How well did you or your student do on the Psychology A-Level May/June 2024? -PAPER 1 (Model Answers)



 1.) Outline one ethical issue that has arisen in social influence research. Refer to one or more social influence studies in your answer. ( 4 marks) 

Model Answer

One significant ethical issue in social influence research is the psychological harm inflicted on participants. Stanley Milgram's obedience experiments exposed participants to severe stress and emotional conflict as they believed they were harming others under authority's instructions. Similarly, Philip Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment subjected participants to extreme emotional distress and abusive conditions as they adopted their assigned roles of guards and prisoners. Both studies faced criticism for insufficiently protecting participants from psychological harm, raising questions about the balance between scientific inquiry and ethical responsibility.



 2.) Charlie has just started at a new school. He has become friendly with a group of boys in his year group. Charlie thinks they are 'cool'. 

One day, one of the more popular boys in the group suggests they all wear their school jumpers inside-out for a week, 'just to see what will happen.' Charlie worries about this all night but still goes to school the following day wearing his jumper inside-out. 

Use your knowledge of conformity to explain Charlie's behaviour. ( 6 marks)  

Model Answer 

Normative social influence explains conformity as the result of individuals wanting to be liked and accepted by a group. People often conform to group norms to avoid rejection or gain social approval, even if it goes against their own beliefs or causes personal discomfort. This type of conformity is driven by the desire to fit in and be part of a social group.

In Charlie's situation, he conforms to the group's suggestion to wear their jumpers inside-out because he wants to be accepted and liked by the boys he perceives as 'cool.' Despite his worries, Charlie prioritises fitting in with the group over his own comfort, demonstrating normative social influence. His behavior reflects the strong pressure to conform in order to avoid standing out or being rejected by his new friends.


3.) Later that day, the headteacher calls each of the boys in the group to his office on-by-one, including Charlie. 

He explains that the school jumper should not be worn inside-out, and that a detention will be given to any boy who disobeys. From then on, each boy wears their jumper correctly. 

Use your knowledge of obedience to explain the boys' behaviour. ( 6 marks)  

Model Answer 

The legitimacy of authority explanation of obedience suggests that individuals are more likely to follow orders from someone they perceive as a legitimate authority figure. In Milgram's study, the participants viewed the professor, associated with the prestigious Yale University, as a legitimate authority, which increased their likelihood of obeying his instructions to administer electric shocks. This perception of legitimate authority creates a sense of duty to comply, even when the orders conflict with personal morals.

In the scenario with Charlie, the headteacher represents a legitimate authority figure within the school. When the headteacher explains the dress code and threatens detention for non-compliance, the boys perceive his authority as valid and feel compelled to obey his directive. As a result, they stop wearing their jumpers inside-out and follow the school rules, demonstrating obedience to the recognised authority.


4.) Discuss consistency and flexibility as processes involved in minority influence. ( 8 marks) 

Model Answer 

Consistency in minority influence involves the minority group maintaining a stable and unwavering position over time, which can create doubt in the majority's views and lead to change. Flexibility, on the other hand, requires the minority to show a willingness to adapt and negotiate, demonstrating a balanced approach that is more persuasive.

One strength of understanding minority influence is supporting studies, which provide empirical evidence validating theoretical concepts. Supporting studies are beneficial in psychology because they offer concrete data and observations that help establish the reliability and validity of psychological theories. For instance, Moscovici's research found that a consistent minority could significantly influence the majority's perception, as participants were more likely to conform to the minority's viewpoint when they consistently called blue slides green. This enhances our understanding of the role of consistency in minority influence, demonstrating that unwavering commitment to a position can lead to greater persuasion and acceptance by the majority.

As well as this understanding minority influence lies in its real-world practical applications, particularly in highlighting the importance of flexibility. Real-world applications are invaluable in psychology as they demonstrate how theoretical concepts can be translated into actionable strategies for social change. For instance, the LGBTQ+ rights movement has effectively utilised flexibility by adapting their approaches and negotiating to garner broader support and enact significant legal and societal transformations. This showcases the vital role of flexibility in minority influence, illustrating how the ability to adjust tactics according to situational dynamics can enhance the effectiveness of minority groups in achieving their goals. Through such practical applications, the significance of flexibility in driving social progress becomes evident, providing concrete examples of how psychological theories can be applied to create meaningful change in the world.




