Script 3E

Biological level of analysis

1. Explain how one hormone influences human behaviour.

Stress hormones are found in most animals as shown by Meaney. His study consisted of two groups of rats. The first group had rats that were deprived of their mothers as babies and the second group was the control group. The first group had higher levels of glucocorticoids (stress hormones) because they were deprived of their mothers. Meaney wanted to find how stress affects memory. He placed the rats from each group into a tank with a table in the center and the tank was filled with milky water. The control or “normal” rats were able to figure out where the table was on the second try, after being put in once they memorized the location of the table. The deprived rats were not able to learn the location of the tale as every trial they kept bumping into walls and so forth. The study shows that higher levels of stress hormones means that it is more difficult to memorize. This may imply that as humans go through school and life with high stress that it may be more difficult to comply with life and memorize skills needed for work. However, a problem with this study is that rats are not fully comparable to humans and so irreversibility may be a problem as the affected memory and high stress levels may be permanent. There is also undue stress or harm in this experiment as rats hate water. They may have been overly stressed from this also leading to irreversibility. This study may be linked back to how we as humans are in life. In school, for example, with high levels of stress we cannot take in information efficiently according to this study.

The student should clearly identify the hormone in the first sentence. He also should explain the role of the hormone - that is, glucocorticoids are released along with adrenaline as a response to stressors - also known as the fight or flight response (Selye). Study is satisfactorily described, but with errors. An attempt is made to link to human beings, but no evidence is provided. Remember that the reason for memory impairment has to do with hippocampal cell loss. That is a necessary part of the response. 4 marks

Cognitive level of analysis

2.Describe one theory or study that demonstrates how biological factors may affect one cognitive process.

Newcomer et al did an experiment with participants that were injected with cortisol. His aim was to see how cortisol affects memory. He had three groups. The first group was injected with 40 mg of cortisol, the second group was injected with 160 mg and the last group was given a placebo. He gave each group a test. The 40 mg group and the placebo group had little difference in their scores, however the 160 mg group did very poorly compared to the first and third group. This study may imply that higher levels of cortisol mean that we are not able to memorize new content efficiently. Problems with this study is that the members were not aware of what they were being injected with. If we are given high levels of cortisol this biological alteration is what affects our memory. Another problem is their may be undue stress or harm as some people may have had side affects from the experiment and some may have had a hard time around needles causing lots of stress. In modern day life, sometimes drugs are used to enhance memory but as seen from the study, too much can cause poor memory.

The aim of the study is not clearly stated. The study is basically described, but the actual details are vague. The cortisol was ingested - not injected. In addition, the issue of hippocampal cell loss is not addressed. 4 marks

Socio-cultural level of analysis

3. Describe one theory or study on the formation of stereotypes.

One study done on stereotypes was a racial study. The study was aiming to see how race is used in in/group out/group bias. The study began with a white man trying to break the lock of a bike in park. For almost an hour, people walked by and said nothing even though they saw a crime being committed. It took one hour or so for someone to stay something. They repeated this procedure only this time it was a black man stealing the bike. Almost instantly someone called the police. This study helps further our understanding of stereotypes in society. This study implies that we have in/out group bias. Our “in group” is who we are and in this case,we do not want to reflect on a bad doing of someone in our society so we ignore it. However, if we see a flaw or crime in an out-group, humans will take that flaw and apply it to the out-group or as a label or stereotype. Problems with this study is that some people may not have said anything because they were frightened or didn’t want to get involved in the crime. In society when we see a crime we do not react to it as we should because the commitment is not there.

No clear definition of stereotype. Social Identity Theory is implicitly identified, but not clearly stated or described. The study is about the effect of stereotypes, not the formation of stereotypes. In addition, this is not a real study.  It is a "What Would You Do?" video that they watched in class. 1 mark

ERQ: Socio-cultural level of analysis

6. Discuss factors influencing conformity.

Conformity is something that is seen in many different cultures. As human beings conformity is something normal. Asch conducted an experiment to measure conformity along with another experiment that tested men of different races which links to conformity. Conformity can be defined as doing something based on what the majority does.

In Asch’s experiment, his aim was to see how conformity affects people. He had to controls and the rest were participants everyone had a card with three lines labeled A, B, C. The lines were similar in length. The participants were asked to decide which line was longest. The two controls both started by saying A and from there a majority of the participants conformed and said A was the bigger line. They repeated this with the shortest line and got the same outcome. This shows that based on the certainty of one person, another may conform based on how unsure they are. A problem with this study is that some people may not have been certain of what to do and others may have figured out what was happening and contaminated the study by giving stereotypical answers.

In another experiment a group of black men and a separate group of white men were given an IQ test. The aim of this experiment was to see how stereotypes may lead to conformity. The results were that they white men did better in math and the black men did better in problem solving, practical work. This may be because the stereotype of white men being educated and black men being hard labor workers was in their minds. Because they had this stereotype this made them subconsciously conform to their own stereotype. They may have felt that they are meant to do poorly in math so they did what they felt most black men would do wrong. A problem with this experiment is that there is no ecological validity, because if the men took the test in the same way they may have been able to score much higher rather than taking it alone with no one to look at. Also some men just may good at math and find no reason to conform.

As seen from these two studies, many factors influence conformity. Conformity is said to be caused by culture, media, and gatekeepers. In Asch’s study, the controlled participants are the gatekeepers. They are what lead the others to conform. The conformity of stereotypes may be linked to culture and media as they both can be linked to stereotypes in culture and media.

These influential factors in conformity may fit the social norms as shown in the IQ study and in the Asch study. Conformity is used in society in order to create social norms. Without conformity we would not be able to agree on things.

Knowledge: There are no factors that influence conformity discussed. These would include the size of the group, unanimity, cultural dimensions, expertise or self-esteem. The essay has focused on stereotype threat which has nothing to do with the question. 1 mark

Critical thinking: Minimal and superficial evaluation of the Asch study. Most of the attempt at evaluation and analysis is superficial or cicular in nature. 2 marks

Organization: Does not meet the demands of the question. 1 mark

Total marks

13 out of 46.  IB 3

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