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  1. 1. PSYA3 Essays – Relationships, Aggression and Eating Behaviour.
  2. 2. Relationships
  3. 3. Describe and evaluate one theory of formation of relationships A AO1: Rewards/need satisfaction theory was suggested by Byrne and Clore and is based on classical and operant conditioning processes. Classical and operant conditioning operate in conjunction e.g. we might initially make a pleasurable association between two events (classical conditioning) and then we might repeat the behaviour because we seek reward from the pleasure (operant conditioning). We are attracted to people and wish to form relationships with them if their company is rewarding to us, making us feel good and when their company is no longer rewarding the relationship may well come to an end. Another aspect of the theory suggests that the way we feel about someone is due to associations we make with how we are feeling at that the time – therefore if we meet someone in a positive mood and in a romantic setting we are more likely to associate with that positivity and feel attracted to them and vice versa. There are many things other than aspects of the environment that might influence the effective component e.g. the physical attractiveness of the person or having a similar attitude. If an individual appears to meet the needs of a potential partner then that will be perceived as rewarding and vice versa. AO2: There is considerable lab based support for the role of reinforcement in relationships. For example, Griffit and Guay found that scores were highest when then experimenter had given a positive evaluation of the participant‟s performance. Additionally, they found support for the claim that we are attracted to people through association. In the same study, there was also an onlooker. The onlooker was also rated more positively by the participant if the experimenter had given the participant a positive evaluation. This suggests we like people who are associated with positive outcomes, so we‟re more likely to form relationships with them. Another research conducted by May and Hamilton supports this theory. They conducted an experiment to look at the role that association played in relationship formation. Female participants rated photographs of males for attractiveness while listening either to rock music that stimulated positive mood, to „modern‟ music that stimulated negative mood, or no music at all. Attractiveness ratings were affected by the type of music with highest ratings given in the rock music condition than the other two conditions. This demonstrates that associating someone with a good feeling can make it more likely that they will be attracted to them. However, most of the studies carried out in this area may lack ecological validity as it is laboratory based and the extent to which rating scores can reflect the increased likelihood of relationships is questionable. Furthermore, operationalizing a pleasant environment by
  4. 4. playing particular music may be open to criticism as experiences relating to music are particularly subjective. One major weakness with the reward/need satisfaction theory is that it only explores the receiving of rewards, whereas Hays found that we gain satisfaction from giving as well as receiving. It could also be argued that this theory overemphasises reward. Reward is not as powerful a predictor of the formation of relationships as originally thought, as many relationships, such as parent and child relationships do not seem to be driven by the need for reinforcement. This therefore suggests that rewards may not be fundamentally important in the formation of relationships. IDA: The reward/needs satisfaction theory does not account for cultural and gender differences in the formation of relationships. For example, Lott suggests that in many cultures women are focused on the needs of others rather than receiving reinforcement. This suggests that this theory is not a universal explanation of relationship formation and therefore culturally biased.
  5. 5. Describe and evaluate two or more theories of the formation of romantic relationships A AO1: Rewards/need satisfaction theory proposed that relationship formation (and maintenance) can be explained in terms of classical and operant conditioning. Individuals will perceive certain behaviours as rewarding or punishing in a partner or a potential partner and such rewards act as reinforcement increasing the likelihood of a relationship being formed (or maintained). Additionally perceptions of how rewarding an individual is will be affected by positive associations made with the partner and the mood or „affect‟ of the individual when interaction takes place. AO2: There is considerable lab based support for the role of reinforcement in relationships. For example, Griffit and Guay found that scores were highest when then experimenter had given a positive evaluation of the participant‟s performance. Additionally, they found support for the claim that we are attracted to people through association. In the same study, there was also an onlooker. The onlooker was also rated more positively by the participant if the experimenter had given the participant a positive evaluation. This suggests we like people who are associated with positive outcomes, so we‟re more likely to form relationships with them. Another research conducted by May and Hamilton supports this theory. They conducted an experiment to look at the role that association played in relationship formation. Female participants rated photographs of males for attractiveness while listening either to rock music that stimulated positive mood, to „modern‟ music that stimulated negative mood, or no music at all. Attractiveness ratings were affected by the type of music with highest ratings given in the rock music condition than the other two conditions. This demonstrates that associating someone with a good feeling can make it more likely that they will be attracted to them. However, most of the studies carried out in this area may lack ecological validity as it is a laboratory based and the extent to which rating scores can reflect the increased likelihood of relationships is questionable. Furthermore, operationalizing a pleasant environment by playing particular music may be open to criticism as experiences relating to music are particularly subjective. IDA:
  6. 6. The reward/needs satisfaction theory does not account for cultural and gender differences in the formation of relationships. Lott suggests that in many cultures women are focused on the needs of others rather than receiving reinforcement. This suggests that this theory is not a universal explanation of relationship formation and therefore culturally biased. AO1: Social exchange theory proposes that relationships are based on a balance between profit and loss. Formation will be more likely if profits outweigh costs. Two other concepts are described; the comparisons level (CL) which proposes that individuals compare the current relationship with experiences from previous relationships and the comparison level of alternatives (CL Alt), which proposes that further comparison is made with potential alternative partners. These three factors determine the likelihood of a relationship being formed or maintained. AO2: A study by Le and Agnew supports the social exchange theory. Le and Agnew conducted a meta-analysis and found that satisfaction and investment in a relationship were related significantly with commitment in the relationship. They also found gender differences in the relationship between these factors and commitment to relationships. Women are more satisfied with their relationship, felt that they had more in the relationship and perceived fewer alternatives to the current relationship. This research can be considered important as it relies on a powerful and reliable methodology. However, meta-analysis can also be problematic in that procedures and operationalisation of variables can vary between studies making comparisons problematic. Social exchange theory fails to predict whether real life relationships will be maintained or break down. For example, DeMaris found that among 1500 couples in America, the only reliable indicator of divorce was a woman‟s sense of being under-benefitted. Other aspects of profitability did not predict the likelihood of relationship failing. IDA: Moghaddam criticises the usefulness of social exchange theory. He argues that social exchange theory only applies to western cultures and even then only to certain types of relationship among individuals with high social mobility. This suggests that this theory does not represent a universal explanation of romantic relationships, therefore is culturally biased.
  7. 7. Describe and evaluate one theory of maintenance of relationships A AO1: Social exchange theory states that relationships involve the exchange of resources. The theory claims that, for the individual, the best result would be to make a profit; for this to occur, there must be minimum costs and maximum rewards. Rewards associated with relationships are anything positive that make us feel valued. Costs are anything that is unpleasant in a relationship. A relationship will be maintained whilst rewards exceeds the costs. Thibaut and Kelley proposed a four stage model of relationships, outlining how relationships progress through number of stages. Sampling stage, individuals assess each other‟s rewards and costs and, if favourable, progress is made to the bargaining stage. Bargaining stage is where the partners negotiate what rewards and costs would be profitable within the relationship. Commitment stage is where the couple focus on the relationship and costs and rewards are stabilised. Institutionalisation stage is where norms of rewards and costs are established by partners. According to Thibaut and Kelley, comparison level (CL) is comparisons are made between the current and expectation based on previous relationships. Relationships are more likely to be maintained if current relationship continues to be higher than Comparison level. Comparison level for alternatives (CL Alt) is concerned with the benefits of possible alternative relationships. The relationship is more likely to be maintained if the current relationship continues to be higher than perception of possible alternative relationships. AO2: There is considerable research to support the social exchange theory. For example, Le and Agnew conducted a meta-analysis and found that satisfaction and investment in a relationship were related significantly with commitment in the relationship. They also found gender differences; women are more satisfied with their relationship than men, felt that they had more in the relationship and perceived fewer alternatives to the current relationship. This research can be considered important as it relies on a powerful and reliable methodology. However, meta-analysis can also be problematic in that procedures and operationalisation of variables can vary between studies making comparisons problematic. The idea of CL Alt can explain why some women stay in abusive relationships. Ruzbult and Martz suggest that when investment is high (e.g. investment in children) and alternatives are relatively low (e.g. no place to live, no money), a profit situation will exist and women will remain in the relationship. Also, Simpson et al found that when participants were asked to rate attractiveness of members of the opposite sex, they found participants who were already
  8. 8. involved in a relationship gave lower ratings. This can be explained through SET as it had the effect of lowering the perceived profits associated with a new partner and so reducing any threat to their existing relationship. Therefore, supports the CL Alt of SET. IDA: There is lack of consistent empirical support for SET. Clark and Mills distinguished between two types of relationships, communal and exchange. In communal relationships there is principle concern for the other‟s needs and welfare. In exchange relationships the benefits are given by one partner in response to actual or possible benefits received. Therefore, SET may not be applicable to communal relationships as it is to exchange relationships. Moghaddam criticises the usefulness of social exchange theory. He argues that social exchange theory only applies to western cultures and even then only to certain types of relationship among individuals with high social mobility. This suggests that this theory does not represent a universal explanation of romantic relationships, therefore is culturally biased.
