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PAST PAPERS: RESEARCH METHODS: AQA A-LEVEL PSYCHOLOGY RESOURCES

Psychology aqa  a-level (7182)  unit 2: 7182/2.

Full model answers for all of these questions are  available here

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THE SYLLABUS

METHODS, TECHNIQUES & DESIGN

  • Primary and secondary data, and meta-analysis. Quantitative and qualitative data
  • Aims, operationalising variables, IV’s and DV’s
  • Hypotheses - directional and non-directional
  • Experimental design - independent groups, repeated measures, matched pairs
  • Validity – internal and external; extraneous and confounding variables; types of validity and improving validity
  • Control – random allocation, randomisation, standardisation
  • Demand characteristics and investigator effects
  • Reliability; types of reliability and improving reliability
  • Pilot studies
  • Correlation analysis – covariables and hypotheses, positive/negative correlations
  • Observational techniques – use of behavioural categories
  • Self-report techniques – design of questionnaires and interviews
  • Case studies
  • Content analysis & thematic analysis

PARTICIPANTS; ETHICS; FEATURES OF SCIENCE & SCIENTIFIC METHOD; THE ECONOMY

  • Selecting participants and sampling techniques
  • The British Psychological Society (BPS) code of ethics and ways of dealing with ethical issues
  • Forms and instructions
  • Peer review
  • Features of science: objectivity, empirical method, replicability and falsifiability, paradigms and paradigm shifts
  • Reporting psychological investigations
  • The implications of psychological research for the economy

DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS

  • Analysis and interpretation of quantitative data. Measures of central tendency - median, mean, mode. Calculating %’s. Measures of dispersion – range and standard deviation (SD)
  • Presentation and interpretation of quantitative data – graphs, histograms, bar charts, scattergrams and tables
  • Analysis and interpretation of correlational data; positive and negative correlations and the interpretation of correlation coefficients
  • Distributions: normal and skewed

INFERENTIAL STATISTICS

  • Introduction
  • Factors affecting choice of statistics test: Spearman’s rho, Pearson’s r, Wilcoxon, Mann-Whitney, related t-test, unrelated t-test, Chi-Squared test
  • Levels of measurement – nominal, ordinal, interval
  • Procedures for statistics tests
  • Probability and significance: use of statistical tables and critical values in interpretation of significance; Type I and Type II errors
  • Introduction to statistical testing: the sign test

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SPECIMEN PAPER 1 ( Psychology A-level revision)

Read the item and then answer the questions that follow.

A psychologist wanted to see if verbal fluency is affected by whether people think they are presenting information to a small group of people or to a large group of people.

The psychologist needed a stratified sample of 20 people. She obtained the sample from a company employing 60 men and 40 women.

The participants were told that they would be placed in a booth where they would read out an article about the life of a famous author to an audience. Participants were also told that the audience would not be present, but would only be able to hear them and would not be able to interact with them.

There were two conditions in the study, Condition A and Condition B.

Condition A: 10 participants were told the audience consisted of 5 listeners.

Condition B: the other 10 participants were told the audience consisted of 100 listeners.

Each participant completed the study individually. The psychologist recorded each presentation and then counted the number of verbal errors made by each participant.

(a) Identify the dependent variable in this study. (2 marks)

(b) Write a suitable hypothesis for this study. (3 marks)

(c)  Identify one extraneous variable that the psychologist should have controlled in the study and explain why it should have been controlled. (3 marks)

(d) Explain one advantage of using a stratified sample of participants in this study. (2 marks)

(e) Explain how the psychologist would have obtained the male participants for her stratified sample. Show your calculations. (3 marks)

(f) The psychologist wanted to randomly allocate the 20 people in her stratified sample to the two conditions. She needed an equal number of males in each condition and an equal number of females in each condition. Explain how she would have done this. (4 marks)

Mean number of verbal errors and standard deviations for both conditions

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 14

(g)  What conclusions might the psychologist draw from the data in the table? Refer to the means and standard deviations in your answer. (6 marks)

(h) Read the item and then answer the question that follows.

The psychologist had initially intended to use the range as a measure of dispersion in this study but found that one person in Condition A had made an exceptionally low number of verbal errors.

Explain how using the standard deviation rather than the range in this situation, would improve the study. [3 marks]

(i) Name an appropriate statistical test that could be used to analyse the number of verbal errors in Table 1. Explain why the test you have chosen would be a suitable test in this case. [4 marks]

(j) The psychologist found the results were significant at p<0.05. What is meant by ‘the results were significant at p<0.05’? [2 marks]

(k) Briefly explain one method the psychologist could use to check the validity of the data she collected in this study. [2 marks]

(l)  Briefly explain one reason why it is important for research to undergo a peer review process. [2 marks]

(m) Read the item and then answer the question that follows.

The psychologist focused on fluency in spoken communication in her study. Other research has investigated sex differences in non-verbal behaviours such as body language and gestures

Design an observation study to investigate sex differences in non-verbal behaviour of males and females when they are giving a presentation to an audience.

In your answer you should provide details of:

  • The task for the participants
  • The behavioural categories to be used and how the data will be recorded
  • How reliability of the data collection might be established
  • Ethical issues to be considered.

