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Jun 07, 2023

Part 1: Essay
Drawing on Chapter 6 of Investigating Psychology, evaluate the usefulness of psychology in assessing the impact that culture may have on childhood friendships.
70 per cent of the mark
Word limit: 1000 words
Part 2: DE100 project report – Method
Write the Method section of your DE100 project report.
30 per cent of the mark
Word limit: 600 words


Relevant material
You will find relevant material in Chapter 6 of Investigating Psychology. There is a great deal of potentially useful information in this chapter, so you will need to be selective about the points on which you choose to focus.
Section 1 of Chapter 6 of Investigating Psychology introduces the concept of friendship to the reader. The section goes on to cover what friendship is, issues with defining friendship, potential requirements that are needed for a relationship to be categorised as a friendship, and the influence that friendships may have on children’s behaviour. This material is mostly descriptive and will help to give you an overview for the essay. However, please keep any description of what friendship is in your essay brief, as your word count is limited, and tutors will expect to see evidence of evaluation.
Section 2 provides context to a study conducted by Bigelow and La Gaipa (1975). This study collected qualitative data on friendships from essays of children (children were asked to write about what they expected of their best friend in comparison with other friends) and transformed this data so that quantified comparisons could be made. There is some useful information here, with some differences between the genders in relation to expectations of activities concerned with organised play, which may be caused by cultural norms. Sections that do not focus much on culture may be used to suggest that psychology has not been useful in assessing the impact that culture may have on childhood friendships, with psychology focusing too much on childhood friendships that take place in the west.
Section 3 discusses two methods that are used to study friendships in children: (1) interviews, and (2) ethnography. This section highlights the differences between the two approaches, potential limitations and strengths, and how each method can be used to uncover different types of information. The section gives an example of the rich data that is likely to be collected from both ethnographic studies and interviews. It also shows that Corsaro (2006) and Bigelow and La Gaipa (1975) reached different conclusions because the methods they used investigated childhood friendships in various ways. Further, this section highlights how certain types of methodologies, such as ethnography, will allow the researcher to become aware of important cultural influences, values and definitions (what it even means to be a friend) of a group. Methodologies such as ethnography may therefore give a rich insight into how group cultures may influence childhood friendships, meaning the usefulness of psychology in assessing the impact that culture may have on childhood friendships may depend on the methodology used.
Section 4 provides you with modern examples of research that explores the friendships of children and young people. Here, the information mostly provides examples of studies that have investigated the influence of peer groups and culture on friendships in children. It should be noted here that for the purposes of this essay, ‘culture’ can mean cultures within a group, online cultures and cultural differences between varying societies and nations. Therefore, McLeod et al.’s (2008) work on friendship groups and smoking could be used to assess the usefulness of psychology in assessing the impact that culture may have on childhood friendships.
Section 4.2. will be of particular relevance to your essay. This section highlights that there has been too much of a focus, traditionally, in research on friendships that have occurred in the USA and the UK. The section then discusses important research that has investigated the impact that culture may have on childhood friendships. For example, the work of Gonzalez, Moreno and Schneider (2004) on the influence that cultures (individualistic versus collectivist) may have on friendships will be relevant. A consideration of the goals, methodology, findings, and conclusions of the Gonzalez et al. (2004) study will be valuable when considering the usefulness of psychology in assessing the impact that culture may have on childhood friendships. Other relevant research studies are also included here. These can also be used to highlight the different methods that can be employed to study childhood friendships (e.g. telephone interviews, asking participants to write an essay about a friend, keeping a record of social interactions with friends), which can be used to evaluate whether these psychological methods are useful in allowing researchers to understand the role that culture may play in childhood friendships. You may also want to look back at Section 3 to consider the impact of taking an ethnographic approach when researching friendships in children (as well as the ethical considerations associated with such an approach).
Section 5 explores the idea that the modern world, with technological advances and social media, has changed friendships. This could be an opportunity to consider online and offline cultures, whether online friendships are different to offline ones and if so, in what ways psychology has been helpful in allowing us to assess the impact that online cultures may have on friendships. The section also discusses what digital technology means for studying friendships in the future, and the limitations, strengths and ethical considerations (e.g. permissions to use online data) of researching friendships online. Can online research increase the usefulness of psychology in assessing how culture impacts childhood friendships? Or would it decrease the usefulness of psychology in this endeavour? This section mostly focuses on friendships and not child friendships, but please consider it as relevant in the context of this essay.
Before you begin, it is worth revisiting the audio and video materials, ‘Interview with Carly Butler’, who uses qualitative methods to research children’s interactions, and ‘Friendship, ageing and culture’, which explores friendship networks and cultures in older people.
You may also want to consider reading Chapter 6 of Investigating Methods, which describes the analysis of qualitative data in childhood friendship research.
You might also want to think about how psychological approaches to studying childhood friendships can be used with new technologies to explore existing or new phenomena. You might even consider the importance of different approaches in a rapidly-changing world.
You are asked to write the complete Method section of your DE100 project report.
By this point, you should have learned how to run the DE100 project experiment and you should have discussed this in the forum. You do not need to have analysed any data to write the Method section. You will be conducting the analysis in the weeks ahead.
Note: as part of the DE100 project, you were required to learn about how to run the experiment and discuss this in Collaborative Activity 7. This enabled you to reflect on and explore what the practical elements of running an experiment might be. This will have given you a clearer sense of the design of the experiment, the materials used, and the procedure involved.
It is important, however, to note that for this part of the assignment, you are required to write the Method section based on participant data supplied by the DE100 team, set out below, and also available under the ‘Assessment’ tab of the module website.
The Method section of a research report usually comprises four subsections: Design, Participants, Materials and, finally, Procedure.

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