Psychology Extended Essay

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paula_roldan
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#1
Hi Everyone!
I need some help on my extended essay! I want to write something about prisons or prisoners but not sure what to talk about. Like, how do prisons affect their mental health, but i think its too broad. Or a question that talks about if prisons are effective to people but relating it to psychology. I also wanted to do a question that has to do with school shootings and the psychology behind it but I don't know how to word it
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University of Sussex Official Reps
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(Original post by paula_roldan)
Hi Everyone!
I need some help on my extended essay! I want to write something about prisons or prisoners but not sure what to talk about. Like, how do prisons affect their mental health, but i think its too broad. Or a question that talks about if prisons are effective to people but relating it to psychology. I also wanted to do a question that has to do with school shootings and the psychology behind it but I don't know how to word it
Hello, thank you for your question.

As a neuroscience student and someone who has completed psychology at A level, I have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of psychology. Hence, I might be able to help.
Myself, when I think about studies to do with prisons, the first one that comes to mind is the Stanford Prison Experiment Socio-Psychological study. It basically involved the recruitment of college students, who became prisoners or guards in a simulated prison environment. The purpose was to measure the effect of role-playing, labelling, and social expectations on behaviour over a period of two weeks. This study has produced some very controversial but highly interesting findings! In short, the mistreatment of prisoners by the guards escalated so alarmingly that the experiment had to be terminated after only 6 days for health protection reasons. See this link to read more about this study: Stanford Prison Experiment.
Related area of research that has also attracted a lot of attention concerns the study of obedience, compliance and whistle-blowing with regard to the persons in the positions of authority. Milgram's Electric Shock Experiment Study and Bocchiaro et al., (2012) – Disobedience & Whistle-blowing study have been the most influential in this area of research.
The Stanford Prison Experiment provides a lot of links with mental health, due to the evidence of dramatic changes in personality, image of the self, as well as the behaviour of both guards and prisoners towards others, consequential to the internalisation of either social role (guard or prisoner). On the other hand, the Milgram and Bocchiaro studies explain why such sudden changes in behaviour may have taken place. Lastly, this type of research could be used to question the effectiveness of the prison system and be used to explain why many prisoners often commit further crimes after a period of incarceration.

In terms of your school shooting idea, would you like to focus on the witnesses or the shooter? You could explore the mental factors/conditions that predispose individuals to committing such crimes (e.g, psychopathy, personality disorders, past trauma). You can also look at the effects of witnessing this type of event (e.g, post-traumatic stress disorder, social role learning with regard to violence). Furthermore, you can question how being involved in such crimes can increase the probability of being involved in more offences in the future (often even more serious ones). This could be linked to the experience of incarceration, which frequently is also associated with developing mental health issues/ drug addiction problems while in the prison system. Of course, both of these factors tend to encourage law-breaking.

I hope this helps. Of course there is so many other topics that you can potentially explore. I would suggest to try to make your question as specific as possible, since this will help to keep your writing focussed and meaningful.
Let me know if you have any questions or would like any further suggestions.

Best Wishes,
Kasia (4th Year Medical Neuroscience Student, MSci with a Year Abroad)
Last edited by University of Sussex Official Reps; 1 year ago
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anonymous063
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Oml i hope your pillow is always cold on both sides
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University of Sussex Official Reps
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(Original post by anonymous063)
Oml i hope your pillow is always cold on both sides
No worries! Happy to help!
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paula_roldan
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#5
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#5
(Original post by University of Sussex Official Reps)
Hello, thank you for your question.

As a neuroscience student and someone who has completed psychology at A level, I have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of psychology. Hence, I might be able to help.
Myself, when I think about studies to do with prisons, the first one that comes to mind is the Stanford Prison Experiment Socio-Psychological study. It basically involved the recruitment of college students, who became prisoners or guards in a simulated prison environment. The purpose was to measure the effect of role-playing, labelling, and social expectations on behaviour over a period of two weeks. This study has produced some very controversial but highly interesting findings! In short, the mistreatment of prisoners by the guards escalated so alarmingly that the experiment had to be terminated after only 6 days for health protection reasons. See this link to read more about this study: Stanford Prison Experiment.
Related area of research that has also attracted a lot of attention concerns the study of obedience, compliance and whistle-blowing with regard to the persons in the positions of authority. Milgram's Electric Shock Experiment Study and Bocchiaro et al., (2012) – Disobedience & Whistle-blowing study have been the most influential in this area of research.
The Stanford Prison Experiment provides a lot of links with mental health, due to the evidence of dramatic changes in personality, image of the self, as well as the behaviour of both guards and prisoners towards others, consequential to the internalisation of either social role (guard or prisoner). On the other hand, the Milgram and Bocchiaro studies explain why such sudden changes in behaviour may have taken place. Lastly, this type of research could be used to question the effectiveness of the prison system and be used to explain why many prisoners often commit further crimes after a period of incarceration.

In terms of your school shooting idea, would you like to focus on the witnesses or the shooter? You could explore the mental factors/conditions that predispose individuals to committing such crimes (e.g, psychopathy, personality disorders, past trauma). You can also look at the effects of witnessing this type of event (e.g, post-traumatic stress disorder, social role learning with regard to violence). Furthermore, you can question how being involved in such crimes can increase the probability of being involved in more offences in the future (often even more serious ones). This could be linked to the experience of incarceration, which frequently is also associated with developing mental health issues/ drug addiction problems while in the prison system. Of course, both of these factors tend to encourage law-breaking.

I hope this helps. Of course there is so many other topics that you can potentially explore. I would suggest to try to make your question as specific as possible, since this will help to keep your writing focussed and meaningful.
Let me know if you have any questions or would like any further suggestions.

Best Wishes,
Kasia (4th Year Medical Neuroscience Student, MSci with a Year Abroad)
Thank you so much for your help! I really appreciate it, thank you so much.
So far, i have these ideas but I think that they are too simple. Also I'm struggling to see if these topics actually have studies that I can investigate because if I start and there are no studies, I would have to start again. I think the studies I out help support the ideas but I ran out of ideas. Any suggestions on what studies to use or how to improve the questions?


Topic 1: Disorders
Eating disorders
- To what extent can the enviornment explain the development of eating disorders in women
- To what extent can the enviornment contribute to the development of obesity in children?
- Does the biological factor influence the chances of someone getting eating disorders?
- (Thornton, Mazzeo, & Bulik, 2010)

Topic 2: Mental health
- To what extent does isolation influence aggression
- Gaes et al (1985) (stress and aggression)
- Counterargument: Camp & Gaes (2005) (aggressive individuals rather than situation)
- McCorkle et al. (1995) (yes stress, not always aggression)
- To what extent is imprisonment bad for mental health
- The Stanford Prison Experiment (prisoners bad)
- Gaes et al (1985) (stress and aggression)

Topic 3:
- To what extent does the environment influence aggressive behavior
- School shootings
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