Socio-Cultural Level of Analysis

The Research Studies related to the SCLOA.
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Solomon Asch – Asch’s Paradigm Experiment (Conformity)
[A] Investigate the existence of conformity.
  • Subject was placed into a room with 6 confederates and the experimenter.
  • Subject was deceived that the 6 confederates were participants just like them.
  • The subject was placed on the second last seat so they will be the second last to give an answer.
  • The group of subject and confederates were asked to select the line on the second card that matched the line on the first card.
  • There were 18 sets of cards in total, some of which had lines that were completely different in length, others are similar in length.
  • Confederates were instructed to answer correctly on some of the cards but answer incorrectly for most.
  • 75% conformed at least once to the wrong answer
  • 32% conformed to more than half of the wrong answers
  • 24% did not conform at all
  • Conformity happened
  • Those who did not conform sparked further research
  • Ecological validity: Low, lab conditions.
  • Controlled environment removed confounding variables.
  • Meaningless stimuli.
  • Gender bias, only male participants were used.
  • Culture bias, only population of the US were used.
  • Cannot be generalised to all population.
  • Ethics: Deception, but subjects were debriefed.

Henry Tajfel – Intergroup discrimination Experiment (SIT)
[A] To test the Social Identity Theory.
  • 48 boys were assigned at random to 2 groups based on their preference between Klee or Kandinsky’s art work.
  • Asked to rate in-group and out-group based on traits e.g. like-ability.
  • Tajfel found that the out-group was rated less likeable, but never actually disliked.
  • There seems to be a preference of the in-group over out-group, however it is not clear that they make social comparisons to enhance either self-esteem.
  • Later research – Social identity does not account for intergroup conflict. In the absence of competition, social comparison can be positive.
  • Supports Social Identity Theory.
  • Showed the formation and the features of SIT.
  • Ecological validity: Low, lab conditions.
  • Meaningless groups.
  • Controlled environment removed confounding variables.

Cialdini et al. – Football game observation (SIT)
[A] Demonstrate social comparison with college football supporters.
  • Observed what college students wear to school the next day after their football game.
  • Students wore apparel with the representative colour of their school the day after the football game if the school won.
  • Result of positive self-concept results in a bias intergroup comparison.
  • Having a positive representation of your social group (Positive distinctiveness).

Albert Bandura – Bobo Doll Experiment (SLT)
[A] To demonstrate that learning can occur through observation of role models.
  • 36 boys and 36 girls from age 3 to 6 were divided into groups according to their aggression evaluation from their parents and teachers.
  • Group 1 was exposed to adult models who showed aggression by beating up a Bobo Doll. Models were of both genders.
  • Group 2 observed an adult model who displayed no aggression. Models were of both genders.
  • Group 3 was a controlled group who did not see any model. (Control)
  • The children were then placed into the room with a Bobo doll after 10 minutes of watching the model.
  • Children who observed the aggressive model showed significantly more aggression both physically and verbally.
  • Boys were more likely to imitate physical aggression.
  • Girls were more likely to imitate verbal aggression.
  • Social learning theory was demonstrated in the study because the children showed signs of observational learning.
  • Ethics: Induced aggression.
  • Oversimplification of the learning process.
  • Ecological validity: Low, lab conditions.
  • Confounding variable: children unfamiliar with doll were 5 times more likely to imitate aggressive behaviour.

Geert Hofstede – IBM Employee Correlation Study
[A] Identify traits through the classification of behaviour according to culture.
  • Participants were 60,000 IBM employees from over 50 different countries.
  • They were asked to fill in surveys.
  • The study carried on for 10 years.
  • Hofstede concluded with 4 bipolar Cultural Dimensions
  • Individualism-Collectivism
  • Masculinity-Femininity
  • Power Distance
  • Uncertainty Avoidance
  • Survey may consist of leading questions or predetermined results.
  • Useful for quantitative data.
  • Ecological validity: Low, lab conditions.
  • Unable to retrieve meaningful/insightful qualitative data.
  • Questions require participants to have level of literacy skills.
  • Questions were originally in English, some meanings might be lost in translation.