  9. 9. Describe and evaluate two theories relating to relationship maintenance A AO1: Rewards/need satisfaction theory was suggested by Byrne and Clore and is based on classical and operant conditioning processes. Individuals perceive behaviours as rewarding or punishing in a partner and therefore if the partner is perceived as rewarding the relationship is more likely to be maintained. Perceptions of how rewarding a partner is will be affected by associations that are made with the partner‟s behaviour and the mood of the individual when interaction takes place. AO2: There is considerable lab based support for the role of reinforcement in relationships. For example, Griffit and Guay found that scores were highest when then experimenter had given a positive evaluation of the participant‟s performance. Additionally, they found support for the claim that we are attracted to people through association. In the same study, there was also an onlooker. The onlooker was also rated more positively by the participant if the experimenter had given the participant a positive evaluation. This suggests we like people who are associated with positive outcomes, so we‟re more likely to form relationships with them. Research conducted by May and Hamilton supports this theory. They conducted an experiment to look at the role that association played in relationship formation. Female participants rated photographs of males for attractiveness while listening either to rock music that stimulated positive mood, to „modern‟ music that stimulated negative mood, or no music at all. Attractiveness ratings were affected by the type of music with highest ratings given in the rock music condition than the other two conditions. This demonstrates that associating someone with a good feeling can make it more likely that they will be attracted to them. However, most of the studies carried out in this area may lack ecological validity as it is a laboratory based and the extent to which rating scores can reflect the increased likelihood of relationships is questionable. Furthermore, operationalizing a pleasant environment by playing particular music may be open to criticism as experiences relating to music are particularly subjective. AO1: Social exchange theory states that relationships involve the exchange of resources. The theory claims that, for the individual, the best result would be to make a profit; for this to
  10. 10. occur, there must be minimum costs and maximum rewards. Rewards associated with relationships are anything positive that make us feel valued. Costs are anything that is unpleasant. A relationship will be maintained whilst rewards exceeds the costs. According to Thibaut and Kelley, comparison level is comparisons are made between the current and expectation based on the previous relationships. Relationships are more likely to be maintained if current relationship continues to be higher than Comparison level. Comparison level for alternatives is concerned with the benefits of possible alternative relationships. The relationship is more likely to be maintained if the current relationship continues to be higher than perception of possible alternative relationships. AO2: There is considerable research to support the social exchange theory. For example, Le and Agnew conducted a meta-analysis and found that satisfaction and investment in a relationship were related significantly with commitment in the relationship. They also found gender differences; women are more satisfied with their relationship than men, felt that they had more in the relationship and perceived fewer alternatives to the current relationship. This research can be considered important as it relies on a powerful and reliable methodology. However, meta-analysis can also be problematic in that procedures and operationalisation of variables can vary between studies making comparisons problematic. The idea of CL Alt can explain why some women stay in abusive relationships. Ruzbult and Martz suggest that when investment is high (e.g. investment in children) and alternatives are relatively low (e.g. no place to live, no money), a profit situation will exist and women will remain in the relationship. IDA: However, Moghaddam criticises the usefulness of social exchange theory. He argues that social exchange theory only applies to western cultures and even then only to certain types of relationship among individuals with high social mobility. This suggests that this theory does not represent a universal explanation of romantic relationships, therefore is culturally biased.
  11. 11. Discuss research into the breakdown of relationships A* AO1: AO2: IDA: AO1: AO2:
  12. 12. Outline and evaluate the relationship between sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour A AO1: Natural selection is the process by which certain characteristics and behaviours get passed on in the gene pool because they give the individual a better chance of surviving and reproducing. Sexual selection is the process within natural selection whereby any characteristic or behaviour that increases the reproductive success of an individual are selected and these characteristics may get exaggerated over evolutionary time. Because of the differences in parental investment between males and females, evolutionary psychologists suggest this has created gender specific reproductive behaviour – in terms of mating preferences and strategies. Anisogamy refers to the different forms that gametes (sperm and ova) take in the male and female. These differences have implications for mating effort and parental effort. Because females have to invest a lot of time in having and bringing up offspring and because the number of offspring they can have in a lifetime is limited, Trivers suggests this has led to females being choosy about who they mate with. (inter sexual selection) Females will be looking for good genetic qualities in males and that he can provide for her and her offspring. This in turn has created competition between males to access females; their optimal strategy for reproductive success is to invest in mating effort. (intra sexual selection) Males will be looking for females with qualities that suggest fertility (young and good health). AO2: There is research to support for significant sex differences in males‟ and females‟ motivation for casual sex. Clark and Hatfield found using male and female undergraduates when approached by an attractive opposite sex stranger and asked for sex, 75% of males accepted the offer whereas no female did so. This shows that males, more than females, have evolved a motivation for casual sex. The predicted difference in how males and females advertise themselves to the opposite sex was confirmed in a study by Dunbar and Waynforth. The researchers used personal ads to assess what men and women were seeking and also what they were advertising. They found that men offered resources 1.7 times more often than women; women sought resources 4.5 times more often than men. Women also offered physical attractiveness twice as often as men.
  13. 13. It is argued that male aggression and jealousy can be explained in terms of intra sexual selection. Daly and Wilson point out that over 90% of all the same sex murders involve men at an age when mate competition is most intense and that a large proportion of this violence is connected to sexual rivalry. Furthermore, supporting evidence for universal sex differences in long term mate preferences comes from Buss. In a study of 37 cultures, Buss found that men of all cultures studied desired a partner who was younger than they were. A finding consistent with the theory of sexual selection because the younger the woman, the greater the fertility. However some critics have explained that this preference was because younger women are easier to control, and therefore are preferred as mates. Kenrick et al rejected this hypothesis. They found that teenage males are most attracted to women who are five years older than them, despite the fact that such women usually show no interest in them. There are criticisms of evolutionary explanations of the Relationship between sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour for example being choosy requires time and energy, and the costs of mate choice might even impair survival of gene. Buss‟s survey of mate choice only indicates expressed preferences rather than being a reflection of what actually happens in real life so the extent to which these preferences translate into actual sexual selection is speculative. IDA: There is also concern about the accuracy of the data obtained often the methodology in research involves the use of scenarios and questionnaires which may lack scientific rigour. Biased student samples also reduce the population validity of the research. Furthermore it is gender biased to suggest that only males engage in short-term mating strategies. An ethical concern furthermore is that this evolutionary explanation for the relationship between sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour could be used as an excuse for male promiscuity.
  14. 14. Discuss sex differences in parental investment A* AO1: According to Trivers, parental investment is any investment by a parent in an offspring that reduces the parent‟s ability to invest in other offspring. Begins at gamete stage (egg and sperm production), continues through pregnancy and includes behaviours after birth that promotes survival of the infants. Parental investment by females is usually greater than males in most species. This is because she has nine months of pregnancy and due to breastfeeding she will have largely been responsible for early rearing. According to Triver‟s theory the sex that has greatest investment is the sex that does the choosing in mate selection and the sex that invests least competes for the other sex‟s attention. Evolutionary psychologists therefore predict that men will be more promiscuous than women as this would be adaptive in terms of reproductive success. AO2: Parental investment theory suggests that females are better prepared (physically and psychologically) than males for dealing with parenting. To demonstrate that these differences are the product of evolution, Geher et al asked undergraduates to complete a scale that measured how prepared they perceived themselves to be for parenting. The scale found no difference in the perceptions of males and females in their perceived readiness for parenting. However, when presented with scenarios that emphasised the psychological costs of parenting, males showed significantly higher autonomic nervous system arousal. However, differences in perceived parental investment in Geher et al‟s study would be affected by social desirability bias, in that participants may have given answers they felt were appropriate i.e. males stating that they were more ready than they actually were. Males may well recognise that the importance of appearing to have parental potential and so are more likely to be motivated to see themselves as being capable of parenting. There is research to support for the evolutionary psychologists predictions that result from sex differences in parental investment in relation to promiscuity. Clarke and Hatfield found that when men and women experimenters approached total strangers on a college campus and asked them if they would go on a date with them and have sex with them, no women agreed to have sex although 50% agreed to date whereas 75% of men agreed to sex, arguably supporting that men are more promiscuous than women. Buss also found that men when asked how many partners they would like to have on average wanted 18 compared to 4.5. However, such research is flawed in a number of ways; both studies are likely to be particularly subject to social desirability bias as responses will reflect social expectations. Also as women are more at risk from casual sex the responses from the Clarke and Hatfield
  15. 15. research may not be valid reflections on the women‟s wish to have sex with the male experimenters. However there are limitations, the idea that men will have more partners compared to women has been contradicted by a study conducted by Brown. Brown found no significant difference between the number of partners man and women actually have in a study of 10000 people in 18 countries. Not all research appears to support the view that men restrict care and resources to their own biological offspring only - Anderson et al looked at the willingness of men to pay (invest) for children‟s college education as a reflection of their investment behaviour. They found that they were as willing to pay for a partner‟s child from a previous relationship as their own biological child‟s education! This would seem to disconfirm parental investment theory. However Evolutionary theory can counter this criticism by suggesting that this behaviour is actually sexual strategy to increase their own fitness - men invest in step children to show their partner that they have positive parenting skills therefore increasing their chances of the woman agreeing to mate with them in the future (increasing their biological fitness!). IDA: Whilst it is clear that on the whole there are significant sex differences in parental investment, it is not clear that these are the result of evolutionary pressures. Arguably, social and cultural factors determine these differences. Evolutionary explanations are reductionist when explaining the possibility of parental investment. According to Rowe, men‟s parenting depends on various personal and social conditions, including the quality of the relationship with the mother, the characteristic of the child and the personality characteristics of the father. Belsky also suggests that childhood experiences such as parental divorce are correlated with the degree to which men invest in the upbringing and care of their children.
