Midterm Study Guide
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Midterm Exam #1 Review Sheet (REVISED)
Introduction to Social Psychology
•What is social psychology? (i.e., know the definition of the field)
Textbook definition: It is a scientific study of how people think about, influence and relate to one another.
Lecture definition: The scientific study of how an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real
or imagined presence of other people
The difference between the 2:
- Individual aspect (social psychologist) and societal or group level (sociology).
- thoughts (cognitions); feelings (affect or emotions) and behaviours known as the tripartite Model.
- real and imagined (real person questioning your conscience, fictional character) presence.
•Social psychology uses the scientific method
•Social psychology has an individualized focus
•Social psychology examines both internal (thinking) and external (doing) aspects of the person
•Social psychology acknowledges the importance of both objective reality and subjective perceptions
•Broadly speaking, in what ways are we affected by other people?
Our attitudes, behaviour, perception and self concept can be affected by our social surrounding. How we react to a friends
insult depends on if we attribute it to hostility or a bad day. Sometimes the power of a social situation leads us to act in
ways that depart from our espoused attitudes. Our cultures help define our situations.
•How does social psychology differ from “common sense” approaches to study these issues?
Social psychology is considered trivial because it documents the obvious. However, it is not just common sense because
we tend to exaggerate our ability to have foreseen how the event turned out after learning about its outcome.
Social psychology faces two criticisms: 1) it is trivial because it documents the obvious and 2) it is dangerous because the
findings could be used to manipulate people. The problem with common sense is that we invoke it after we know the
facts. Experiments reveal that when people learn the outcome of an experiment, that outcome suddenly seems
-Conformation bias leads you to see what you expect to see and discard things that you don’t expect to see or don’t
already fit with you beliefs. So, you look for evidence to support your beliefs and in that sense, social psychology
could seem like common sense.
-Hindsight bias is where once you learn something then it becomes obvious to you.
•How does social psychology differ from sociology?
Social Psychology pays attention to how the individual is affected by the group and how he/she influences the group. Also
social psychology involves experiments where one variable is manipulated (independent variable) to see its effect on the
other (dependent variable).Sociology on the other studies how a group of people is affected by a situation. Doesn’t focus
on the individual whereby social psy focuses on an avg individual.The differences between sociologists and social
psychologists is that sociologists study groups where as the latter studies the average individual. Social psychologists
rely much more heavily on experiments in which they manipulate a factor, such as the presence or absence of
peer influence, to see what effect it has whereas the factors sociologists study are difficult or unethical to
manipulate.Personality psychologists focus on private internal functioning and on differences between individuals
whereas social psychologists focus on our common humanity.
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Research Methods in Social Psychology
•What is the scientific method? What are the steps in the scientific method?
Science is a method, it is not a collection of data and facts. If it was a collection of data and facts, then it would change all
the time. The steps are Hypothesize, Operationalize, Measure, Evaluate, and Revise/Replicate/Report
•Why is it necessary to replicate findings in science?
To overcome experimenter bias, and see if the result was affected by the researchers personal beliefs and expectations.
Also replicating findings increases the accuracy of the research.
•What is a theory? What is a hypothesis? What is the difference between a theory and a hypothesis?
Theory: is a set of integrated principles that helps to explain and predict an observable event.
Hypothesis: A testable proposition that describes the relationship if any exists between 2 events.
Theories are ideas that summarize and explain facts. Theories not only summarize, they also imply testable
predictions called hypotheses. A good theory:
(1) Effectively summarizes a wide range of observations
(2) Makes clear predictions that we can use to (a) confirm or modify the theory; (b) generate new
exploration and (c) suggest practical application.
Hypothesis tests the theory it is based on.
•Why must a scientific hypothesis be testable?
Testable meaning that it can be subjected to an analysis based on evidence, where the evidence can either support or not
support the hypothesis. So a hypothesis that cannot be subjected to analysis or empirical testing is not a good hypothesis
as it does not summarize a theory and proves the hypothesis pointless or false.
•What is socially desirable responding? Why is it a concern for research using self-report measures?
Socially desirable responding is where you provide answers based on the fact that whether or not they are socially
acceptable i.e. fit in with the norms. It is a concern for self-report measures because this would not provide a genuine
response as the image of our self would be displayed based on the fact that we are socially acceptable and nothing unique
or unusual is provided.
•Why are operational definitions necessary? Propose operational definitions for a few social psychological
variables of interest to you.
Operational definition asks the question that how will the variables be measured? (or manipulated, in an experimental
design) Precision is really important. Example: Self-esteem, operationalize by disassemble and reassemble a car and the
speed in which they do that is a measure of self-esteem. (not true)
•What is observational research? Give an example.
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Involves observing and recording of “naturally occurring” behaviors. Example: The whole child and the stranger thing
created by some other psychologist.
•What is a survey? Why are representative samples useful in survey research?
Survey is a form of random process where people fill out a questionnaire and it often allows large samples (lots of data).
Representative samples are samples that represent closely to the population. So it is important since we generalize the
survey to the population on the whole (increases extrinsic validity)
•What two pieces of information are implied by a correlation coefficient?
Special statistic related to linear association between two variables. Describes relationship: number indicates magnitude,
sign indicates direction
•What does it mean to say that is a positive correlation between variables?
A positive correlation means that when one variable increases, the other variable increases also. For example, the amount
of wine intake increases when the number of heart attacks do.
•What does it mean to say that is a negative correlation between variables?
When there is a negative correlation, it means that when one variable increases, the other one decreases. For example, as
anxiety increases, the performance on test scores decrease.
•Do correlational studies allow us to make cause and effect statements? Why or why not?
No, because it lacks directionality. Shows a relationship between two variables however, fails to tell which influences
what. No because it only allows us to predict, but it can’t tell us whether changing one variable will cause changes in
another. An advantage of correlational research is that it tends to occur in real world settings where we can examine
factors like sex, race and social status that we cannot manipulate in the lab. The disadvantage is the ambiguity of the
results as well as the 3rd variable problem.
•How does observational research differ from participant-observational research?
Observational is more naturally occurring and field related whereas participant obersvational research is more of a
supervised activity in a lab environment.
•What are the advantages and disadvantages of experimental research designs?
Advantages: Has high internal validity, can keep a control over extraneous variables and stop them from becoming
confounded variables. Also, shows cause and effect relationship.
Disadvantage: Lacks external validity (cannot generalize it to the real world as done in a lab), expensive.
•Do experiments allow us to make cause and effect statements? Why or why not?
Yes, because we can identify the independent from the dependent variable. Shows directionality.
•In an experiment, what is a dependent variable? What is an independent variable?
Dependent variable- one that changes with a change in independent variable, one that is being measured in an expt.
Independent variable- experimental factor that a researcher manipulates.
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