A-level Psychology Paper 1 (AQA) unofficial markscheme - 17 May 2024

A psychology tutor shares their take on all the questions and answers from the 2024 AQA A-level Psychology Paper 1

After the AQA A-level Psychology Paper 1 on 17 May 2024, The Student Room community came together to discuss all the questions and answers from the exam.

In that discussion, a psychology tutor posting on The Student Room as saskiahdltea added a brilliant markscheme that summarises the questions and key points needed to answer each.

Remember, this is 100% unofficial: the community member has posted this as a rough markscheme, from "a tutor who did not see the exact questions so less on the application, but points taken from previous markschemes". There is no guarantee that the questions and answers in this are complete or correct.

But hopefully you find it helpful in your own A-level Psychology studies - and thanks again to saskiahdltea for sharing.

Social influence:  
Question 1 - Ethical concern of research into social influence, name at least one study. (4)

Psychological harm - Zimbardo, Milgram


Deception - Asch, Milgram


Informed consent - Asch, Milgram, Zimbardo


Right to withdraw - Milgram, Zimbardo

Question 2 - Applied Explanations for conformity (6)

People agree with the opinion of the majority in order to be liked and gain approval/avoid ridicule


This leads to compliance which is where people will agree publicly with the group privately but they do not change their personal opinions


Theory related to conformity such as informational social influence and/or internalisation


TIentification ; When a person changes their public behaviour and private belief but only when they are in the presence of the group. Short term change the result of nsi.

Question 3 - Applied Explanations for obedience (6)

Credit also the inverse of factors usually used to explain conformity and obedience, eg (lack of) uniform; (increased) distance between participant and victim/authority figure; (reduced) group size; (lack of) ambiguity of task; (lack of) social support.


Authoritarian personality: a collection of traits/dispositions developed from strict/rigid parenting; examples of traits - conformist /conventional/dogmatic; obedient/servile towards people of perceived higher status


Legitimacy of authority: of context/setting; genuineness/status of authority figure.


Agentic shift/state: person 'unthinkingly' carries out orders; diffusion of responsibility

Question 4 - Consistency and Flexibility role in minority influence (8)

Consistency is repeating the same message


Flexibility is listening to others and being willing to change an opinion


Minority influence refers to situations where one person or a small group of people change the ideas or beliefs of other people.


Moscovici, Nameth, Martin et al


Use of artificial materials


Other factors may be involved (commitment)


Issues with specific studies (Moscovici had very low % influence)

Question 1 - Applied explain how inferential testing can improve this investigation (3)

Establish a relationship between the two variables


Generalise results to the general population

  Quantify results

Establish a conclusion

Question 2 - Applied identify which statistical test should be used for this investigation. Explain why. (5)

The researcher is looking for an association/relationship (between two variables). Link to the stem


The data type obtained is ordinal, at least ordinal or interval level


Naming a test: Spearman’s rank order correlation / rho or Pearson’s R


For Spearman’s rank order correlation accept: data collected is most likely treated at ordinal level of measurement due to self-report.


For Pearson accept: Pearson’s product moment correlation is a robust test, even if not all data can be treated as truly interval.

Question 3 - Explain two differences between episodic and semantic memories (4)

Episodic is knowledge of situations/events, semantic is knowledge of facts


Stored in different locations in the brain


Episodic memories are time stamped, semantic are not


Episodic memories are related to emotions (strength determined by emotions, semantic are not)

Question 4 - Explain retrieval failure as an explanation for forgetting. Outline one limitation. (4)

Forgetting is due to insufficient clues or cues


Lack of external contextual cues - where environment for learning and recall is different


Lack of internal contextual cues - where physical state from learning and recall is different


Use of artificial materials in lab studies


Context effect only occurs when memory is test in a particular way


Context has to be very different in real-life to have any effect

Question 5 - Discuss Post Event Discussion and eye witness testimony (8)

One source of misleading information comes from leading questions. However, misleading information in the real world can come from other sources, for example other witnesses (co-witnesses), when they discuss the details of a crime of accident, following an incident. This is known as post-event discussion.


Gabbert et al. (2003) investigated the effect of post-event discussion on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. Her sample consisted of 60 students from the University of Aberdeen and 60 older adults recruited from a local community. Gabbert et al. found that 71% of the witnesses in the co-witness group recalled information they had not actually seen and 60% said that the girl was guilty, despite the fact they had not seen her commit a crime.


The results of Gabbert et al. also have questionable ecological validity.


Gabbert et al. tested two different populations, university students and older adults and found little difference between these two conditions. Therefore her results provide good population validity and allow us to conclude that post-even discussion affects younger and older adults in a similar way.