5.) A Researcher wanted to test if there is a relationship between the passage of time and recall of nonsense words. They gave 30 participants 40 nonsense words to learn, then tested recall at fixed intervals over several weeks. The nonsense words were standardised to ensure they were of similar difficulty and length.

When writing up the investigation, the researcher represented their data on a scattergram.

Briefly explain how the use of inferential statistics would improve this investigation. ( 3 marks) 

Model Answer 

Using inferential statistics would allow the researcher to determine if any observed relationship between the passage of time and recall of nonsense words is statistically significant or simply due to chance. This analysis would provide insight into whether the findings are generalisable to a larger population or if they occurred by random variation.


 6.) Suggest an appropriate statistical test to improve this investigation. With reference to the study. Outline two reasons for your choice of test. ( 5 marks) 

Model Answer

For this investigation, Spearman's rank correlation coefficient (Spearman's Rho) would be an appropriate statistical test because it specifically assesses the relationship between variables, making it ideal for exploring the relationship between the passage of time and recall performance. Another reason to use this test is because the data in this study, consisting of recall scores at different time intervals, can be considered ordinal rather than interval or ratio, as the intervals represent ordered categories rather than precise measurements.


7.) Two types of long-term memory are semantic and episodic. 

Outline two ways in which episodic memories are different from semantic memories ( 4 marks) 

Model Answer

Episodic memories are personal experiences tied to specific times and places, while semantic memories are general knowledge and facts unrelated to personal experience. Additionally, episodic memories involve subjective re-experiencing of past events, often with emotional content, whereas semantic memories are more objective and do not typically evoke personal emotions. These differences highlight how episodic memories are tied to personal narratives and individual contexts, while semantic memories are more abstract and detached from personal experience.


8.) Briefly describe retrieval failure as an explanation of forgetting. Outline one limitation of this explanation. ( 4 marks) 

Model Answer

Retrieval failure occurs when information stored in long-term memory cannot be accessed or retrieved when needed. This can happen due to a lack of appropriate retrieval cues or interference from other memories. However, one limitation of this explanation is that it does not fully account for instances of forgetting where the information was encoded poorly or has decayed over time, as it primarily focuses on retrieval processes rather than encoding or storage factors.


9.) Two police officers are discussing the testimony of an eyewitness. The eyewitness had described a robbery she had seen. 

'At first, the witness said she was convinced the suspect was wearing glasses and had a limp,' explained one of the officers, 'but later she said she may have just been repeating what she'd heard from other witnesses.'

'I'm not sure we're going to be able to use her statement, ' replied the other officer.

Discuss the effect of post-event discussion on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony.

Refer to the information above in your answer. ( 8 marks) 

Model Answer 

Post-event discussion can significantly impact the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, as seen in the case of the two police officers discussing the eyewitness's testimony. The process of discussing events with others or being questioned multiple times can lead to memory alteration or contamination. This effect can result in conformity among witnesses, where they may reach a consensus view of what happened, even if it differs from their original individual recollections. Furthermore, repeat interviewing, especially with the use of leading questions, can further distort an eyewitness's memory of events,

Supporting studies, such as those by Gabbert et al. (2003) and Poole and Lindsay (2001), provide empirical evidence highlighting the significant impact of post-event discussion on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. Gabbert et al.'s research demonstrated that when witnesses discussed an event before individually recalling it, a high percentage mistakenly recalled details acquired during the discussion, indicating memory contamination through social interaction. Similarly, Poole and Lindsay's study emphasised how repeat interviewing, particularly with the use of leading questions, could distort an eyewitness's memory of events, underscoring the vulnerability of memory to suggestion and manipulation during questioning. These studies enhance our understanding by illustrating the real-world implications of post-event discussion on eyewitness testimony, emphasising the importance of careful interviewing techniques and the potential for memory contamination in legal settings.

However, it's important to acknowledge that while these studies provide valuable insights into the effects of post-event discussion, real-life legal contexts may involve additional factors such as the expertise of interviewers and the emotional intensity of the witnessed event, which could influence the degree of memory distortion.





10.) Zara's baby, Sunta, is a few weeks old.

The rest of the family laugh along as Zara sticks her tongue out at Sunta and Sunta does the same thing back to her.

Which feature of caregiver-infant interaction does this example illustrate? ( 1 mark) 

Model Answer



11.) The rest of the family also think it's cute when Zara rocks Sunta to sleep and their heads seem to move in time with one another.

