Thursday, January 12th, 2011
In the news:
US marines probe video of men urinating on Taliban corpses
o Probably would not happen if there was only one soldier alone
Republican primary race shifts to South Carolina
o Mitt Romney is a Mormon; this is a problem for the republicans, because
most votes are coming from the southern states and they generally do not
look at Mormans in such a great light
EXPERIMENT (NOT IN SLIDES)
Download PCS, hold an ice cube in palm of hand for 30 seconds. Rate the pain (0= no pain,
10= excruciating pain), and also send age, sex, PCS score, and pain rating.
A scientific approach means that we will use the tools of science to answer questions,
instead of just debating them. Social psychologists want to take the types of questions that
have been debated, and answer them with the tools of science.
What is the meaning of life?
In taking a science toolbox, you need to take a portion of the world that you want to study,
and bring it into the lab. Therefore using the scientific method places a limit on the types of
questions that you can study. For example, “why are women so complicated?”; this is able to
be brought into the lab. “What is the meaning of life?” will not be able to be brought into the
lab. Therefore the disadvantage of using the scientific method is that it limits the nature of
the questions that you are able to ask.
What this shows is that even though in science we try to use systematic approach, there are
always things that can go wrong. It can never be completely free of the influence of the
Slide with Tree
Let’s say you are interested in trees; studying the height of trees in Southern vs. Northern
Quebec. If you want to do that, the first thing that you need to do is to have a hypothesis (eg:
shorter in Northern Quebec). Before you move forward with this, you need to define what
trees are (ie: before you move forward with any variable, you need to define what the
Wrong with this definition: what if it is a warped tree, or a bush or a shrub? The problem is
that the definition does not define the entirety of all trees (eg: pines and spruces don’t have
leaves). This is important: in many of the studies that we will discuss, the definition of the
variable will exclude some members of the population. This is a huge problem because
unless you define your variable, no one else can attempt to replicate the experiment. You must say “In our experiment, we define trees as…” so that others can do the same. But this
may mean that your results will not be inclusive of all trees out there.
Example of an interest for a study. You want to go out and see what they are talking about,
depending on how long they were together.
Recent relationship eg: how much they love each other. Married couples are most likely a
See slides. Chances are, people do discuss different things as time goes on.
So the first thing you need to do is define what a relationship is. These would all be efforts
to define a relationship. They are objective; all things you can look at, define, and calculate.
A problem is that is excludes a lot of relationships (long distance), there are other
complications (friends with benefits). It also does not define what a kiss is. Another thing is
that a lot of what relationships are is unobservable; there is no behavioral referent. This is
common in many studies. Therefore a huge issue in this field is that many of the variables
are not observable, and they have to rely on asking people what is in their heads.
So they might have to use a self report measure where they ask questions about the degree
to which they consider themselves to be in relationships. Even the wording of the question
is important; a “dating” relationship, “co-habiting”, etc. But as soon as you become very
specific, you start leaving people out. So many of the variables they want to observe are not
observable, and also the manner in which they ask the questions has an impact on the
responses that they are going to get.
So you first need a topic (you want to understand the phenomena more, or it might be a
questions you are interested in understanding the answer to). Once you have a topic, you
need to find out what has been done before (you don’t want to waste your time with a study
that has already been done back of text, there are a lot of references for a lot of studies
that have already been done). Next you must come up with your operational definitions
(defining the variable) and make a hypothesis. Then you need to decide how it is that you
will be doing the research. Next you need to go out there and collect the data (how will you
do this; bring people into the lab? Maybe this is too strange for them. You can also go into
public places and listen in on what they say, but not everyone goes into public places, you
might want to get into their homes, etc). Once you have your data, you need to analyze it. Finally, you want to report your results, which may give rise to other questions that may
start you on the same trajectory all over again.
Hypotheses and Theories
For example, if your theory says that it made evolutionary sense for women to be more
social than men. F