Assessment Task:

Essay 1. 3000 words.

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

Guidance for this assessment


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.

Key Point 1: Use of Evidence

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.

Key Point 2: Quality of Argument

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.

Key Point 3: Critical Evaluation

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.

Key Point 4: Originality

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.

Key Point 5: Application to Practice

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.

1.3 Assessment Structure

As this is a 3000 word assignment, we would suggest the following split of content:

Introduction – 150 words

Explanation/definition of the social psychological approaches – 300 words

Main body – 2400 words. We would advise that this contains 3-4 key points or themes that you want to cover and that you explain each in 600-800 words.

Conclusion – 150 words

Suggested Reading

Concise/Indicative Reading List


Ellemers N., Spears R. and Doosje B. (1999). Social Identity. Oxford: Blackwell

Harre, N. (2012). Psychology for a Better World: Strategies to Inspire Sustainability.University of Auckland

Haslam, C., Jetten, J., Cruwys, T., Dingle, G. & Haslam, S.A. (2018) The New Psychology of Health. Unlocking the Social Cure. Routledge, New York.

Hogg, M. A. & Vaughan, G. M. ()

Jetten, J., Haslam, C. & Haslam, S.A. (2011) The Social Cure: Identity, Health and Well-Being. Psychology Press: Hove.

Steg, L., van den Berg, A.E. & de Groot, J.I. (2012). Environmental Psychology: An Introduction. BPS Blackwell


British Journal of Social Psychology

European Journal of Social Psychology

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Journal of Social Issues

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