How well did you or your student do on the Psychology A-Level May/June 2024? -PAPER 2 (Model Answers)



1.) Describe the ego and superego according to the psychodynamic approach. (4 marks) 

Model Answer 

According to the psychodynamic approach, the ego is the rational part of the personality that mediates between the desires of the id and the demands of reality, seeking realistic ways to satisfy the id's desires. The superego, on the other hand, represents internalised societal and parental standards of right and wrong, striving for perfection and moral behaviour. It often opposes the id's desires by imposing guilt and striving for socially acceptable actions. 


 2.) Outline Wundt's method of introspection ( 4 marks) 

Model Answer 

Wundt's method of introspection involved trained observers examining and reporting their own conscious experiences in response to specific stimuli under controlled conditions. This process required participants to focus inward and describe their thoughts, sensations, and feelings with precise detail and without interpretation. Wundt's goal was to break down mental processes into their most basic elements, akin to how chemists analyse compounds. This method laid the groundwork for experimental psychology by promoting systematic observation and measurement of mental phenomena.


 3.) Outline one example of how neurochemistry influences behaviour. ( 3 marks) 

Model Answer

One example of how neurochemistry influences behaviour is the role of serotonin in regulating mood. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and anxiety, affecting a person's emotional stability and behaviour. Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.


4.) Karishma has very low self-esteem, even though she achieved very high GCSE grades. She would like to be a lawyer. Although she is studying A-levels,. she has delayed her application to university because she does not think she will receive any offers. She does not think she is clever enough to study law. 


Explain why a humanistic psychologist would suggest that Karishhmas is not displaying congruence. (2 marks) 

Model Answer

A humanistic psychologist would suggest that Karishma is not displaying congruence because there is a discrepancy between her actual achievements and her self-perception. Her high GCSE grades indicate her capability, but her low self-esteem and self-doubt show a lack of alignment between her real self and her ideal self.


 5.) Explain how a humanistic psychologist might help Karishma to achieve congruence. ( 3 marks) 

 Model Answer

A humanistic psychologist might help Karishma achieve congruence by providing a supportive and non-judgemental environment that fosters self-exploration and self-acceptance. They would use techniques such as unconditional positive regard and empathetic understanding to help Karishma recognise and value her true abilities and worth. This approach aims to align her self-concept with her actual achievements, boosting her self-esteem and confidence to pursue her goals.


6.) Outline how behaviourists explain learning through the process of operant conditioning. 

Compare operant conditioning with social learning. ( 8 marks) 

Model Answer 

Operant conditioning focuses on how direct consequences, such as rewards and punishments, shape behaviour, relying on the individual's interactions with their immediate environment. In contrast, social learning theory, proposed by Bandura, emphasises the importance of observing and imitating the behaviours of others, incorporating cognitive processes like attention, retention, and motivation.

While operant conditioning is based on direct reinforcement, social learning involves vicarious reinforcement, where individuals learn by seeing others rewarded or punished. Additionally, social learning theory highlights the role of internal cognitive factors, whereas operant conditioning is more focused on observable external behaviours. Both theories acknowledge the impact of the environment on learning but differ in their mechanisms and emphasis on cognitive processes.




7.)  Which two of the following statements about the fight or flight response are FALSE?

Shade two boxes only.

The fight or flight response involves (2 marks): 

a decrease in the release of adrenaline

B an increase in the rate of respiration

C the flow of blood being diverted from the surface of the skin

D the parasympathetic division being in control of functioning

E the process of digestion being inhibited 


 Model Answer 


8.) What are the hormones? Give example of a hormone other than adrenaline and outline its function. ( 4 marks) 

Model Answer

Another key hormone is cortisol, which helps maintain fluid balance and blood pressure while regulating key functions such as immune response and metabolism during stress. Cortisol ensures the body remains alert and prepared to handle prolonged stress by sustaining energy through glucose production. This hormone plays a critical role in the body's overall stress response and helps manage the physiological effects of a stressful situation.


