PSYC 215 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Emotional Contagion, Operational Definition, Dependent And Independent Variables

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PSYC 215 – Lecture #2 – Research Methods
Note: No need to remember names and dates in lectures and readings for exams
Research in Social Psychology
· Emotional contagion = the tendency to converge emotionally with another
o Through the internet and blogs emotions can be picked up through others
comments
· How would we measure the emotional state of the entire class?
o But what is an emotion?
o An operational definition is first needed for research
§ Operational definition: definition of a variable in terms of a process used in
your research
o Ex. A measurement scale
o “How did you feel this past week?” 0-3 scale
o Method might seem arbitrary and abstract, but difference in opinions clearly states
a meaning
Correlational Research
· Correlations: a number from -1 to 1, then expresses how well they correlate together
· 1 = perfect correlation, but rarely occurs in findings
· -1 = complete negative correlation
o Height and weight – positively correlated
o Height and IQ – not correlated
o Days absent from school and gpa – negatively correlated
· Friendship closeness leads to mood similarity – moderately positively correlated?
o Correlation does not equal causation
· Reverse causation: perhaps mood similarity causes closeness
· Third variable problem: a third variable that creates both friendship closeness and mood
similarity, but the two themselves are not connected
Ambiguities in Correlation Findings
· Erratic eye movements = poor reading comprehension
o However, causal interpretation for this seemed wrong
o Perhaps poor reading led to erratic eye movements
· What correlates with contraception use?
o Electrical appliances in the house led to contraception use??
o Education and socioeconomic status caused both electrical appliance use and
contraception use, but the two are unrelated
· Cellular phones cause heart problems because the more people use them, the more likely they
are to die at a young age of heart failure
o Third variable – sedentary lifestyle
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