Studies you Must Know for AS A Psychology Part 1

The magnificent and curious human brain.
The magnificent and curious human brain. | Source

Uganda Study

Psychologist Mary Ainsworth conducted a 2 year observation, starting in 1954, into the attachment between infants and their mothers. Ainsworth wanted to see if there were any cultural variations regarding attachment and whether types of attachment changed depending on the country the observation was conducted in.

She studied 26 mothers and their children in various villages around Kampala and monitored and observed their interactions towards each other.

Ainsworth found that the attachments between infants and their mothers were much the same in Uganda as they were in the UK and the USA. Infants that were securely attached to their mothers were less likely to cry and more likely to use their mother as a secure base from which they can explore ('secure base' is a concept of Bowlby's theory of attachment, to read more about it click here). The mothers of infants that were insecurely attached showed less sensitivity toward them, again this was the same in more developed countries.

The differences observed between the different cultures was small and the most common attachment type in all countries was secure.

The Strange Situation by Mary Ainsworth herself!

Criticisms of Research into the Cultural Variations of Attachment

Both Ainsworth and Bowlby shared the view that secure attachment between an infant and caregiver was related to the responsiveness and sensitivity of the caregiver. However, Psychologist Rothbaum argued that this reflects western views of what constitutes secure attachment and that this may not be the same in other cultures. For example, in Japan parents will promote dependence rather than independence which is the opposite of what is encouraged in places like the UK and USA. This doesn't mean that the infant is not securely attached, it just means that the two cultures have different objectives.

Examination Stress

Janice Kiecolt-Glaser et al conducted a natural experiment in 1984 investigating whether short-term stressors has an impact on immune system functioning.

To carry out this experiment Kiecolt-Glaser took blood samples from medical students one month before important exams (low amounts of stress) and during the actual exam period (high amounts of stress). The functioning of the immune system was assesses by measuring the activity of natural killer cells (an type of lymphocyte that play an important role in the innate immune system). The blood samples showed that the activity of NK cells was significantly reduced in the sample taken during the exam period which suggest that short-term stressors can negatively impact on immune system functioning and leave a person more susceptible to illness.

Critisisms Of Kiecolt-Glaser's Study

Although the experiment was a lot more accurate than for example, getting the students to complete a questionnaire regarding their stress levels and general health, it is still not entirely valid.

There are lots of individual differences to think of when conducting an experiment such as that of Kiecolt-Glaser's. Variables such as whether someone suffers from a stress related illness, e.g. anxiety, how the individual copes with stress and whether they had a pre-existing illness are three things that can affect the validity of the results.

Criticisms Of The Cognitive Interview

It is difficult to fully evaluate the effectiveness of the cognitive interview because it is no longer just one procedure, instead various police departments practice different components of it.


Since the cognitive interview is not used as a whole, it is hard to tell which parts are effective and which parts aren't. Also, the interview is adapted by people and not stuck to and police officers were found to have only been given brief training on how to conduct the interview. This is a problem because as a result of this the quality, and thus validity, of the cognitive interview has decreased.

The Cognitive Interview

Fisher and Gieselman (1992) tried to improve the way that police interview people, especially people giving eyewitness testimonies. They found that people tended to remember events better and in more detail when they were provided with retrieval clues by the interviewer. They then developed an interview technique known as the cognitive interview which was based on psychological research into memory recall. There are four main components to the cognitive interview and they are:

  1. Report everything - The interviewer will ask the person to recall everything that they remember about the event, even the details that may seem irrelevant.
  2. Changing the order - The interviewer could ask the person to recall the events of the incident in a different order to the order that they occurred in. For instance asking them to reverse the order, starting from the end of the incident.
  3. Mental reinstatement of original context - The person is asked to try and recreate the environment in which the event occurred.
  4. Changing the perspective - The interviewee is asked to recall the events from the perspective of someone else for example, from the perspective of a witness to the event.

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