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This thread is for discussions relating to the subject of Psychology, you may post your work here or any other material that you believe will help yourself or others in revising for any tests or exams. (However even if you don't have exams, don't be afraid to visit and discuss, learning isn't restricted to school, yanno?)

These are my notes on the subject of conformity and social influence

Social Influence

Social influence can be described as: How the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of individuals are influenced by the actual or imagined or implied presence of others (Allport, cited in Gross 1996)

The forms of social influence we will study for this unit are: Conformity, compliance, minority influence and obedience and independent behaviour.

Social groups
There are a number of social groups that any one person can belong to, some of these groups include:

Family groups
Friendship groups
School/college peer groups
Work groups
Being a member of a club or society

Social Norms
Social norms allow us to be members of these social groups.
These are the rules or values (written or unwritten) that govern the behavior of social groups.
Therefore, people can only be members of these groups if they behave appropriately according to these rules or values.

One definition of conformity is:
A change in belief or behaviour in response to real or imagined group pressure when there is no direct request to comply with the group nor any reason given to justify the behaviour change.
(Zimbardo and Leippe, 1991)

Conformity studies
One of the earliest studies of conformity was conducted by Sherif (1935)
He aimed to study how a group would influence peoples estimates on a task.
He used a method called the autokinetic effect.
He asked participants to estimate how far the light had moved. They were tested individually and then in groups of three.

The results showed that when tested individually, participants estimates were quite different from each other.
However, when they were tested in groups, their estimates became more alike, that is, they converged.
Participants were not instructed to give a group estimate, but when tested again individually, their estimates resembled the group norm.
Therefore, the conclusion for this study would be that the group did influence the estimates of individuals. Therefore, their behaviour changed as a result of the group.

This study did show how peoples behaviour can change as a result of group influence.
This was shown by comparing the individuals estimates to that of the group.
However, it has been criticized because the task was ambiguous. This means that there was no right or wrong answer and so it was obvious that participants would use the group estimates as a 'benchmark'.

Asch was a social psychologist who was critical of the work of Sherif.
He thought that the only true way to test conformity was to test the influence of group pressure on an individual when the group was giving an obviously wrong answer to a task.

Therefore, the aim of his experiment was to test conformity in an unambiguous situation.
The method he used was to put an individual participant into a group of confederates. The task was to identify which line (from a choice of twelve) was the same length as a stimulus line.

Asch - method
The real participant was always last to answer. The confederates always gave the same answer as eachother, even if it was obviously wrong.
There were 12 occasions when they deliberately gave the wrong answer. Asch wanted to test if the participant would agree with the groups answer even if it was obviously wrong.

Participants gave the same wrong answer on about one-third of the critical trials.
However, there were large individuals difference.
About 47% gave between one seven incorrect answers.
About 28% gave eight or more incorrect answers. Therefore, about 75% conformed at least once, but only at least 5% conformed every time.

Asche concluded that people will be influenced by members of a group.

Although this experiment showed that people will change their behaviour in a group situation, participants were deceived about the nature of this experiment. Also, participants felt uncomfortable because of the nature of the situation.

All about attachment psychology (basically about mothers and children)

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Freud hypothesised that children pass through a series of psychosexual stages, the first of which is the Oral Stage, which lasts from birth to about 2 years of age.
Miller 1993 added that since it is usually the mother who provides a surce of satisfaction in this first stage, by breastfeeding and nurturing , she becomes the primary love object in the infants life, especially if she is relaxed and generous in her feeding.
For this reason, Freud regarded the mothers's status as "Unique, without parallel, established unalterably for a whole lifetime as the first and strongest love-object and as the prototype for all later love-relationships"

Freud, like other later psychologists, including Bowlby, saw this first main relationship as forming a foundation for all other relationships. If children are deprived of forming their instinctual needs at this stage they are never secure, or truly happy in relationships for the rest of their lives. Freud also placed great emphasis on the role of feeding in attachment.


A major problem with this theory is that there is evidence of a fairly persuasive nature, that attachment does not depend on feeding. Harlow's study with monkeys demonstrated quite clearly that the monkeys attach to something soft and cuddly regardless of whether or not it is the source of food.
Schaffer and Emerson 1964 found that 40% of infants were not primarily attached to the person who fed them, rather babies are more likely to attach to the person who is the most responsive to them. Whilst it seems like Freud's emphasis on psychosexual development is somewhat misguided, it does seem that Freud has a point when he says that early experiences influence later behaviour. It is this aspect of his contribution, which appears to have the most to offer.

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This approach maintains that much of the parent-child relationship depends on the experiences they have with one another, learning rather than instinct.
Dollard and Miller 1950 point out that the primary caregiver, usually the mother will feed her infant about 2000 times, within the first year. She also provides many other positive experiences for the infant, such as: attention, warmth, comfort, tender touches ect. As each interaction of a positive nature takes place, then the infant learns to associate positive experiences with the mother - she acts as a powerful secondary reinforcer
Learning theory can also explain why mothers become attached to their infants. The infants smile is a powerful reinforcer and cessation of crying is a powerful negative reinforcer. Mothers also derive reward from watching their child develop.
Gerwirtz 1961 also suggests that many stimuli associates with children acquire reinforcing characteristics for females as a result of sex-typing during their own development. Combine all of these features and you can see a strong set of reasons for mothers to develop attachments to their children.