(Total 12 marks)

SPECIMEN PAPER 2 ( A-level Psychology revision)

Researchers were interested in the spatial awareness skills of motorists. They decided to investigate a possible relationship between different aspects of spatial awareness. Motorists who had between ten and twelve years of driving experience and held a clean driving licence with no penalty points were asked to complete two sets of tasks.

Set 1: To follow a series of instructions and using a map, to identify various locations correctly. This provided a map reading score for each motorist with a maximum score of 20.

Set 2: To complete a series of practical driving tasks accurately. This involved tasks such as driving between cones, driving within lines and parking inside designated spaces. Each motorist was observed completing the Set 2 tasks by a single trained observer who rated each performance by giving the driver a rating out of 10.

The following results were obtained.

Table 1: The map reading scores and driver ratings of motorists

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS

(a) Should the hypothesis be directional? Explain your answer. (2 marks)

(b) Write a suitable hypothesis for this investigation. (3 marks)

(c) Identify a suitable graphical display for the data in Table 1 and briefly explain why this display would be appropriate. (2 marks)

(d) Using the data in Table 1, comment on the relationship between the map reading scores and the driver rating scores of the participants. [3 marks]

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 1

(e) Briefly outline one problem of using a single trained observer to rate the participants’ driving skills in the practical task. Briefly discuss how this data collection method could be modified to improve the reliability of the data collected. (6 marks)

(f) The researchers decided to analyse the data using a Spearman’s rho test. Explain why this is a suitable choice of test for this investigation. (3 marks)

(g) After analysis of the data the researchers obtained a calculated value of r s = 0.808. Using the information in Table 2 above, what conclusion can the researchers draw about the relationship between the map reading and driving skills of the motorists? Explain your answer. [4 marks]

(h) Distinguish between a Type I error and a Type II error. (4 marks)

When the researchers looked at the data collected more closely they noticed possible gender differences in the results.

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 2

(i) What do the mean and standard deviation values suggest about the male and female performances in the investigation? (4 marks)

In a replication of the part of the study in which map reading skills were investigated, 20 men and 20 women completed the original map reading task and the researchers obtained the following data:

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 3

(j) The mean map reading score for both groups together was 12.23. What percentage of the male group scored above the mean score and what percentage of the female group scored above the mean score? Show your calculations. (4 marks)

(k) Using your answers to both 2 previous questions, comment on the performances of the male and the female participants in this study. (2 marks)

(l) Briefly explain one reason why it is important for research to be replicated. (2 marks)

(m) Imagine you have been asked to design a study to investigate possible gender differences in card sorting behaviours. You decide you will ask participants to sort a shuffled pack of playing cards into their suits of hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades. You decide you will time the participants as they do this using a stop watch.

Discuss the following aspects of this investigation:

  • with reference to the card sorting task, explain how you would ensure that this is made the same task for all participants
  • one methodological issue you should take into account when obtaining suitable participants for this study and explain how you would deal with this issue
  • how you would ensure that the experience of your participants is ethical.

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SPECIMEN PAPER 3 ( AQA A-level Psychology revision)

Following previous research indicating the social benefits of green space in urban areas, two psychology students decided to observe social behaviour in public spaces. They focused on two neighbouring towns, Greensville where most public spaces were planted with flowers and vegetables, and Brownton where most public spaces were paved with concrete.

The students compared the instances of considerate behaviours in the two towns.

Considerate behaviour categories included putting litter in the bin, having a dog on a lead and riding a bike with care.

The observations were carried out in four different areas of a similar size in each town on weekdays between the hours of 4.30pm and 6.00pm. The students worked together to ensure inter-observer reliability, recording each target behaviour whenever it occurred.

(a) Should the hypothesis for this research be directional or non-directional? Explain your answer. (2 marks)

(b) Before the observation could begin, the students needed to operationalise the behaviour category ‘riding a bike with care’.

Explain what is meant by operationalisation and suggest two ways in which ‘riding a bike with care’ could have been operationalised. (4 marks)

(c) The students thought that having a dog on a lead was a useful measure of considerate behaviour because it had face validity. Explain what is meant by face validity in this context. (3 marks)

(d) Identify and briefly outline two other types of validity in psychological research. (4 mark

(e) Identify the behaviour sampling method used by the students. Shade one box only.

  • Time sampling
  • Pair sampling
  • Event sampling
  • Target sampling

(f) Explain how inter-observer reliability could be ensured by working as a pair. (3 marks)

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 4

The students noted that overall more considerate behaviours occurred in Greensville than in Brownton.

(g) Calculate the ratio of considerate behaviours observed in Greensville to considerate behaviours observed in Brownton. Show your workings and present your answer in the simplest form. (3 marks)

(h) The students carried out a Chi-square test on their data.  Explain why the Chi-square test was an appropriate test to use in this case. (3 marks)

(i) In order to interpret the results of the Chi-square test the students first needed to work out the degrees of freedom. They used the following formula.

Degrees of freedom (df) = (r–1) x (c–1)

r = number of rows and c = number of columns

Calculate the degrees of freedom for the data in Table 1. Show your workings.