Although Gabbert’s results provide an insight into the effect of post-event discussion on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, we are unable to conclude why the distortion occurs. The

Question 1 - Which attachment behaviour is being shown in stem. (1)

Reciprocity/turn taking

Question 2 - Which attachment behaviour is being shown in stem. (1)

Interactional synchrony

Question 3 - Explain the concepts ‘Critical Period’ and ‘Internal Working Model’ in the context of attachment (6)

Notion of critical/sensitive period up to approx. 2 years


Attachment to primary caregiver provides child with internal working model of relationships (Bowlby). The model represents/gives a mental view of relationship with primary figure and acts as a template for future relationships.Continuity in quality/type of relationship across generations. Credit application of knowledge and research into the origin and/or consequence of the internal working model eg McCarthy 1999

Question 4 - Discuss Romanian Orphan Studies (16)

Knowledge of studies and/or theory into the effects of institutionalisation, including reference to the Romanian orphan studies


Likely effects include: effects identified by Bowlby (1946): e.g. affectionless psychopathy, delinquency, low IQ.


Effects identified in privation studies: e.g. Harlow’s findings of delinquency, affectionless behaviour.


ERA findings of quasi-autistic symptoms in Romanian orphans, impaired language and social skills; disinhibited attachment; attention seeking, clinginess; lower frequency of pretend play and reduced empathy (Kreppner et al 1999); more likely to be classified as disorganised attachment type (Zeanah et al 2005).


The effects of levels of privation in institutions (Gunnar 2000).


Credit links to theory – reactive attachment disorder; lack of internal working model.


Discussion/analysis/use of evidence:


Research enhanced understanding of negative effects – establishment of key workers in institutions.


Evidence that adverse effects of institutionalisation can be overcome with adequate substitute care: e.g. Rutter (1998); Hodges and Tizard (1989).


Importance of age of adoption and quality/stability of aftercare.


Problems of generalising from Romanian studies as standards of care were particularly poor.


Adoption vs control groups were not randomly assigned in ERA studies –more sociable children may have been selected.


Other studies, e.g. Bucharest Early Intervention Project, did randomly allocate but ethical issues with this.


Long-term effects on Romanian orphans are not yet clear.


Early studies of institutionalisation were poorly controlled or effects extrapolated from animal studies.


Credit use of evidence



Question 1 - Multiple choice, tick the 2 that are emotional characteristics of OCD (2) anxiety
  low mood
Question 2 - Explain the two process model using STEM (8)

Acquired by classical conditioning - UCS was the breaking the arm/ danger associated with the dog and the NS was the dog which causes the conditioned response.


Leads to avoidance and the phobia is maintained by operant conditioning through positive and negative reinforcement. The Relief felt from avoidance.


when avoiding balloons becomes reinforcing


Description of the two-process theory


Reference to avoidance learning; reference to generalisation.

Question 3 - Discuss the cognitive approach to explaining depression (16)

Ellis created the ABC model to explain depression. A is an activating event which happens in someone's life. B is the belief about why that event happened. C is the consequence of that belief. If the belief is irrational, then it will lead to negative emotions like depression. These irrational beliefs come from musturbatory thinking, which means thinking that certain assumptions must be true if someone is to be happy. If you hold these musturbatory thoughts, you are likely to be disappointed or even depressed.


Beck's cognitive explanation for depression sees the roots of the disorder as lying in traumatic childhood experiences, such as continual parental criticism and/or rejection by others. These experiences lead to negative cognitive schemas developing, such as expecting to fail in situations similar to those present when the schemas were learned. These expectations lead to depression. Negative schemas and biases maintain what Beck calls the negative triad, a pessimistic and irrational view relating to the self, the world, and the future


Alloy and Abrahamson (1979) found that depressed people actually gave more accurate estimates of the likelihood of disaster than non-depressed people. This suggests that depressive realists tend to see things as they are rather than as they would like them to be.


However, the fact that there is a link between negative thoughts and depression does not mean we can be sure that irrational thinking causes depression. It could be that depression leads to irrational thinking.


A strength of the cognitive explanation for depression is that it focuses on the person, and it gives them both the responsibility for their disorder and the opportunity to change their thinking.


However, a weakness is that it tends to ignore situational factors, such as life events, which might have contributed to the depression. Instead it says that the disorder is all in the person's head and to recover they have to change how they think about the situation, not the situation itself.


The cognitive approach to depression has useful real-life applications, for example, through the use of therapy. Beck's and Ellis' theories have both been used to create therapies, such as CBT. This therapy has been found to be the best treatment for depression, so if depression is successfully treated by challenging irrational thoughts, then irrational thoughts are probably a cause of depression


Another problem is that, as well as cognitive factors, it is very likely that genetic factors and neurotransmitters are involved in depression. Research has shown that depressed people have lower levels of serotonin. This means that neurotransmitters also play a role in causing depression, and so a diathesis-stress model could be a better explanation for depression rather than cognitive or biological explanations on their own.

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