Learning theory, like psychodynamic theory, places high emphasis on feeding and thus encounters the same criticisms. Harlow's experiment proved that infant monkeys attach to mothers that do not necessarily provide food and Schaffer and Emerson have shown that children become attached to adults who are not the primary caregivers. Indeed, some children become attached to parents who ignore or neglect them.
It is also hard to see how stranger anxiety fits into a learning theory explanation. This occurs quite suddenly without any previously unpleasant experiences with strangers, from which to learn the reaction.

More modern learning theories of attachment do not place such great emphasis on feeding, but they do stress the importance of reinforcement. They suggest that infants will attach more readily to people who provide them a variety of pleasant and rewarding experiences. Schaffer and Emerson's work can be used in support of this type of learning theory since their study showed that infants attach most readily to caregivers who are responsive to the infants behaviour. Modern theories suggest that primary reinforcers in attachment are associated with social interactions not with food as previously postulated. This implies that babies are biologically predisposed to find positive social interaction a rewarding experience.
(click to show/hide)Short-term separation - It is not unusual for a child to be separated from their primary caregiver during their early childhood. They may be planned or unplanned separations.
Most research is based on mother and baby separation, but research is now considering father and baby separation. Children form their first attachment around 8-9 months, and they are likely to start responding to separation from their primary caregiver at this time, and show this behaviour in three stages:

Protest: The child cries, screams and protests angrily when the parent leaves. They are likely to try to cling to the parent and may struggle to escape from others that pick them up.

Despair: After a while the child's angry protest starts to subside and they appear calmer, although still upset. The child is likely to refuse others attempts to comfort them and they may appear to be withdrawn and uninterested in anything.

Detachment If the separation continues the child may begin to engage with other people again, although they may be wary. They are likely to reject the caregiver when they return and show signs of anger.

Robertson and Robertson 1989 A child called John, who was 17 months old was placed in a residential nursery for nine days while his mother was in hospital having another baby. Over the course of the 9 days, John went from being happy, well adjusted child to a child so distressed by the experience that upon reunion with his mother, his rejection of her was all too clear.

Long-term separation a long term effect of separation is shown by a range of behaviours:

Extreme clinginess - The child may cling whenever the parent attempts to leave, even in situations such as nursery where they have been happy to have been left before. They may become clingy in anticipation of separation, for example when the babysitter is ready to arrive.

Detachment - The child may appear to be detached from the caregiver and refuse to be cuddled or hugged. This behaviour may be designed to protect them from being hurt again if they are left. Many children alternate between detachment and clinginess, making it difficult for parents to predict how they will behave. The child may be more demanding of their attachment figure.

There are factors affecting the child's response to separation:

Age of the child which is most significant between the ages of 12 to 18 months

Type of attachment between child and caregiver as the more securely attached the child is to the caregiver, the more likely the child is to cope with short term separation.

Sex of the child is important as boys seem to respond better to separation than girls, although there are wide differences.

Who the child is left with and the quality of care they receive, many children older than 10 months have multiple attachment, so the child is left with another attachment figure, such as a grandparent and the effects may be minimal.

Experience of previous separations, the child who is accustomed to brief separations, such as being left at play group or with grandparents, is likely to respond less strongly than the child who is very rarely separated from their attachment figure.

Criticisms of PDD

Barret 1997 has described that the stages described by the PDD are misleading. He argues that the child initial response to separation is not a protest but is an effort to cope with the feelings produced by separation.
(click to show/hide)Deprivation is the break in a bond between infant and primary care-giver, it is a break because the relationship was once there. The break may have happened due to hospitalization, on part of mother or child, or any long term absence from each other.

Bowlby - suggested that during the first two years of life, the child should receive continuous care from the primary caregiver. If the attachment is broken or disrupted during the critical two year period, the child will suffer long term consequences of maternal deprivation.

The consequences of maternal deprivation may include the following:
Affectionless psychopathy
Intellectual impairment

When this maternal deprivation hypothesis was originally proposed, many mthers questioned their child care arrangements, mothers felt guilty when they went to work and left their children at daycare or at home and stay-at-home mothers thought they were doing their best thing for their child.
However, this hypothesis meant some people thought it was better for a child to be brought up by a bad mother than sent to a children's home.
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Privation is when a child lacks any kind of attachment at all in childhood. Privation may occur in circumstances like, international conflict or civil war. It can also happen when the child experiences neglect.
There are two types of study that have informed us about the affects of privation. Case studies and Research studies. Case studies exist of children who have been brought up in extreme circumstances like total isolation such as Koluchova and Skase.. Research studies of children who have been raised in institutions and late adoption as seen in Tizard and Hodges.

Case studies
Koluchova reported the case study of twin boys, born in Czechoslovakia. They were brought up in care after their mothers death. At the age of 18 months they were able to live with their father and step mothers, however they suffered serious privation until age 7. They were then taken into care.
Between the ages of 18 months and seven years they were locked in a cold cellar and regularly abused. They had no speech when they were discovered, were terrified of people and had health problems. They later attended a special school for rehabilitation. When they were followed up they were happy sociable boys, who went to mainstream school, all damage repaired.

Skuse reported the case of two sisters, they suffered social and emotional privation at an early age. Their mother had severe learning difficulties and may have had a mental illness. They were kept in a small room and tied to a bed with dog leads. They were covered in a blanket if they became noisy. Mary and Louise were later found by social services and put into care. They had no real speech, Louise later developed her speech through therapy and attended primary school by the age of 5. Mary however, did not develop and was moved to an autistic unit. A brother was later found and also remained autistic.

