AQA A specification update

We have sent two queries to AQA asking for clarification of two of the specification changes – one related to the Media section in PSYA4 and one related to the relationships section in PSYA3.

1. Query: In the new specification the section on media has a changed entry. Previously it said ‘The effects of video games and computers on young people’. It now says ‘The positive and negative effects of computers and video games on behaviour’. I just want to double check that these are two separate things ‘computers’ and ‘video games’ and that it is not meant to be ‘computer games’ and ‘video games’?

As a further question, the term ‘computers’ has such a potentially wide meaning (e.g. use of word processors, use of chat rooms, Facebook, gaming’). Is all of that acceptable?

From AQA: The response from the Principal Examiner for PSYA4 to your enquiry is as follows:

As the section focuses on media psychology, questions on computers could focus on situations where computers are used as a medium (i.e. way of communicating an idea/message, e.g. through Facebook or Youtube). The personal use of computers  – for word processing does not fit into this definition of media and questions would not focus on this aspect of computer use .

2. Query: In PSYA3 Relationships, there was a change from ‘The influence of childhood and adolescent experiences on adult relationships’ which is now just ‘childhood’. On wikipedia childhood is defined as ‘the age span ranging from birth to adolescence’. Does this mean that there has actually been no change to the specification and adolescence will still be creditworthy? Basically it isn’t clear what is included in ‘childhood’.

Answer: Adolescent experiences have been removed from the specification as we would not wish to set questions which explicitly refer to this.  However, should candidates make reference to this type of experience in their responses and it is relevant to the question set, they would receive credit.

If a question on the influence of childhood experience on adult relationships was asked and a candidate focused the whole of their answer on adolescence, it would be unlikely to be deemed thorough and as a result would not be able to achieve maximum marks.

4 thoughts on “AQA A specification update

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Hi, I’m taking my psychology A level exams in a few weeks, and I was wondering if I could clarify something about the Unit 4 paper. My teacher has taught the class areas of the media section focusing on Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory and Bem’s self perception theory etc. Yet from looking at the revised specification for 2012 it looks as though this area is no longer included? I was wondering if you could clarify this for me as obviously I don’t want to waste time learning something that’s not in the specification, but simultaneously leaving it out could be detrimental if in fact I’m wrong and it comes up on the paper! Help would be massively appreciated, thank you 🙂

    • Hello Elizabeth

      You’re obviously a wise student! Yes you are right – this part of the specification has been removed and will no longer be examined. Festinger’s cognitive dissonance and Bem’s self-perception were topics related to an entry that said ‘The influence of attitudes on decision-making, including role of cognitive consistency/dissonance and self-perception. This is not in the new specification.

      In addition to topics being removed, some other elements were added to the media specification. Check this carefully to see what other questions may now be asked (e.g. positive and negative effects of computers, and celebrity stalking. We have done two new spreads for this chapter available via this link


  2. lana says:

    I am still confused as to whether i need to learn influences of childhood experiences on adult relationships?

    Is childhood still included or have both childhood and adolescent influences been removed?


    • Hello

      Just read what the specification says – it still says ‘the influence of childhood on adult relationships’ which means that exam questions can be set on this. ‘Adolescence’ has been removed. However, as adolescence is a part of childhood, research on this would still be creditworthy. It would probably be best to focus on early childhood.


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