(j) The calculated value of Chi-square was 6.20. Referring to Table 2 below, state whether or not the result of the Chi-square test is significant at the 0.05 level of significance. Justify your answer. (3 marks)

To be significant at the level shown the calculated value of Chi Square must be equal to or greater than the critical/table value

(k) In the discussion section of their report of the investigation the students wanted to further discuss their results in relation to levels of significance.

Write a short paragraph the students could use to do this. (4 marks)

(l) As a follow-up to their observation the students decided to interview some of their peers about inconsiderate behaviours in their 6th Form Centre. The interviews were recorded.

Explain how the students could develop their interview findings by carrying out a content analysis and why content analysis would be appropriate in this case. (3 marks

(m) Suggest one inconsiderate behaviour that the students might focus on in their content analysis. (1 mark)

(n) Design an experiment to investigate the effect of indoor plants on mood in office workers. For your measure of mood, you should devise a measure that would give data suitable for testing at the ordinal level of measurement.

  • Design – include reference to the experimental design, variables and controls
  • Materials/Apparatus – describe any special materials required
  • Data analysis that could be used – include reference to descriptive and inferential analysis.

Justify your choices. (12 marks)

2017 ( AQA A-level Psychology revision guide)

A psychologist wanted to test whether listening to music improves running performance.

The psychologist conducted a study using 10 volunteers from a local gym. The psychologist used a repeated measures design. Half of the participants were assigned to condition A (without music) and half to condition B (with music).

All participants were asked to run 400 metres as fast as they could on a treadmill in the psychology department. All participants were given standardised instruction. All participants wore headphones in both conditions. The psychologist recorded their running time in seconds. The participants returned to the psychology department the following week and repeated the test in the other condition.

(a) Identify the type of experiment used in this study.

(b) Identify the operationalised dependent variable in the study. (2 marks)

The results of the study are given in Table 1 below.

Table 1. Mean number of second taken to complete the 400m run and the standard deviation for both conditions.

(c) Explain why a histogram would not be an appropriate way of displaying the means shown in Table 1. (2 marks)

(d) Name a more appropriate graph to display the means shown in Table 1. Suggest appropriate X (Horizontal) and Y (vertical) axis labels for your graph choice. (3 marks)

Name of graph

X axis label

Y axis label

(e) What do the mean and standard deviation values in Table 1 suggest about the participants’ performances with and without music? Justify your answer. (4 marks)

(f) Calculate the percentage decrease in the mean time it took participants to run 400 metres when listening to music. Show your workings. Give your answer to three significant figures. (4 marks)

The researcher used a directional hypothesis and analysed the data using a related t-test. The calculated value of t where degrees of freedom (df) = 9 was 1.4377. He decided to use the 5% level of significance.

Table 2. Table of critical values of t

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

(g) Give three reasons why the researcher used a related t-test in this study and, using Table 2, explain whether or not the results are significant (5 marks)

(h) What is meant by a Type II error? Explain why psychologists normally use the 5% level of significance in their research. (3 marks)

(i) Identify one extraneous variable that could have affected the results of this study. Suggest why it would have been important to control this extraneous variable and how it could have been controlled in this study. (3 marks)

(j) The report was submitted for peer review and a number of recommendations were advised.

Describe the process and purposes of peer review. (6 marks)

People’s perception of how they spent their time at the gym is often not very accurate. Some spent more time chatting than on the treadmill. A psychologist decides to observe the actual behaviour of an opportunity sample of gym users at a local gym.

(k) Explain why it is more appropriate for the psychologist to use an observation than a questionnaire in this case. (3 marks)

(l) Design an observational study to investigate how people spent their time at the gym.

In your answer you will be awarded credit for providing appropriate details of

  • Type of observation with justification
  • Operationalised behaviour categories
  • Use of time and/or event sampling with justification
  • How reliability of data collection could be assessed.

2018 ( A-level Psychology resources)

A psychologist was reading an article about typical dream themes in adults.

Figure 2 shows the main dream themes identified in the article.

Figure 2 Main dream themes

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 5

(a) Using Figure 2, estimate the percentage of dreams that were reported to be about being chased. Shade one box only. [1 mark]

A           4%

B           12%

C           27%

D           42%

The psychologist was interested in finding out whether dream themes differed between box males and females, particularly in terms of social interaction. She decided to conduct a pilot study. Twenty undergraduate students (8 male and 12 female) volunteered for the study. For a six-week period the students were interviewed at 9 am each morning when they arrived at university. Interviewers, who did not know the purpose of the study, carried out and recorded the dream interviews.

(a) What is meant by a pilot study? Explain one possible reason why the psychologist decided to conduct a pilot study for this investigation. [3 marks]

(b) The interviews produced qualitative data. What is meant by qualitative data? Give one strength of collecting qualitative data in this study. [2 marks]

(c) What are investigator effects? Suggest one way in which they could have been minimised during the dream interviews. [3 marks]

Another researcher, who did not know the purpose of the study, carried out a content analysis of the interview data.

(d) Explain how this content analysis could have been conducted. [4 marks]

The psychologist wanted to assess the reliability of the content analysis.