Research studies
Tizard and Hodges carried out natural experiments and examined long-term effects of emotional privation on 65 children brought up in a children's home until they were around four years old. Then a questionnaire was introduced when they were aged 8, and then a in-depth interview when they were aged 16.
They concluded that those adopted seemed to develop good family relationships. However, sadly the restored children continued to experience some problems and difficulties in their family relationships notably with siblings. Both groups showed similar differences in relationships with peers. They seemed to want to always please the adult but were less able to form relationships outside the family.

Methodological issues with this study?
Well, the good thing about this study is that there is a variety of research methods used. Such as In-depth interviews and questionnaires.
However the problem is participant attrition, this is where at each stage of research, some drop out and do not wish to participate.
(click to show/hide)Bowlby led us to believe that disrupting the attachment process by placing our children in day-care, could have serious effects on our child's development. However in today's society, there are an increasing number of working parents or single parent families meaning that daycare is more frequently accessed.

Are the effects of day care desirable?
Accessing daycare facilities can disrupt the attachment process and cause distress to the child. However, daycare could have some positive effects such as:
Improved social development
Learning to interact with others
and increased independence

What are the different types of daycare?
Child minders
Private nurseries
and sure-start nurseries (recent)

When accessing the effectiveness of daycare settings, the quality of care provided will obviously impact on the effect that this care has on the child's development.


In the 1970's and 80's, research into child minding provision found that minders believed that their role was to simply care for the child's physical well being. As a result, some children were detached in daycare but responsive at home.

Belsky and Steinberg found that there were no adverse effects of day care on children. However, this sample was biased as the daycare settings were of high quality  as they were used by families that were "well off".

Belsky investigated more typical settings. She found that children who spent more than 20 hours a week in daycare were more likely to have less secure attachments with their mothers. However, the Strange Situation was used to measure attachment and it could be that daycare children are more used to separation and so seems to be less securely attached.

Howes found that children in lower quality day care were less considerate and less able to focus on a task than those in high quality day care. Aggression is also likely to be higher in these children. However, he also found that families using poor quality day care tended to be complex problems and less access to social support.

Is age important?
The age at which a child enters daycare is important. The children in Howes study entered daycare before the age of 1. The EPPE projects has found that daycare can have developmental advantages from the age of about 2. Younger children are more likely to experience ill-effects because of disruption to the attachment process.

Melhuish 2004 found that high quality daycare (from 0-3 years) had a positive effect on language development whereas poor quality care had an adverse effect on this type of development. He outlined factors that identify high quality care:

Well trained staff that are committed to their work with children
Facilities that are safe, sanitary and accessible to parents
Ratios and group sizes that allow staff to interact appropriately with children
Supervision that maintains consistency
Staff development that ensures stability and improving quality
Provision of appropriate learning opportunities for children.
(click to show/hide)Western Psychology - It is true to say that the majority of psychology we study has been created by the USA, UK and Europe. This is bias towards what we know as "Individualistic cultures"

In the main - what we know about attachments in these cultures appears to be universal and applies across all countries in the societies outlined above.

It seems that ALL children go through separation anxiety. Maturation is the key feature, also that all cultures show the three main attachment styles - A, B and C
Differences though DO occur in percentages of styles within a culture.

Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg looked at 32 studies of the strange situation across 8 countries involving 2000 children. This is called a meta-analysis.
Analysis of findings - secure is the most common across all countries, but the differences between culture lies in avoidant vs resistant attachment. Avoidant is the most common in Europe, Resistant is the most common in Israel and Japan.

Example: In Japan children rarely leave their mother, not usual for alternative caregivers. So children in strange situation may just appear resistant in that they are so unfamiliar with being left alone they protest.

In Israeli Kibbutzim, children are raised by 'matepeletes'. Only are with mother for a few hours a day. Not though used to strangers in any circumstance. May be being 'resistant' just because there is a stranger, nothing to do with the mother leaving.
All about Memory within psychology

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Miller talks of "The magical number seven, plus or minus two". This means that:
On average, the capacity of STM is between 5 and 9 items of information, as stated by Gross et al.
However, Chase and Ericsson trained a participant to achieve a memory span of 82 digits!
Coding in STM
Miller found that the capacity of STM could be considerably increased by combining, or organising, separating 'bits' of information. This is called Chunking.
The process of Chunking involves the imposition of meaning, through organizing the To-Be-Remembered-Material (TBRM), in line with existing knowledge - in this case, of qualifications. This illustrates the important role played by the LTM and the STM.

Conrad and Baddely found that letters or words that are acoustically similar are harder to recall from STM than sequences which are acoustically dissimilar.
Such acoustic confusion errors suggest that STM for such material mainly relies on a speech-based or acoustic code, even though items may be presented visually.

Coding in LTM
Interestingly, when Baddely tested LTM recall, acoustically similar words (homonyms) had little effect, but semantically similar words (synonyms) caused much confusion. This suggests that the LTM uses a semantic code.
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Made by Baddely and Hitch and it emphasizes Active processing as opposed to the structured approach of Atkinson and Shiffren. In the working memory model the STM is replace by a number of separate processors. This is apparently the best model of the ways the short term memory functions. In the original model there were three central components, but later research caused the addition of a forth component.

Central Executive This is involved in all tasks requiring attention. It has a limited capacity and stores information only briefly. It can process information from any modality, with any type of coding, and allocates processing resources to any other of the components. It is therefore at the top of the hierarchical system.

Visuo-Spatial Scratchpad Dealing with visual material. This deals with visual and/or spatial material and information that is represented as visual features such as size, shape and colour - a sort of inner ear.

