- Where Psychology Becomes Easy

Psychology Unit 2

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Unit 3 Criminology & Child Psychology Revision

Within this unit, there are a few studies/content that you may remember for AS that is also used for Criminology and Child Psychology For example, eyewitness testimony, was Loftus & Palmer's study is mentioned again. Loftus & Palmer's study is one of the key studies you need to remember/learn for Unit 3 Criminology.

Methodology for Crim is very important as you will need to describe and evaluate the methodology in terms of reliability, validity, and ethics. The methodology used in A2 are the same used in AS, but you need to learn them in more detail and be able to evaluate them enough for as much as 12 marks. The criminology section looks at Laboratory & Field experiments.

Child Psychology's methodology is as important as it looks at Naturalistic observations, structured observations, case studies, cross-cultural studies and longitudinal studies. You will also have to evaluate this in terms of reliability, validity, and ethics.

Here we will go through the majority of the content in this section, but again, if you need more information feel free to look at

The evaluation for some sections and studies will not be enough for full marks, so be sure to expand on the points in the exam. The goal is to summarise information, such detail is not always provided.

Hopefully for this section you will gather as much information as well as Word & PPT documents to aid your revision/learning.

Specification for Unit 3: Download spec

January 2013 Examiners report: Download PDF


Key terms used throughout this section:

  • Crime
     - An act against the law and implies a punishment or treatment to avoid someone re-offending. Crime is socially constructed; meaning that it represents what a particular culture thinks is wrong.
  • Recidivism
     - Someone repeating a crime or behaviour for which they have been treated or punished
  • Anti-social behaviour
     - Behaviour that is not necessarily against the law but that the majority of people in society do not like and do not approve of.
  • Criminological psychology
     - Looks at explanations and causes of crime, features of crime and anti-social behaviour, also treatments for crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Modelling
     - The reproduction of behaviour. It is the process of observing, attending, retaining, being motivated to perform the behaviour and reproducing it.
  • Eyewitness memory
     - The form of witness statements that is used in tracking down and convicting criminals through witness statements to the police about an incident and includes what was seen of the incident.
  • Token economy
     - Used to help control aggression in institutions
  • Stereotyping
     - Someone is seen as having characteristics of a group to which they belong (or are thought to belong).


Laboratory Experiments

  • An IV is able to be manipulated by the researcher and the DV is measured to observe the changes brought out by the manipulation of the IV
  • Takes place in a controlled environment
  • Involves controls of extraneous variables - Participant and situational variables.
  • Cause-and-effect conclusion can be drawn due to controls


Used to assess witness effectiveness


Evaluation of Laboratory experiments


  • They are replicable because of strong controls, so they are testable for reliability.
  • Lab experiments use scientific methodology, such as forming a hypothesis from a theory and controlling all aspects expect the IV


  • They are not ecologically valid because they do not take place in the ppts natural setting
  • They might not be valid with regard to the task, for example, watching a car accident on film is not the same as watching it in real-life.


Field Experiments

  • Takes place in the ppts natural environment
  • Involves careful controls of extraneous variables
  • careful controls so that cause-and-effect can be drawn
  • Similar to Laboratory experiment, apart from the setting


Used to assess witness effectiveness

  • Most field experiments tend to look at witness reliability, were a researcher will go up to someone on the street. Another researcher stops that person (and becomes a ppt) and asks them questions about the researcher who stopped them earlier.
  • Yarmey (2004) and Yuille & Cutshall (1986) are studies that investigate the effectiveness of a field experiment


Evaluation of field experiments


  • They are replicable to an extent because of strong controls, so they are testable for reliability
  • They are ecologically valid because they take place in the ppts natural setting - courts look for proof from the police and eyewitness testimony needs to be accurate if someone is to be convicted.
  • Field experiments tend to be objective and reliable


  • They might allow enough control over variables to be reliable, because the setting is not controlled the same way that it is in a laboratory experiment 
  • They might not be valid with regard to the task either
  • The sample is 'volunteer' to an extent and generalising might be limited because of a bias in the sample


Comparison of Lab & Field

  • Field experiments are usually less ethical than laboratory experiments. 

        - Ppts can't be asked for consent or it will give away the whole aim

  • More harm is caused in a field experiment

     E.g. A real car crash compared to a video of one


There are two explanations for criminal behaviour which will be explained in detail. One is the social learning theory (SLT) and the other is the self-fulfilling prophecy (SFP). Personality is other explanation but won't be explained here.

Explanation for criminal behaviour

The social learning theory explains criminal and/or anti-social behaviour, and how such behaviour might be explained through labelling and the self-fulfilling prophecy.
SLT: -
This theory states that:
  • Behaviour is learned by observation and imitation.
  •  Modelling is copying the behaviour of people with whom we identify with (role models).
  • Identification means the desire to be like them, and the desire to imitate them
  • Vicarious reinforcement is learning through observation of the consequences for others of their action.