Lee et al. – Audience and Game show experiment (FAE)
[A] Demonstrate the Fundamental Attributional Error (FAE).
  • Subjects were split into groups of hosts, audiences and contestants, randomly.
  • Hosts were asked to design there own questions.
  • Audiences watched the show.
  • After the game show the audience were asked to rank the intelligence of people taken part.
  • Audience consistently rated the hosts smarter.
  • They failed to attribute the role to the person’s situation (random assignation of role).
  • Instead attributed the person’s performance to dispositional factors.
  • Only student participants were used.
  • University students spend their days listening to professors – authority figures who ask questions and give answers and is a learned response rather than attribution error.

Leon Festinger – When Prophecy Fails (Self Fulfilling Prophecy)
[A] Investigate the existence of Self Fulfilling Prophecy.
  • Experimenters found a group of superstitious people in Chicago believing that the world would end on December 21st.
  • They became part of the group to observe their behaviour when the world didn’t actually come to an end.
  • Experimenters needed to be part of the group because the group isolated themselves from all non-believers.
  • The group of people explained to themselves that God did not destroy the world because of their prayers.
  • Caused cognitive dissonance (discomfort caused by conflicting cognitions i.e. ideas, beliefs).
  • This is to protect there own group self esteem.
  • Self Fulfilling Prophecy was apparent as the believers made up a reason when their believe did not come true.
  • Ecological validity: High, naturalistic observation.
  • Culture bias: only one superstitious group were studied locally.

Snyder and Swann – Introverts and Extroverts (Illusory Correlation)
[A] Testing stereotype.
  • Told female students that they would either meet someone that was either introvert or extrovert.
  • They were then asked to prepare a set of questions for the person they were going to meet.
  • Participants that thought they were meeting an introvert asked questions like "What do you dislike about parties?" or "Are there times you wish you could be more outgoing?"
  • Participants that thought they were meeting an extrovert asked questions like "What do you do to liven up a party?"
  • Questions asked displayed the participants' stereotypes towards either personality.
  • Revealed the formation of stereotyping – Illusory Correlation.

Kashima and Triandis – Self Serving Bias and Modesty Bias study
[A] Cultural factors affecting attribution (Self Serving Bias and Modesty Bias).
  • Participants were students from Japan and America.
  • They were given pictures of unfamiliar countries and were asked to remember details.
  • Participants then performed a recall of the details.
  • American students tend to attribute success to dispositional factors more. (Self serving bias).
  • Japanese students tent to attribute failure to dispositional factors more (Modesty bias).
  • Biases in attribution can be affected by our cultural background.
  • Ecological validity: High, naturalistic observation.
  • Culture bias: only one superstitious group were studied locally.

