PSYB10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Internal Validity, Bulgarian Lev
ProfessorElizabeth Page- Gould
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Chapter 2: Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research
Social Psychology: An Empirical Science:
•The results of some of the experiments you encounter will seem obvious, because the topic of social
psychology is something with which we are all intimately familiar—social behavior and social
•There is a well known human tendency called the hindsight bias, whereby people exaggerate how much
they could have predicted an outcome after knowing that it occurred.
•The trick is to predict what will happen in an experiment before you know how it turns out
•Social psychology is an empirical science with a well-developed set of methods to answer questions
about social behavior
oThese methods are of three types:
1. Observational method
2. Correlational method
3. Experimental method
Method Questions Answered
1. Observational/ArchivalDescription: What is the nature of the phenomenon
2. Correlational Description: what is the relation between variable X and variable Y
3. Experimental Description: Is variable X a cause of variable Y
Formulating Hypotheses & Theories:
•Theory: an organized set of principles that can be used to explain observed phenomena
•Many studies stem from a researcher’s dissatisfaction with existing theories and explanations
•They develop a theory, test specific hypotheses derived from that theory, and based on the results,
revise the theory and formulate new hypotheses
•Hypothesis: a testable statement or idea about the relationship between two or more variables
•Researchers often observe a phenomenon in everyday life that they find curious and interesting, then
construct a theory about why this phenomenon occurred and design a study to see if they are right
oGenovese was attacked while walking to her car and brutally murdered (lasted 45 minutes. 36
residents saw, and none came forth to help—Bibb Latane and John Darley did an experiment on
oHunch: the more people who witness an emergency, the less likely it is that any given individual
will intervene, the neighbors might have also assumed that someone else had called the police
(diffusion of responsibility)
The Observational Method:
•Observational Method: the technique whereby a researcher observes people and systematically
records measurements of their behavior
oDescribes what a particular group of people or type of behavior is
oMethod varies according to the degree:
One extreme, the observer neither participates nor intervenes in any way (ex. Debra Pepler &
Craig--observed schoolyard bullying by using hidden cameras, and putting microphones in waist
pouches around students; operationally defined a power imbalance as a discrepancy in terms of
height and weight between the children involved.)
oAge-old problem with the observational method: people change their behavior when they know they
are being observed.
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oIt is important for the researchers to clearly define the behaviors of interest.
oOperational Definition: the precise specification of how variables are measured or manipulated
•Ethnography: the method by which researchers attempt to understand a group or culture by observing
it from the inside without imposing any preconceived notions they might have—the goal is to
understand the richness and complexity of the group by observing it in action
oExample: Leon Festinger: a group of people in the US Midwest predicted that the world would
come to an end in a violent cataclysm on a specific date. Social psychologists found it necessary to
join the group and pretend that they too believed the world was about to end.
•How can we be sure that the observers are presenting an accurate portrayal of social behavior?
oInterjudge Reliability: the level of agreement between two or more people who independently
observe and code a set of data; by showing that two or more judges independently come up with the
same observations are not the subjective impressions of one individual
•Archival Analysis: a form of the observational method, whereby the researcher examines the
accumulated documents, or archives, of a culture (ex. diaries, novels, magazines, and newspapers)
•A powerful form of observational research because it allows a unique look a the values and interests of
•Eric Patton & Gary Johns analyzed portrayals of women’s absenteeism in the workplace; portrayed as
missing work because of familial and domestic obligations—viewed negatively; perpetuates gender
stereotypes and may lead to discrimination in the workplace.
•Pettijohn & Jungeberg analyzed Playboy magazine; when times are tough, more mature-looking body
types (older, taller, heavier) are favoured; prosperity, younger, smaller, more “babyish” looking women
are preferred—body sizes of playboy models and beauty pageant winners have decreased over time
The Correlational Method:
•The correlational method: the technique whereby researchers systematically measure two or more
variables and assess the relation between them (example: how much one can be predicted from the
•Correlation Coefficient: a statistical technique that assesses how well you can predict one variable
based on another (ex. how well you can predict people’s weight from their height)
•A positive correlation means that increases in the value of one variable are associated with increases in
the value of the other variable
•A negative correlation means that increases in the value of one variable are associated with decreases in
the value of the other.
•Correlation coefficients range from -1.00 to +1.00. 1.00 means that two variables are perfectly
correlated in a positive direction
•A correlation of -1.00 means that two variables are perfectly correlated in a negative direction
•Zero means that two variables are not correlated
•Surveys: research in which a representative sample of people are asked questions about their attitudes
oResearchers often apply the correlational method to survey results, to predict how people’s
responses to one question predict their other responses.
oAdvantage : they allow researchers to judge the relationship between variables that are often difficult
to observe; select samples that are representative of the population on a number of characteristics
important to a given research question.
oRandom Selection: a way of ensuring that a sample of people is representative of a population, by
giving everyone in the population an equal chance of being selected for the sample—as long as the
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