(e) Explain how the reliability of the content analysis could be assessed. [4 marks]

When comparing the data for males and females, the psychologist found that there was a difference in the proportion of friendly and aggressive social interactions. This is shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Percentage of friendly and aggressive social interactions in dreams reported by males and females

A total of 375 dreams reported by males included social interaction.

(f) Use the data in Table 2 to calculate how many of these dreams reported by males were classified as aggressive. Show your workings. [2 marks]

(g) Draw a suitable graphical display to represent the data in Table 2 box. Label your graph appropriately. [4 marks]

The psychologist decided to conduct an experiment to investigate the effect of watching box horror films before going to bed.

A volunteer sample of 50 university students consented to take part in the experiment.

The 50 students were randomly split into two groups. Group 1 watched a horror film before going to bed each night for the first week then a romantic comedy before going to bed each night for the second week. Group 2 watched the romantic comedy in the first week and the horror film in the second week.

When the students woke up each morning, each student received a text message that asked if they had had a nightmare during the night. They could respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

(h) Write a brief consent form that would have been suitable for use in this experiment. The consent form should:

  • include some detail of what participants might expect to happen
  • refer to ethical issues
  • be in an appropriate format/style

(i) The psychologist proposed a directional hypothesis.

Write a directional hypothesis for this experiment. [3 marks]

The psychologist used a repeated measures design in this experiment.

(j) Explain why it was important to use a repeated measures design in this case.  [2 marks]

The psychologist used counterbalancing in this experiment.

(k) Explain why it was appropriate to use counterbalancing in this experiment. [2 marks]

(l) Explain how the box psychologist could have randomly split the sample of 50 students into the two groups. [3 marks]

The psychologist collated the responses of all the participants over the two-week period and calculated the mean and standard deviation for each condition.

Table 3: Mean number of nightmares reported and the standard deviation for each condition

(m) What do the mean and standard deviation values in Table 3 suggest about the effect of the type of film watched on the occurrence of nightmares? Justify your answer. [4 marks]

The psychologist found that the difference in the number of nightmares reported in the two conditions was significant at p<0.05.

(n) Explain what is meant by ‘significant at p<0.05’ in the context of this experiment. [2 marks]

(o) The psychologist was concerned about the validity of the experiment.

Suggest one possible modification to the design of the experiment and explain how this might improve validity. [3 marks]

2019 ( AQA A-level Psychology resources)

(a) Which of the following does reliability refer to?

Shade one circle only. [1 mark]

A           The accuracy of the data

B           The consistency of the data

C           The levels of the data

D           The validity of the data

(b) Which of the following is not a role of peer review in the scientific process?

A           To determine whether to award research funding

B           To ensure only significant results are published

C           To make sure research has high validity and reliability

D           To retain the integrity of psychological research

(c) Give one reason why it is important for scientific reports to include a referencing section? [1 mark]

It was recently reported in a newspaper that time spent playing team sports increases happiness levels. A researcher was keen to find out whether this was due to participating in a team activity or due to participating in physical activity, as he could not find any published research on this.

The researcher used a matched-pairs design. He went into the student café and selected the first 20 students he met. Each student was assigned to one of two groups.

Participants in Group A were requested to carry out 3 hours of team sports per week. Participants in Group B were requested to carry out 3 hours of exercise independently in a gym each week. All participants were told not to take part in any other type of exercise for the 4-week duration of the study.

All participants completed a happiness questionnaire at the start and end of the study. The researcher then calculated the improvement in happiness score for each participant.

(d) Which of the following is correct?

A           Groups A and B are conditions of the dependent variable and happiness is the independent variable.

B           Groups A and B are conditions of the independent variable and happiness is the dependent variable.

C           Groups A and B are the controls and happiness is the experimental condition.

D           Groups A and B are the experimental conditions and happiness is the control.

(e) Would a directional or non-directional hypothesis be more suitable for the researcher to use? Explain your answer. 2 marks]

(f) Write a suitable hypothesis for this experiment. [3 marks]

(g) Identify the type of sampling method used in this experiment. Explain one limitation of using this sampling method in this study. [3 marks]

(h) Identify one variable on which participants should be matched in this matched-pairs design. Explain how the researcher could assign matched participants to either Group A or Group B. [4 marks]

(i) Explain one strength of using a matched-pairs design rather than a repeated-measures design. [2 marks]

The results of the study are given in Table 2 below.

               Table 2 Improvement in happiness scores

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 6

The researcher decided to use the Sign Test to see whether there was a significant difference in the improvement in the scores between the two groups at the 5% level of significance.

(j) Calculate the value of S in this study. Show your workings. [2 marks]

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 7

Significance is shown if the calculated value of S is equal to or less than the critical value.

(k) Explain whether or not there was a significant difference in the improvement in the scores between the two groups. Use your answer to Question 22 and Table 3. [2 marks]

The validity of the data was questioned when the researcher presented his results. The researcher explained that he chose to use the happiness questionnaire because it had high concurrent validity.

(l) Explain what it means for a test to have high concurrent validity. [2 marks]

The questionnaire had high concurrent validity.

Validity was still a concern because the researcher knew which participants were in each experimental group.

