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The helpfulness of social psychological approaches in tackling societal problems

Guidance for this assessment

How helpful are social psychological approaches when tackling common societal problems? Answer by including reference to appropriate theory and empirical research. 

This assessment is an essay assignment which means that we are looking for you to develop an argument and support it with reference to appropriate academic literature.


Additionally you are being asked “how helpful” these approaches are, so you should include some critical evaluation.  For example you could contrast two approaches and decide which is the most effective, explain when an approach is best to use or compare situations where an approach has/has not worked.


The question asks about “social psychological approaches” so you should compare/consider more than one approach (e.g. social identity theory and realistic conflict theory).


Although the question asks about “common societal problems” you may wish to focus your answer on one specific problem (e.g. reducing prejudice between groups) or on a couple of problems which are related to one another (e.g. reducing prejudice between groups and helping the integration of a refugee group into a new location).  This will enable you to cover the topic in enough depth to facilitate critical evaluation.

It is important that you are using evidence which is from appropriate sources – with a strong balance towards peer reviewed journal articles.  You need to present both theory and empirical research.  All research must be relevant to support your argument but better answers will include research which is more current or contemporary to support the points. 

You need to present a clear and consistent argument and show how the research you have cited fits into this.  Work will be clearly structured, coherently written and will not contain contradictions. Better answers will address alternative perspectives and show how the argument you present is valid in spite of these alternative viewpoints.

As well as presenting a coherent argument, your assignment should include some analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the research evidence which links to this. Better answers will also resolve contradictions in the research evidence and present a clear synthesis based on valid information. 

As this is a Level 7 assignment, your essay should show an original or novel contribution to knowledge. This can be through suggesting a better way to apply an approach to a problem, generating some points of critical evaluation that have not been presented by others or combining research/ideas in a novel way.  Better answers will suggest ways that these original conclusions could be tested/ verified by further investigation. 

As well as evaluating the effectiveness of the approaches for common societal problems, we will be looking for you to include some consideration of how the approaches might handle future problems – of either a similar or different nature.  Better answers will make this more detailed/specific.

1. Critically reflect on the role of social psychology in facilitating individual responses to societal challenges

2. Critically appraise the efficacy of social psychological interventions to address societal and individual issues.

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