Specification and Exam Information for PSYA4
Psychology in Action (Media Psychology),
Specification for Media Psychology
Students need to develop knowledge, understanding and critical thinking in relation to one of the
following contemporary applications of media psychology
Students need to apply their knowledge and understanding of research methods to unfamiliar
Students need to develop an appreciation of the relationship between research, policy and practices
in applying psychology in everyday life.
Media influences on social behaviour
• Explanations of media influences on pro- and anti-social behaviour
• The positive and negative effects of computers and video games on
Media and persuasion
• The application of Hovland-Yale and Elaboration Likelihood models in
explaining the persuasive effects of media
• Explanations for the persuasiveness of television advertising
The psychology of ‘celebrity’
• The attraction of ‘celebrity’, including social psychological and evolutionary explanations
• Research into intense fandom, including, celebrity worship and celebrity
Questions in this section are generally in 3 or 4 parts. They generally have stimulus material
to accompany them. Make sure your answers are relevant as general answers will gain
nothing, even if they use the correct terminology and theories, they must be applied.
The idea behind this section is that it investigates Psychology in our everyday lives, you may
be able to apply your own knowledge and experience here, if relevant to illustrate
something you have written.
Past Paper Questions for Media Psychology
Up until 2012 all questions gained 25 marks – from 2012 questions will gain 24 marks in total.
Topic: Media Psychology
4 (a) ‘Content analysis has shown that many video games have violent themes. Many of these
games are aimed at adolescents. There is a growing concern that such games encourage violent
behaviour in the young people who play them.’
(i) Explain some of the difficulties of conducting research into the effects of playing
video games. (5 marks)
(ii) Discuss what psychological research has told us about some of the effects of video
games on young people. (5 marks + 5 marks)
(b) Discuss how social psychology explains the attraction of celebrity.
(4 marks + 6 marks)
0 7 ‘It has been suggested that people who watch violent media images may be encouraged to
imitate the violence. Television and film producers frequently reject this view.’
Discuss what psychological research has told us about some of the media influences on anti-social
behaviour. (5 marks + 6 marks)
0 8 A group of students has been asked to produce a short film to encourage more school leavers
to apply for science degree courses at university instead of arts-based courses.
Using your knowledge of psychological research into persuasion and attitude change, identify some
of the factors which the film-makers might take into account.
0 9 Explain how factors such as those you identified in your answer to 0 8 might help
to persuade young people to apply for particular courses. (10 marks)
0 8 Outline and evaluate one psychological explanation of media influence on pro-social behaviour.
(4 marks + 4 marks)
0 9 In a study, researchers investigated celebrity worship in young people. They sent two
questionnaires to several hundred university students. One questionnaire measured attitudes to
celebrity and the other questionnaire measured self-esteem. The researchers analysed the
completed questionnaires and found a significant correlation between low self-esteem and high
levels of celebrity worship.
Explain one methodological and one ethical issue that might have arisen in this study.
(2 marks + 2 marks)
1 0 Discuss one or more explanations for the effectiveness of television in persuasion.
(5 marks + 8 marks)
0 5 A local school head teacher wants to produce a leaflet for parents about the possible effects of
video games and computers on young people. Suggest what information should be included in the
Use your knowledge of psychological research in this area to justify your advice.
0 6 Outline the Hovland-Yale model of persuasion. (5 marks)
0 7 Outline and evaluate findings of research into intense fandom.
(4 marks + 6 marks)
0 6 Outline the Elaboration Likelihood model of persuasion. Explain how a mobile phone company
might use knowledge of this model in a campaign to market a new phone.
(4 marks + 6 marks)
0 7 Researchers conducted a study of media influences on anti-social behaviour. The researchers
asked child participants to name their favourite TV programmes. Fifteen years later, the researchers
assessed the same participants for levels of anti-social behaviour. Two measures of adult anti-social
behaviour were obtained for each participant.
Measure A: The researchers interviewed a person who knew the participant well and asked them
about the participant’s behaviour.
Measure B: The researchers studied official records of the participant’s criminal convictions.
The researchers concluded that there was a link between watching violent TV programmes as a child
and levels of adult aggression.
Other than ethical issues, explain two methodological problems involved in the study described
above. (4 marks)
0 8 Outline and evaluate research into celebrity stalking. (4 marks + 6 marks)
0 6 Discuss psychological research into media influences on pro-social behaviour.
(4 marks + 6 marks)
0 7 A company is about to launch a new perfume aimed at young career women and wants
to devise a television advertising campaign to promote the perfume.
Using your knowledge of the persuasive effects of television, what advice would you give to
the company so that it could make the television advertising campaign as effective as
Refer to psychological research to justify your advice. (10 marks)
0 8 Outline one or more evolutionary explanations of the attraction of ‘celebrity’. (4 marks)
0 8 Discuss one or more explanations of media influence on pro-social behaviour.
(4 marks + 6 marks)
0 9 The Government wants to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers exceeding
the 30 mph speed limit in built-up areas. An advertising company is asked to create a
television advertisement to persuade drivers to reduce their speed.
Suggest some possible features of the television advertisement.