(m) Explain how this could have affected the validity of the study. [4 marks]

(n) Using your answer to Question m, suggest one way in which the researcher could modify the study to improve the internal validity of the study? Justify your answer. [4 marks]

A psychology teacher read the researcher’s study on sport and happiness. She considered whether setting group tasks could improve her students’ level of happiness. She decided to conduct an independent groups experiment with 30 students taking A-level Psychology using the same happiness questionnaire.

(o) Suggest an appropriate statistical test the psychology teacher could use to analyse the data. Justify your choice of test. [4 marks]

(p) Design an independent groups experiment that the psychology teacher could conduct.

  • the aim of the experiment
  • identification and manipulation of variables including details of the task
  • controls to minimise the effects of extraneous variables
  • data handling and analysis – use of descriptive statistics and/or data presentation.

Justify your design choices. [12 marks]

2020 ( A-level Psychology notes)

A study into the relationship between recreational screen time and academic achievement was conducted. Students were asked to self-report the number of hours spent watching TV, playing on their mobile phones or video games (daily recreational screen time) and their end-of-year test performances (academic performance).

The results of the study are shown in Figure 2.

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 8

(a) In which section(s) of a scientific report would you expect to find reference to the results/findings of the investigation?

A           The abstract and the results sections only

B           The abstract, the discussion and the results sections only

C           The results and the discussion sections only

D           The results section only

(b) Which of the following correlation co-efficients best describes the data represented in Figure 2?

A           –0.80

B           –0.25

C           +0.25

D           +0.80

(c) Identify the type of graph shown in Figure 2 and explain why this is an appropriate graph to use for the data collected. [3 marks]

(d) Explain why it would not be appropriate for the researchers to conclude that increased recreational screen time reduces academic performance. [2 marks]

A psychologist reads a review of a meta-analysis confirming the relationship between recreational screen time and academic performance.

(e) What is meant by the term meta-analysis? [2 marks]

The psychologist decided to design an experiment to test the effects of recreational screen time on children’s academic performance.

The psychologist randomly selected four schools from all the primary schools in her county to take part in the experiment involving Year 5 pupils. Three of the four schools agreed to take part. In total, there were 58 pupils whose parents consented for them to participate. The 58 pupils were then randomly allocated to Group A or Group B.

For the two-week period of the experiment, pupils in Group A had no recreational screen time. Pupils in Group B were allowed unrestricted recreational screen time. At the end of the experiment all pupils completed a 45-minute class test, to achieve a test score.

(f) Complete Table 1 by ticking the statement that best describes the population and the sample in the psychologist’s experiment.

Place one tick in each column. [2 marks]

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 9

(g) Briefly explain why a directional hypothesis would be most suitable for this experiment. [1 mark]

(h) Write an appropriate hypothesis for this experiment. [3 marks]

The results obtained from the experiment are summarised in Table 2.

Table 2  Descriptive statistics for the test performance scores for Group A and Group B

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 10

(i) Using the data in Table 2, explain how the distribution of scores in Group A differs from the distribution of scores in Group B. [4 marks]

(j) What do the mean and standard deviation values in Table 2 suggest about the effect of the recreational screen time on test performance? Justify your answer. [4 marks]

(k) The psychologist wanted to test the statistical significance of the data.

Identify the most appropriate choice of statistical test for analysing the data collected and explain three reasons for your choice in the context of this study. [7 marks]

One criticism of the study is that the pupils were not matched on their typical recreational screen time.

(l) Explain how the psychologist could have matched pupils on their typical recreational screen time across the experimental conditions. [4 marks]

(m) Identify one other variable for which the psychologist could have matched the pupils. Explain how this might have affected the test performance if it was not controlled. [2 marks]

The feedback from one of the schools was that recreational screen time affected pupils’ social interactions. The psychologist decided to investigate this further by using an observation of social interaction during playtime at the school.

(n) Design the observation to investigate pupils’ social interaction in the playground.

In your answer you will be awarded credit for providing appropriate details of:

  • type of observation, with justification
  • choice of time sampling or event sampling, with justification
  • dealing with one relevant ethical issue
  • assessing reliability of the data through inter-observer reliability.

2021 ( AQA A-level Psychology notes)

A researcher placed an advert in a university psychology department asking for third year students to participate in a sleep experiment.

Each student had a sleep tracker watch to wear at home for the two-week study. Each morning they were asked to open the sleep tracker app to view their sleep quality data on their mobile phones. The students were unaware that the sleep data they could see on their phones had been manipulated by the researcher. Over the two weeks of the study, each student saw that he or she had had poor sleep quality for seven random nights of the experiment and good sleep quality for the remaining nights.

Every morning, after viewing the sleep data, each student completed a questionnaire about the previous night’s sleep. One of the questions asked the students to rate how well rested they felt, on a scale from 1–10, after the previous night’s sleep. Apart from this, students were asked to continue their normal everyday activities.

(a) Which of the following best describes the experimental method used in this study?

Shade one box only. [1 mark]

A           Field experiment

B           Laboratory experiment

C           Natural experiment

D           Quasi-experiment

(b) Write a directional hypothesis the researcher might use for this study. [3 marks]

(c) Which of the following best describes the sampling method used in this study?