  16. 16. Discuss the influence of childhood on adult relationships A AO1: Attachment theory can be used to explain the relationship between childhood and adulthood relationships. Bowlby’s evolutionary theory proposed that the first primary attachment serves as a schema (Internal Working Model) for all later relationships (Continuity hypothesis) – if the first attachment is secure, later relationships will be more successful. It is adaptive because early schema leads to later reproductive success. Shaver expanded and proposed that there were 3 adult attachment types that were partially determined by early attachment history. These attachment types were secure, ambivalent and avoidant. Shaver argued it remained stable because adults likely to assimilate relationship behaviour into current schemas rather than accommodate and adapt schemas. Secure types are committed and intimate, ambivalent types are anxious and possessive and avoidant types lack commitment and intimacy. Bartholomew proposed a fourth attachment type, splitting avoidant into fearful and dismissing. These adult attachment types are based on three behavioural systems; caregiving, attachment and sex, which again stem from early attachment. AO2: There is evidence to support the role of childhood on romantic relationships a study by Hazan and Shaver investigated the link between attachment style and later adult relationships. They used a questionnaire (the 'love quiz') and found that people who were securely attached as infants tended to have happy and lasting relationships in adulthood. They also believed that love was both enduring and based on mutual trust. Adults who had been insecurely attached as infants found adult relationships more difficult and were more likely to be divorced. This study therefore provides evidence for Bowlby's idea of the internal working model and his claim that the early experiences of childhood do influence later relationships. Study by Simpson et al provided support for the importance of early attachment experiences for shaping adult relationships. They found that participants, who were securely attached as infants were rated as having higher levels of social competence as children, were closer to their friends as 16 year olds and were more emotionally attached to their romantic partners in adulthood. Further support comes from Parke who noticed that families guide children‟s behaviour to help them develop the social skills needed for relationship formation – so that children learn (SLT) through the modelling of their parents. Silvestri et al found that if children experience their parents getting divorced it significantly increases their chance of also getting divorced in adulthood – supporting a learning effect.
  17. 17. Furthermore, the association between attachment styles and adult relationships is also supported by Morrison et al, who asked college students in the US to complete questionnaires describing their current or most recent intimate relationship. They found student with secure attachment styles described more independence in their relationships. They also found that students with avoidant or ambivalent attachment styles described more hostility in their relationships than students with a secure style. In addition to this, Fraley carried out a meta-analysis of studies in this area and found significant positive correlation for the relationship between early attachment style and quality of later relationships. This therefore supports Bowlby‟s idea that those with secure attachment styles will be more successful in later relationships. However, for many of the students in this area, there is a reliance on retrospective data. For example in Hazan and shaver study, participants were asked to remember their childhood experiences. Given that some of the participants were in their 80‟s their memory of childhood experience was unlikely to be completely accurate, which creates problems for the validity of the data obtained and conclusions drawn from this data. In addition to this, researchers in this field use self-report measures and this has problems, particularly in sensitive area such as relationships. Participants may want to give a good impression of how well adjusted and secure they are in their relationships. This means there is the possibility that there was a social desirability effect on participants‟ responses and the reliability of data may have been weakened. Therefore Kagan’s alternative approach can equally explain the findings. Kagan‟s proposed the temperament hypothesis he suggested that certain personality or temperamental characteristics of the infant shapes a mother‟s responsiveness. IDA: Research to support the childhood influences on adult relationships is deterministic. Many of the studies indicate that early experiences have a fixed influence on later adult relationships. For example, there is the implication that children who are insecurely attached in childhood will experience emotionally unsatisfying relationships as adults. However, this is not the case, as researchers such as Simpson et al also found many examples of adults who were experiencing happy and satisfying adult relationships despite having been insecurely attached as children.
  18. 18. Discuss the influence of culture on romantic relationships A* AO1: Most western cultures such as the UK and USA are individualistic, placing emphasis on the individual rather person and their rights, goals, aspirations and so on. Interpersonal relationships in western cultures tend to be individualistic, voluntary and temporary, while those in non-western cultures are more collectivist (such as Pakistan and Thailand), involuntary and permanent. In many western cultures people enjoy considerable geographical and social mobility. Non-western cultures offer less geographical and social mobility and so individuals have less choice in whom they interact with. The available „pool‟ of potential, suitable romantic partners is therefore considerably smaller. In western (individualist societies) cultures, people generally expect to be able to choose their own partner, and the primary basis for marriage is expected to be romantic love. Parental consent is considered desirable, but by no means necessary. In non-western (collectivist) cultures, the criteria for selecting individuals to be joined as a couple include family alliances, economic arrangements between families and health. Moghaddam found that the more countries could be considered individualistic the greater the percentage of people who say that love is necessary for marriage. Marriage is found in nearly all cultures, but there are wide variations in marital arrangements. These include monogamy and polygamy (polygyny and polyandry). Polyandry results from scarcity of resources and the need to maintain resources within a family; in Tibet for example it has been common for brothers to share one wife. AO2: There is research to support for the view that non-voluntary relationships can work well than relationships based on love. For example, Epstein found that divorce rates are low, and even more surprising, about half of them report that they have fallen in love with each other. However, a study of women in China found that women who had married for love felt better about their marriages than women who had experienced arranged marriages. This supports the claim that freedom of choice (in western cultures) promotes marital satisfaction. Evidence to support that love is important for marriage in individualistic cultures compared to collectivist cultures comes from Levine et al who all studied 11 countries. They found that there was a very strong tendency for members of individualistic societies to regard love as more important for marriage than members of collectivist societies. US recorded the highest figure when asked whether they would refuse to marry someone they did not love, whereas people from India and Thailand (collectivist) would marry someone they did not love. Furthermore, Sprecher et al found in their study that the Japanese and Americans were very reluctant to marry someone in the absence of love. Whereas, the Russians students were more
  19. 19. practical about marriage and the women were more likely to settle for a loveless marriage. This further suggests that romantic love is common in western cultures and less important in collectivist cultures. However, there is research to support that romantic love is not common only in western cultures. Jankowiak and Fisher found clear evidence of passionate, romantic love in most of the societies studied. In only one society was there no compelling evidence for romantic love. This suggests that love serves some universal adaptive function for human beings, which explains why it is so widespread. Much of the research into cultural differences in relationships has used Hofstede‟s original distinction between individualist and collectivist cultures. However, questions have been raised as to how useful this distinction actually is. In a study of people‟s attitudes towards various types of relationships, Li et al found very few differences in the attitudes of people from Canada (an individualistic culture) and China (a collectivist culture), but did show differences between the Chinese and Indian samples. Therefore, this suggests that perhaps cultural differences are overemphasised, and that difference lie within cultures rather than between cultures. IDA: Cross cultural studies in this area are riddled with problems. It is very difficult for psychologist from one culture to appreciate the complexity of another. Therefore ethnocentric bias is a problem. There may be problems with translations as well and findings can be misunderstood due to this. As this is a socially sensitive area and so it raises ethical concerns, so there may be problems with the truthfulness of responses as people may not admit being in unhappy relationship as it may lead to family problems e.g. in China divorce is regarded as shameful and the divorce rate is less than 4% of married couples (Goodwin) but this does not mean that couples are still happy together. There is cultural bias in research to support for the influence of culture on romantic relationships. By using western norms and criteria in research and then investigating how non-western cultures differ from western cultures implies that non-western cultures are other than the norm which implies inferiority. Berry argued a derived etic approach, whereby the research is conducted with the emphasis in culturally specific criteria which can reduce this cultural bias.
