General Advice

The challenge of the ERQ compared to the SAQ is that you have to write a much longer essay, so the structure is crucial. An essay of six paragraphs is an effective way to structure your response. In addition, you have to incorporate evaluation in your essay, not just in terms of outlining the strengths and limitations of the studies that you use to illustrate your argument, but also in terms of the central idea or concept of the question. You must explain the problem or issues underpinning the question.

Specific advice.

To what extent do genes influence behaviour?  Use relevant research studies in your response.

There are four components of this question that you need to “unpack”:

  • First of all, there is the command term “to what extent”. This means that you have to consider the merits or otherwise of an argument or concept. Opinions and conclusions should be presented clearly and supported with appropriate evidence and sound argument. You need to respond to this directly, in other words, will you argue that “to a large extent …” or “to some extent…” genes influences behaviour? Of course, you have realised that this is the enduring nature-nurture debate but avoid black and white thinking here as the modern approach is to see a complex interaction between these influences
  • Secondly, you have to clearly identify what behaviours you will focus on
  • Thirdly you should identify at least two or maybe three studies that support your argument (note the ERQ says relevant research studies, not study). When you describe your studies remember to include the researcher’s names, the date of the study, a brief description of the participants and the procedures and the findings i.e. how was the data interpreted
  • Lastly, you have to answer what I call the “so what” question. What does it all mean? Why did you use this study? How does it support your argument? This is when you can introduce your evaluation of the study and thus demonstrate your critical thinking skills. What are the study’s strengths and limitations? Once you have identified and explains these strengths and limitations, you do need to reach an overall assessment of the study’s credibility


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