Philip Zimbardo – Stanford Prison Experiment (Conformity/SIT)
[A] Prove that situational factors can affect behaviour.
  • 22 male subjects were selected through personality assessment based on their mental stability, maturity and social ability.
  • Randomly assigned the role of either prisoner or warden.
  • "Prisoners"
  • Signed a consent document that some of their human rights will be suspended for the experiment and that all subjects would receive $15 a day up to 2 weeks.
  • "Arrested" by surprise by real police from their house, taken to a real police station for standard procedures.
  • Driven blindfolded to a prison (set, not a real prison) where they were stripped naked, delouse, and dressed in prisoner uniform.
  • Stayed in the prison for 24 hours a day, followed a schedule of work, rest and meal.
  • "Wardens"
  • Put on warden costumes with the correct props. They worked 8 hours a day, and were given no specific instructions.
  • Asked to keep a reasonable degree of order and were prohibited against any means of physical violence.
  • Experiment was terminated in 6 days, instead of the intended 14 days due to abnormal reactions shown by both prisoners and wardens.
  • "Prisoners"
  • Displayed passivity and dependence. Half the prisoners showed signs of depression, crying, fits of rage, acute anxiety.
  • Due to this reason, they were released early.
  • All but two prisoners would forfeit the money if they could be released early.
  • Experimenters proposed that these behaviours were results of the loss of personal identity, dependency and learned helplessness.
  • "Wardens"
  • Displayed huge enjoyment of power at their disposal, leading towards abusive use of power, dehumanizing the prisoners.
  • Some wardens worked extra time with no extra pay and were disappointed that the experiment was over.
  • They punished the prisoners for no apparent justifications (abusive use of power).
  • Not all wardens displayed aggression, but none opposed other’s use of it.
  • The situation (prison environment) affected all participant’s behaviour.
  • Arguable that the environment of a prison is what causes prisoners to act violently.
  • Supports SIT
  • Displayed the categorisation and development of identity in both groups.
  • Ecological validity: Low, lab environment, overt observation.
  • Prohibition of physical violence limited the generalising ability of the experiment.
  • Experimenters argue that…
  • The functional equivalent of the prison system (setting, costumes etc.) were implemented.
  • Reactions and behaviours of the subjects exceeded the level of “role play”.
  • Calling each other by ID number in private, wardens showed aggression even when they thought they were not being watched.
  • Reliability: Experiment was not repeated until years after, subjects did not act as predicted.
  • Culture bias: only studied subjects from the US.
  • Ethical considerations and issues.
  • Participants signed consent forms, but they had no clear idea of the procedure of the experiment.
  • Induced aggression in subjects.
  • Created discrimination and violence.
  • Gender bias: only male subjects were used.

Charlton et al. – St Helena TV violence study (SLT, covert observation)
[A] Investigate the effect of the introduction of television on aggression in children.
  • TV was introduced to St Helena Island, violent content shown on TV was equal to the UK.
  • Cameras were set up in playgrounds of two primary schools.
  • After 5 years, aggression of children did not increase.
  • Good behaviour evident prior the introduction of TV were maintained.
  • Without correct and complete SLT process, ARRM, Social Learning cannot be achieved.

John Watson – Little Albert (SLT/Classical conditioning)
[A] Investigating the classical conditioning method.
  • A baby, under his parent’s consent, was asked to participate in the classical conditioning experiment.
  • Experimenter exposed Little Albert to a series of white fluffy objects e.g. rats, white rabbits, santa masks etc. as a baseline test.
  • Little Albert showed neutral responses to these stimuli.
  • Little Albert was then placed into a room with some lab rats, his response was neutral.
  • He started playing with the lab rats and did not show any fear.
  • Experimenters then created a loud noise by hitting a metal bar whenever Little Albert touched the rats, Little Albert showed fear.
  • After several pairing of the stimulus, Little Albert showed signs of distress and started crying whenever he saw the lab rats.
  • Same fear was displayed when other white fluffy objects were shown to Little Albert.
  • Classical conditioning was successful.
  • Ecological validity: Low, lab environment.
  • Culture bias: Babies are too young to have any cultural influence.
  • Immoral to evoke fear under lab conditions, unless participants approves to be purposely horrified otherwise.
  • Caused permanent unnecessary mental harm and distress.
  • Welfare of the human participant must always be the paramount consideration of any experiments.

