Social: Burger wanted to discover whether Milgram’s findings were era bound and came up with a way of exploring this without breaching ethical guidelines, which would have precluded a direct replication. Other psychologists have also come up with interesting modern takes on the Milgram paradigm including the work of Mel Slater at UCL who used an avatar as the learner and measured GSR in the teachers.
The pursuit of psychological knowledge in terms of understanding social psychological topics such as obedience and prejudice has certainly changed over time with regard to the approach or level of analysis deemed most important. In days gone by a more individualistic approach was taken, meaning that psychologists looked for personality differences in people who were more tolerant or more prejudicial. This was the line of thinking taken by the likes of Adorno and Allport. However over time, psychologists such as Sherif warned on divorcing individual behaviour from social context, reminding us tat behaviour is born of minds which are shaped within a socio-cultural context and underlined the necessity in his mind of examining scientifically the nature of the social contexts in which behaviours are germinated.
One specific example you could look at would be the evolution of the authoritarian personality through Adorno, Allport and Altermeyer and finally landing up with the 2017 survey on personalities and attitudes of the Alt Right in America: Forscher and Kteily (2017)
Understanding how psychological knowledge has developed over time
|Topic Area||Has developed over time||Has not developed over time|
|Social||Classic obedience research shown to be flawed, (see criticisms made by Gina Perry, including that across the whole series of studies more people were disobedient than obedient.) Recent interest in individuals differences in prejudice, e.g. Cohrs et al. as opposed to situational factors as explained by Sherif (RCT).||More recent obedience research still supports the classic findings, e.g. Burger (2009) , despite having developed the paradigm over time, he still found similar results. Also, Dolinski found even higher results in Poland (2017) suggesting not much has changed since the early research in the 1960s, situational factors are still a powerful determinant of obedience.|
|Cognitive||Working memory model (1974) built on the classic multistore model, developing the idea of unitary STM into the slave system. Baddeley developed WMM even further with his addition of the episodic buffer (2000).
Brain imaging supported further splitting of the subsystems, e.g. Smith and Jonides PET study suggests a separate area of the brain for visual versus spatial processing.
|Cognitive neuroscience has seen cognitive psychology develop over time, but many brain imaging studies actually just provide a different way of supporting classic findings such as Baddeley’s slave systems.
The Enhanced Cognitive Interview was developed in 1987 and this was built on the original CI but police forces around the world do not routinely use CI due to practical issues. This said contemporary meta-analyses still show that the CI is a reliable way of improving EWT.
|Biological||Classic twin studies such as Gottesman and Shields have been shown to be dated as now biological evidence shows that the assumption that MZ twins are genetically identical is flawed.
Classic research, e.g. Raine has progressed, now in addition to knowing which brain structures may be implicated in aggression leading to murder, e.g. amygdala and thalamus, more recent research has focused on the ole of neurotransmitters such as serotonin (in the OFC for example), e.g. Denson et al (2012).
|Contemporary research focuses on candidates genes through genome wide association studies for example, e.g research is now identifying with genes may make people more vulnerable to schizophrenia, i.e. COMT as opposed to just saying it has a genetic component.
Although psychologists no longer believe that language ability is localised purely to Broca and Wernicke’s areas modern research such as Peterson using PET imaging support the classic case study of Tan (autopsy study), frontal lobe more active when reading (inner voice) and temporal lobe more active when listening to word lists (inner ear), supporting the original thinking in this area. Development of brain imaging has supported previous classic evidence.
|Learning||SLT shows how learning theories have developed over time as Bandura developed Skinner’s idea of reinforcement into vicarious reinforcement. He then developed it even further by adding in cognitive elements, e.g. ARRM and self efficacy. Supported by study of gymnasts, (McAuley).||Same basic principles of operant conditioning used to train elephants in Nepal (Fagen et al). Sabido method is based on the original SLT and is still used by people in developing countries to improve their health and education, (Willis et al.)|