Published on January 16, 2014
Leah Spasova Staffordshire University
Experimental/Positivism/mainstream psychology/ Constructivism Key words Hypothesis Experiment Quantitative data Questionnaires, Surveys Top down Objective Observation of phenomenon Random allocation of participants
Critical Social Psychology/ Social constructionism Key words Research Q emerges from data Qualitative data Interviews/focus groups/language as data Bottom up Subjective views in context Construction of ideas
Experimental social psychology Critical social psychology Informed by positivism • [Social] Psychology as a science • Hypothetic-deductive method Informed by social constructionism • Shared meaning • Importance of cultural/historical context Data collection methods are quantitative • Experiments • Surveys • Statistical analysis Data collection methods are qualitative • Interviews/focus groups/language as data • Discourse analysis Social identity is complex but • Stable • Can be measured • Part of our cognition Social identity is complex and • Fluid • Shaped by cultural/historical context Attitudes are • Stable • Hard to measure, but can be • Part of our cognition Attitudes • Don’t really exist as a stable cognition • Are not ‘in the head’
The many names Traditional/Experimental Social Psychology Constructivism Experimental Positivism Mainstream Hypothetico-deductive conventional psychology Critical Social Psychology Social Constructionism
Constructionism Argues – We must Examine talk/language and – Consider/value shared meaning & importance of context Cultural context Historical context – Conversation is the most important means of maintaining, – – – – – – modifying and reconstructing subjective reality. Reality is subjective and constructed ‘on the fly’ We are social beings and our actions/behaviours are meaningful To understand meaningful behaviour we need to interpret it Stop considering social psychology like a ‘natural science’ SC challenges biometrical reality and questions apparently self-evident and stable realities. Stresses multiple-meanings/interpretation
Advantages of Social Constructionism Provides in-depth findings Considers social environment and influences Because of close researcher involvement, the researcher gains an insider's view of the field. This allows the researcher to find issues that are often missed (such as subtleties and complexities) by the scientific, more positivistic enquiries. Qualitative descriptions can play the important role of suggesting possible relationships, causes, effects and dynamic processes. Because statistics are not used, but rather qualitative research uses a more descriptive, narrative style, this research might be of particular benefit to the practitioner as she or he could turn to qualitative reports in order to examine forms of knowledge that might otherwise be unavailable, thereby gaining new insight. Qualitative research adds flesh and blood to social analysis.
Criticism on Constructionism Accused of being anti-realist, in denying that knowledge is direct perception of reality, Craib, 1997 It doesn’t recognize objective reality, Bury, 1986 Not reliable/valid findings - The problem of adequate validity or reliability is a major criticism. Because of the subjective nature of qualitative data and its origin in single contexts, it is difficult to apply conventional standards of reliability and validity. Cannot be replicated - Contexts, situations, events, conditions and interactions cannot be replicated to any extent nor can generalisations be made to a wider context than the one studied with any confidence. Lengthy - The time required for data collection, analysis and interpretation is lengthy. Researcher's presence has a profound effect on the subjects of study. The viewpoints of both researcher and participants have to be identified and elucidated because of issues of bias.
About the Experimental Focus on what makes individuals do what they do Systematic creation of a hypothesis and subjecting it to an empirical test. Experiments are conducted in an attempt to answer certain questions. Control: This is the most important element because it enables the scientist to identify the causes of his or her observations.
Advantages of the Experimental Can be replicated Reliability Validity Experiment variables can be controlled- through sampling and design Precision - through quantitative and reliable measurement Ability to produce causality statements, through the use of controlled experiments Statistical techniques allow for sophisticated analyses
Disadvantages of Experimental Because of the complexity of human experience it is difficult to rule out or control all the variables; Because of human agency people do not all respond in the same ways as inert matter in the physical sciences; Its mechanistic ethos tends to exclude notions of freedom, choice and moral responsibility; Quantification can become an end in itself. It fails to take account of people's unique ability to interpret their experiences, construct their own meanings and act on these. It leads to the assumption that facts are true and the same for all people all of the time. Quantitative research often produces banal and trivial findings of little consequence due to the restriction on and the controlling of variables. It is not totally objective because the researcher is subjectively involved in the very choice of a problem as worthy of investigation and in the interpretation of the results. Source:http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/staff/academicstaff/chughes/hughesc _index/teachingresearchprocess/quantitativequalitative/quantitativequalitative
Social Constructionism Criticisms on Experimental – Social constructionists argue that positivist conceptions – – – – – of social are outdated European approach of universal group theories that can apply to any group European idea that group membership is a cognitive thing Positivism does not allow a focus on meaning/ interpretation and context -Reductionist Only simple responses can be given & the parameters are pre-set - No opportunity to explain response Complex, varied responses cannot be given
Why does the approach matter? Traditional Approach Research questions: The effect of X on Y The relationship between X and Y Critical Approach Research questions: How is X constructed? Measurement tools: Quantitative (reaction time, cognitive tasks, questionnaires) Measurement tools: Qualitative (discourse analysis) Outcomes: Numerical data Generalisable Outcomes: Talk No generalising intended
In a nutshell...... All we have to do is the RIGHT EXPERIMENTS to find out what’s REALLY GOING ON POSITIVIST Dr Zimbardo All we can do is examine how people CONSTRUCT their lives using LANGUAGE in the HERE AND NOW SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONIST Kenneth Gergen
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