Stanley Milgram – Study On Obedience (Compliance)
[A] Investigating the effect of authority on compliance and obedience.
  • Subjects were 40 males, age range from 20 to 50, found through newspaper advert.
  • Subjects were led to believe that the experiment was investigating the effect of punishment on learning.
  • They were given the role of the “teacher” through a fixed lottery.
  • They saw the learner (which is an actor) in real life, strapped to a chair connected with an electrode.
  • The experimenter took the subject to another room and told them to apply an electric shock by pressing the button whenever the learner gets a question wrong.
  • The experimenter wore a grey lab coat.
  • The “teacher” was given a test shock of 45 volts.
  • At certain voltages, different vocal feedback was given through a recorded system. After 315 volts, no response was given.
  • 65% of the subjects continued on to the maximum 450 volts.
  • No one stopped before 300 volts.
  • Subjects were observed to show signs of stress (e.g. sweat, tremble, biting their lips).
  • Subjects displayed compliance because of the authority figure (the experimenter in the grey lab coat).
  • Compliance, not conformity. Because it is evident that the subjects did not internalise the idea of giving shock.
  • When subjects were asked to electrocute a puppy, level of obedience increased.
  • Ecological validity: Low, lab environment.
  • Culture bias: Unrepresentative sample, all subjects were from the US.
  • Other researchers replicated the study in other countries.
  • Findings can then be generalised.
  • Caused distress in subjects.
  • They were told “you have no choice but to carry on” but in actual fact subjects had the right to leave.
  • Subjects were deceived to thinking that they were actually giving out electric shocks.
  • They were then debriefed, and showed that the learner was unharmed.
  • Gender bias: Only male subjects used initially. In later replicates, female subjects and “victim” were also used.
  • When a female “victim” was used, level of obedience reduced.

Jones and Harris – Castro Essays evaluation (FAE)
[A] Demonstrate the Fundamental Attributional Error (FAE).
  • Participants were university students.
  • Subjects read pro and anti Fidel Castro (the Cuban revolutionary) essays.
  • Subjects were asked to rate the “Pro Castro” attitudes of the writer on the scale of 10 to 70.
  • When subject believed that the writers had free choice of their position, they rated writers with who spoke in favor of Castro as having a more positive attitude towards Castro.
  • When subject were told that the writers determined their position with a coin toss, they still rated writers who spoke in favor of Castro as having a more positive attitude.
  • This proves that although behaviour was severely constrained by situation, observers still opted for internal attribution.

Aronson and Steele – African and European American study (Stereotype)
[A] To demonstrate the effect of stereotype threat.
  • Participants were African Americans and European Americans.
  • 30 minutest verbal test made up of difficult multiple choice questions.
  • Group 1 was told it was a "genuine test on verbal abilities".
  • Group 2 was told it was a "laboratory task that was used to study how certain problems are generally solved".
  • Did similar experiment with females and lower social class.
  • African Americans scored significantly lower on the test in Group 1 than European Americans.
  • African Americans scored equally as good as European Americans on the test in Group 2.
  • Stereotype threat can affect any social or cultural group, provided that the members believe in the stereotype.
  • Believing in negative stereotypes can harm the performances of group members.

Spencer et al. – Stereotype threat Maths experiment (Stereotype)
[A] To demonstrate the effect of stereotype threat.
  • Participants were a group of male and female students.
  • Gave difficult maths test to students who were strong in mathematics.
  • Predicts that female under the stereotype threat would underperform.
  • This stereotype threat stems from a common negative stereotype amongst society that women are less capable in maths.
  • Hypothesis was true, women in the experiment significantly underperformed compared to men with equal abilities.
  • A literature test was also done. The two groups performed equally well because neither groups were put under stereotype threat
  • Stereotype threat can affect any social or cultural group, provided that the members believe in the stereotype.
  • Believing in negative stereotypes can harm the performances of group members.

Dickerson – Take shorter shower (Compliance – Commitment)
[A] Investigate the effect of compliance (commitment) on behaviour.
  • Students from the university was asked to sign a poster saying “Take shorter showers, if I can do it, so can you!”
  • Then the students were asked to do a survey that was designed to make them think about their own water wastage.
  • The shower times of students were monitored.
  • Those who signed the poster were forced to think about their own water wastage, they averaged the shower time of 3.5 minutes
  • That result was significantly lower than the average time across the dormitories.
  • Might be able to argue that the students signed the poster because they are already committed to the cause.
  • Students felt that they are committed to a cause.

