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Lecture 2

Psychology 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Murder Of Kitty Genovese, Social Desirability Bias, Scientific Method

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Derek Quinlan

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Chapter 2 Lecture:
Science: an approach to asking & answering questions about the world around us.
Process of Studying Behaviour
Case of Kitty Genovese
o Killed outside her NY apartment
o 38 witnesses; nobody helped
The Scientific Method
1. Observe the event
2. Hypothesis (Prediction)
3. Test
4. Analyze Results
5. Revising Theory/ More Research
6. New Hypothesis
Steps in Scientific Method
1. Observation/ Question
I wonder why nobody helped Kitty Genovese
2. Form Hypothesis
Hypothesis= a tentative expiation or prediction about some phenomena
IF more people were around, THEN people should be less likely to help. (Diffusion of
3. Test Hypothesis
Conduct research
Students "participating in discussion about student issues via intercom, hear another
student choking and calling for help. Group size varied.
4. Analyze Data
Look at result, make conclusion
Students responded more slowly if believed other students present.
5. More Research and Theory Building
Theory- a set of formal statements that explain how and why events are relation to
one another
Further research showed number, immediacy, and strength are factors that influence
helping behaviour. (Social Impact Theory)
6. New Hypothesis Derived from Theory
New research to test
Ex. Do people tip more when in a bigger group
A Theory:
Explanation of general principals of certain phenomena with considerable facts to
support it
Remains valid only if every new piece of information supports it
Do people tip more in a bigger group?
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If yes, modify. If no, strengthens.
Approaches to Understanding Cause
Hindsight Understanding
Understanding by Prediction, Control and Theory Building
Approaches to Understanding Causes
Hindsight Understanding
"after-the- fact" explanation of why an event. Behaviour occurred
Darley and Latane
Past events can be explained in many ways
Understanding through Prediction, Control, Theory Building
Uses scientific method
Tests cause of behaviour directly
Satisfies curiosity, builds knowledge, generated principals that can be applied to
new situations.
Applying social impact theory to tipping behaviour.
Good Theories
Development of theories is the strongest way test scientific understanding of cause
because good theories create an integrated set of predictions.
Organize information in a meaningful way
Are testable- makes clear predictions
Predictions are supported by research
Conforms to law of parsimony
Explains behaviour or events in the simplest manner
Which is a Better Theory?
Theory A- Developmental Impact Theory
People clap less loud in larger groups because of the anxiety cause by the
possibility that they will get in trouble by others. This happens because parents
punish noise making by children. The unconscious causes people to clap more
softly in a large group.
Theory B- Social Impact Theory
There is a diffusion of responsibility when people are in groups
Defining & Measuring Variables
Variable- any characteristic that can vary
Ex. Stress, weight, reaction time
Terms can have many meanings so in science experimenter operationally defines the
concepts he/she is studying
Operational definition- defining a variable in terms of specific procedures used to
produce or measure it.
Defining & Measuring Variables
If you wanted to study stress how would you operationally define it?
Ex. Muscle tension, fidgeting
If you wanted to study driving ability how would you operationally define it?
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Ex. Number of times you veered out of your lane in simulation.
Method of Measurements
1. Self-report
2. Reports by Others
3. Physiological Measures
4. Behavioural Observations
1. Self-Report Measures
Ask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences and
Via questionnaires, interviews, etc.
Depends on whether people respond honestly
Social desirability bias- desire to make good impressions
Interviewer's behaviour - can influence results
Ex. False allegations of abuse
2. Reports by Others
Learn about behaviour by reports from others who know the individual.
Limitations: Accuracy- answers situational specificity
Behaviour description in this situation by a specific person
Would it still occur in other situations?
3. Physiological Function
Ex. Blood Pressure, hormonal secretions, biochemical process in the brain
Difficult to know what changes mean in terms of mental events
Ex. Increase heart rate linked to thoughts? Emotions?
4. Behavioural Observation
Recording behaviours directly
Often need "coding" system to categorize specific behaviours
People trained so there is consistency in identifying behaviours among researchers
Measurements "reliable" if 2 observers agree
Limitations: unreliability of observers
Unobtrusive Measure often needed
Records behaviour in a way that keep participants unaware they are being observed.
Archival measures often can be used
Already existing records or documents used to gather information about peoples'
Ex. Birth, death, prison records.
Methods of Research: "Our Tools"
Descriptive Research
Describe behaviour in natural settings
Case studies; naturalistic observation; surveys
Correlational Studies
Look for relationships among variables?
Experimental Methods
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