Articulatory Loop Dealing with verbal material. This is a verbal rehearsal component used to hold the words we are preparing to speak out loud. It organises verbal material in a serial and temporal fashion and deals with the articulation of this material. Information is represented as it would be spoken - a sort of inner voice.

The Primary Acoustic Store This deals with auditory information. It links with the articulatory loop. Information is represented as auditory features such as pitch - a sort of inner ear.

Limitations of the model

We know it is limited but not -how limited-
Richardson believes the concept of the central executive to be vague and as such can be used to explain any kind of result that do not 'fit'. The inability to falsify does not make it a good model.
Allport suggests that the idea of a central processing system should be replaced with one containing specific mechanisms only.
Eysenck suggests that we require a central executive of some description for without the model, it would be chaotic.
(click to show/hide)Atkinson and Shiffrin created the two process model which focuses on both the STM and the LTM.

Primary recency effect

Remembering words at the start and then at the end may indicate two different processors in memory

Primary Effect - Words at the start of a list are more likely to be remembered than words in the middle.

Recency Effect - Words at the end of a list are more likely to be remembered than words in the middle.

Psychological views on Aggression

(click to show/hide)The theory of social learning theory is supported by the BoBo Doll experiment. In this study, children in three groups were exposed to adults playing with the doll either:
3.Aggressively and being rewarded for it

When children were allowed to play with the bobo doll, they imitated the behaviour of the adult. The children in group 3 (Aggression and reward) showed the highest levels of aggression when allowed to play with the doll. Bandura concluded that children will observe and imitate the behaviour of role models. This occurs because of vicarious reinforcement - when you think you're going to get the same reward that the person you're observing is getting.

Conditions for social learning - the person must first pay attention to the model's behaviour, then be able to remember the action. They must have the ability to replicate the action and be motivated to replicate it.

Interaction theory - Bandura believed that aggression was a learnt behaviour through observing and imitating others. He suggested that there is a biological potential for aggression but that the actual expression of the aggression (verbal or physical) is what is learnt.

Vicarious reinforcement - aggression is learned through vicarious reinforcement. In this case, the child builds up a representation of the possible consequences to their aggression -either reward or punishment. Aggression will be shown when the child expects rewards and not punishments for their behaviour.

Production of aggressive behaviour
Aggressive behaviour may be learnt by social learning but it is maintained through operant conditioning. If aggressive behaviour is always rewarded it is likely to be repeated. Also, if the person is good at being aggressive this will give them confidence at using it. Our ability to judge how good we are at certain things is called 'self-efficacy'.

Social learning in adults
Most of the research done in this area has been on children, so a point for discussion could be - does the theory apply to adults?

Phillips found that daily homicide rates in the US almost always increased following a major boxing match - suggesting that social learning is also evident in adults.

The idea of vicarious reinforcement explains how behaviour can be learnt, even in the absence of direct rewards. It can also explain behaviour of sub-cultures , as aggression is non-existent because it is not valued. This might explain the current increase in 'gang culture' where aggression and violence is valued and rewarded.
(click to show/hide)Bandura believed that aggression is learned through a process called behaviour modelling. Which basically means that individuals do not inherit violent tendency, but they modeled them after three principles.
Individuals, especially children, learn aggressive responses from observing others, either personally or through the media and environment. He stated that many individuals believed that aggression will produce rewards, these rewards can formulate into reduction of tension, gaining financial rewards, gaining the praise of others or building self-esteem.
Bandura believed that if aggression was diagnosed early in children, they would refrain from being adult criminals.

The experiment
Bandura believed that aggression must explain three aspects:
1. How aggressive patterns of behaviour are developed. (development)
2. What provokes people to behave aggressively (manifestation)
3. What determines whether they are going to continue to resort to an aggressive behaviour patter on future occasions. (replication)

The BoBo Doll
In the experiment, children witness a model aggressively attacking a plastic clown called the BoBo Doll. The children would watch a video where a model would aggressively hit a doll in various ways. After the video, the children were placed in a room with attractive toys, but they were not allowed to touch them. The process of retention had occurred (pissing them off basically). Therefore, the children became angry and frustrated, then the children were led to another room where there were identical toys used in the BoBo video.
The motivation phase was in occurrence ("I'm angry now, so I'll take it out on the doll. GRRRR). Bandura and many other researchers found that 88% of the children had imitated the aggressive behaviour. Eight months later, 40% of the same children reproduced the violent behaviour observed in the BoBo Doll experiment. (They accidentally created an army of demon children)
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Neural Factors
The chemicals serotonin and dopamine have been found to be linked to aggression. Serotonin reduces aggression by inhibiting negative responses to stimuli. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to impulsing behaviour, aggression and even violent suicide.

Mann gave 35 healthy subjects a drug to reduce serotonin and a questionnaire to test aggressive and hostile feelings. They found that the drug was associated in an increase in aggressive feelings in males, but not females.

Bond has shown through clinical studies, that the use of anti-depressants (which increase serotonin) also reduce irritability and impulsive aggression.

Dopamine - the link between dopamine and aggression is not as clear as serotonin, but the use of drugs such as amphetamines (which increase dopamine) are associated with higher levels of aggression. Also, anti-psychotics which reduce dopamine are associated with lower levels of aggression.

Evidence for the role of dopamine is inconclusive. Research by Couppis and Kennedy found that dopamine could be a consequence of aggression, rather than a cause. They found that a reward pathway becomes engaged in response to an aggressive event and that dopamine acts as a reinforcer of this pathway. Therefore, people seek out aggressive events because it is rewarding.

