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psych 291 VARIABLES

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Joanne Wood

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Variable review proposed cause: proposed effect: independent variable dependent variable (sometimes called predictor variable “outcome variable”) For most variables that psychologists are interested in, there is a separation between the variable at the conceptual level and its manifestation at the operational level. We cannot tap into the variable directly, but must get at it indirectly, through operationalizations. We can depict this state of affairs like this: i.v./predictor d.v. conceptual level operational level Examples of possible definitions of variables at two levels: Example: anxiety Example: self-esteem the conceptual level Anxiety is a feeling state self-esteem is one’s overall involving negative evaluation of oneself thoughts about the future and unpleasant bodily arousal the operational level 1. observers’ ratings of 1. Scores on the Rosenberg Self- individuals’ fidgeting esteem Scale (self-report) 2. self-reports on anxiety 2. the degree to which individuals measure smile at themselves in the mirror 3. heart rate This separation between the conceptual and operational levels has several implications that we will talk about throughout the course: • Variables can be operationalized in many different ways. • No single operationalization captures the conceptual vari
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