A           Opportunity sampling

B           Stratified sampling

C           Systematic sampling

D           Volunteer sampling

(d) Explain one strength and one limitation of using this sampling method in this study. [4 marks]

The researcher collected quantitative data about how well rested the students felt.

(e) Explain one strength of collecting quantitative data in this study. [2 marks]

One ethical issue in this study is deception, as the students were unaware that the sleep data they could see on their phones had been manipulated by the researcher.

(f) Explain one way in which the researcher might deal with the deception in this study. [2 marks]

Apart from the question about how well rested the students felt, the researcher’s questionnaire contained nine other questions. The responses to these questions were not analysed.

(g) Explain one reason why the researcher decided to include these additional questions on the questionnaire. [2 marks]

(h) Explain one limitation of assessing sleep quality using a rating scale of 1–10. [2 marks]

The researcher believed that the actual number of hours slept by the students could have affected the results of the study.

(i) Suggest one other extraneous variable that could have affected the results of this study. Explain why it would have been important to control this extraneous variable and how it could have been controlled in this study. [4 marks]

In a follow-up study, the researcher investigated whether there was a correlation between the number of hours slept and how well rested the students felt.

The researcher randomly selected 18 participants from first-year students at the university.

On the day of the study, each student participant was asked, ‘How many hours did you sleep last night?’ They then had to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how well rested they felt.

The researcher hypothesised that there would be a positive correlation between the two co-variables.

(j) Outline one reason why it was appropriate to conduct a correlation rather than an experiment in this case. [2 marks]

(k) Describe how the researcher could have used random sampling to obtain the students for this study. [3 marks]

The researcher used Spearman’s rho statistical test to analyse the data from this study.

(l) Explain why Spearman’s rho was a suitable test for this study. Refer to the description of the study in your answer. [4 marks]

The researcher chose to use the 5% level of significance and the calculated correlation coefficient for the Spearman’s rho test was 0.395

AQA PSYCHOLOGY A LEVEL RESEARCH METHODS 11

(m) Identify the appropriate critical value from Table 1. Explain your choice. [4 marks]

(n) Explain whether the researcher’s hypothesis should be accepted. Refer to the critical value identified in Question 21 in your answer. [2 marks]

(o) Explain why the researcher decided to use the 5% level of significance rather than the 1% level in this study. [2 marks]

When the researcher compared the calculated and critical values of rho, he began to wonder if he might have made a Type II error.

(p) Explain what is meant by a Type II error in the context of this study. [2 marks]

(q) Discuss features of science. Refer to one or more examples of psychological research in your answer. [8 marks]

2022 ( A-level Psychology revision notes)

A controlled observation was designed to compare the social behaviours of pre-school children of working parents and pre-school children of stay-at-home parents. The sample consisted of 100 children aged three, who were observed separately. Half of the children had working parents and the other half had stay-at-home parents.

The observation took place in a room which looked like a nursery, with a variety of toys available. In the room, there were four children and one supervising adult. Their behaviour was not recorded.

Each child participant was brought into the room and settled by their parent. The parent then left to sit outside. Each child participant’s behaviour was observed covertly for five minutes while they played in the room.

The observation was conducted in a controlled environment and a standardised script was used when the children and their parents arrived.

(a) Explain why the researcher used a controlled observation and a standardised script in this study. [4 marks] 

(b) Identify one limitation of controlled observations. [1 mark]

The researcher used two trained observers to record the social behaviours of each child during the observation.

(c) Give two behavioural categories that the observers could have used in the observation to assess the pre-school children’s social behaviour. Explain why your chosen categories are appropriate. [4 marks]

(d) Describe how the observers could use time sampling to record the social behaviour of each child during the five-minute period. [4 marks]

(e) Explain one strength and one limitation of using time sampling for this observation. [4 marks]

(f) Explain how the reliability of the controlled observation could be assessed through inter-observer reliability. [4 marks]

The data from the observation was summarised by converting the number of agreed observations into a total social behaviour score for each child.

The researcher then conducted a statistical test to identify whether there was a significant difference between the social behaviour scores for the children of stay-at-home parents and those of working parents.

(g) Identify an appropriate statistical test that the researcher could use to analyse the social behaviour scores in this study. Explain three reasons for your choice in the context of this study. [7 marks]

(h) Explain one reason why collecting quantitative data could reduce the validity of this study. [2 marks]

The findings of this study might have implications for the economy.

(i) Explain one or more possible implications of this study for the economy. [3 marks]

This study was written up as a scientific report.

(j) Describe features of the abstract section in a scientific report. [3 marks]

A new TV programme has been developed to increase positive social behaviours in pre-school children.

There is a proposal to carry out an experiment to compare the effects of the new TV programme and an existing TV programme, on positive social behaviours in pre-school children.

A sample of 500 pre-school children and their parents is available for the experiment. The parents have given consent for their children to take part in this experiment.

The experiment will take place over an 8-week period. Data on the children’s social behaviours will be gathered from the parents using a self-report method.

(j) Design the experiment to investigate whether watching the new TV programme leads to an increase in positive social behaviours in the children, compared with watching the existing TV programme.