Justify your suggestions with reference to the Hovland-Yale model. (10 marks)
1 0 Outline findings of research into celebrity worship. (4 marks)
Eleven year-old Matt often watches 18 certificate films with his older brothers. He invites his friend
John round to play and they watch a violent film together. John isn’t allowed to watch violent films
at home and he finds some of the scenes frightening. John’s heart races and he feels sick. Matt isn’t
upset at all by the film and finds the violent scenes amusing. Teachers have noticed that Matt
sometimes gets into fights in the playground but John avoids fights.
06 Using your knowledge of explanations of media influences on anti-social behaviour, explain the
different behaviours shown by Matt and John. [10 marks]
07 Outline the Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion. [4 marks]
08 Discuss research into celebrity stalking. [4 marks + 6 marks]
See Moodle for mark schemes for Media Psychology questions- these will have detailed
information to help you answer each of the above questions.
Media Psychology (a partial question exemplar)
(a) Outline the Hovland-Yale model of persuasions. (5 marks) (this would be 4 now)
(b) Discuss explanations for celebrity worship. (4 marks + 8 marks)
(a) Hovland argues that persuasion and attitude change depend on the interaction between the
source, the message, the medium, the receiver and the situation. (1) Messages that provoke
moderate fear can persuade if there is information about how to avoid the fear but when the
message causes strong fear the receiver is overwhelmed and my ignore the message. If the
receiver is well educated and intelligent then the message content needs to be justified and give
both sides of the argument if it is to persuade. If only one side is given the receiver thinks they
are not being told the whole story so become suspicious. If we think that a person is trying to
persuade us we tend to put up barriers and not take in the message. Physically attractive people
similar to ourselves who are credible and speak fairly fast tend to be more persuasive. Often
adverts use these factors for example they often use experts in white coats to make the
source seem credible. Most people in adverts are reasonably good looking and if not actually like
us they are like what we aspire to. (2)
(1) Useful, succinct introduction.
(2) This elaboration of the first paragraph is accurate and detailed, reflecting knowledge of a range
of research evidence.
(a) This answer is reasonably accurate and certainly very detailed, but covers only part of the theory.
The absence of any mention of stages in the process of attitude change prevents the answer from
being thorough. The question is only worth 5 marks, therefore this candidate should have provided
less detail about the effect of varying the source, message and receiver, and should have mentioned
the stages in the process. AO1: 4/5
(b) There are various explanation for celebrity worship they differ in terms of whether they
view the behaviour as adaptive.
McCutcheons absorption-addiction model argues that people develop these para-social
relationships with celebrities because of inadequacies in their real life. They attempt to escape
from reality and cope with their situation by developing relationships with celebrities. The
relationship can provide an identity and give a sense of purpose. Para-social relationships are
seen as addictive. The individual needs an increasingly strong involvement with their celebrity
and once a relationship reaches a certain intensity the stronger the relationship the poorer
psychological health. (5)
One of the strengths of this theory is that it reflects the three levels of celebrity worship.
Most fans stay in the harmless ‘Level One’ stage social entertainment, those with a weaker
sense of personal identity or coping skills become absorbed in a celebrity’s life and the third
level is reached by a few people who have the poor mental health and social adjustment.
Maltby in a study of students found that individuals at each successive level of the CAS showed
higher levels of social dysfunction and anxiety providing support for the pathological view of
celebrity worship but because of the correlational design causal inference cannot be drawn. One
issue of relevance here is that the manifestation of celebrity attraction seems to be a culturally
specific phenomena typical of individualist cultures. (6)
Evolutionary explanations challenge this view (7) arguing that the tendency to look up to and
imitate successful individuals could have had powerful advantages in the past and is a more
efficient way of learning than trial and error. However the more extreme 2nd and 3rd levels of
celebrity seem to go beyond imitation and are associated with dysfunction
According attachment theory, the tendency to form para-social relationships starts in early
childhood. Insecure attachment types show more intense attraction to celebrities because the
celebrity makes no demands and there is no risk of being criticised, or rejected as in real
relationships. Anxious-ambivalent attachment types tend to be needy and clingy in real
relationships and are more likely to try to make contact or stalk a celebrity. (8)
Attachment theory is deterministic in that attachment style is established in childhood. It
suggests treatment of boarder-line pathological relationships would require intense therapy to
resolve childhood problems. (9)
McCutcheon in a correlational study of university students found no relationship between
insecure attachment and para-social relationships with celebrities. Whilst other studies have
supported this view Roberts found evidence of attachment style being linked to stalking.
Both attachment and absorption models are pathological models. In contrast to these, positive
models eg Jenkins argue that celebrity worship helps to create social networks rather than
substitute para-social relationships for real relationships and we are in danger of pathologising
the behaviour – the daily mail articles talk about it as a syndrome
(5) A fairly succinct and reasonably accurate description of the theory.
(6) Some useful evaluation in terms of methodology and issues, though the point about culture
needed to be evidenced, as there are contradictory views on this.
(7) This reference to evolutionary theory is used to counter the reference to CW being culture-
specific and as commentary on addiction absorption theory/pathological view of
(8) Clear summary of the main point of the theory.
(9) An attempt here to consider implications of determinism.
(c) The candidate provides a clear outline of two explanations and uses other theories as
commentary/alternative explanations for the evidence. The description is reasonably thorough,
accurate and detailed, given the time and marks available.
The discussion is focused and reasonably well developed, though more thorough methodological
evaluation of the research cited as evidence would have been useful, as would elaboration of the
issues raised. Effective use of psychological terminology with ideas well structured and clearly
presented. AO1: 4/4, AO2: 7/8