‘The methods available to social psychology have the potential to reflect the richness and complexity of people’s lived experience in its setting, but they may also limit, constrain and distort it’ (Hollway, Lucey and Phoenix, 2007, p.35). Discuss with reference to the cognitive social perspective and one other social psychological perspective.
This essay contrasts (i) Psychological Social Psychology as dominated by Cognitive Social psychology (CSP) and employing 'scientific' methodology with (ii) Critical Social Psychology which although exemplified by several perspectives predominantly utilises qualitative methodologies. It shows that methodological characteristics actively construct different types of knowledge. This knowledge has different strengths and limitations that relate to these characteristics. These are illustrated here with reference to CSP and Discursive Social Psychology (DSP) respectively.
Spears et al. (2005) considered how different perspectives might approach the study of emotion. The analysis start point for all approaches was the newspaper headline 'I will always hate you people' an Iraqi woman's response to the mysterious death of her husband detained during the invasion by American and British forces.
The CSP approach to the headline was to provide explanations beyond what was visible and avoid anecdotal interpretations. Generally, CSP achieves this by employing an objective scientific experimental approach. Such approaches control different variables and model their effect on outcomes to investigate cause and effect. They aim to control context, statistically quantify effects and generalise findings across specific populations. In relation to the headline evoking hate, Spears et al. suggested the possibility of theorising and modelling processes that cause hate and the implications of these.
In contrast, DSP deals with 'real' topics and with the conditions of their production, believing our discourse is shaped and ordered to...