Hormonal Factors
Testosterone is the hormone associated with aggression. Dabbs et al measured salivary testosterone in prisoners. They found that those with highest levels of testosterone had been convicted of violent crimes whereas those with lowest levels were in prison for non-violent crimes.

The Challenge Hypothesis
Wingfield et al suggests that in monogamous species, testosterone should only rise in response to social challenges such as male-male aggression or a threat to status. Such threats would cause a sharp rise in testosterone, which in turn would lead to aggression.

Inconsistent evidence
Although research suggests there is a relationship between testosterone and aggression, other studies have found no such link, particularly when comparing aggressive groups to non-aggressive groups. Another issue with the research is that a lot of it is based on small samples of men in prison, and is based on self-report measures or linked to the crime committed.

Cortisol - has an inhibiting effect on testosterone and so lowering aggression. Studies have found low levels of cortisol in violent offenders and violent school children. So whilst testosterone is the primary biochemical factor, cortisol could also be a contributing factor.
(click to show/hide)The idea of genetics being responsible for aggression implies that it is a result of nature rather than nurture. Psychologists debate the issue of whether, if aggression runs in families, is this because they share similar genes or the same environment?

Twin studies
Twin studies look at the relationship between Monozyggotic (identical) and Dizygotic (non-identical) twins. Most of the twin research into aggression focuses on criminal behaviour. However, one study did look at direct aggression and found that nearly 50% of the variance between MZ and DZ twins could be attributed to genetics.

Adoption studies
Adoption studies look at the relationship between aggression and the individuals biological parents, or the adopted home environment. A study of over 14000 adoptions found a significant number of adopted boys with criminal convictions also had biological fathers with criminal convictions.

No specific gene for aggression in humans has been identified. However, a gene responsible for producing a protein MAOA, which regulates serotonin, has been found to be associated with aggression. A study of a dutch family who had a high number of males involved in aggressive acts were found to have abnormally low levels of MAOA, and a defect in the gene producing this.

Gene environment interaction
A second study that looked at MAOA in 500 children found that low levels of MAOA was associated with aggressive behaviour - but only with children who had been maltreated. Those with low levels of MAOA who had not been maltreated, and those with high levels of MAOA were not aggressive. This suggests that an interaction between nature and nurture.

Genetics and violent crime
Studies into the relationship between genes and violent crime have shown that people are significantly more likely to commit violent crime if their biological fathers and adopted fathers have histories of violent crime.

There are several problems with the genetic explanation. Firstly, there is usually more than one gene responsible for behaviour. Secondly, some of the evidence implies an interaction between genetic and environmental factors.

These studies also encounter the problem of assessing aggression. There seems to be differing results from research depending on how aggression is assessed. Also, a lot of the data is based on correlations between genes and violent crime. These studies do not distinguish between offenders who are habitually aggressive and those who commit a 'one off' violent crime.

There are also problems with the sample when using violent criminals in studies. This sample is small and based on this people who have been violent and been caught and convicted. It does not represent those people in society who may be continually aggressive and technically 'get away with it'.
(click to show/hide)Deindividuation is based on the crowd theory by Gustave Le Bon.
This sugggests that when in a crowd, a combination of anonymity, suggestibility and contagion cause a collective mind to take over the individual. This can cause them to act in a way that goes against personal or social norms.

It is a psychological state characterized by lowered self-evaluation and decreased concerns for others. Factors that can contribute include wearing a uniform (Zimbardo) and altered states of consciousness (alcohol and drugs). It is an explanation for aggression, but it can also be responsible for pro-social behaviour.

Process of deindividuation
People usually refrain from being aggressive because social norms inhibit this kind of behaviour. Being in a crowd and being anonymous reduces these inhibitions. The larger the crowd, the greater the anonymity.
This causes a reduced fear of consequences and reduced feelings of guilt. This weakens the barriers that normally prevent us from being aggressive.

Group norms
The nature of deindividuation can also be influenced by group norms, for example the Ku Klux Clan were racist, aggressive group, therefore this was the norm for that group. However, groups such as Buddist monks have a religious identity but the norm is maintain inner peace and calm.

Deindividuation does not always lead to aggression and sometimes has positive effects. Adolescents have reported feeling more comfortable talking about mental health problems in cyber chat rooms, than making face-to-face appointments.
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Lynch Mobs
Lynch mobs have shown examples of severe aggression, often tickets were sold to these events and a carnival atmosphere was present. Aggression included hanging, mutilation or being burned alive.

Social Control - lynching could be a result of fear of particular social groups, therefore lynching acts as a way of controlling certain social groups. For example, after the collapse of slavery, white americans became fearful of black americans and so lynching was an approved form of maintaining white supremacy.

Power threat hypothesis - This suggests that lynching is used when groups pose a threat to the majority. Again, using race as an example, white americans used the myths of 'Negros uncontrollable desire to rape white women' as a reason for lynching.

Deindividuation and Lynch mobs
Mullen found that members of a lynch mob became more individuation as the size of the lynch mob grew. This breakdown in self-regulation also led to an increase in atrocities committed by the lynch mob.

Sports events
Xenophobia is a strong dislike or distrust of foreigners. According to Shaw and Wong, this is an adaptive response, in that, being suspicious of foreigners could reduce the risk of attack, ensuring survival. This is adaptive because of over-perception of threat is less costly than under-perception.
Xenophobia is also used as an explanation for aggression in sporting events such as football matches. This has been reported in Italy, with a divide between North and South. Supporters use racist chants and banners to display their aggression.

