Learning End of Topic Test Answers

  1. State one factor that would make a psychological study scientific. (1)
A number of possible answers:

·        The extent to which the study can be replicated.

·        The extent to which the study has a standardised procedure and therefore can be replicated.

·        The extent to which all variables other than the IV are controlled allowing the researcher to state a cause and effect relationship between IV and DV, (changes in the DV are caused by the IV)

·        Operationalisation of the DV, meaning that it can be measured in a way that is objective.

State means you don’t have to go into much detail, although the term factors probably means you could not get away with just a single word.

Explain whether Bandura’s (1961) BoBo doll experiment could be considered scientific (2)

The Bobo doll study could be seen to be scientific as it used a standardised procedure, for example he always ensured that the children entered the three labs in the same order and spent the same amount of time in each lab and toys were laid out in exactly the same way. He also standardised their mood before they entered the final testing ab by creating a situation where they were all mildly frustrated.
This sentence looks at HOW the study was standardised, it is explicit in referring to actual controlled variables and it gives a list of around three things.
This is how he standardised the procedure so that the experience was exactly the same for each participant. He did this to make the study more replicable, meaning other researchers could repeat it exactly to reveal whether the findings are consistent and reliable. This is one aspect that makes a study scientific.
This sentence helps to address the command term, explain, by elaborating with WHY the standardised procedure makes the study more scientific.
  1. A recent study has shown that bumblebees can learn to pull strings to receive food treats by observing one another. In the first part of the study, scientists observed 110 “control bees” to see whether any of them would pull a string in order to get to a sweet treat. Only 2/110 bees pulled the string. The scientists called them “innovator bees”. Next, the scientists put a second set of bees behind a glass panel, where they could see the innovator bees pulling the strings to receive the treats. They then tested these “experimental bees” to see whether any of them would pull the strings themselves. 60% of this group pulled the strings when given the opportunity to do so suggesting that bees are capable of social learning.


  1. What is the dependent variable in this study? (1)
Whether the bees pull the string to receive a food treat or not (nominal data; yes they pulled it or no they did not pull it)
This answers is full in that it uses “or not”.


  1. Give a suitable directional hypothesis for this study (2)
Bees who have observed innovator bees pulling strings to receive a food treat, from behind a glass panel, will be more likely pull the strings when given the opportunity to do so than bees who have not observed the innovator bees doing this.
This is directional (more than) and both IV and DV are operationalised.


  1. Professor Bea Swacks decided to replicate the study with a small number of bees, as she was so excited by these fascinating results. Her findings are on the next page.
Pulled the string to receive a treat Did not pulled the string to receive a treat  
Cell A Cell B Row total:
Did not observe innovator bees before being faced with the string pulling challenge 3 12  




Cell C Cell D Row total:
Observed innovator bees before being faced with the string pulling challenge 8 6 14


  Column total: Column total: Total of all observations:











Cell A Expected frequency (1):





Cell D Expected frequency (1):




Show your workings here (2):

15×11= 165


Show your workings here (2):



Professors Swacks conducts a chi squared test to analyse her results. She asks you to help her by calculating the expected frequencies cells A and D. First of all complete the table above with the row and column totals and total number of observations. Now, complete the calculation for the expected frequencies for cells A and D, showing your working in the spaces provided.

Professor Swacks thanks you for your help and carries out the rest of the calculation by herself. Her observed value is: 4.24 She completes a one tailed test as her hypothesis was directional based on the previous study.

Using the critical values table from your mock exam, state whether she should reject her null hypothesis (1)

Professor Swacks should reject her null hypothesis and accept her experimental hypothesis.
Again this is only state question so don’t need to write much at all here.