 9.) A psychologist conducted a case study of a patient who had difficulty sleeping. 

Briefly explain one ethical issue the psychologist would need to consider in this study. ( 2 marks) 

 Model Answer

The psychologist would need to ensure the patient's confidentiality by securely handling and storing all personal information and data collected during the study. Additionally, the psychologist must obtain informed consent, making sure the patient fully understands the study's purpose, procedures, and any potential risks involved.


10.) Discuss research into the effects of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers on the sleep/wake cycle. ( 16 marks) 

Model Answers

Research into endogenous pacemakers, such as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, shows that these internal biological clocks regulate the sleep/wake cycle by controlling the release of melatonin from the pineal gland. Studies, such as those involving lesions to the SCN in animals, demonstrate disrupted sleep patterns, highlighting the critical role of endogenous pacemakers. Additionally, research on blind individuals, who lack visual input, indicates that their sleep/wake cycles are still influenced by the SCN, though they may experience free-running rhythms.

Exogenous zeitgebers, such as light and social cues, also significantly affect the sleep/wake cycle. Light is the primary zeitgeber, and exposure to natural light helps reset the SCN each day, aligning the internal clock with the external environment. Studies involving individuals in environments without natural light, like caves or polar regions, show that without these external cues, sleep/wake cycles can extend or become irregular. Research on jet lag and shift work further underscores the importance of exogenous zeitgebers in synchronising the body's internal clock with external time cues.


One strength of research into the effects of endogenous pacemakers (EPs) and exogenous zeitgebers on the sleep/wake cycle is the robust evidence supporting the critical role of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) as an endogenous pacemaker. This strength is highlighted by studies such as Siffre's isolation experiments, where he spent extended periods in a cave without natural light and maintained a roughly 24-hour sleep/wake cycle, demonstrating the SCN's role in regulating biological rhythms. For example, animal studies with lesions to the SCN show disrupted circadian rhythms, reinforcing the SCN's importance. This is a strength because it provides compelling empirical support for the internal regulation of biological rhythms and highlights the SCN's central role in maintaining the sleep/wake cycle. Understanding the interaction between EPs and exogenous zeitgebers aids our comprehension of how disruptions, such as shift work or jet lag, affect sleep patterns and overall health, guiding potential remedies and interventions. Thus, this research significantly enhances our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the sleep/wake cycle and the impact of various factors on biological rhythms.

One weakness of research into the effects of endogenous pacemakers (EPs) and exogenous zeitgebers on the sleep/wake cycle is the reliance on animal studies, which may not fully translate to human experiences. For instance, while studies on hamsters have elucidated the role of the SCN in circadian rhythms, the complexities of human behaviour and environmental influences may not be fully captured in animal models. This is a weakness because it limits the generalisability of findings to human populations and may overlook unique aspects of human biology and behaviour. Understanding the sleep/wake cycle in humans requires considering a broader range of factors beyond what can be inferred from animal research alone. Thus, while animal studies provide valuable insights, they may not fully capture the intricacies of human biological rhythms, diminishing the applicability of findings to real-world contexts.

Another limitation of research into the effects of endogenous pacemakers (EPs) and exogenous zeitgebers on the sleep/wake cycle is the reliance on case studies, such as Siffre's isolation experiments. While these studies offer detailed insights into individual experiences, they may lack generalizability to broader populations due to their unique circumstances. For example, Siffre's extended isolation in a cave may not represent typical environmental conditions or responses to circadian rhythms. This limitation is significant because it restricts the scope of conclusions that can be drawn about the general population's sleep/wake patterns based on individual case studies. Thus, while case studies provide valuable depth of understanding, they may not fully capture the variability and complexity of human biological rhythms across diverse contexts.





 A researcher wanted to investigate the types of play parents engaged in with their children. Ten children and one parent of each child took part in the study. The researcher asked each parent to keep a diary for a month about the types of play their child engaged in. 

