings and concludes that when men and women choose a romantic partner, physical attraction is the most important factor. This is an example of Alpha and beta bias Alpha Bias = Are differences Beta Bias = Bull****** there are no differences Alpha bias this occurs when the differences between men and
women are exaggerated. Beta bias this occurs when the differences between men and women are minimised. Ethnocentrism Evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one's own culture. What do you see.
Cultural relativism Is the principle that an individual's beliefs and activities should be understood by others in terms of that individual's own culture. Perception A cow is a bug. A window is a basket. Free will and determinism Some approaches in psychology see the source of determinism as being outside the individual, a position known as environmental determinism.
For example, Bandura (1961) showed that children with violent parents will in turn become violent parents through observation and imitation. Behaviourist view? Biological View? Free Will - Humanistic Cognitive psychologists are also inclined to attribute importance to free will, and adopt a soft determinism view. However, whereas humanists are especially interested in our choice of ends (how each of us sees the road to
self actualization) cognitive psychologists are more inclined to focus on the choice of means. In other words for them it is the rational processing of information which goes into the making of a decision which is their main interest. Psychic determinism Psychic determinism is a type of determinism that theorises that all mental processes are not spontaneous but are determined by the unconscious or preexisting mental complexes. It relies on the causality
principle applied to psychic occurrences in which nothing happens by chance or by accidental arbitrary ways. WHO Read through Psychologists who take the free will view suggest that determinism removes freedom and dignity, and devalues human behaviour. By creating general laws of behaviour, deterministic psychology underestimates the uniqueness of human beings and their freedom to choose their own destiny. There are important implications for taking either side in this debate. Deterministic explanations for behaviour
reduce individual responsibility. A person arrested for a violent attack for example might plead that they were not responsible for their behaviour it was due to their upbringing, a bang on the head they received earlier in life, recent relationship stresses, or a psychiatric problem. In other words, their behaviour was determined. The deterministic approach also has important implications for psychology as a science. Scientists are interested in discovering laws which can then be used to predict events. This is very easy to see in physics, chemistry and biology. As a science, psychology attempts the same thing to develop laws, but this time to predict behaviour If we argue against determinism, we are in effect rejecting the scientific approach to explaining behaviour Clearly, a pure deterministic or free will approach does not seem appropriate when studying human behaviour Most psychologists use the concept of free will to express the idea that behaviour is not a passive reaction to
forces, but that individuals actively respond to internal and external forces. The term soft determinism is often used to describe this position, whereby people do have a choice, but their behaviour is always subject to some form of biological or environmental pressure. The term soft determinism is often used to describe this position, whereby people do have a choice, but their behaviour is always subject to some form of biological or environmental pressure. The scientific emphasis on causal
explanations. IS? The nature-nurture debate: the relative importance of heredity and environment in determining behaviour; the interactionist approach. The so-called naturenurture debate in psychology has a long history, stretching back into philosophical debate about the nature of humankind. The term nature refers to behaviour that is determined
by inherited factors. Nurture is the influence of any environmental factors including learning. The debate is sometimes called heredity versus environment. Schizophrenia Nature or Nurture The interactionist approach. The interactionism perspective states that values are determined by social interaction. Interactionism does not claim actions to be inherently right or wrong. The value of an act is socially prescribed. For instance, teen alcohol
consumption may be legal and socially acceptable in one country while illegal and frowned upon in another. These moral assumptions are personal convictions received through social interaction. Interactionism also has a unique perspective on research methodology. It questions the validity of statistic data, claiming that statistics do not give an accurate picture of human experience. Interactionist theory rejects the use of hypotheses, asserting that a hypothesis makes a study biased by steering it in a predetermined direction. Interactionists prefer methods like unstructured interviews, covert participant observation and content analysis.
Holism and reductionism: levels of explanation in psychology. Biological reductionism and environmental (stimulus-response) reductionism. Idiographic and nomothetic approaches to psychological investigation. Explanation Funny
Idiographic Approach - an approach or method in psychology that is concerned with understanding behaviour through studying individual cases. Nomothetic approach- an approach or method in psychology that is concerned with developing general laws of behaviour that apply to all people. Idiographic Approach
The case study method, which provide a complete and global understanding of the individual is favoured. Other methods include unstructured interviews as well as the less mainstream methods such as self report, introspection and reflection and the use of autobiographies and personal documents such as diaries and letters. In psychoanalysis free association and dream analysis are acceptable investigating tools however it is important to note that numerical measurement is not excluded in the idiographic approach: it is just that the main form of data is collected is description rather than measurement. Assets map details doodles notes outlook photo frame Learning Objectives Features and methods of investigation The key features of the approach is the individual
and the recognition of their uniqueness. This includes numerous aspects of individuality e.g. private subjective and conscious experiences, feelings beliefs and values This also involves investigating individuals in a personal and detailed way, methods of investigation tend to be qualitative . Strengths The idiographic approach focuses on the subjective experiences of the person making the individual feeling valued and unique. Each person is
valued as an individual rather than seen as one amongst many. The idiographic approach provides detailed psychohistories and attempts to understand the many influences on how they come to be as they are. Humanistic psychology uses an idiographic approach to enable people to develop to their full potential. Weaknesses It is difficult to generalise from detailed subjective knowledge about
one person. The idiographic approach is often regarded as non-scientific, as subjective experience cannot be empirically tested. The idiographic approach largely neglects biological, especially genetic, influences. Nomothetic approachThe defining features of this approach are similarities between people and laws that govern behaviour. This approach emphasises general laws of behaviour that can be applied to large populations of people.
According to Radford and Kirby these general laws can be of three kinds; 1. Classifying people into various groups For example the DSM-IV which provides a means of classifying more than 200 types of disorders, classification is based on a persons symptoms. 2. Establishing principles of behaviour that can be applied to people in general the principles or laws of learning apply to people in a similar way, research into behaviour as such as obedience and conformity experiments has resulted in general principles of behaviour that apply to all. 3. Establishing dimensions on which people can be placed and compared For example IQ scales measure peoples intelligence resulting in scores that allow for comparisons between people.
Nomothetic research Nomothetic research uses scientific and quantitative methods of investigation, usually experiments. Theories generate hypotheses that are then tested under controlled experimental conditions. The findings of experiments and other quantitative methods, such as observations are provided by a large number of people. Features of the Nomothetic approach. Aim- To investigate how heredity might affect alcohol abuse. (Twin and adoption studies have shown that heredity is linked to alcohol abuse) Method- Male participants were categorised as either high risk or low risk for becoming an alcoholic. (Depending on their close relatives alcohol abuse) This was a matched pairs design, they was matched on the basis of important variables such as age, amount of alcohol intake per week, education and race. All participants received either a
placebo or a strong alcohol drink. One hour after taking the drink all participants had to rate their feeling of drunkenness. All participants were tested during the late adolescent or early adult years before any of them had developed a drinking problem. Results- Participants in the high risk group who had taken the alcoholic drink gave lower ratings of drunkenness levels than those in the low risk group. The placebo group, all participants reported low levels of drunkenness. Conclusion- People who are genetically prone to becoming problem drinkers may have an impaired ability to perceive the effects of alcohol and fail to notice the symptoms of drunkenness early enough to stop drinking. Evaluation- This study has many features of the nomothetic approach.
It isolated a major variable: the risk for alcoholism. The study was well controlled, the date could be analysed in terms of group scores, the findings could be statistically analysed and be generalised to others who differ in their alcoholism, allowing predictions to be made for people who differ on the high-low risk dimension. However the conclusions are in general terms only, they cannot predict the outcome for a particular individual.
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