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Chapter 2

PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Cortisol, Internal Validity, Amygdala


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 215
Professor
John Lydon
Chapter
2

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Chapter Two
Methods of Social Psychology
Cohen & Nisbett, 1997
experiment assessing how cooperative Northern and Southern potential retail employers
were with a questionable applicant
applicant is false
writes a letter explaining a that he mistakenly killed a man in defense of his honor
very up front and honest about the situation
retailers from the South complied with the applicants requests much more often than did
those from the North
notes from the Southern employers were much warmer than those form the Northern
employers
Why Do Social Psychologists Do Research (and why should you want to
read about it?
Bradfield & Wells, 2005; Fischhoff, Gonzalez, Lerner, & Small, 2005; Guilbault, Bryant,
Brockway & Posavac, 2004
hindsight bias – people's tendency to be overconfident about whether they could have
predicted a given outcome
How Do Social Psychologists Test Ideas?
hypotheses – predictions about what will happen under particular circumstances
often test broader theories about behavior
tested by studies
theory – a body of related propositions intended to describe some aspect of the world
in the history of science, many theories have led to a greater understanding of natural
phenomena or to important real-life consequences
theories are more general than hypotheses, which are more general than findings from the
studies that test them
Observational Research
looking at a phenomenon in some reasonably systematic way with a view to understanding
what is going on and coming up with hypotheses about why things are happening as they are
participant observation – involves observing some phenomenon at close range
S.B. Heath, 1970s
studied preparation for schooling by middle-class and working-class families in a N.
Carolina town
lived with the families, observing and taking part in their daily activities
middle-class families
read to their children a great deal
include children in dinner table conversations
used printed word to guide their behavior (recipes, games, rules)
taught them how to categorize objects
taught them how to answer “why” questions
taught them how to evaluate and make judgements about things
working-class families

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didn't do nearly as much preparation
their children were well prepared for the early grades of school, but lack of
preparation showed up in later years, when they faced more complex tasks
involving categorization and evaluation
Barker & Wright, 1954
followed children around as they delivered the morning paper, played kick the can,
did their homework and went to church suppers
study revealed a great deal about the way young people interact with their
environments (opportunities as well as constraints) and the factors that molded their
characters
social psychologists often observe social situations in a semi-formal way, taking notes,
interviewing participants, they typically design additional research to verify the impressions
they get from participant observation
Archival Research
researchers look at evidence found in archives of various kinds
record books
police reports
sports stats
newspaper articles
databases containing ethnographic (anthropological) descriptions of people in different
cultures
Nisbett, 1993
studied FBI reports of homicide
found homicides were more common in the South than in the North
reports contained circumstances of crime
murder committed in the context of a felony
vs
murder committed as crimes of passion
in the South, the most common kinds of homicide involves some type of insult
the observation that insult-related homicides are more common in the US South led
Cohen and Nisbett to begin a research program to study whether Southerners really do
respond more aggressively to insults, or whether the higher rate of insult-related
homicides was due to factors such as hotter temperatures or lenient justice systems
Surveys
involves simply asking people questions
can be conducted using interviews or written questionnaires
population – group you want to know about
random sample – taken at random from the population
every person in the population has an equal chance of being in the sample
convenience sample – taken from some available subgroup in the population
not random
may be biased in some way
information based on biased samples is sometimes worse than no information at all
you should ignore claims from polls as factual evidence
the people that take the time to respond to those polls are likely to be different from
those who choose not to respond and are therefore unlikely to represent the population as
a whole
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the number of people needed to get a reasonably accurate count on some question is
essentially independent of the size of the population in question
Nisbett & Cohen, 1996
Southern attitudes may be more accepting of violence
few regional differences came to the surface when a national survey was analyzed
Southerners are no more likely to agree with the “eye for an eye” rule
were more likely to agree that when a person insults you, you should turn the
other cheek and forgive him
Southerners were more likely to approve of violence as a reaction to threats to
home and family
more likely to approve of violence in socializing children
spanking is a reasonable way to handle a child's misdeeds
they would encourage a child to beat up someone that was bullying him
South is more of a “culture of honor”
U.S. North was settled by farmers from England, Holland and Germany
U.S. South was settled by herding peoples from the edges of Britain: Scottish, Irish,
and Scotch-Irish (Ulster)
herding peoples tend to be tough guys because they can lose their livelihoods in
an instant
Correlational Research
correlational research – research that does not involve random assignment to different
situations, or conditions, and that psychologists conduct just to see whether there is a
relationship between the variables
experimental research – in social psych, research that randomly assigns people to different
conditions, or situations, and that enables researchers to make strong inferences about how
these different conditions affect people's behavior
reverse causation – when variable 1 is assumed to cause variable 2, yet the opposite
direction of causation may be the case
third variable – when variable 1 does not cause variable 2 and variable 2 does not cause
variable 1, rather some other variable exerts a causal interpretation of a relationship difficult
TIME magazine, 2004
love and sex are good for physical and mental health
quoted stats that showed married people as being happier overall than unmarried
people
happier people may be more appealing to other people, and are more likely to be
married because of that reason
happiness may cause marriage instead of marriage causing happiness
good physical and mental health leads to a greater likelihood of marriage as well
as a greater likelihood of being happy
correlational research cannot prove a causal relationship
investigator has no control over the level of a participant's score on a given variable
in effect, the participant has “chosen” the level of all variables – those that are measured
and those that are not
self-selection – a problem that arises when the participant, rather than the investigator,
selects his or her level on each variable, bringing with this value unknown other
properties that make causal interpretation of a relationship difficult
investigators can only look at the degree of relationship between two or more variables
strength of relationship can range from 0 (no relationship exists) to 1 (covariation is
perfect)
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