Explain your answer: (3)

She should reject the null and accept the experimental hypothesis because her observed value of 4.24 is greater than the critical value of 2.71.
This critical value was selected as the df are equal to 1 in a 2×2 chi squared and the the hypothesis was directional meaning one should conducetd a one tailed test at the 0.05 level.
This means that her results are statically significant, meaning that the probability that the null hypothesis is correct or the results are due to chance alone is less than 1 in 20 or 5%.
The answer includes both observed and critical values, explains why the critical value was selected and explains what the results mean with regard to probability, levels of significance and the hypotheses.
  1. Identify the type of reinforcement being used in the following examples.
(i)                 If Grishma cleans her mother’s car, she gets extra pocket money. (1)
Positive reinforcement
(ii) Sally always takes medication to get rid of her headache as she knows that within 15 minutes she will feel much better. (1)
Negative reinforcement
b. Explain which type of reinforcement could ensure that a student keeps their room tidy. (2)
A student might keep his or her bedroom tidy due to positive reinforcement, this means that every time their parent shecks the bedroom and it is tidy , suggesting the pupil has tidied up, the parent gives them some extra pocket money. This is a reward and can be exchanged for something the student likes such as going to the cinema or topping their phone up; this mean that tidying up is “stamped in” and the student becomes more likely to tidy up in the future.
A student might keep his or her bedroom tidy due to negative reinforcement. This means that the parent complains and nags the student constantly, which is annoying and an aversive stimulus, however the student has noticed that the parent stops nagging every time they tidy up. This removal of the annoying nagging is rewarding  and this mean that tidying up is “stamped in” and the student becomes more likely to tidy up in the future as the consequence is the removal of nagging.
Both answers are a liitle longwinded but answer the command term well but saying HOW the parents behaves and how the pupil behaves and then explaining WHY tidying becomes more common, thus the room remains tidy.
  • For your practical investigation you will have conducted at least one observation that yielded qualitative data requiring thematic analysis.
  • Describe how qualitative data was gathered during your observation. (2)
The observational study required us to sit by the roadside and monitor the road crossing behaviours of pedestrians who approached the pelican crossing. We collected qualitative data by creating a set of “field notes”, these were handwritten in longhand and were essentially a running commentary of exactly what we were seeing. So we might write something like, the pedestrian is apparently a mother, she has a small child aged maybe 4 in a buggy, the child appears to be asleep. The mother checks the child as she presses the button with one hand, she glances down at the buggy”. We made notes by watching what was going on and writing at the same time; sometimes we were looking at the paper and this meant that we did not necessarily capture everything was going on.
Here the focus is definitely on the qual and not the quan. The word HOW is used in the question so we need to make it clear exactly what we did although not necessarily WHY we did it.


  • Explain two ways you could improve your observation in the future. (4)
This observation could have been improved by having a second observer who could also have made notes about what they were seeing. This means that we could then have compared the notes to see whether we were being objective in what we were writing or whether we were interpreting what we saw rather than describing it. This would have helped to make our data more objective but also checking for consistency would also have made it more reliable.

We could also have improved the observation by making notes at different times of day or at different crossings. It is possible that these qualitative observations are not valid meaning that they are not especially useful, meaningful and accurate and that in fact they only reflect what happens at one particular crossing, at one time of day.

Here we have addressed two separate ideas for improvement.

We have also addressed the command term but saying HOW we would change the study but also WHY this would be beneficial for the findings/conclusions.


  • Evaluate one contemporary study from the Learning Theories topic (8)
Bastian GRAVE with ATCHOO BC
Bastian et al (2012)

One weakness of Bastian et al’s (2012) study looking at the effects of violent video game play on players perceptions of their own humanity and that of their co-players, was that it could be seen to have poor generalizability. Although the sample was relatively large (106), it comprised all undergraduates students (mean age 19) and there were more than twice as many women in the sample as men,(74 women, 32 men). This means that the findings that violent video game does dehumanise players may not reflect the experiences of older or younger players and those from less affluent or well-educated backgrounds. Also given the gender imbalance this findings may not have been replicated had the players all been male and given that a large number of people who play this sort of game are male this is an important weakness of the study as males may have a different way of thinking about their own humanity in the first place. (Here we have a well-developed and logical chain of reasons which also demonstrates good descriptive detail about the study with regard to the aim, some procedural information and the findings)

Despite this weakness (competing srgument the study has strengths as well as weaknesses), the design of the study means that the results could be considered reliable as the standardised procedure that was employed makes the study replicable and thus scientific. There were mainly controlled variables such as ensuring that all players played the same game (Topspin tennis or Mortal Kombat) for the same amount of time, whilst blocked from being able to see their opponent by a barrier. Also the questionnaires used quantitative data to find out about perceptions of humanity using likert scales and this means that the data is not open to interpretation by the researcher improving the reliability further. (contains accurate AO1 details about the procedure)