Click here for Evaluation of the SLT
Studies to support the SLT

Someone is first labelled in a society and then the person fulfils the label and becomes what the label says.
Prophecy is set: belief of a person is established
Expectation: a person is treated according to belief
Prophecy is fulfilled: Behaviour is displayed as a response to treatment
This theory states that:
  • We become what others expect us to become
  • Labelling occurs when a majority group considers a minority group to be inferior to majority
  • Stereotyping is a generalised or simplified view of an individual based on limited evidence

Click here for Evaluation of the SFP
Studies to support the SFP

Role of the media in aggressive behaviour/crime & links to crime
Role of the media in aggressive behaviour/crime applying the SLT:-

How the SFP may lead to crime:-
  • When an individual is labelled or stereotyped they start to see themselves as the label suggests and therefore becoming the label
  • For example, if a child was constantly told that they will be a thug when they are older, eventually they will become a thug when they are older, resulting in them participating in crime.
  • Another example is, if a child at school is told they are disruptive, after a while they will become the label and become more disruptive.

Eyewitness testimony
There are three studies focusing on the reliability of eyewitness testimony.

One laboratory study - Loftus & Palmer (1974) Study in detail
One field study - Yuille & Cutshall (1986)
Study in detail
Another of your choice, a field study - Yarmey (2004)

Methods of treating offenders
Token Economy Programme (TEP) (ppt doc same as the AS one)
Anger Management (ppt & word doc)

Studies in detail

Loftus and Palmer (1974)

Yuille & Cutshall (1986)


Criminal Psych song. Not great but useful when remembering the little points

Child Psychology

Key terms used throughout this section:

  • Attachment

     - A warm, continuous, loving relationship with a person who provides a safe haven and secure base from which to explore, which is between the primary caregiver and the child.

  • Deprivation

     - When the attachment between the child and the primary caregiver is deprived through some sort of separation (which can be long term or short term. This can happen if the child or the attachment figure goes into hospital.

  • Separation Anxiety

     - This is displayed in infants from around 7 or 8 months, where they will cling to their attachment figure if a stranger tries to interact with them and will be distressed by separation from their attachment figure.

  • Evolution

     - Genes that help the organism survive are passed on through reproduction.

  • Privation

     - An infant's lack of an attachment. Privation is thought of never having had an attachment figure.

  • Daycare

     - This is the separation from the mother or main caregiver, which is a short term separation.

  • Child Psychology

     - This is about the child's development and various aspects of the developing child.



Naturalistic observations


  • Take place in the ppts natural setting
  • They can be participant observation or non-participant observations
  • Can be overt or covert
  • They gather both quantitative and qualitative data
  • Inter-observer reliability can be checked by having more than one researcher and comparing the findings of the different observers


Evaluation of naturalistic observations


  • Valid because in natural setting, so natural behaviour can be observed
  • It is reliable because tallying, time sampling, prepared categories and more than one observer can give inter-observer reliability
  • They are ethical as they don't manipulate variables or put the ppts in any situation they are not use to


  • As there is an observer present, it may not necessarily be valid as the behaviour might be affected
  • There can be an observer drift, which means that the observers move away from the plan, which also mean that it is not reliable as its not able to be repeated
  • The same situation is not likely to occur


Structured observations

Structured observations are those made in a situation set up with careful controls instead of in a natural situation

  • The main way of gathering data is by observing what happens without strict controls over the IV and DV
  • There is structure but not a carefully manipulated IV
  • Ainsworth's strange situations study uses a structured observation.
  • There is an order in which things have to happen. For example, a mother is with their child in a room and the behaviour is observed, then the mother is removed from the room and the behaviour observed again.


Evaluation of structured observations


  • It can be tested for reliability because of the structure with the observation
  • It is time and cost effective as there is not much needed in certain situations
  • If the observation involves children, there are ethical guidelines that have to be follow published by the BPS, so informed consent has to be given by the parents which makes this ethical


  • The situations are set up rather than natural, so there may not be validity
  • there is likely to be demand characteristics as the ppts may be able to work out what is required
  • In some ways it  may not be ethical as the child may become distressed and emotion may be the DV in a structured observation


Case studies

Case studies are in depth studies, usually of single individuals, or sometimes a small group

  • Involves many different research methods to gather plenty of rich detailed material
  • Triangulation can used to test for reliability and validity - this mean comparing the data from different resources to see if they correspond
  • Data is usually qualitative to allow in-depth analysis. (quantitative data can also be used)
  • They have an aim rather than a hypothesis because they focus on finding out as much as possible about an individual or small group
  • Case background is included to know information about the individual or small group beforehand.