11.) Is the diary primary or secondary data? Justify your answer ( 2 marks) 

Model Answer 

The diary in this scenario is primary data because it is collected firsthand by the researcher directly from the participants, providing original information about the types of play parents engage in with their children. It offers direct insight into the participants' experiences and behaviours without relying on previously collected data.


12.) Explain how the researcher could have used content analysis to analyse the parents diaries. ( 4 marks) 

Model Answer 

The researcher could have used content analysis to systematically categorise and analyse the parents' diaries by identifying recurring themes or patterns related to the types of play engaged in with their children. Firstly, they would establish coding categories based on predetermined criteria, such as types of play activities (e.g., imaginative play, physical play, educational play). Then, they would systematically analyse the diary entries, assigning relevant codes to segments of text that correspond to each category. Finally, they would quantify and compare the frequency and nature of different types of play reported across the diaries, providing valuable insights into parental engagement in various play activities with their children.


 13.) The researcher was concerned about the reliability of the content analysis. 

How might the researcher have assessed the reliability of the content analysis in the study? ( 4 marks) 

 Model Answer 

The researcher could have assessed the reliability of the content analysis by employing inter-rater reliability measures, where multiple coders independently analyse a subset of the diary entries and their coding is compared for consistency. Additionally, the researcher could conduct a pilot study to refine the coding categories and ensure consistency in application among coders. Regular meetings and discussions among coders throughout the analysis process could also help identify and resolve any discrepancies in coding, enhancing the overall reliability of the content analysis.


 14.) The researcher decided to interview some of the parents about their child's play. Explain why the data collected from the interview might have improved upon the data collected from the diaries. ( 3 marks) 

Model Answer 

The data collected from interviews might have improved upon the data from diaries because interviews allow for deeper exploration and clarification of responses, providing richer contextual understanding. Additionally, interviews allow for real-time interaction, enabling researchers to probe for detailed explanations, nuances, and additional insights that may not be captured in written diaries. This dynamic exchange fosters a more comprehensive understanding of parental perspectives on their child's play behaviours.


15.) In the interview the researcher collected some qualitative data. 

Write one question that could be used in the researcher's interview that would produce qualitative data. ( 2 marks) 

Model Answer 

One question that could produce qualitative data in the interview is: "Can you describe a memorable playtime moment with your child and how it unfolded?"


16.) Identify one limitation of qualitative data. ( 1 mark) 

Model Answer 

One limitation of qualitative data is its potential subjectivity, as interpretations can vary based on the researcher's perspective and biases.


The researcher noticed age-related differences in the types of play mentioned in the diary entries. They designed an experiment to investigate the differences in play choices between 2-year-old and 4-year-old children.

The researcher carried out the study using children from two local nursery schools. There were 30 children of each age group at nursery A. There were 20 children of each age group at nursery B. All parents gave informed consent for their children to take part in the study. The researcher used stratified sampling of the nurseries. Ten 2-year-olds and ten 4-year-olds took part in the study.

Each child was observed for 15 minutes during playtime in an area of the nursery where they could choose to play with building blocks, a sandpit and a slide. The researcher recorded how long each child spent playing with each activity.

17.) Explain how the researcher could have obtained informed consent from the parents for this study. [4 marks]

Model Answer 

 The researcher could have obtained informed consent from the parents by providing detailed information about the study's purpose, procedures, and potential risks or benefits through written consent forms distributed to parents. They could have also conducted an information session or sent informational letters explaining the study and allowing parents the opportunity to ask questions before consenting. Additionally, the researcher would ensure that parents understood their rights to withdraw their child from the study at any time without repercussion.


18.) Identify the type of experiment used in this study. Justify your answer. ( 3 marks) 

Model Answer 

The type of experiment used in this study is a field experiment because it was conducted in a natural setting, the nursery schools, rather than a controlled laboratory environment. This is evident from the researcher's observation of children during their usual playtime activities, which allows for greater ecological validity and real-world applicability of the findings.