Bastian’s study is without doubt an interesting study, however many psychologists advocate that violent video games are not directly linked to violent acts and a group of over 200 academics signed a letter to show their feelings about the APA report which suggested there was a link. (brining in another competing argument here that violent video games are not inherently bad news). This is important because many psychologists would argue that Bastian’s findings lacks application to real life, just because you self-report feeling less human after playing for 15 minutes, does not mean that your intentions towards others or likely possible real world behaviours will change and make you become more violent. This said, it is another piece of research that could be applied in schools to help educate pupils and parents about possible effects of violent game play. (another competing argument) Interestingly the flip side of this is that playing co-operative games could in fact enhance feelings of humanity and this could be an area for future research. This could potentially be a way of helping children or adults who have problems with aggression to feel more connected to other people and less dehumanised and this would be a highly beneficial application for society.

With regard to validity the study has strengths and weaknesses, firstly the players only play for a very short amount of time and in the real word players often spend hours engaged in a game , however one could argue this simply demonstrates how quickly people become dehumanised and one could argue playing for longer would simply lead to even greater effects although this has not been studied and therefore potentially people reach a ceiling and then become more humanised again the longer they play. Also as we know nothing of the participants previous gaming history the reason they say they feel more dehumanised could be du to demand characteristics in that they know this is the expected outcome and therefore demonstrate this through their self-report meaning that the conclusions lack internal validity. People who regularly play these games may have had a different outcome on the questionnaires as they have a more positive view of the games in the first place. However it should also be noted that in the study they used random allocation to thye two groups of violent and non-violent games which should have decreased participant variables which may have hampered the validity however in the real world people are not randomly allocated, people choose to play either violent or non-violent games and therefore it would be interesting to study a group of people who are regular player and see how the games affect their perceptions of humanity. Another validity problem with the study is it not clear what exactly is having the dehumanising effect and this is because in Mortal Kombat you observe violent acts being enacted but you are also in control of violent acts being committed in the game against others and therefore it is hard to disentangle whether observation of violence or being violent in the game is linked to dehumanisation.

In conclusion, it can be seen that Bastian’s study is clearly an important contribution to the new field of cyber-psychology and the effects of living in a digital/cyber world in terms of the impact on the self who exists in the non-cyber world. Despite some methodological issues with generalizability and validity , the potential applications particular with regard to how video games could be used to positive ends is an exciting area for future research.

  • Barbara has a severe phobia of birds, which has become so bad that she has started working from home, for fear of seeing birds in the street. She shops entirely online and has stopped seeing her friends and family.


  1. Using one or more learning theories, explain why Barbara might have a phobia of birds (3)
Barbara may have acquired her fear of birds through classical conditioning. She may have been frightened by something when she was much younger, for example when she was a toddler she might have been walking through a crowded area and a flock of pigeons might have all suddenly flown into the air – the sudden sound might have scared her.

The sound would be the unconditioned stimulus and she might have cried, the unconditioned response. As the pigeons were present at the time , these birds which were the neutral stimulus, are now associated with the loud sudden noise and so they become associated with the UCS.

As emotional reactions often lead to one-trial learning, Barbara may have quickly learnt a fear after one pairing, meaning now birds are a conditioned stimulus, which elicit a fear response (CR)

Barbara may maintain her phobia of birds through operant conditioning. This is because she never comes in to contact with birds as she has learnt that avoiding them is negatively reinforcing – her anxiety is reduced (which is rewarding) while she knows she is not going to come into contact with birds.

This means that she steers clear of birds and therefore she never learns that the CS (birds)  is not always followed by the UCS (sudden, loud noise) and so extinction never gets the chance to occur.

