Rawing on examples from Chapters 2, 4 and 8 of Investigating Psychology, examine and assess the relevance of laboratory-based research to real life.
Drawing on examples from Chapters 2, 4 and 8 of Investigating
Psychology, examine and assess the relevance of laboratory-based
research to real life.
There are two process words in the essay question: examine and assess.
a?Examinea requires you to look in detail at a particular issue, claim or
argument, while a?assessa requires you to make an appraisal (or assessment)
of the value or importance of something.
So, in this essay you are expected to look in detail at the claim that
laboratory-based research is relevant to understanding behaviour in the real
world. Note that when assessing a claim, you are supposed to consider
arguments both for and against. This means that you will need to consider
the possibility that laboratory research is not relevant to understanding realworld
behaviour. Note also that in considering these issues, you are
supposed to illustrate your points with examples from three specific chapters.
What is meant by the phrase a?laboratory-based
researcha? What is meant by a?real lifea? What sort of factors might shape the
relevance of laboratory-based research to an understanding of behaviour in
real-world contexts? For example, you might want to consider how specific
principles of laboratory research (e.g. control, rigorous measurement of
behaviours) allow psychologists to examine everyday social and
psychological processes more effectively. Or you might ask: How do
laboratory settings differ from everyday situations, and how does this shapethe extent to which we can generalise from evidence gathered in such
settings to everyday situations?
The essay question is very exact about the material that you should draw on
for this assignment: Chapters 2, 4 and 8 of Investigating Psychology.
Although many of the sections in these three chapters will contain material
relevant to the question (especially when it comes to selecting examples),
you might find the following guidance helpful.
Chapter 2: This chapter describes Milgramas classic laboratory research on
obedience and introduces a number of related studies that were
subsequently conducted discusses the advantages of
laboratory-based research, which is directly relevant to the question.
Section 5 discusses the applicability of Milgramas work to real-life
situations, that is, its relevance to understanding the actions of perpetrators
of the Holocaust.
Chapter 4: This chapter focuses on behaviourist research carried out by B.F.
Skinner. It outlines the basic principles of behaviourism, which were derived
largely from a programme of laboratory-based studies. Sections 3 and 5.2 are
particularly relevant to the essay question as they consider, among other
things, how Skinner sought to apply the findings of behaviourist research to
real-life problems. You might want to consider some of this material when
assessing the extent to which Skinneras experime
Brace, N. and Byford, J. (eds) (2012) Investigating Psychology, Oxford, Oxford University Press/Milton Keynes, The Open University.