Cialdini – Juvenile day trip/social worker (Compliance – Reciprocity)
[A] Investigate the effect of compliance (reciprocity) on behaviour.
  • Experimenters pretended they were from a “County Youth Counseling Programme”.
  • They stopped at different university campuses recruiting students to look after a group of juvenile on their day trip.
  • 83% refused this job.
  • On another day, the experimenters asked if the students would be willing to be part of a counseling programme for two hours a week for two years.
  • Everyone refused the job.
  • Then, the experimenter asked them to look after a group of juvenile on their day trip.
  • 50% agreed.
  • Students felt the need to accept the second offer as a for of returning a favour because they declined the first offer.

Perrin and Spencer – Asch’s Paradigm with professionals (Conformity)
Experiment brief
  • Replication of the "Asch's Paradigm" study.
  • Except the subjects used were all from professional fields.
  • Maths, Chemistry, Medical and Engineering students.
  • Only 1 out of 396 trials did the subject conform to the big group.
  • Individuals with high self esteem and confidence are less likely to conform.
  • Offered an alternative view on the factors affecting conformity.
  • Improved upon the theory of conformity and the original study (Asch's Paradigm)
  • Evaluative points of Asch's Paradigm apply.

Moscovici and Lage – Shades of blue study (Conformity)
[A] Investigate whether a minority group can influence a bigger group through conformity.
  • 4 subjects were placed into a room with 2 confederates and the experimenter.
  • Subjects were deceived that the 2 confederates were participants just like them.
  • Subjects were asked to judge whether different shades of blue-green cards were blue or green.
  • The 2 confederates were instructed to give the wrong answer consistently.
  • The minority of 2 confederates were able to influence 32% of the participants to give a wrong answer.
  • Uncovered an important element of conformity.
  • Consistency of the group.
  • Offered an alternative view on the factors affecting conformity.
  • Improved upon the theory of conformity and the original study (Asch’s Paradigm).
  • Evaluative points of Asch's Paradigm apply.

Bond and Smith – Asch’s Paradigm with different cultures (Conformity/Culture)
Experiment brief
  • Meta-analysis of 133 Asch's Paradigm study in 17 different countries around the world.
  • Individualist societies tend to have a lower rate of conformity (e.g. US, UK, France)
  • Collectivist societies tend to have a higher rate of conformity (e.g. Hong Kong, Fiji, Brazil)
  • Displayed the effect of culture on conformity.
  • Emic approach: took care of the cultural differences around the world individually
  • Evaluative points of Asch's Paradigm apply.

Solomon Asch – Asch’s Paradigm variation (Conformity)
Experiment brief
  • Replication of the original Asch's Paradigm study.
  • Except at points of the experiment, one confederate was instructed to disagree with majority, even if it was also a wrong answer.
  • Conformity rate dropped significantly.
  • Consistency and unanimity is crucial for conformity to happen.

Mead – New Guinea Anthropological study
[A] Comparing masculine and feminine traits in different cultures in New Guinea.
  • Covert observation.
  • Research was done in three different tribes in New Guinea.
  • One tribe shows that both male and female displayed the same sensitive behaviour.
  • Another tribe shows that both male and female were aggressive and ruthless.
  • Another tribe shows that female had the dominant characteristics and male showed more “feminine” traits.
  • Mead’s demonstration of cultural differences in many respects a valid indication of how society scan influence gender-role development.
  • Unscientific methodology.
  • Possible Confirmation Bias – Researcher believed that situation was influential in changing behaviour.
  • Re-analysis of Mead’s material failed to show that one of the tribe displayed any gender dominance.
  • Covert observation, did not interfere with subject’s life.
  • Female researcher, might not understand the perspective of a male subject.

World Health Organisation Study on Depression
[A] A study of diagnosis and classification of depression in Switzerland, Canada, Japan and Iran.
  • 576 patients were studied
  • Used a standard diagnosis system for the four countries
  • 40% of patients displayed symptoms that were not on the classification system.
  • Diagnosis and classification system need an Emic (Culture specific) approach because socially acceptable norms are different in different cultures.