Which feature of caregiver-infant interaction does this example illustrate? ( 1 mark) 

Model Answer

Interactional Synchrony 


12.) Describe the concept of a critical period and the concept of an internal working model in the context of attachment. ( 6 marks) 

Model Answer

 A critical period in attachment theory refers to a specific developmental window during which attachment behaviours are more easily formed. This period typically occurs in infancy, particularly during the first five years of life, and is characterised by heightened receptivity to forming attachment bonds with primary caregivers. During this critical period, the infant's brain is particularly sensitive to social stimuli, facilitating the establishment of secure attachment relationships.

Additionally, the concept of an internal working model suggests that early attachment experiences shape individuals' expectations about relationships throughout their lives. These internal working models serve as cognitive frameworks or mental representations that influence how individuals perceive, interpret, and respond to social interactions and relationships in later stages of life. Overall, the critical period underscores the importance of early experiences in shaping attachment bonds, while the internal working model highlights the enduring impact of these early relationships on individuals' socioemotional development.


13.) Discuss Romanian Orphan Studies ( 16 marks) 

Model Answer

Rutter et al. (1998) conducted a study on Romanian orphans adopted before the age of 2, discovering that earlier adoption correlated with faster developmental progress. Subsequently, in 2007, Rutter examined children from profoundly depriving Romanian institutions who were later adopted into UK families, comparing them at 11 years with non-institutionalised adoptees. Results indicated that institutional rearing was strongly linked to disinhibited attachment, particularly prominent in those reared in institutions. However, there was no significant increase in disinhibited attachment concerning duration of institutional deprivation beyond 6 months. Conversely another study that looked into Romanian orphans is that of, Le Mare and Audet's. They focused on 36 Romanian orphans adopted into Canadian families, and found that although initially physically smaller and less healthy than a control group at 4.5 years, by age 10.5, these differences had vanished, suggesting possible recovery from the effects of institutionalisation on physical development.

One obvious strength with studies of this nature is they make use of longitudinal studies. Longitudinal studies, such as those examining attachment in Romanian orphans, involve observing the same individuals over an extended period to track changes and development. This methodology is particularly advantageous in attachment research as it allows researchers to assess how attachment patterns evolve over time, offering insights into the long-term effects of early experiences. For instance, studies following Romanian orphans adopted into loving families have revealed that those who experienced early institutionalisation often exhibited insecure attachment patterns and socioemotional difficulties later in life. This research enhances our understanding of privation by demonstrating the enduring impact of early deprivation on attachment and emphasising the importance of early intervention and nurturing caregiving environments in mitigating its long-term effects.

While longitudinal studies examining attachment in Romanian orphans provide valuable insights into the long-term effects of privation, they also present several limitations. Firstly, tracking these orphans over time requires significant resources and can be challenging due to high attrition rates and dropout rates. Additionally, relying on self-report measures or observations may introduce bias or inaccuracies, potentially affecting the validity of findings. Moreover, longitudinal studies may not fully capture the complexity of attachment processes in Romanian orphans, as they often focus on specific variables or outcomes, overlooking the influence of broader contextual factors such as institutional care quality or post-adoption support. Therefore, while longitudinal research on Romanian orphans offers important insights, researchers must cautiously interpret findings and consider the limitations inherent in studying this population over time.

Despite the limitations of longitudinal studies, such as those examining attachment in Romanian orphans, their findings have significant real-life practical applications and contribute to our understanding of socioemotional development. For instance, insights gained from these studies inform intervention strategies aimed at supporting children who have experienced privation, emphasising the importance of nurturing caregiving environments in promoting healthy attachment relationships. Additionally, longitudinal research helps policymakers and practitioners identify risk factors and design targeted interventions to mitigate the long-term effects of early adversity. While acknowledging the challenges associated with longitudinal research, its utility in informing evidence-based interventions and policies underscores its continued importance in addressing societal issues related to attachment, early deprivation, and child welfare.





14.) Which two of the following are emotional characteristics of obsessive-compulsive disorder? ( 2 marks)

A- Hypervigilance

B- Insight into excessive anxiety

C- Low mood

D- Obsessive thoughts

E- Self-loathing


Model Answer

C + E


15.) Ken visited his friend, Jules, who has a large dog called Prince. Prince ran in from the garden, jumped at Ken and knocked him down, breaking his arm. Ken now has a fear of dogs and has avoided all dogs ever since.