In your answer you will gain credit for providing appropriate details of the following:

  • the type of experimental design, with justification
  • a self-report method of data collection, with justification
  • how to control one extraneous variable, with justification as to why this would need to be controlled.

Providing a study guide and revision resources for students and psychology teaching resources for teachers.

Paper 2 - Research Methods

Paper 2 research methods, as/a level revision notes (aqa).

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Research Methods Resources

Quantitative and qualitative data: the distinction between qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques.

Paper 2 - Psychology in Context | Research Methods | 30 Minutes

Variables In Psychological Research

Experimental methods in psychology, aims and hypotheses, directional and non-directional​, sampling methods, experimental designs, ethics; including the role of the british psychological society’s code of ethics, correlational analysis: positive, negative and zero correlations, naturalistic observation, questionnaire construction; including the use of open and closed questions, design of interviews, case studies, pilot study, reliability, features of science, objectivity and the empirical method, psychological report writing, primary and secondary data, including meta-analysis, descriptive statistics: measures of central tendency (mean, median and mode), presentation and display of quantitative data: graphs, tables, scatter grams and bar charts, measures of dispersion (range and standard deviation), calculating percentages, quantitative data analysis - normal and skewed distributions, sign test – inferential statistics, statistical (inferential) testing​, qualitative data analysis, the role of peer review in the scientific process​.

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A-Level AQA Psychology Questions by Topic

Filter by paper, core content, 1. social influence, 3. attachment, 4 . psychopathology, 5 . approaches in psychology, 6. biopsychology, 7 . research methods, 8. issues and debates in psychology, 9. relationships, 11. cognition and development, 12. schizophrenia, 13. eating behaviour, 15. aggression, 16. forensic psychology, 17. addiction.

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​Example Answer for Question 21 Paper 2: A Level Psychology, June 2017 (AQA)

Last updated 25 Apr 2018

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Section C – Research Methods: Q21 [12 Marks]

Type of Observation

For this observation, I would conduct a covert , naturalistic , non-participant and structured observation . The observation would be covert, and I would pose as a gym member or member of staff so that my observations do not affect the behaviour of the gym users. This would ensure that the behaviour I am observing is natural and that observer bias is minimised. Furthermore, there are no ethical issues with conducting a covert observation in the main gym because the behaviour in question is taking place in a public setting. The observation would therefore take place in a naturalistic (gym) setting and naturalistic observations tend to have higher external validity as the behaviour is being examined in the environment where it naturally occurs. I would not interact or engage with the people I am observing ( non-participant ) as this will improve my objectivity because I am remaining distant from the participants. Most importantly, I would conduct a structured observation as I would create a list of behavioural categories that I would use to observe gym behaviour.

Operationalised Behavioural Categories

I would include a range of behavioural categories based on the different pieces of equipment in the gym, including Treadmill – Walking/Jogging/Running; Bike – Cycling; Lifting Weights – Arms (biceps/triceps); Lifting Weights – Chest; Lifting Weights – Shoulders; Lifting Weights – Legs, etc. I would also include a category for resting (either standing or seated). I will collect this data using a tally sheet, as shown below, and the number of people engaging in each activity will be recorded every five minutes.

psychology paper 2 research methods questions

Use of Time/Event Sampling

For this observation, I would use time sampling where I would record the behaviour of everyone in the gym every five minutes. This would allow me to record (using a tally sheet) what different gym users are doing every five minutes and allow me to see whether people move onto different types of exercise at pre-determined intervals. Time sampling would be appropriate as it would allow us to gain a snapshot of activity at pre-determined time intervals. Event sampling would be difficult as you would be required to record every time a person moves from one piece of equipment to another, and this might be difficult to track.  

Assessing Reliability

I will establish the reliability of the data by using two observers, to check for inter-observer reliability . I will operationalise the behavioural categories clearly and train the observers in how to use the tally sheet to record behaviour. Then I will get them both to observe the same gym for one hour and use a correlation test to determine how similar their scores were for each behaviour. If I found a correlation coefficient of .80 or more then I will know that there was a high level of reliability.

[~475 words]

Please Note:  These answers have been produced without the knowledge of the mark scheme and merely reflect my attempt at producing a model answer on the day of the exam.

  • Research Methods
  • Observational Study
  • Structured observation
  • Controlled observation
  • Covert observation

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A-level Sociology (AQA) Revision Notes

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Learn about our Editorial Process

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

On This Page:

Revision guide for AQA A-Level (7192) and AS-Level Sociology (7191), including straightforward study notes, independent study booklets, and past paper questions and answers. Fully updated for the summer 2021 term.

Download Past Paper Questions With Answers

Thanks to the Hectic Teacher for allowing us to link to these resources:

Paper 1: Education with Methods in Context

  • Study Booklet Part 1
  • Study Booklet Part 2
  • Study Booklet Part 3
  • Complete Revision Notes
  • Short Questions and Answers
  • the role and functions of the education system, including its relationship to the economy and to class structure
  • differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity in contemporary society
  • relationships and processes within schools, with particular reference to teacher/pupil relationships, pupil identities and subcultures, the hidden curriculum, and the organisation of teaching and learning
  • the significance of educational policies, including policies of selection, marketisation and privatisation, and policies to achieve greater equality of opportunity or outcome, for an understanding of the structure, role, impact and experience of and access to education; the impact of globalisation on educational policy.

