What are the main areas of social psychology?
1. social thinking/ cognition — the way that we think and feel about things affects our judgment,
2. social inﬂuence
3. social relations
Big ideas in social psychology:
1. we construct our social reality
2. social inﬂuences shape our behavior. Things that inﬂuence us are very important but we
often cannot determine how these factors inﬂuence our behavior.
3. personal attitudes and dispositions also shape behavior. Social psychology recognizes that
people attitudes and characteristics also play a big part in shaping behavior.
4. Social behavior is biologically rooted
5. our social institutions are often powerful but can lead us astray
6. social psychology’s principles, ideas and theories are applicable in everyday life
September 7th, 2017
Social Psychology — Lecture 2
Research in Social Psychology
Descriptive and Experimental Methods:
-descriptive methods (the “what”). What is going on in the situation or in environment? We are
simply measuring and describing what is there without changing anything. The aim is to
detect the correlation between two or more variables.
-observational research/naturalistic observation
-correlational/survey research (often done using questionnaires or interviews, self-report
-experimental methods (the “why”). This kind of methodology gets to the reason why there is a
certain outcome. You can make causal statements of the data.
In the correlational research two or more variables are measured. The correlation coefﬁcient (r)
is used to evaluate linear relations: -1 (negative correlations, as one variable goes up, the other
one goes down) through 0 to +1 (positive correlations). The aim is to see how much these two
variables are related. The correlation gets stronger as you go further from 0.
The problem is the ambiguity in interpretation. Correlational research cannot establish a causal
relationship between variables.
Two reasons for this:
-the directionality problem: we don’t know whether it is A that causes B or B that causes A. We
do not know which variable is causing the other. For example, for a long time, psychologists
have been trying to ﬁgure out if it is anxiety that causes depression or vice versa.
-Third variable problem: there might be another variable that we are not taking into account.
For example, researchers in Taiwan found that the best predictor of adoption of birth control