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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Textbook Notes


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYB01H3
Professor
Anna Nagy
Chapter
4

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Chapter 4: Studying Behaviour
VARIABLES
Variable: Event, situation, behaviour, or individual characteristic that varies
oe.g. gender
Within each variable there are different levels or values
oE.g. male or female
4 categories of variables:
oSituational variable characteristics of situation or environment
E.g. length of words in book
oResponse responses or behaviour of ppl
E.g. reaction time
oParticipant / subject individual differences
E.g. gender
oMediating variables variable btw sit. var and response
i.e. determines response
e.g. diffusion of responsibility - helping less likely when there are more
bystanders
Number of bystanders Diffusion of responsibility Helping behaviour
OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS OF VARIABLES
variables can be abstract so need operational definition, concrete
oOperational definition: def of var in terms of operations or techniques used
to measure/manipulate
E.g. measuring cognitive task performance (variable), number of
errors on proof reading (operational def)
abstract variables have more options for op def
oe.g. stress (variable) health probs etc. (there are many stressors) 
frequency of heart attack (op def)
picking op def is up to researcher, choices have advantages and disadvantages
RELATINSHIPS BETWEEN VARIABLES
Variables can be numeric or categorical
Relationships between variables: Positive linear, negative linear, curvilinear,
no relationship
Positive Linear Relationship
As x, y or both decrease together 
oE.g. faster speech rate correlated with more attitude change
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Negative Linear Relationship
As x, y (or vice versa) 
oE.g. more workers can reduce group effort
Curvilinear Relationship
x, y/  
oe.g. as complexity of visual stimuli , liking . Until a point, liking (in this 
case inverted U shape)
No Relationship
flat line
oe.g. crowding and task performance
monotonic relationships that dont change
oe.g. +/- rel
correlation coefficient: number indicating strength of relationship
Relationships and Reduction of Uncertainty
relationships decrease uncertainty (randomness) about world
oi.e. random variability or error variance
random/error variance variance in scores
oi.e. the proportion you cant predict from results
ocan reduce by including another variable
NONEXPERIMENTAL VERSUS EXPERIMENTAL METHODS
nonexperimental method: observations/measures of variables (naturally)
oe.g. directly observing behaviour
experimental method: direct manipulation and control of variables
oe.g. ask if saw the broken headlight or a broken headlight
o2 vars dont just vary together, var can affect second variable
Nonexperimental Method
Also called correlational method
oLets use see how variables move with each other
2 Problems inferring cause and effect using nonexperimental:
1.Hard to determine direction of cause and effect
2.Could be third variable
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