Evaluation of case studies


  • They are reliable to an extent, because the same data can be found from different research methods
  • They tend to be valid because they often take place in real-life setting of the individual or small group


  • They are of a unique individual in particular circumstances, are hard to replicate to test for reliability
  • That also means that they are not generalisable


Cross-cultural studies


These are studies which are carried out in more than one culture.

  • Findings are compared with finding from other countries - this is to find differences or similarities between cultures


Evaluating cross-cultural studies


  • Cross-cultural procedures are a main way of studying nature and nurture issues
  • There is likely to be reliability when procedures are carefully controlled, so they can be repeated
  • Can generalisable as different cultures are used.


  • There is a lack of validity in transferring a procedure from one culture to another as there are likely to be different understandings of what the procedure is.


Longitudinal studies


  • Follow the participant(s) over a period of time to look for developmental changes or assess the effects of a treatment that is carried out over time
  • Used in most area of psychology


Evaluation of longitudinal studies


  • Uses the same people, so there is good control over participant variables.
  • Strong conclusions can be drawn about how people develop over time


  • Picking out particular cause-and-effect conclusions is difficult as factor change over time.
  • There is likely to be a high drop-out rate and this can lead to a biased sample.

More key terms:

  • Monotropy

     - A single attachment for the child - a warm loving relationship with one person

  • Maternal deprivation

     - If the mother-child bond was broken early in life this would lead to problems with social, emotional and intellectual development

  • Affectionless

     - Lack of having normal affection, shame or sense of responsibility

  • Imprinting

     - Following the first moving object a geese would see after birth

Bowlby's theory of attachment and maternal deprivation

  • Early relationships with parents could cause later problems for the child
  • Focused on the importance of monotropy
  • The idea of maternal deprivation was Bowlby's main focus
  • Problems after maternal deprivation were irreversible and once they has developed they could not be put right
  • The ideas of Deprivation, attachment and separation anxiety led to changes in institutions such as allowing parents viewing right, which were not allowed before

Bowlby's own evidence - the 44 juvenile Thieves study (1944)

Studies which Support Bowlby's work

Bowlby's theory about the evolutionary basis of attachment

  • It is beneficial to both infant and parent.
  • A child must stay close with the parent in order to survive. This is done by using proximity-promoting behaviour. Allowing access to the parent and so safety is ensured
  • Offspring are vulnerable and easy target for predators
  • Parents want to produce strong offspring to pass on genes and therefore help it survive

Lorenz (1952)

  • Reared newly hatched goslings and found that they followed him. Even when he was with other geese they ignored them. When they were adults they tried to court with him instead of with their own species.
  • Tried other variations: A white ball was used in one study. Same result.
  • He believed that the goslings imprinted a definite environmental stimulus into their memory and then formed an attachment to the stimulus.
  • There was a critical period for this imprinting to occur and constant exposure to the stimulus was required for this to happen.(24-48 hrs of constant exposure)
  • Imprinting is a type of learning (association) which is induced by an innate element.
Evaluation of Lorenz

Harlow and Zimmerman (1959)

  • Removed rhesus monkey babies from mothers and offered the infants 2 surrogate mothers to choose from.
  • 2 groups: 
   - Wire monkey with milk and a cloth monkey    - Cloth monkey with milk and a wire monkey
  • All preferred the cloth monkey and chose comfort over food. Briefly went to wire monkey for food.
  • Frightening stimulus introduced: went to cloth monkey.
  • Place in a new environment with cloth monkey: used her as a safe base.
  • Placed in a new environment with wire monkey: cried, screamed and ignored wire monkey.
  • Placed in a new environment with no surrogate mother: cried and screamed.
  • Harlow concluded that if there was a restriction of comfort contact their infants will become psychologically disturbed.

Evaluation of Harlow

Robertson's naturalistic observation

  • Observation of a 2 year Old's stay in hospital
  • 3 stages of deprivation was recorded

     - Protest: the child cries and shows anger and fear

     - Despair: the child becomes very distressed and cries a lot

     - Detachment: the child settles down and stops crying

  • The detachment phase was thought to involve depression more than acceptance
  • His research had an importance on the decision to allow parents into hospitals

Evaluation Robertson's research

How negative effects of deprivation and separation can be reduced

Negative affects

  • Affectionless psychopathy
  • Three stages of deprivation
  • Problems with social, emotional and intellectual development
  • Difficulties with relationships

Ways in which they can be reduced

  • Easing short-term separation with replacement attachment figure. The transition was better if a child visited the replacement attachment figure with the parents beforehand, and if routine was kept the same during the stay.
  • Providing more individual care and stimulation.

Evaluation of Bowlby's ideas

Ainsworth's strange situation test and studies of attachment




Research into privation


Daycare and its effect on children



Theory of mind

Extreme male brain


Studies in detail

Curtiss's (1977) study of Genie

Bowlby's (1944), the 44 Juvenile Thieves study