  20. 20. Aggression
  21. 21. Discuss one social psychological theory of aggression A AO1: Le bon described how an individual was transformed in their behaviour when part of a crowd, and through a combination of anonymity, suggestibility and contagion; a collective mind takes possession of the individual. As a consequence, the individual loses self-control and becomes capable of acting in a way that goes against social or personal norms. Therefore Deindividuation is a psychological state characterised by a lowered self-evaluation and decreased concerns about their own evaluation by others. This leads to an increase in behaviours that would normally be inhibited by personal or social norms. Deindividuation occurs when a person joins a crowd or large group. Important factors that contribute to Deindividuation are anonymity, the feeling of reduced responsibility in the crowd, increased arousal, sensory overload and altered consciousness due to drugs or alcohol. In a crowd a person may feel as if they are anonymous and therefore they cannot be held to account for their behaviour. This then results in reduced inner restraints and an increase in behaviours that would normally be inhibited. The concept of Deindividuation has been refined to distinguish between the effects of reduced public self-awareness (being anonymous) and reduced private self-awareness (forgetting themselves and loss of internal standards).Within a large group individuals may become less privately aware and some argue it is this loss of private self-awareness that is most associated with anti-social behaviour. AO2: There are many studies carried out to support the Deindividuation theory. Zimbardo conducted the Stanford prison experiment to measure whether brutality reported among guards in American prisons were down to personality factors or situational factors. One group of students were randomly allocated to play the role of guards and the others to the role of prisoners. Guards wore military style uniforms, sunglasses and carried handcuffs and keys. Guards and prisoners were deindividuated to become anonymous. Both participants showed signs of Deindividuation based on this research supporting the theory that it leads to a lowered sense of personal identity and a disinhibiting antisocial behaviour. Furthermore, Mullen et al analysed over 60 newspaper reports of lynching‟s that took place in the first half of the twentieth century. Mullen found that the more people there were in the mob, the greater was the savagery with which the victim was killed. This could be explained through Deindividuation as people became less attentive, more anonymity in the bigger crowd and thus self-regulation processes broke down leading to an increase in the level of violence committed through Deindividuation supporting the theory. However, we cannot be certain with correlation data of cause and effect and be sure that this greater violence was specifically down to Deindividuation and other unknown confounding variables may be
  22. 22. contributing. On the other hand research has found that deindividuation does not necessarily lead to aggression. For example, Johnson and Downing found that rather than aggression being an automatic consequence of deindividuation, behaviour was more likely to be the product of local group norms. They found that participants dressed in kkk style clothing delivered more shocks than a control group dressed normally. Agression was seen as more appropriate when dressed like the KKK than being dressed as a nurse. Participants dressed in nurse uniforms delivered fewer shocks than the control group which suggests that the social role plays a greater part in aggression than the fact that you are deindividuated. IDA: Zimbardo‟s prison experiment raised serious ethical concerns as to the treatment of the student prisoners. They were subjected to psychological torture through verbal abuse as well as physical, making the experiment deemed morally and ethically wrong. It could be argued that Deindividuation theory is gender biased as research suggests that males and females may not respond in the same way when deindividuated. For example, Cannavale et al found that males and females behaved differently under deindividuated conditions with increases in aggression only most evident in male groups. Other research studies have found similar findings. Thus evidence indicates that males may be more prone to disinhibition for aggressive behaviour when deindividuated than females suggesting gender differences exist and findings of studies cannot be generalised across genders both genders.
  23. 23. Outline and evaluate two social psychological theories of aggression A* AO1: Le bon described how an individual was transformed in their behaviour when part of a crowd, and through a combination of anonymity, suggestibility and contagion; a collective mind takes possession of the individual. As a consequence the individual loses self-control and becomes capable of acting in a way that goes against social or personal norms. Therefore Deindividuation is a psychological state characterised by a lowered self-evaluation and decreased concerns about their own evaluation by others. This leads to an increase in behaviours that would normally be inhibited by personal or social norms. Deindividuation occurs when a person joins a crowd or large group. Important factors that contribute to Deindividuation are anonymity, the feeling of reduced responsibility in the crowd, increased arousal, sensory overload and altered consciousness due to drugs or alcohol. AO2: There are many studies carried out to support the Deindividuation theory. Zimbardo conducted the Stanford prison experiment to measure whether brutality reported among guards in American prisons were down to personality factors or situational factors. One group of students were randomly allocated to play the role of guards and the others to the role of prisoners. Guards wore military style uniforms, sunglasses and carried handcuffs and keys. Guards and prisoners were deindividuated to become anonymous. Both participants showed signs of Deindividuation based on this research supporting the theory that it leads to a lowered sense of personal identity and a disinhibiting antisocial behaviour. Furthermore, Mullen et al analysed over 60 newspaper reports of lynching‟s that took place in the first half of the twentieth century. They found that the more people there were in the lynch mob, the greater was the savagery with which the victim was killed. This could be explained through Deindividuation as people became less attentive, more anonymity in the bigger crowd and thus self-regulation processes broke down leading to an increase in the level of violence committed through Deindividuation supporting the theory. On the other hand research has found that deindividuation does not necessarily lead to aggression. For example, Johnson and Downing found that rather than aggression being an automatic consequence of deindividuation, behaviour was more likely to be the product of local group norms. They found that participants dressed in kkk style clothing delivered more shocks than a control group dressed normally. Agression was seen as more appropriate when dressed like the KKK than being dressed as a nurse. Participants dressed in nurse uniforms delivered fewer shocks than the control group which suggests that the social role plays a greater part in aggression than the fact that you are deindividuated.
  24. 24. IDA: It could be argued that Deindividuation theory is gender biased as research suggests that males and females may not respond in the same way when deindividuated. For example, Cannavale et al found that males and females behaved differently under deindividuated conditions with increases in aggression only most evident in male groups. Other research studies have found similar findings. Thus evidence indicates that males may be more prone to disinhibition for aggressive behaviour when deindividuated than females suggesting gender differences exist and findings of studies cannot be generalised across genders both genders. AO1: An alternative social psychological theory is Social Learning Theory (SLT) proposed by Bandura. Bandura claimed that one way in which aggression might be learned is through Social Learning Theory (SLT). This is a process whereby we observe others be rewarded for being aggressive (e.g. receiving positive reinforcement such as attention for winning a fight) and we then imitate this behaviour expecting to be rewarded for this aggression as well. Firstly, SLT suggests that vicarious learning will only take place if the observer pays attention to the role model in the first place. What is observed must be remembered if it is to be imitated (Retention). The observer has to be able to copy the behaviour (Reproduction). The observer must want to imitate the behaviour (Motivation). IDA: There is considerable evidence to support the social learning theory causing aggression to be learned. The biggest strength of SLT is that it can be used to explain cultural differences in aggression. For example, within the !Kung San tribe of the Kalahari Desert aggression is extremely rare and this is believed to be due to the child-rearing practices of the tribe having a social learning effect. However, according to the social learning theory, aggressive behaviour is the product of learning experiences that the child has experienced prior to the actual production of any aggressive behaviour in the future. Consequently, social learning theory falls on the determinist side of the free will versus determinism debate.
  25. 25. Discuss psychological explanations of two or more forms of institutional aggression A AO1: Explanations of institutional aggression tend to be considered due to situational factors, such as aggression stemming from the social situation or dispositional factors where the aggression may stem from personality factors. Two explanations are offered for this, the importation model and the deprivation model. Irwin and Cressey claimed that prisoners brought their social history and traits with them when entering prisons which influence their adaptation to the prison environment. Prisoners are not seen as “blank slates” when entering the prison and anything they consider normal in the outside world, even if it is violence, will be “imported” into the prison environment. Many pre-existing factors of imprisoned individuals may affect the levels of aggression displayed in prison e.g. alcohol-addiction, race, age etc. Many of the prisoners may be coming from subcultures within society and these cultures may see aggression as something that is valued, respected and therefore reinforced with such attitudes then being imported into the prison setting. Another explanation for institutional aggression looks at the deprivation model. This model proposes that it is the characteristics of the prison itself rather than the prison population that accounts for violence in prisons. Skyes commented on those factors that are part of the prison experience e.g. loss of freedom, boredom, discomfort and loneliness for inmates might be expected to contribute to interpersonal violence as a response. AO2: There is research to support the importation model. For example, Harer et al analysed data from 58 US prisons and found that black inmates displayed significantly higher levels of aggression but lower rates of alcohol and drug related misconduct than white inmates. They concluded that these differences reflected in racial differences in these behaviours in US societies generally, supporting the claim that such characteristics are important into the prison. The importation model predicts that membership of violent gangs prior to imprisonment would result in increased levels of aggression in prisons, as violent conducted would be imported to the new environment. However, this is prediction is not supported by research. A study of over 800 male inmates, DeLisi et al found no evidence that membership of a violent gang prior to prison had any bearing on levels of violence within prison. Many of the claims of the deprivation model are supported by research evidence. For example, McCorkle et al found that overcrowding, lack of privacy and a lack of meaningful activity in prisons all significantly influenced interpersonal violence. Likewise, Light found that when overcrowding in prisons increases, so do the levels of violence.
  26. 26. The deprivation model is challenged by the findings of research by Poole and Regoli. They found that among juvenile offenders in four different institutions, pre-institutional violence was the best predictor of inmate aggression regardless of the particular features (e.g. overcrowding, discomfort) of the institution. This finding supports the importation model and casts doubts on the validity of the deprivation model as an explanation of institutional aggression. Much prison aggression has unexplained motives making it difficult to conduct research and draw firm conclusions. Light found that 25 percent of prison assaults had no apparent reason and Goffman reported that prisoners often attempt to hide motives behind aggressive actions. Therefore due to the methodological problems associated with measuring such institutional aggression; drawing scientific and measurable conclusions becomes difficult. IDA: Studies into institutional aggression can be seen as having gender biased as they have almost exclusively focused mainly on male prisoners are may very well have different profiles to female prisoners. For example female prisoners are often seen as establishing strong bonds with other members of their social group (other prisoners) rather than identify with prison subcultures. Therefore the explanations for female aggression occurring in prisons may be different to those offered for male prisoners.