 19.) Explain how a pilot study could be carried out to improve this study. ( 4 marks) 

Model Answer 

A pilot study could be carried out by selecting a smaller sample of children from similar nursery schools to test the feasibility of the research procedures and identify any potential logistical or practical issues. During the pilot study, researchers could refine the observation methods and recording protocols, ensuring they capture relevant data accurately. Additionally, feedback from nursery staff and parents could be gathered to assess the clarity of consent forms and the acceptability of the study procedures. Adjustments based on the pilot study findings could enhance the efficiency and validity of the main study.


There were 30 4-year old children at nursery A and 20 4-year old children at nursery B. The researcher used a stratified sample of 10 4-year old children for the study. 

20.) Explain how the researcher might have obtained the stratified sample of 4-year old children from the two different nursery schools. ( 4 marks) 

Model Answer 

To obtain a stratified sample of 4-year-old children from the two nursery schools, the researcher could first identify the proportion of 4-year-olds in each nursery. Then, they would randomly select a proportionate number of children from each nursery to ensure representation from both settings. This process would involve randomly selecting 10 children from the 30 4-year-olds at nursery A and randomly selecting 10 children from the 20 4-year-olds at nursery B, resulting in a stratified sample that reflects the distribution of children across both nurseries.


 The researcher calculated averages for the time (in minutes) spent in the sandpit for each age group. The results are shown in the table below. 

Table 1- Average time in minutes spent in the sandpit for the two age groups. 



 21.) Identify the type of distribution shown in Table 1 for each age group. In each case justify your answer. ( 4 marks) 

Model Answer 


The distribution for 2-year-olds appears to be positively skewed. This is justified by the mean (11) being lower than the median (12) and mode (15), indicating that there are more values at the higher end of the scale pulling the mean upwards.


The distribution for 4-year-olds is symmetrical. This is justified by the mean (6), median (6), and mode (6) all being equal, suggesting a normal distribution with no skewness.


22.) What do the mean values in table 1 suggest about play preferences in 2-year-old and 4-year-old children. Justify your answer. ( 2 marks) 

 Model Answer

The mean value of 11 for 2-year-olds and 6 for 4-year-olds suggests that, on average, 2-year-olds spent more time engaging with the provided play activities compared to 4-year-olds. This is supported by the lower mean value for 4-year-olds, indicating that, on average, they spent less time playing with the activities provided.


23.) The researcher decided to use an unrelated t-test to analyse the raw data from the study on the sandpit play. 

Explain three reasons for this choice in the context of this study. ( 6 marks) 

 Model Answer 

Type/Level of Data: The data collected on the amount of time spent playing in the sandpit is interval data, which is appropriate for analysis using a t-test.

Test of Difference: The t-test is used as a test of difference to compare the means of the two independent groups (2-year-olds and 4-year-olds) to determine if there is a statistically significant difference between their play times.

Experimental Design: The study employed an independent groups design, where the two age groups are distinct and not related or paired, making the unrelated t-test suitable for comparing their mean play times in the sandpit.



The calculated value of t was 3.576

For this study degrees of freedom (df)=18

 The calculated value of t must be equal to or greater than the critical value in this table for significance to be shown. 

24.) With reference to the critical values in Table 22 above, explain whether or not there was a significant difference between the two age groups at the 5% level of significance. ( 2 marks) 

 Model Answer 

If the calculated value of t for the study is equal to or greater than 2.101 for 18 degrees of freedom (df=18), then there is a significant difference between the two age groups at the 5% level of significance.


25.) Referring to the critical values in Table 2, explain why the researcher is very unlikely to have made a Type 1 error. ( 3 marks) 

Model Answer 

A Type 1 error occurs when a researcher incorrectly rejects the null hypothesis, concluding there is a significant effect when there is none. The 5% level of significance strikes a careful balance between being too stringent and too lenient, setting a moderate threshold (2.101 for df=18) that reduces the likelihood of a false positive. Therefore, if the calculated t-value met or exceeded this critical value, the researcher is very unlikely to have made a Type 1 error, as this level effectively balances the risk of such errors.



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