Evidence for this comes from Foldes as he found evidence to suggest that aggression from extremist Hungarian football fans led to an increase in violence in general. Violent incidents were based on Xenophobia with gypsies, Jews and Russians as the usual targets. Also, Marsh suggests that football violence and hooliganism is highly ritualised and ordered. He suggests that it is a way of gaining status and identity, therefore, they are not based on Xenophobia attitudes but rather a 'career structure' for working class males.
(click to show/hide)It can be defined as aggressive behaviour that occurs within an institution and is motivated by social forces, rather than anger or frustration. An institution usually refers to an organisation or place of confinement with its own social roles where behaviour is formally restricted and under the control of specific staff: Prisons, Hospitals, Army Camps, and Boarding schools.

The importation model suggests that some groups have aggressive traits and behaviours as the norm outside of the institution and that this is 'imported' when they enter the institution. Example being prisoners.
Steffensmeir found that black US prisoners had higher rates of violence but lower rates of alcohol and drug related abuse than white prisoners. This racial difference parallels the pattern of society.

The deprivation model argues that prisoner or patient aggression could be a result of oppressive conditions, an example would be crowding, this can lead to fear and frustration and staff frustration. Hodgkinson found that trainee nurses are more likely to experience assault than experienced nurses.

Hazing is a form of institutional bullying which aims to discipline junior members of an organisation into a strict pecking order. In 2006, Private Andrei Sychev was beaten so badly by older soldiers tha his legs and genitals were amputated.
Hazing causes the issue of defining aggressive behaviour, for example, so people who have been exposed to hazing regard it as being innocent fun (obviously not Andrei Sychev)

Examples of institutional aggression
Recently, there have been a number of high profile cases of institutional aggression, notably the atrocities that were committed by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib detention centre and by British soldiers in Baha Mousa.

But why do good people do bad things?

Zimbardo - The Lucifer effect
Zimbardo explains why good people do evil things - calling it the Lucifer effect. This has seven stages that lead to institutional aggression.

1. Mindlessly taking the first step
2. Dehumanisation of others
3. Deindividuation of self
4. Diffusion of personal responsibility
5. Blind obedience to authority
6. Uncritical conformity to group norms
7. Passive tolerance of evil through inaction or indifference
Psychological views on Gender

(click to show/hide)Differences in biological sex leads us to expect differences in gender roles. Early psychological theorists suggested that differences were inborn and therefore unchangeable. Later psychologists have looked at environmental influences being more important than nature.

Role & Identity
Role is a part someone plays (brother, sister, father, mother). The roles we play will depend on certain factors.
Identity is a sense of what kind of person we are. When we are old enough to recognize who we are, we look for role models and imitate their behaviour.

Sex is a biological term, defined in terms of reproduction.
Gender is a psychological term referring to ideas we hold about behaviour, personality and attitudes of male and females within a given society. It includes terms such as, masculinity, femininity and androgyny.
Androgyny is a term used to refer to someone who possesses both masculine and feminine characteristics.

because concepts are ideas, these can be subject to change. Therefore, our concept of gender can change over time and can be different within and between different cultures. Historically, anybody who did not fit the stereotypical category, showing the characteristics expected of that particular gender, were regarded as deviant or abnormal.
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Biosocial theory - This approach suggests that there is an interaction between biological sex and social forces. Money and Erdhardt claimed that gender role is developed by reactions of others to the biological sex of the baby. However, this claim was refuted by the case of John/Joan who's rearing as a female could not override his biological influences.

Social role theory - This is also a biosocial approach, it claims that biology causes physical differences between males and females. These physical differences lead to different sex role allocation (male as hunter, female as home maker). Therefore, psychological differences between males and females are a consequence of these sex role allocations, rather than caused by biology.

Social learning theory - Albert Bandura (cross-over alert!) suggests that children will copy and imitate the behaviour of adult role models. The behaviour is more likely to be imitated if it is rewarded. This leads to vicarious reinforcement which is where the individual will assume the same reward for the behaviour.

Social cognitive theory - This is an adapted version of social learning theory, which includes the thought processes involved in the imitating of gender role behaviour. It suggests that gender role development has 3 major influences:
1. Modelling - more than just copying. It suggests that children observe the behaviour of different sexes and learn the underlying rules regarding the behaviour of these sexes. To do this children need to be able to classify the different sexes of male and female. Therefore, observing and understanding the rules of gender behaviour leads to their own gender development.

2. Enactive representation - occurs as children become mobile and so are able to act on their enviroment. The reactions they get from others based on these behaviours or interactions with their environment are a major influence in their gender role development.

3. Direct tuition - refers to explicit instructions about appropriate gender role behaviour. This happens as the child develops effective use of language and is a way of teaching them about gender. However, the instructors (parents or teachers) may not always practice what they preach. Hildebrandt suggests that the instruction is weakened if it does not match the modeled behaviour.


of parents - parents usually have ideas about appropriate gender behaviour and this means that girls and boys are reinforced for different kinds of behaviour - differential reinforcement.

of peers - children have a tendency to associate with their own gender and behaviour that is not considered appropriate is often criticised whereas appropriate behaviour is reinforced. Fagot suggests that males are more likely to be criticised for feminine play than females are for masculine play.

of schools -Teachers are also likely to reinforce gender appropriate behaviour as well as act as role models. Dweck et al teachers positively reinforce boys work for being correct and girls for being neat.

of media - Men are often portrayed as being independent and in-control whereas females are portrayed as dependent, un-ambitious and at the mercy of others.