  27. 27. Outline and evaluate neural mechanisms in aggression A* AO1: Serotonin is believed to reduce aggression by inhibiting responses to emotional stimuli that might otherwise have led to an aggressive response. A low level of serotonin in the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex has been linked with higher chances of impulse behaviour, aggression and even suicide. Under normal circumstances, serotonin works in the frontal areas of the brain to inhibit the firing of the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear, anger and other emotional responses. However, if there is less serotonin in these frontal areas of the brain, there is less inhibition of the amygdala. As a result, when the amygdala is stimulated by external events, it becomes more active, causing the person to act on their impulses and making aggression more likely. AO2: There is research to support for the role of serotonin in aggression. For example, Mann et al gave 35 healthy subjects a drug that depleted serotonin levels. Judging their aggression based on hostility scores on questionnaire; they found that lower levels of serotonin were found to be associated with higher levels of aggression in males, however not in females. This suggests that the role of serotonin in aggression may be different for females compared to males. Evidence for the importance of serotonin in aggression also comes from studies of nonhuman animals. For example, Rosado et al compared blood samples from 80 aggressive dogs and compared these with non-aggressive dogs. The aggressive dogs averaged 278 units of serotonin, while the non-aggressive dogs averaged 387 units of serotonin. As a result, this suggests that there is a link between low levels of serotonin and high levels of aggression. Although there is research to support that low serotonin levels have been linked to an aggressive behaviour, not all people with low levels of serotonin display aggressive behaviour. For example, Booij et al carried out a longitudinal study that followed individuals from childhood to adulthood. They found that although children with low levels of serotonin played higher levels of aggression, by the time these children reached adulthood, they showed no difference in aggression levels compared to normal controls despite their serotonin levels remained low. Therefore, this suggests that other factors must play a part in the determination of aggressive behaviour. AO1:
  28. 28. The amygdala is a structure inside the temporal lobe and it is connected to many other structures in the brain including the hippocampus, thalamus and the prefrontal cortex. These connections mean that the amygdala plays an important role in the mediation of effective activities, on the expression of mood and mainly on fear rage and aggression. Normal aggressive behaviour is not dependent on separate brain structures but is dependent on the interaction of a system of structures. A02: The role of amygdala in relation to aggression can be can be supported by research by Narobyashi et al who found that patients whose amygdala through psychosurgery showed reduced levels of aggression afterwards. This supports the notion that the amygdala does in fact impact on aggression. Kluver Bucy syndrome exists in humans if the temporal lobe had been damaged and this leads to passivity, which is largely attributed to the damaged amygdala. Further support can be found by Muller et al who found that when positive and negative images were shown to six male psychopaths and six normal male controls, brain activity increased using fmri in several areas including the amygdala. This is consistent with the idea that increased activity causes aggression. Whilst the exact role of the amygdala has yet to be understood, it is clear that it is part of a circuit of structures responsible for aggression. IDA: The link between neurotransmitters and aggression largely ignores the important role played by social factors in aggression. For example, research by Bandura et al has shown that social learning can be powerful influence on aggressive behaviour of children and Zimbardo et al had described how Deindividuation can increase aggressive behaviour in particular situations where personal responsibility is demolished. Reductionist explanations of human aggression underestimate the complexity of aggressive behaviour and are insufficient on their own to explain the many different aspects of human aggressive behaviour.
  29. 29. Outline and evaluate hormonal mechanisms in aggression A* AO1: Hormones are chemicals that regulate and control bodily functions. Testosterone is the male sex hormone and has been consistently linked with aggression however this link is not clear cut. When testosterone levels peak around the start of puberty, there is a peak in aggression levels in boys also suggesting a correlational link. However with this we still cannot be sure of cause and effect as some theories propose aggressive individuals produce more testosterone and not vice versa (not testosterone increases aggression). Cortisol is believed to have a mediating effect on hormones such as testosterone as higher levels increases anxiety and inhibits testosterone levels and thus aggression. Studies have found that habitually violent offenders have lower levels of cortisol suggesting such a link. This suggests that although relatively high testosterone is the primary biochemical influence on aggression, low cortisol also plays an important role by increasing the likelihood of aggression. AO2: There is research to support the link between testosterone and aggression. Beeman castrated male mice and found aggressiveness reduced. He later injected mice with testosterone which re-established their aggressiveness. Also, Vom Saal found that female rats who had occupied spaces in the womb closet to males were the most aggressive females in the later. This is because they were exposed to more testosterone. This suggests that there is an association between testosterone and aggression however we cannot prove cause and effect. IDA: Many studies supporting the relationship between testosterone and aggression have used non human animals such as mice and rats and this raises serious ethical concerns. Research suggests animals do feel pain, they prefer to avoid pain and prefer to experience pleasure and so it is wrong to test on animals. Others disagree and believe that if the potential benefit to humans represents “greater good” then the costs to animals can be justified. It is very difficult to extrapolate these findings to human since rats and mice lack both the cognitive complexity and the intricate social environments to humans. AO2:
  30. 30. Evidence to support for the link between testosterone and aggression comes from human studies. For example, Dabbs et al found that those who had committed sexual and violent crimes had highest levels of testosterone. They were also more likely to be the most confrontational prisoners. Relationship between testosterone and aggression is far from clear cut a number of studies have found that high testosterone levels correlate positively with aggression but other studies have found no such relationship. For example, Bain et al found no significant differences in testosterone level between men who had been charged with murder or violent assault and men who had been charged with non-violent crimes. Much research support the role of testosterone and aggression is correlational, which means we do not know whether high levels of testosterone causes aggression or whether aggression is a product of aggressive behaviour. Also, measuring aggression is unreliable since behaviour is open to interpretation by the user. There is research to support the relationship between cortisol and aggression. Research on cortisol is mixed and conflicting. Shoal et al found low resting salivary cortisol concentration associated with increased aggression. Whereas Bokhoven et al found higher levels of cortisol in boys with particularly high in aggression form of conduct disorder. IDA: Most research to support the relationship between testosterone and aggression is gender biased. Currently there has been little research that has explored the relationship between testosterone in females. Research suggests that the association between testosterone and aggression may be even higher among females. Other research by Beaucom et al has found that women with higher testosterone levels had higher occupational status. Studies such as this indicate that women may respond to challenging situations with increased testosterone, displaying characteristics such as aggressiveness and dominance. Furthermore it is difficult to accurately measure levels of chemicals in the body which may threaten the validity of some findings. Hormone theory focuses too heavily on the Nature side of the Nature/Nurture debate over what causes behaviour – a better explanation might be to see aggression arising as a Diathesis - an interaction between nature and nurture.
  31. 31. Discuss genetic factors in aggressive behaviour A* AO1: Genes may not directly cause aggression but influence elements of our biology that contribute to it. Research suggests that aggressive tendencies may in part be inherited twin studies using MZ and DZ twins, Adoption studies, and family history studies all confirm the theory that to some extent aggression is heritable (transmitted through genetic inheritance). Twin studies compare MZ identical twins living in the same home with DZ nonidentical twins living in the same home to see if concordance rates are higher in one group than another, consistently findings are that CR rates are higher in MZ twins (this arguably is because they share the same genes – not because they share the same home or otherwise CR rates between MZ and DZ twins would not be so different). A gene responsible for producing a protein called MonoAmine Oxidase A (MAOA) has been associated with aggressive behaviour. MAOA regulates the metabolism of neurotransmitters in the brain it is thought that having a faulty MAOA gene leads to the brain being flooded with too much serotonin and dopamine as a result these excess Neurotransmitter‟s would influence individuals towards aggression when under stress. As well as the MAOA gene other candidate genes for aggression have been identified by researchers - DRD4 and the DRD3 gene. AO2: Research has generally found that aggressive behaviour is more highly correlated in MZ twins than in DZ twins. For example, McGuffin et al found a concordance of 87% for aggressive and antisocial behaviour for MZ pairs, compared with 72% for DZ pairs. On first glance this appears to support the basis of genetics being behind such similarities as aggression is shared more closely with those twins with identical genetics suggesting shared twins may be responsible. However, non-identical twins also had high levels of similarity in aggression levels and this could be argued to be due to the environment and learning similar aggressive behaviour. Therefore the family environment may also play a huge factor. Adoption studies have looked at examining levels of aggression between adopted children and their biological parents if a positive correlation is found between adopted children and their biological parents then a genetic effect is implied. If a positive correlation is found between the adopted children and their rearing family; an environmental effect is implied suggesting aggression may be due to learning. There is research to support the relationship between violence among biological parents and their adopted children. For example, Hutchings et al conducted a huge study of reviewing 14000 danish children who had been adopted. They found a significant positive correlation between the number of convictions for criminal violence among the biological parents and
  32. 32. that of their children who had been adopted. This appears to add weight to the argument that genetics is behind such behaviour and such genes may have been passed onto their children. There is research to support for the role of MAOA gene in aggression. Cases et al found that when they disabled the MAOA gene in the X chromosome of male mice and found that without the MAOA enzyme, levels of dopamine and serotonin increased and males became highly aggressive compared to females. Restoring the gene returned the male mice into normal state. This suggests that MAOA deficiency is linked with aggression but could possibly have a different effect on males and females. Some researchers believe that it is the interaction between the genetics and environment that determines the likelihood of aggressive behaviour. For example, Caspi et al found evidence how genes actually interact with the environment studying the MAOA gene which is involved in serotonin metabolism. Studying 500 children, one half were identified to have high levels of MAOA while the others were identified to have low levels of MAOA. Those with low levels were associated with higher levels of aggression however only if they were maltreated as children. Children with high levels of MAOA who were maltreated and those with low levels of MAOA were not maltreated and did not display anti-social behaviour. This suggests that it is the interaction between genes and environment that determines aggression. IDA: Genetic theory of aggression is an example of biological reductionism it oversimplifies the complex causes of aggression and could be explained as well or better by another approach such as SLT social factors like modelling also contribute to Aggression. It is also an example of biological genetic determinism – and suggests that we are at the mercy of our biology – we have no free will to decide whether to behave in an aggressive way or not – which clearly is not true. It is clear that genetics alone cannot cause aggressive behaviours - genes do increase the risk of aggression, but perhaps only when combined with environmental risk factors – suggesting a diathesis of nature (genes) and Nurture (environment).