Methods in Context

  • Students must be able to apply sociological research methods to the study of education.

Paper 2: Research Methods and Topics in Sociology

Research methods, topic 2: families and households, topic 5: beliefs in society, topic 6: global development.

  • Revision Notes
  • Knowledge Organiser
  • quantitative and qualitative methods of research; research design
  • sources of data, including questionnaires, interviews, participant and non-participant observation, experiments, documents and official statistics
  • the distinction between primary and secondary data, and between quantitative and qualitative data
  • the relationship between positivism, interpretivism and sociological methods; the nature of ‘social facts’
  • the theoretical, practical and ethical considerations influencing choice of topic, choice of method(s) and the conduct of research
  • the relationship of the family to the social structure and social change, with particular reference to the economy and to state policies
  • changing patterns of marriage, cohabitation, separation, divorce, childbearing and the life course, including the sociology of personal life, and the diversity of contemporary family and household structures
  • gender roles, domestic labour and power relationships within the family in contemporary society
  • the nature of childhood, and changes in the status of children in the family and society
  • demographic trends in the United Kingdom since 1900: birth rates, death rates, family size, life expectancy, ageing population, and migration and globalisation
  • ideology, science and religion, including both Christian and non-Christian religious traditions
  • the relationship between social change and social stability, and religious beliefs, practices and organisations
  • religious organisations, including cults, sects, denominations, churches and New Age movements, and their relationship to religious and spiritual belief and practice
  • the relationship between different social groups and religious/spiritual organisations and movements, beliefs and practices
  • the significance of religion and religiosity in the contemporary world, including the nature and extent of secularisation in a global context, and globalisation and the spread of religions
  • development, underdevelopment and global inequality
  • globalisation and its influence on the cultural, political and economic relationships between societies
  • the role of transnational corporations, non-governmental organisations and international agencies in local and global strategies for development
  • development in relation to aid and trade, industrialisation, urbanisation, the environment, and war and conflict
  • employment, education, health, demographic change and gender as aspects of development

Paper 3: Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods

Crime and deviance.

  • Study Booklet Part 4
  • Example Essays

Theory and Methods

  • Independent Study Booklet Part 1
  • Independent Study Booklet Part 2
  • Methods Flash Cards
  • Theory Flash Cards
  • crime, deviance, social order and social control
  • the social distribution of crime and deviance by ethnicity, gender and social class, including recent patterns and trends in crime
  • globalisation and crime in contemporary society; the media and crime; green crime; human rights and state crimes
  • crime control, surveillance, prevention and punishment, victims, and the role of the criminal justice system and other agencies
  • consensus, conflict, structural and social action theories
  • the concepts of modernity and post-modernity in relation to sociological theory
  • the nature of science and the extent to which Sociology can be regarded as scientific
  • the relationship between theory and methods
  • debates about subjectivity, objectivity and val
  • the relationship between Sociology and social policy

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ao3 in sociology a-level.

AO3 is an assessment objective for analysing and evaluating sociological theories, concepts, evidence and research methods in order to present arguments, make judgements and reach conclusions.

Examples of AO3 points include:

  • Evaluate from other PERSPECTIVES – What would other perspectives say about the theory / concept? Is there a counter-argument?
  • Evaluate – HISTORICAL CRITICISM – Is the theory/ concept dated? When was the concept developed? Is it still relevant today, or has society changed so much that it is no longer relevant? Has society changed in such a way that some aspects of the theory are now more relevant?
  • Evalaute – POWER/ BIAS/ VALUE FREEDOM? Who developed the concept/ theory – whose interests does it serve? For example, “x” theor is ethnocentric because….

What is the fastest way to revise sociology?

There is no great mystery about how to study for sociology A-level. Many students, although they’re not naturally that ‘academic’ still score A and A* grades through sheer hard work, focus and determination.

Before you start you need to satisfy yourself that you have good syllabus notes to work from. Although most textbooks are fine in places they have a tendency to either not give enough detail on certain topics or give too much information (which can be just as bad).

As long as you have great syllabus notes and lots of past paper questions the rest is really up to you. If you want to score an A* or A grade you need to act like someone who’s going to score these grades.

You are competing against people who are going to put in a hell of a lot of hard work so you need to work as hard as or harder than them. And you need to think about what hard work really is.

What are the most effective ways of revising subject knowledge?

  • Ask “How” and “Why” questions  when revising and try to connect ideas (this method is called “elaboration”)
  • No cramming . Distribute your revision over time and use a spaced system of repetition
  • Switch topics regularly  when revising (this is called “ interleaving ” and it will help you to identify connections between different topics)
  • Words and visuals . Combine words and visual representations to create two ways of remembering key ideas (this is called “dual coding”)
  • Teachers! Students! Please get in touch if you have any A-level sociology notes you would like to share. We would really like to cover all 8 topics for paper 2.
  • Please contact us via email [email protected] .

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