People who have high exposure to these role models ten to develop more stereotypical behaviour.
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What is androgyny? Androgyny is a term used to describe someone who shows both masculine and feminine characteristics and/or behaviour. Psychologists believe that gender roles in men and women are constructed by society and by encouraging androgyny, this may reduce stereotyping and improve our mental health.

Sandra Bem believes androgyny is measurable and desirable.
Bem believed that people who scored highly on androgyny are psychologically healthier than those who suppress their opposite sex traits.

Whitley believed that the most psychologically healthy people are those who score highly on masculine traits.

Sex-role inventory was developed by Bem, it is a quantitive measure of androgyny. Assessing personality traits of men and women. Based on responses in this inventory people are classified as either masculine, feminine, androgynous or undifferentiated.

Relationship to self-esteem
People who are more androgynous are thought to have higher self-esteem. Spence and Helmreich measured people on masculine and feminine characteristics and self-esteem. They found that those who were more androgynous had higher levels of self-esteem.

Explanations for androgyny
They believe that it is a conscious and deliberate attempt to reject traditional gender roles. A lot of the theories were developed in the 1970's and 1980's, during which time there were dramatic developments in gender equality and gay rights.

Bem and Spence suggest that androgynous people are psychologically healthier than sex typed individuals. This was criticised for being more of a description of androgyny rather than an explanation of the causes.

Behavioural model - views androgyny as a form of behaviour rather than a thought pattern. It is believed to be a way of life in which an individual develops skills associated with both masculine and feminine qualities. Therefore, this model views androgyny as a lifestyle choice. However, it does not explain why this occurs in some people and not others.

Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person feels that they are trapped within a body of the wrong sex. People who have long-lasting, extreme cases of gender dsyphoria are known as transexuals.

The exact cause of this condition is unknown and there is some debate over the possible causes. Originally this was seen as purely psychiatric condition but more recent research has been suggested abnormalities in a persons biology before birth.

1. Malfunctioning hormones in the womb, the chromosomes from the egg and sperm determine the sex of the baby. These chromosomes cause hormones to act on the brain, gonads and genitals. On possible cause is that there was a 'mix up' of hormones in the womb.

2. Rare conditions/congenital adrenal hyperplastia is a condition caused when a 'female foetus' adrenal gland produces too much testosterone and so the females genitals become enlarged. Essentially these people are born with both sets of genitals and so the parents usually decide what gender to bring their child up as. However, not all people born with this condition will experience gender dysphoria.

Research into gender dysphoria
Studies into gender dysphoria are either retrospective or prospective. Retrospective studies are usually case studies of people diagnosed with GID, looking back at their childhood and piecing together past problems. Prospective studies  involve taking a group of children and following them through adulthood.

Green studied a group of 44 boys referred to a clinic in childhood for strong feminine behaviours. These were compared to a control group of boys matched for age. A follow up at the age 18 showed that only one had remained gender dysphoric  and opted for reassignment surgery. This study suggests that gender dysphoria diminishes over adolescence and early adulthood.
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This consists of Chromosomal sex, Gonadal sex, Sex of external genitalia, Hormonal sex and sex of internal reproductive structures.

Chromosomal sex - females inherit XX chromosomes, males inherit XY chromosomes. 2 Chromosomes are needed for complete development of both internal and external reproductive structures. A female gene has been located on the X chromosomes which synthesizes large quantities of Estrogen. A male gene has been located on the Y chromosomes which seem to be responsible for the Teste development.

Gonadal sex - This refers to the sexual organs, ovaries in females and testes in males. H-Y Antigen controlled by genes on Y chromosomes causes embryonic gonads to be transformed into testes. If H-Y Antigen is not present then gonadal tissues develop into ovaries.

Hormonal sex - Once the gonads have transformed into testes or ovaries, the genes cease to influence and sex hormonal take over. Male sex hormones are called androgens - the main one being testosterone. The ovaries secrete 2 hormones - estrogen and progesterone. Although males produce more androgens and females produce more estrogen, there are no exclusive male and female hormones as we all produce both.

Sex of internal reproductive structures - In males these are the prostate gland, sperm ducts, seminal vesicles and testes. In females, these are the fallopian tubes, womb and ovaries.

Sex of external genitalia - In males, these are the penis and scrotum. In females, these are the outer areas of the vagina. In the absence of testosterone, female structures will develop.

Influence of biological factors
The five factors discussed above are usually highly correlated in individuals, so that the person tends to be male or female. They also relate to the assigned sex of the baby at birth, which in turn influences how that baby is brought up, their gender identity and their gender role.

Pre/post natal disorders - these disorders can lead to an inconsistency in the biological factors and can tell us a lot about gender identity and gender role development. People with these disorders are called - hermaphrodites.

True hermaphrodites have functioning organs of both sexes, their external structures tend to be a mixture of both male and female genitalia. The case of Mr.Blackwell is an example of a true hermaphrodite.

Pseudo-hermaphrodites are more common however, although they possess ambiguous genitalia, they are born with gonads that match their chromosomal sex.
(click to show/hide)Biosocial theory looks at the interaction between biological and social factors, rather than the direct influence of biology alone. They believe that gender development is related not only to biology but also to the social environment and reactions of others. This approach adopts an interactionist position in the nature-nurture debate.

Baby X experiments - These involved dressing babies in unisex clothes and giving them names implying them to be male or female. When adults played with the babies, they treated them differently depending on the gender they believed the baby to be. This indicates that a persons perceived biology make up becomes part of their social environment.