  1. Assess the use of one behavioural therapy that could be used to treat Barbara’s phobia (8)
Systematic desensitisation or flooding with ATCHOOBC

Barbara’s phobia of birds could be treated using systematic desensitisation which is based on the principles of classical conditioning. Barbara’s therapist will teach her to relax using an unconditioned stimuli such as aromatherapy or soothing music. When Barabara relaxes, this called the  unconditioned response. He therapist will also ask her to create a fear hierarchy where the first stages is something relating to birds that she feels she could tolerate such as the sight of a small feather or the distant sound of bird song. She then will work out a series of stages where she comes closer and closer to real birds with the final stage being the most terrifying thing she can think of, e.g. a bird sitting on her lap. The therapist will then pair the first stage, e.g. a recording of quiet birdsong with the UCS and Barbara will evenutally relax due to “reciprocal inhibtion” which means it is imposisble to be relaxed and anxious at the same time. Once she is able to do this, the therapist will move her onto the next stage of the fear hierarchy, until Barabra is able to conforont a real bird at close quarters. At this point the conditioned response is so strong, she will relax when she sees the bird as it is associated with the aromatherapy and soothing music.

One strength of this therapy is that classical conditioning is supported by many scientific research studies, such as Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. This is particularly good as experiments are well controlled and therefore cause and effect can be established. However reseach on animals may not necessarily be generalisable to humans as humans have awareness and more complex thought processes which might affect their behaviour.

Another strength of the treatment is that it was based on the successful treatment of a young boy by Mary Jones in 1924 who deconditioned a boy called Little Peter who was frightened of rabbits amongst other animals. One problem, with case studies however, is that they may reflect only the behaviour of one unique individual and thus the results should be generalised with caution. Also, this specific case study was conducted on a child and therefore the treatment may only work with children who may be more impressionable to influence of the therapist than adults. The therapy may also only work for specific animal phobias which are usually easier to treat than more generalised phobias such as agoraphobia or social phobias.

This said the therapy is also supported by other research studies which have looked at adult populations, with larger samples. For example Capafons (1998) successfully cured fear of flying in a sample of 20 clients demonstrated by the fact that those in the treatment group gave more positive self reports and interviews and showed less bodily stress responses when exposed to their feared situation (a flight simulator) than an untreated control group. Although, this demonstrates that the therapy also works with situation specific phobias it still does not demonstarte that the therapy would work with other types of phobia. Also, the participants in the study may have been subject to demand characteristics meaning that they gave more positive self reports and interviews as they wanted to please the researcher, however the measures of bodily responses are a more objective measure which is less likely to be affected by demand characterstics, as heart rate for example is more difficult for a person to control without biofeedback.

Positive aspects of this therapy in contrast with some other treatments for phobias such as psychoanalysis are that it can be a highly effective and relatively quick technique; psychoanalysis for example can be very time consuming and many consider it to not be based on a credible theory since Freudian theory is not falsifibale, in that it cannot be proved wrong.

Another strength of the therapy is that clients generally feel empowered as they are in charge of creating the fear hierarchy (in flooding for example the client is less empowered) and they can understand why the therapy should work as it is a plausible explanation; this is in stark contract to psychoanalytic therapy for example, where interpretation of the cause of therapy is more down to the therapist and the subjectivity and credibility of the therapy when explained to the client may be more limited.

This therapy may not work for everyone as some patients cannot maintain relaxation as effectively as others and may need anti-anxiety drugs to get them into a suitable state for the therapy to be effective.  This said, in comparison with other therapies such as flooding, it can be said that systematic desenstisation is possibly more ethical as exposure to the feared object is gradual.

Biological treatments such as anti-anxiety drugs have some positive effects for treating phobic clients however these can be  short term, also some medications are highly addictive and can only be used short term, they also have side effects and can make a client feel disempowered as they have no role in their own recovery except taking the pill; systematic desensitisation on the other hand can have longer lasting effects and is not assocated with any dangerous side effects.

One problem is that systematic desensitisation may not treat the root cause of the anxiety and may just treat the symptoms; psychoanalysts would argue that they treat the ultimate cause and thus help the person to avoid symptom substitution.

In conclusion, Barbara scould certainly give systematic desensititsation a go in order to overcome her phobia and regain some control in her life, however, she may find if she is brave enough that flooding is a better option for her if she is short of time or money as some research has demonstrated that it is purely the experience of the feared object without the original UCS which helps people to overcome their fear. Epxosure is the key not not the fear hierarchy and therefore flooding can ave time and money , On the other hand SD ids more ethical for the service-user as they are in full control and the exposure is gradual,  therefore they are less likely to breach ethical guidlines.