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James M.
psychology PhD researcher with specialisation in social psychology and evolutionary psychology.
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Sociology
TutorMe
Question:

which psychological model, theory or area is comparable to Marxist sociological thinking and why? (short answer)

James M.
Answer:

Social psychology (in particular Social Identity Theory): With the focus on ones integration, benefits of social belonging this can be seen to work in parallel with marxist philosophy and thinking. In particular altruistic tendencies, the benefits of social integration, interrelation, and cohesion are clearly visible as parallels and contemporaries to the established marxist philosophies. While there are other factors in which they vary, I believe that these particularly are comparable.

Psychology
TutorMe
Question:

Write a research proposal to investigate group identification within a specific group. Citing previous research, sources (APA formatting), full methods and potential ramifications. Include as if you were interviewing for post graduate work/study. (question was for a previous student moving on to postgraduate positions)

James M.
Answer:

Investigating Factors That Predict Group Identification in the Royal British Legion Within many disciplines including the arts, philosophy, politics, sociology, and psychology it has been noted that a core part of the human experience is interacting with others and forming groups. These groups can be anything from families, to religions, to small social groups but it is safe to say that these groups lie at the core of what it is to be human (Tuomela, 2007). Social Identity theory within psychology in particular looks at the way the self is constructed by the groups we are a part of. Lately, in particular, social psychology has looked in some depth at the benefits of group membership (Elemers and Halsam, 2011) as well as the detriments that occur with social isolation (Steptoe, Shankar, Demakakos, & Wardle, 2013). While early research looked at the quantity of contact as an indicative measure of group identification, more recent research has indicated that what seems to matter more is the individual’s subjective experience of being a part of these groups {{}}. This subjective aspect, expressed as ones sense of belonging and commonality with the group (Sani, Madhok, Norbury, Dugard, & Wakefield, 2015a; b) has increasingly been found to be the driving agent behind benefits to wellbeing, mental, and physical health (Sani, Herrera, Wakefield, Boroch, & Gulyas, 2012; Wakefield, Bickley, & Sani, 2013). This focus on subjective identity does not however ignore the question of contact quantity and quality, but instead begs the question of its place in respect to the subjective identity. This project would explore the relationship of these two variables (subjective identification and contact) with regards to the effect that contact quality (informal meeting/locations vs. formal committees/purpose built clubs) and quantity have on subjective identification, and thus on the benefits that result from such identification. As well as this there is the impact of members’ own self-identity with regard to the organisation {{eg paragon}}. Exploring the contact effects that lead to the formation of group identity that research says is so beneficial. While there has been some work showing that quality related aspects such as agency can help identification (Knight, Haslam, & Haslam, 2010), there is still a lot of research required within this area. I aim to investigate this within the context of a large and particularly relevant group within the general population, specifically, military veterans. This group is particularly at risk from social isolation and its effects, as within their working environment there is a functional need for a high core group identity which is particularly obvious in its loss after returning to civilian life. This group is accessible in particular through The Royal British Legion (RBL) and its Scottish equivalent Legion Scotland. This accessibility within such a large umbrella organisation allows us a particular insight into factors which influence identity, such as: contact quantity and quality, group size (branch memberships vary greatly), agency (one’s own power within the organisation), and one’s relationship to paragons (stereotypical members). It also allows us to further explore the benefits that identification has for those who strongly identify with the group in comparison with those who identify less or not at all. Its’ particular value in psychological studies lies in the group’s natural homogeneity, namely that the group ethos, demographics and values vary very little from branch to branch. This allows for a natural control of these confounding factors and provides us with a particularly relevant context in which to examine the factors that influence group identity. Thus the research hypotheses are as follows: Firstly: That strong group identity with the RBL will confer benefits in mental and physical wellbeing in comparison with a weak/no group identity. Secondly: That factors such as: contact quantity and quality, agency, group size and ones paragon status within the group have a significant effect on group identity strength (as a mediator) and thus wellbeing. Thirdly: Time/resources permitting, a follow up study to measure changes in identity with changes in wellbeing/health and addition of qualitative measures to compliment quantitative Aims: to provide evidence to create strategies applicable within organisations to increase group identification and thus wellbeing of members. The implications of this work are profound for primarily for all veterans’ group charities as they will shed much needed light on the benefits that these organisations confer on their members by simply existing and providing a group with which to identify. It will also map out the factors that influence such identity and provide these organisations with a “road map” that will indicate where to focus to stimulate identification and provide the benefits of such to as many of their members as possible. Such knowledge would be generalizable to other social groups which support those at particular risk of social isolation, such as the elderly. This research could also indicate how to improve group identity generally and as such has implications for any large organisation such as companies, charities, businesses etc. and could allow a great many people enhanced wellbeing and health. I expect to use a questionnaire methodology which will use the RBL and Legion Scotland as distribution agents in order to acquire participants. This may occur through distribution through the RBL’s media channels (magazines, email, online,) or through actively visiting individual branches for participants with permission. This will be discussed and agreed by the legion before any decisions are made however both Legion Scotland (through CEO Kevin Gray) and the RBL (through Assistant Director Membership: Colin Gordon) have agreed in principle to access to their members for the purposes of this study. This gives me access to an initial potential pool of over 350,000 participants I expect that measures involved would include those such as the Group Identity Scale (GIS) (Sani, Madhok, Norbury, Dugard, & Wakefield, 2014), wellbeing measures such as mental and physical health measures (to be arranged with supervisor and discussed with RBL). Information such as frequency of meetings, purpose, agency, and our other factors (to be constructed/adapted from relevant sources, again to be arranged with supervisor and RBL). Analysis will vary depending on the relevant measures chosen however I would expect primary analyses to be logistical regression variants within most measure possibilities. Throughout my undergraduate degree, as well as my degree studies and optional modules I have studied, I have had a keen interest in military psychology, in particular its possibilities within social psychology. I believe that social psychology can help ease transition and shed light on the particular problems and challenges facing both military and veterans, and the wider populace. My own interest stems from personal experience in watching both family and friends in various branches of the military as well as from extensive reading on the topic. This, I believe, gives me a viewpoint and drive to both succeed and to raise the profiles of both military and social psychology in a driven and wholehearted way. I have experience in research during my degree as both a research assistant (for Jaime Benjamin) and as a research apprentice attached to the evolution and behaviour lab (Under Dr. Fhionna Moore) which I believe has given me the perspective, knowledge and abilities in practical research that will allow me to excel in a PhD position. I am, at my core, a psychology researcher and I believe that this comes across in my work, passion, and drive to succeed and do good research

Political Science
TutorMe
Question:

In the current UK political climate what constitutional rights does the average citizen have to lose with regards to the split from the EU (Brexit)?

James M.
Answer:

The Uk constitution is by and large an "unwritten" one, in that while it exists in various sources (from the magna carta onwards) it is not a single codified document such as the american constitution. This creates a situation within upheavals such as Brexit where there are no protected rights that cannot be revoked/changed. This situation means that while incredibly improbable (to the point of almost impossibility) it is possible for the average citizen to lose or have adapted a significant portion, and indeed all, of those currently protected under the current EU human rights system.

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