  33. 33. Discuss evolutionary explanations of human aggression based on infidelity and jealousy A AO1: According to Daly & Wilson, men have evolved different strategies to deter their partners from committing adultery. These strategies are the result of male jealousy and paternal uncertainty (being unable to be certain he is the father of her children). If a man‟s partner is unfaithful and has a relationship with another man, he runs the risk of cuckoldry (that he may unwittingly invest resources in rearing children that are not his own). Male sexual jealousy may therefore have evolved to prevent infidelity by women and reduce the risk of cuckoldry. For our ancestors, sexual jealousy was an adaptive response, which has led to the development of adaptive mate-retention behaviours. AO2: Support for the argument that male sexual jealousy may be evolved comes from Daly et al, who found that men were more violent when their partner was sexually unfaithful. Also, Buss investigated the nature of jealousy in men and women, with a cross cultural questionnaire. He found that 60% of men would have been more jealous if their partner had a sexual relationship with a man whereas 85% of women said they would have been more jealous if their partner had formed a deep emotional attachment to another woman. He also measured the participant‟s heart rates and galvanic skin response (GSR). He concluded that men‟s jealousy is innately triggered by the threat of uncertainty over the paternity of a child. However, because of the use of questionnaires social desirability may have influenced the participants, they might have answered what they thought was expected of them; for example, because it is widely accepted that women are more in touch with their feelings, they should therefore be more jealous of an emotional relationship rather than a sexual relationship. Wilson found further support for Evolutionary explanations for Aggression - women who agreed with questionnaire items such as “Is he jealous and doesn't want you to talk with other men', were twice as likely to have experienced serious violence from their partners, with 72% of them having required medical attention following an assault from their male partner. Since the same behaviour is found across different cultures it indicates that an evolutionary is possible or even likely but there are cultural differences in murder rates of wives by husbands and in the degree of anxiety felt in response to sexual infidelity by males. For example Brase found that the most jealous men were Brazilian (Brazil has a high fertility rate) and the least jealous men were Japanese men (Japan has a low fertility rate). This could be seen as support
  34. 34. for the evolutionary theory but it could also suggest that factors other than those determined by evolution play a part for example cultural factors. IDA: Evolutionary explanations are post hoc and therefore lack scientific validity. Since there is no way of researching our evolutionary past, the explanations of human social behaviour are post hoc (made up after the event). Although evolution is a fact, the way in which it shapes behaviour is not at all clear and is based on speculation. Since the explanations cannot be verified or falsified, they do not fulfil Popper‟s key criteria of what constitutes a science, this is empirical, falsifiable and objective. On this basis the explanations lack scientific validity. Evolutionary theory of aggression is reductionist as they focus on one factor only (the gene) when other emotional, social, cognitive, behavioural, and developmental factors are highly relevant to jealousy and the tendency to be unfaithful. The evolutionary explanations are oversimplified accounts at best. They are also deterministic as they suggest that the genes control behaviour, which ignores the free will of the individual.
  35. 35. Discuss evolutionary explanations of group display in humans A AO1: War allows one group status over another, giving them access to their land, resources and their women. Evolutionary explanation of war traces how organisms who have a tendency to engage in war have a higher chance of surviving and reproducing their genes than organisms that do not (Bailey). Carpenter proposed that group display in war had evolved as it was adaptive in our EEA to aggress in order to compete for scarce resources. Caro et al argue that competition for resources in humans assumes bigger stakes than in animals because of human ability to project future needs and our technology to preserve wealth. Alternatively Wilson argues that war has evolved to act as a check on overpopulation – that it is adaptive when population exceeds resources available to wage war. It is also argued that rape as a group display at times of war would be adaptive for a number of reasons. In times of war rape is much more dominant as when practiced as a group and in such situations the risk of potential costs is greatly reduced and therefore fitness is enhanced. As a group display rape is adaptive as it humiliates and terrorises the opposing army and therefore promotes dominance. AO2: There is research to support war as an explanation of group display. Chagnon found that warfare exists among many modern day tribal societies e.g. Yanomano of the amazon rainforest. They are obsessed with the size of their villages, as the only advantage one group can have over another is manpower. The most frequent cause of conflict is abduction in woman to increase their size. This supports the explanation that war has a high chance of surviving and reproducing genes. Chagnon suggested that battle can also give a warrior status and increase his chances of attracting females. Therefore, supports that war gives access to resources. The notion that war had evolved as it was adaptive in our EEA to aggress in order to compete for scarce resources is supported by Diamond who found that 63% of the countries involved in 20th century war did so for reasons that included land disputes due to insufficient space and resources. Therefore, supporting Carpenter‟s claim that group display in war is adaptive in order to compete for scarce resources. Diamond also argues that the frequent killing of the original inhabitants of territory gained in war supports Wilson‟s claims. Also, there is research to support the evolutionary explanation that rape is adaptive in our EEA. In Bosnia, during the Yugoslavian conflict, 20000 women were raped as part of an attempt to raise Serbian children and terrorise those who fled. This supports the evolutionary
  36. 36. explanation because it shows how war is used by serbs to increase their territory and to reproduce and pass on genes. However, many researchers argue that war was not a consistent feature of our EEA. Haas concluded that “the archaeological record gives no evidence of territorial behaviour in our first hunter gatherer societies. Rather they seem to have developed a very open network of communication and interaction”. IDA: War is arguably often due to factors other than scarcity of resources or competition e.g. due to the need to remove unjust dictators. Rape whilst prevalent in times of war is not universal it is dependent on the culture of the aggressors, e.g. very rare in El Salvador’s civil war and the Tamil tigers forced displacement (forced to flee) of tens of thousands of Muslims from the Jaffna peninsula. Other factors are relevant to whether rape takes place e.g. in Congo – brainwashing and the use of drugs were associated to brutality and rape by boy soldiers.