Evidence: Money and Ehrdhart suggests that how an infant is labelled sexually determines how it is socialized, which in turn determines their gender identity, gender role and sexual identity. Psychologically, gender is undifferentiated at birth. Masculine and feminine become differentiated through different experiences of growing up.

Case studies - Money and Ehrdhart studies girls with adreno-genital syndrome. They initially were raised as boys until the mistake was realized, their genitals were corrected and they were subsequently raised as female. Money and Ehrdhart claim that it's possible to change sex rearing of a child, causing no psychological harm, as long as it occurs during the critical period of between 2 and a half and 3 years. After this period, gender reassignment could cause significant psychological harm.

Although social forces do seem to play a part in gender development, research suggesting the importance of child rearing, does not disprove the biological viewpoint.
For example, the case of John, who was injured during surgery and subsequently had his penis removed, was raised as a female. Childhood reports suggested that she was a healthy happy female.

However, later reports show that she was a troubled adolescent, and chose to have a sex change back to a male, just before having his 16th birthday.
(click to show/hide)Kholberg - this theory links gender development to cognitive development during childhood. The word cognitive suggests that gender development is a process of the mind. This means that this approach believes that children develop an understanding of gender and gender appropriate behaviour.

During childhood, children will realise that they are male or female. This causes them to identify with members of their own sex, thus influencing their behaviour. Behaviourists would suggest that reinforcement of activities and behaviours appropriate for your gender determine your gender role. However, the cognitive developmental approach is suggesting that children develop an understanding of what it means to be male and female and are therefore not merely acting in a conditioned way.

Stages in the development of gender identity
Children develop the understanding of male and female in 3 stages:

1.Gender Labeling occurs around the age of 3, when children can recognize that they are male or female. This helps them to categorize the world but their knowledge is fragile and does not represent a full understanding that boys turn into men and girls turn into women.

2. Gender stability - by age 4 or 5, children realise that gender is permanent and remains with you. However, at this stage they still use superficial features to determine if someone is male or female.

3. Gender consistency - at around age 6 or 7, children realize that gender is constant - if a woman cuts her hair, she is still a woman.

Once children develop gender consistency they internalize the attitudes and beliefs associated with their own gender. Research has suggested that children develop gender consistency by actively monitoring and imitating people of their own sex (Slaby and Frey).
They found that children with high gender consistency spent more time looking at their own sex, when shown a silent film of adults participating in various activities.

A problem with this theory is that there should be no gender appropriate behaviour until the child develops gender consistency. However, even infants show preferences for stereotypical male and female toys, despite the fact that the child, according to developmental theory, is quite far away from gender consistency.

Gender schema theory suggests that the processes of learning and imitating contribute to our gender schema as well as our gender identity. Meaning that children build up a representation of what it means to be male and female and this influences their own gender self-concept.
Children may learn that men are strong and women are weak. In the context of the culture that they belong to, strength is more important to males than females and so this might be shown in sport.
According to this theory, children learn to judge themselves according to the traits they believe to be important. The child's self-esteem and self-concept will be determined by how much they measure up to their idea of what males and females should be.

This theory is more holistic than cognitive development theory as it takes into account the environment and culture a child is in, as well as including the idea of learning and imitating.
(click to show/hide)Most recent research into gender role and identity has been conducted in Western cultures, however, gender development seems to differ as we move between different types of culture. We can use 2 main classification systems for cultures:

Traditional - where gender roles are clearly definied and are fairly 'fixed'.
Egalitarian - were there is some choice and flexibility over gender roles

Hofstede used a more complex classification system:

Masculine is high regard for male qualities such as competitiveness and achievement
Feminine is high regard for female qualities such as interpersonal harmony
Individualistic is defined through personal choice and achievement
Collectivist is defined through importance of family and community groups

Margaret Mead - invested gender roles in 3 tribes in New Guinea

The Aparesh - both males and females are brought up in a feminine way
The Mundugmoor - both males and females are assertive, aggressive and fierce
The Tchambuli - females take an interest in the economic activity of the tribe but the boys do not

Fromboise, Heyle and Ozer - investigated differences in gender roles between native American cultures. They conducted observations and interviews with the Cheye, Blackfeet and Pawnee American indians.
They found that gender roles were clearly defined and were quite different to Western gender roles. Women were known as 'warrior women' and would be involved in any conflict between communities.


They concluded that 'aggression' is not always a typical male characteristic. This is similar to the findings of Margaret Mead who found that the 'warrior women' of the Mundagmoor tribe were also aggressive.

Whiting and Edwards found that gender roles were similarly organised between traditional cultures. He argued that males and females are assigned different tasks and therefore spend more time with different people. The influence of the others that they spend time with determines the gender role that develops.

Individualistic v Collectivist

Leing found that Australians of english origin showed more masculine traits, valued individualistic cultures. This compared to Australians of chinese origin who showed more feminine traits, valued in collectivist cultures.
This study shows how cultural values and expectations can influence gender role development.


Ethics - In the past, research with these groups has been a negative experience because of the idea of Western dominance. Also researchers own perceptions and pre-judgements can affect the results. Margaret Mead called the communities that she studied primitive. Therefore, we are making a judgement of them based on our own experience. These judgement may not be correct.

Castleden and Karszewski - They suggest that when researching into other cultures, a member of the research team should be a member of that culture. This would allow them to educate the researchers about the belief and practices of the group. It may also help the group to feel more comfortable about the presence of researchers.


Similarities between cultures can suggest that gender development has a biological cause. However, differences can indicate that development is a result of environment or cultural influences. It is likely that gender development is a combination of influences from biology and the environment.

Is this a one person topic or can anybody join?


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