How would the two-process model of phobias explain Ken's fear of dogs? ( 6 marks) 

Model Answer 

The two-process model of phobias suggests that fears are acquired through classical conditioning, involving the pairing of an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) with a neutral stimulus (NS) to evoke an unconditioned response (UCR), which later becomes a conditioned response (CR) to the neutral stimulus.

In Ken's situation, the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) is the traumatic event of being knocked down by Prince, which naturally elicits fear (UCR). Prince's sudden approach serves as the UCS, triggering fear in Ken (UCR). Over time, the presence of dogs (neutral stimulus) becomes associated with the fear response, resulting in dogs alone eliciting fear (conditioned response) in Ken.

Following classical conditioning, where the fear of dogs is initially acquired, the two-process model suggests that this fear is then maintained through operant conditioning. Operant conditioning involves the reinforcement of behaviours that reduce anxiety or discomfort. In Ken's case, his avoidance of dogs serves as an as reinforcement. By avoiding dogs, Ken reduces his anxiety and discomfort, which reinforces the avoidance behaviour and perpetuates his fear of dogs. This avoidance behaviour is maintained because it effectively alleviates Ken's fear, demonstrating the role of operant conditioning in the persistence of phobias according to the two-process model.


16.) Discuss the cognitive approach to explaining depression. ( 16 marks)

Model Answer

The cognitive approach to explaining depression, as proposed by Ellis and Beck, emphasises the role of irrational thinking patterns and cognitive distortions. Ellis contends that good mental health is a result of rational thinking, while depression stems from irrational thoughts that hinder happiness and well-being. Beck's cognitive explanation of depression breaks down into  three key components: cognitive bias, negative self-schemas, and the negative triad. Depressed individuals exhibit cognitive biases, such as over-generalisations and catastrophising, wherein they focus on the negative aspects of situations and distort information. Negative self-schemas, developed from negative experiences, predispose individuals to interpret information about themselves negatively, perpetuating cognitive biases. Beck's negative triad suggests that distorted thoughts about oneself, the world, and the future maintain depression.

Conversely, Ellis's A-B-C three-stage model explains how activating events lead to rational or irrational beliefs, subsequently influencing emotional outcomes, with rational beliefs fostering healthy emotional responses and irrational beliefs contributing to depression. This cognitive approach underscores the significance of identifying and challenging irrational thoughts to alleviate depression and promote mental well-being.

 One limitation of the cognitive approach in explaining depression is that it is reductionist, which refers to the tendency to simplify complex phenomena by reducing them to a single cause or explanation. The cognitive approach to depression is reductionist as it predominantly focuses on cognitive factors and overlooks biological influences, such as our physiological makeup. For instance, the role of neurotransmitters like serotonin in depression is well-documented, with imbalances implicated in the development and severity of depressive symptoms. Ignoring biological factors, such as neurotransmitter dysfunction, limits our understanding of depression and hinders the development of comprehensive treatment approaches. Therefore, caution must be exercised when drawing conclusions about mental disorders like depression solely based on cognitive explanations, as a more holistic approach that considers both cognitive and biological factors is essential for a comprehensive understanding.

Despite its reductionist nature, the cognitive approach to explaining depression offers valuable insights into the role of thought processes in mental health. By emphasising the influence of cognitive biases and negative self-schemas, the cognitive approach provides practical strategies for identifying and challenging maladaptive thinking patterns in therapy. Cognitive interventions, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), have been shown to be effective in treating depression by targeting cognitive distortions and promoting adaptive coping strategies. Additionally, the cognitive approach allows for a focus on individual experiences and cognitive processes, providing personalised and tailored interventions for each individual. Thus, while the cognitive approach may overlook biological factors, its emphasis on cognition offers practical and accessible interventions for understanding and treating depression.

However, interventions like cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) may not be suitable for everyone due to various factors such as time commitment and individual differences. Some individuals may find it challenging to engage in the cognitive restructuring required by CBT, particularly if they are resistant to change or have cognitive deficits due to age or other factors. In such cases, alternative approaches that focus on biological factors, such as pharmacotherapy, may be more beneficial. For example, antidepressant medications that target neurotransmitter imbalances, like serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can alleviate depressive symptoms without requiring significant cognitive effort from the individual. Therefore, when explaining depression, it is important to consider the individual's needs, their own individual experiences and preferences to determine the most appropriate approach for their unique circumstances which will then ultimately affect the type of treatment they should be offered. .


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