  37. 37. Eating Behaviour
  38. 38. Discuss attitudes to food and/or eating behaviour A AO1: As children‟s parents usually provide food for them, it seems obvious that parental attitudes to food will affect their children‟s attitudes to them. Children also learn what to eat by watching their parents‟ eating habits as they grow. This can be explained by Social Learning Theory (or SLT). This occurs when children observe their parents eating. In this sense, the parents act as eating role models. Observing parents getting rewarded by enjoying eating certain foods, the children learn to imitate these food preferences as they expect to receive similar rewards by doing so. This theory would therefore argue that children should show similar preferences as their parents having learned these preferences from them through a process of vicarious learning. AO2: There is a great deal of research supporting the SLT. For example, Duncker found that Children observed a series of role models including older children, a friend, their mother, an unknown adult and a fictional hero making food choices different to their own. The findings showed that observing other children, a friend and their mother had an impact on the children‟s food choices except the unknown adult. Therefore children are more likely to sample unfamiliar foods after they have seen a significant role model (particularly their mother rather than a stranger) eat the food. Parental attitudes and behaviour is therefore an essential part of the social learning process of food choice and eating behaviour. However, Dowey has also argued that the majority of research has measured children‟s food preferences but not actual food intake and this may have produced some misleading results. The relationship between preferences and actual eating (or food intake) is often assumed and this assumption may be invalid. This is problematic in that just because a child shows a preference after observing a role model does not mean the child would necessarily eat that food and go on eating that food in the future despite their initial imitative behaviour. One strength of SLT as an explanation of food preference is that it has a number of practical applications. This is because the theory of SLT has been used to increase healthy eating in children and others through the use of television campaigns depicting role models enjoying nutritious foods. This is positive as it shows how useful SLT can be shaping a healthy diet. IDA: A problem with research into social learning and imitation of parental eating behaviour is that these behaviourist explanations ignore key aspects of other approaches such as the
  39. 39. evolutionary approach. Evolutionary explanation suggests our food preferences are more strongly influenced by genetic factors passed down through the ages. AO1: Another factor that has been shown to influence eating behaviour is mood. A great deal of research has focused on the relationship between our mood and subsequent food choices. It is generally accepted that food can be comforting when we are feeling down and that we associate certain foods with pleasurable feelings. Research has shown repeatedly that people who are stressed or of low mood do “comfort eat” by increasing their carbohydrate and sugar intake. Further research has suggested a link between happy mood and more nutritious foods. AO2: There is research to support the idea that mood plays a key role in influencing eating behaviour. For example, Wansink et al found that when 38 participants were offered either hot buttered popcorn or grapes as they watched either an upbeat comedy or a sad film, the participants watching the sad film consumed 36% more popcorn whilst those watching the comedy consumed more grapes. It was concluded that People feeling sad or depressed, however, just want to “jolt themselves out of the dumps” with a quick indulgent snack that tastes good and gives them an immediate “bump of euphoria”. IDA: Arguably, studies to support SLT and mood are gender biased as they tend to be on females. Most studies focus on body dissatisfaction and disorders in relation to women. However, studies have shown that homosexual men are more at risk of developing an eating disorder. This subculture promotes a lean, muscular body image, putting pressure on gay men to be „ideal‟. Siever found that homosexual men have shown higher levels of body dissatisfaction and higher levels of dieting than women.
  40. 40. Discuss two or more explanations for the success and/or failure of dieting A AO1: The first explanation for the success and/or failure of dieting is the restraint theory. Research suggests that as many as 89% of the female population in the UK consciously restrain their food intake at some point in their lives. Herman and Mack developed the restraint theory which suggests that attempting not to eat actually increases the probability of overeating. Boundary model attempts to explain why dieting might lead to overeating. A normal eater eats when they are hungry and stop when they have reached the point of satiety. Dieters tend to have a larger range between hunger and satiety since it takes them longer to feel hungry, and more food to satisfy them. They will set themselves a boundary where they will stop eating before they are at the point of satiety. If they go beyond their boundary and start eating then they may eat more, as they feel they have effectively removed their inhibitions on eating. They may then re-establish their dieting boundary which can result in cycles of failure. AO2: Many researchers have found evidence to show that dieting can often lead to overeating. For example, Wardle and Beales randomly assigned 27 obese women to either a diet group (focusing on restrained eating patterns), an exercise group, or non-treatment group for seven weeks. At weeks four and six, all participants were assessed under laboratory conditions. At week four, food intake and appetite were assessed before and after a „preload‟ (i.e. a small snack such as a milkshake or a chocolate bar). At week six, food intake was assessed under stressful conditions. Results showed that at both assessment sessions, women in the diet condition ate more than women in the exercise and non-treatment groups. This research provides evidence that dieting can actually result in overeating. However, this study could be criticised in terms of the sample, which is fairly limited in that the experimenters used only women and only those that were considered obese; a more representative sample could have been obtained. Also, this research was conducted in a laboratory, therefore this lacks mundane realism. There is research to support restraint theory. Keys et al gave participants half their usual daily food intake for 12 weeks and found that they lost 25% of their normal body weight and also found that they became obsessed with food and started stealing it. Many became depressed and couldn‟t concentrate. When they were later allowed to eat freely, many ate continuously and became binge eaters. This suggests that the food restriction caused changes in the participant‟s cognitive states so that the restricted food became an obsession.
  41. 41. Restraint theory proposes an association between food restriction and overeating. However Ogden points out that although dieters, bulimics and anorexics report episodes of overeating, the behaviour of restricting anorexics cannot be explained using this theory. If trying not to eat results in overeating says Ogden, then how do anorexics manage to starve themselves? Restraint theory proposes an association between food restriction and overeating. This supports the fact that people do have free will, as the anorexics who are determined to lose weight, starve themselves until they become ill from being too thin. AO1: Research has generally demonstrated that attempting to suppress or deny a thought usually has the opposite effect, making it more prominent in your mind than before. Wegner refers to this as the „Theory of Ironic processes of mental control‟ because it represents a paradoxical effect of thought control, i.e. denial often backfires. As dieters attempt to suppress thoughts about hunger and place restrictions on certain foods, this actually leads to a change in the dieter‟s cognitive state and it is this that can lead to overeating. As soon as the food is denied, it becomes more desirable. AO2: The problem with much of the research in this area is that it often relies on anecdotal evidence, that is, personal accounts given by individuals, which can be subject to inaccuracies as individuals rely on their memories. Also, the assessment of the success or failure of dieting is not always conducted objectively, which then affects the reliability of the research evidence. IDA: The theory of ironic mental processes ignores the biological approach. This means that by focusing on cognitive factors, the biological and neural mechanisms that also affect our eating behaviour and hunger levels are not accounted for. For example, restricting food may not only increase our desire of certain foods due to cognitive processes but due to physical cravings for food from our hypothalamus as well. This is problematic as it suggests this explanation takes an approach that is too narrow.
  42. 42. Discuss two or more ways in which eating behaviour is controlled by neural mechanisms A* A01: The dual centre hypothesis suggests that eating behaviour is controlled via a homeostatic system whereby neural mechanisms play a key role. The hypothalamus is the main area of the brain that regulates eating. The lateral hypothalamus (LH) acts as the „hunger centre‟ and is triggered by falling blood glucose levels and rising ghrelin levels (a hormone released when the stomach is empty). The Ventro medial hypothalamus (VMH) acts as the satiety centre and is triggered by falling levels of ghrelin, rising levels of CCK (a hormone released when the food is detected in the duodenum) and rising levels of leptin. Neuropeptide Y is thought to be associated with the initiation of eating. Dopamine may be relevant to eating behaviour in that it is commonly associated with the reward pathway in the brain. When dopamine is released in response to eating, it is likely to provide positive feelings for an individual. This is likely to be associated with eating and thus eating becomes a pleasurable experience. AO2: There is research to support for the role of LH. For example, Anand et al showed that lesions in the LH of rats led to loss of feeding and aphagia (failure to eat when hungry). Research has also shown that stimulation of the LH in rats produces feeding and lesions to the VMH in rats leads to obesity. The evidence supports the role of the hypothalamus in regulating hunger and provides a clear causal link. However, recent research suggests that eating behaviour is also controlled by neural circuits that run throughout the brain, and not just in the hypothalamus. Therefore, although the LH plays a role in initiating eating behaviour, it does not actually seem to be the brain‟s „on switch‟ for eating behaviour. There is research to support the role of Neuropeptide Y in eating behaviour. Wilkins found injections of Neuropeptide Y in rats instantly initiate eating. However, Marie et al genetically impaired manipulated mice so that they did not produce NPY and interestingly they found that this did not result in decrease in eating. Researchers argued that this occurred as other mechanisms take over in the absence of NPY. It may be problematic that much of the research to support the role of neural mechanisms in eating behaviour comes from animal. Although they do suggest clear evidence for their role in simplified neurological level, rats and mice lack both cognitive complexity and the social environments of humans. There is research to support the role of VMH in eating behaviour. Ranson et al found that if the VMH is damaged, rats will overeat and become hyperaphagic. If the VMH is electrically stimulated, rats will stop eating. This suggests that VMH does in fact control eating
  43. 43. behaviour. However Gold found that another area of the hypothalamus called the PVN is damaged then hyperphagia occurs suggesting that PVN is important in eating rather than VMH. IDA: The view that eating and satiation are controlled by brain structures suggests that nature rather than nurture plays the major role in these behaviours. However, although the LH and VMH are important in controlling eating behaviour, they don‟t explain everything. The precise mechanisms involved are extremely complicated. Moreover, this approach is reductionistic and focuses on biological mechanisms without taking into account the influential role played by social, cognitive, and developmental factors in eating behaviour. The dual centre model of feeding also seems to deny free-will, because it assumes that we will respond to a signal that we are hungry by eating, and respond to a signal that we are full by stopping eating. However, we can sometimes override our physiological drive to eat because, for example, we don‟t like the food that has been given to us. Likewise, we can also override our physiological drive to stop eating because, for example, more food is available than usual.
