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Canada (508,727)
Psychology (7,776)
PSYB01H3 (260)
Anna Nagy (133)
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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYB01H3
Professor
Anna Nagy
Semester
Summer

Description
Chapter 4: Studying Behavior Variables A variable is any event, situation, behavior, or individual characteristic that varies. Examples of variables a psychologist might study include cognitive task performance, word length, intelligence, gender, anger, stress, self esteem, age etc. Each of these variables represents a general class within which specific instances will vary. These specific instances are called the levels or values of the variable. A variable must have two or more levels or values. For some variables, the values will have true numeric, or quantitative, properties. Suppose that task performance is a score on a 50- question cognitive test on which the values can range from a low of 0 correct to a high of 50 correct; these values have numeric properties. The values of other variables are not numeric, but instead simply identify different categories. An example is gender; the values for gender are male and female. These are different, but they do not differ in amount or quantity. Variables can be classified into 4 general categories: 1. Situational variables describe characteristics of a situation or environment e.g. the length of words you read in a book, the number of bystanders to an emergency. 2. Responsevariables the responses or behaviors of individuals, such as reaction time, performance on a cognitive task, and helping a victim in an emergency. 3. Participant variables are individual differences including gender, intelligence and personality traits 4. Mediating variables are psychological processesthat mediate the effects of a situational variable on a particular response. As an example, Darley (1968) found that helping is less likely when there are more bystanders to an emergency. A mediating variable called diffusion of responsibility was used to explain this phenomenon. Operational Definitions of Variables It is important to know that a variable is an abstract concept that must be translated into concrete forms of observation or manipulation. Thus, a variable such as aggression, cognitive task performance, self esteem or even word length must be defined in terms of the specific method used to measure or manipulate it. Scientists refer to the operational definition of a variable a definition of the variable in terms of the operations or techniques the researcher uses to measure or manipulate it. Variables must be operationally defined so they can be studied empirically. A variable such as speaker credibility might be conceptualized as having two levels www.notesolution.com
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