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PSYC 215 Final: Complete and Comprehensive 83 Page Final Exam Study Guide Fall 2015Premium

Course Code
PSYC 215
Mark Baldwin
Study Guide

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PSYC215– Social Psychology
Final Exam Study Guide
McGill University – Fall 2015

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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
· 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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· Women who drink more than a single cup of coffee per day are half as likely to conceive as
women who do not
o Third variable – women who drink more coffee lead busier lifestyles
o Reverse causality – stressed lifestyles leads to drinking more coffee, thus causing
decreased conception
Experimental Research
· Manipulate one (or more) independent variables, and observe the outcome on the dependent
· Independent variable leads to the dependent variable
· Independent variable: typically, comparing an “experiment condition” to a “control condition” that
is identical except for one feature of interest
· Ex. Being observed vs. not observed
· Ex. Persuasive message vs. neutral message
· Assigning participants to conditions:
o Avoid the “self selection” problem: allowing participants to somehow determine
which condition they are in
o Ex. A happy child chooses to be in the happy group, they are still in the same
emotional state afterwards. Cannot allow them to determine for themselves
o Use random assignment: any person has an equal probability of being in any
Field Experiment
· Manipulate a variable in a real-world (field) setting
· Ex. Facebook study Kramer et al 2014
· Operational definitions:
· Dependent variable: mood; operationally defined as percentage of words a person posts during
a week that are positive or negative emotion words; counted by a computer
o Ex. Happy, excited, sad, angry, etc
· Independent variable: exposure to emotional content, operationalized by manipulating the
person’s “news feed” for the week
o Facebook regularly manipulates your “news feed”
o Facebook created two conditions:
§ Reduced positive content from friends’ posts
§ Control – same as normal
· 300,000 Facebook users, randomly assigned to experimental or control for one week
· Results:
o Users before the experiment were equal and did not differ in their emotional word
o Users after the experiment did differ
o Those exposed to less positive content expressed less positive content
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