  44. 44. Discuss two or more evolutionary explanations of food preferences A A01: Certain food preferences that we see today can be explained in evolutionary terms. Arguably any preferences that would have been adaptive (promoted survival) in our environment of evolutionary adaptation (EEA) would have been passed on via our genes. Preference for fatty foods would have been adaptive for early humans as energy sources were vital. In this environment calories were not as plentiful as they are today so it made sense for humans (and other animals) to evolve a distinct preference for foods that were rich in calories. Binge eating would have been adaptive behaviour. Sweet, fatty and salty foods would have been particularly valued since they are vital requirements and were relatively scarce. It would be advantageous to overeat in times of plenty and those that did adopt this strategy were more likely to survive to pass on their genes. It would also have been a good idea to retain as many calories as possible and expend as few as possible as protection against future scarcity. Our human ancestors began to include meat in their diets to compensate for the decline in quality of plant foods caused by the decline in forests. Milton suggests that without animals it is unlikely that early humans could have taken enough nutrition from a vegetable diet to evolve into active and intelligent creatures. Meat supplied humans with all the essential amino acids, minerals and nutrients. AO2: There is research to support that we may have innate preference for sweet foods. Desor used facial expressions and sucking behaviour as an index of preference and found babies prefer sweet tasting substances. Cross cultural studies also support that preference for sweet substances are innate. However, there was reliance on facial expressions and sucking behaviour and this is particularly subjective. Evidence of comparative studies of closely related non human species has supported the importance of saturated fats in the diets of early humans. Stanford studied chimpanzees in Gombe National Park and found that when these animals were close to starvation and managed to kill a monkey they wanted to eat, they went straight for the fattiest part rather than the more nutritious flesh. There is research to support for the importance of calories. Gibson and Warble provided the importance of calorific foods in our preference by asking children aged 4 to 5 years to choose a fruit or vegetable. Bananas and potatoes were the most popular and are the most dense in calories demonstrating an evolved preference of calories. However, there is problem with this study, population validity is reduced because only children were used and were only aged 4
  45. 45. to 5 years and therefore they cannot be representative of all ages and arguably findings of this research cannot be generalised to the wider population. There is research to support for the significance of salt in our diet. Beauchamp et al found that people innately respond to sodium deficiencies by eating saltier foods. They also found that children at the age of two reject foods that do not contain the expected amount of saltiness. The innate preference for salt might have originally functioned by encouraging people to eat meat. There is also support for the idea that preference for meat is in our genes. Lima et al studied genotypes and eating behaviour using large scale study of elderly participants and concluded that meat eating is partially genetically determined. However, there are problems with this research whilst there are genetic differences no causal relationships can be found, eat preferences could have been learnt and genetic differences may be related to unrelated variable particularly as role of gene studies complex. IDA: Research for the assumption that a behaviour has evolved because it is adaptive cannot be supported empirically and therefore cannot be considered scientific as it is non-falsifiable. Such explanations are deterministic, as they propose that eating behaviour is determined by past environments, thereby overlooking the notion of free will and the fact that human behaviour is affected by many factors such as cultural and social factors.
  46. 46. Discuss two or more psychological explanations of anorexia nervosa A* AO1: Bruch proposed a psychodynamic explanation that parents who are insensitive to their child‟s needs will often respond to their signals inappropriately. For normal development, children learn to recognise their own bodily signals and to identify with their sense – if parents are too quick to interpret and to control their child, they can lack an ability to feel in control of their own actions and their perception of their body as their own can be distorted. The outcome is a lack of autonomy and this can result in the individual exerting control via restricting their eating. A further psychodynamic explanation suggests that AN results from a desire to maintain childhood which can result from familial factors such as abuse. AO2: Bruch‟s research supports roles of psychodynamic factors in AN. She found in her detailed research into 12 anorexics that the parents were more controlling and were more likely to be involved in interpreting the physiological experiences of their children. Research also supports Bruch‟s claims that people with AN rely excessively on the opinions for others and worry about how others view them. Research strongly supports the role of sexual abuse in some cases of anorexia. Herzog found in his study of AN, 65% of those studied reported childhood sexual abuse. Whilst Bruch‟s theory is problematic in explaining significant gender differences, the theory relating to abuse is more able to account for these differences as girls are much more subject to abuse. Also, Ogden et al found significant positive correlations between parent and child for reported snack intake, eating motivations and body dissatisfaction. This indicates an important role for modelling. In addition, they found that those children whose parents indicated a greater use of food as a means of controlling their child‟s behaviour reported high levels of body dissatisfaction. This therefore provides some support for modelling and parental control. AO1: Media effects on eating disorders can be explained through social learning theory (SLT), the idea that we learn through observing and imitating others. This is particularly effective when the „models‟ are prestigious and admired. If individuals learn anorexic behaviours as they observe role models in the media being rewarded, they are likely to lose weight and then their behaviour might be directly reinforced via positive feedback about their success. Orbach argues that AN is a result of the normative construction of feminity in our culture. This idealised view of women is portrayed throughout our culture but is increasingly prevalent in the media.
  47. 47. AO2: There is considerable research to support for the role of SLT in AN. For example, Striegal Moore et al found that Media images of the idealised woman have become taller and slimmer over the last 50 years. This has been associated with the rise in the number of eating disorders, especially AN. Also, Groesz et al conducted a meta-analysis of 25 studies and found that body dissatisfaction positively correlated with exposure to the media, which is suggestive of a relationship between the co-variables. However, many people may criticise the study as we cannot establish cause and effect from the findings because the researcher has dismissed confounding variables such as family traits that might mediate exposure to the media. Furthermore, Becker et al carried out a natural experiment, where the IV was the introduction of TV in Fiji, and found that young girls had significantly more concern about their weight after the introduction of TV. They concluded that exposure to thin role models in the media can cause increased concern over weight common in anorexia sufferers. This supports the behavioural explanation of AN because it demonstrates the causal role that the media can have on disordered eating patterns. IDA: Research into psychological explanations of AN is gender (beta) biased as most studies of eating disorders have concentrated of women but, according to recent statistics, 25% of adults with eating disorders are men. Whether that figure indicates that more men nowadays suffers from disordered eating compared to ten years ago, or whether previously boys and men escaped attention, is not yet clear. However, what this does show is that eating disorders such as AN are not exclusively a female problem. Whilst SLT and Bruch‟s theory does appear to account well for AN to some extent. These explanations are not able to account for the significant biological differences that are seen in anorexics. In order to fully understand AN it is important to consider biological factors such as neurotransmitters. For example, Kaye et al found evidence for an elevation in brain serotonin activity in anorexics. Brain scanning studies have found evidence of reduced serotonin activity in those with AN and after recovery it appears that serotonin activity increases again which may suggest pre existed disorder.
  48. 48. Discuss neural explanations of anorexia nervosa B AO1: Any damage to the operation of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) and the lateral hypothalamus (LH) that control eating behaviour could result in abnormalities in eating behaviour and potentially AN – Failure of the VMH so that an individual feels satiated when they are not or failure of the LH so that an individual does not feel hungry could result in loss of appetite and failure to eat. The most important line of evidence is in relation to serotonin levels. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter that is involved in the natural system that controls eating behaviour. A high level of serotonin is found to be a characteristic of individuals with anorexia nervosa. Bailer et al compared serotonin activity in women recovering from restricting-type anorexia and binge-eating/purging type with healthy controls. They found significantly higher serotonin activity in women recovering from the binge-eating/purging type. In addition they found the highest level of serotonin in women who showed the most anxiety, suggesting that increased anxiety may trigger AN. Over activity in dopamine receptors has also been linked to Anorexia Nervosa. AO2: There is research to support for the role of serotonin in Anorexia nervosa. Kaye et al studied recovered anorexic patients and found evidence for an elevation in brain serotonin activity in AN. However, this elevation could have been caused by the condition itself as significant weight loss alters the body‟s physiology considerably. Brain scanning studies have found evidence that there are fewer serotonin receptors in the brains of people with AN which supports the theory (Frank). Most importantly, they also show that these changes are found in people who recovered from eating disorders, which may suggest pre-existed disorder (Kaye). AO1: In addition to serotonin, recent studies suggest a role for dopamine in AN. Kaye et al found over activity in dopamine receptors in part of the brain known as the basal ganglia, where dopamine plays a part in the interpretation of harm and pleasure. Increased dopamine activity in this area appears to alter the way in which people interpret rewards. Individuals with AN find it difficult to associate good feelings with the things most people find pleasurable, thus suggesting a direct-causal link between dopamine and AN.
  49. 49. AO2: There is research to support for the role of dopamine in AN. Castro-Fornieles et al found that adolescent girls with AN with higher levels of homovanallic acid (a waste product of dopamine) than a control group. However, sceptics have claimed that experimenting on adolescents is not reliable, due to hormonal and neurochemical changes occurring at that period. This makes it problematic to generalise the findings to other sections of the society due to an unrepresentative sample (low population validity). This makes it difficult to make universal statements about AN. Although a large proportion of anorexics are adolescents such research can be useful. Whilst some evidence supports the role of serotonin anorexia nervosa other approaches are more able to account e.g. psychological explanations such as the role of media and cultural ideals. For example, Groesz et al conducted a meta-analysis of 25 studies and found that body dissatisfaction positively correlated with exposure to the media IDA: Research into biological explanations of AN is gender biased as there is overemphasis on research relating to women. AN is also an issue for men with different aetiology, This is because 25 per cent of adults with AN are men so it is not primarily a female dilemma..

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