PSYB10 CHAPTER 2.pdf

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Published on 15 Apr 2013
School
UTSC
Department
Psychology
Course
PSYB10H3
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CHAPTER 2 – METHODOLOGY: HOW SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGISTS DO
RESEARCH
Social Psychology: An Empirical Science
A fundamental principle of social psychology is that many social problems, such as the
causes of and reactions to violence, can be studied scientifically
The thing to remember is that when we study human behaviour, the results may appear to
have been predictable – in retrospect
Social Psych is an empirical science with a well-developed set of methods to answer
questions about social behaviour.
Methods include observational method, correlational method, and experimental method
Formulating Hypotheses and Theories
Theory – organized set of principles that can be used to explain observed phenomena
Hypothesis – testable statement or idea about the relationship between 2 or more
variables
Observational method
Observational method – technique whereby researcher observed ppl and systematically
records measurements of their behaviour
It is important that researchers define the behaviours of interest
Operational definition – precise specification of how variables are measured or
manipulated
Ethnography – 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
How can we be sure that observers are presenting an accurate portrayal of behaviour?
Interjudge reliability – level of agreement between 2 or more ppl who independently
observe and code a set of data; by showing that 2 or more judges independently come up
with the same observations, researchers ensure that the observations are not the
subjective impressions of 2 individual
Archival analysis
Form of observational method, whereby the researcher examines the accumulated
documents or archives of a culture
It allows a unique look at values and interests of a culture
Correlational Method
Correlational method – the technique whereby researchers systematically measure 2 or
more variables and assess the relation between them (how much one can be predicted
from the other)
Correlation coefficient – statistical technique that assesses how well you can predict one
variable based on another (how well you can predict ppl’s weight from their height)
Surveys – research in which a representative sample of ppl are asked questions about
their attitudes or behaviour
They are a convenient way of measuring ppls attitudes
They allow researchers to judge relationship between variables that are often difficult to
observe
There is also the ability to sample representative segments of population
Random selection – way of ensuring that a sample of ppl is representative of a
population by giving everyone in population an equal change of being selected for the
sample
Correlational techniques are ideal for answering questions about whether 2 variables are
related – what is the strength of the relation?
Limits of Correlational method: Correlation does not equal causation
Having a correlation between a and b does not mean that a causes B
Correlation does not prove causation
The Experimental Method: Answering Causal Questions
Experimental method – method in which the researcher randomly assigns participants
to different conditions and ensures that these conditions are identical except for the
independent variable (the one thought to have a causal effect on ppl’s responses)
This helps us to make cause-and-effect statements
This always involves direct intervention on part of researcher
Independent and Dependent Variables
Independent variable – variable a researcher changes or varies to see if it has an effect
on some other variable
Dependent variable – variable a researcher measures to see if it is influenced by the
independent variable; the researcher hypothesizes that the dependent variable will depend
on the level of independent variable
Internal Validity Experiments
Random assignment to condition – process whereby all participants have an equal
change of taking party in any condition of an experiment; through random assignment,
researchers can be relatively certain that differences in the participants’ personalities or
background are distributed evenly across conditions
Probability level (p-value) – tells researchers how likely it is that the results of their
experiment occurred by change and not because of independent variable; convention in
science is to consider results significant if probability level is less than 5 in 100
Internal validity – ensuring that nothing other than the independent variable can affect
the dependent variable; this is accomplished by controlling all extraneous variables and
by randomly assigning ppl to different experimental condition
External Validity in Experiments
External validity – extent to which the results of a study can be generalized to other
situations and to other ppl
2 kinds of Generalizability: across situations & across people
Generalizability across situations
mundane realism – extent to which an experiment is similar to real-life situations
psychological realism – extent to which the psychological processes triggered in an
experiment are similar to pysch processes that occur in everyday life – highlighted in
cover story
cover story – description of the purpose of a study given to participants that is different
from its true purpose; cover stories are used to maintain psychological realism
Generalizability across people
Replications – repeating a study, generally with different subject populations or in dif
settings or using dif methods
Meta analysis – statistical technique that averages the results of 2 or more studies to see
if the effect of an independent variable is reliable
Cross-Cultural Research
- research conducted w/ members of dif cultures, to see whether the psychological
processes of interest are present across cultures or whether they are specific to the culture
in which ppl were raised
Researchers have to guard against imposing views
Have to make sure that ind. and dep. are understood in the same way
Basic Dilemma of the Social Psychologist
Trade of between internal and external validity:
a. having enough control over the situation to ensure that no extraneous variables are
influencing the results and to randomly assign ppl to conditions
b. ensuring that the results can be generalized to everyday life
field experiments – experiments conducted in natural settings, rather than in the
laboratory
real life can be best captured through field exp.
Basic vs. Applied Research
Basic research – studies that are designed to find the best answer as to why ppl behave
the way they do and that are conducted purely for reasons of intellectual curiosity
Applied research – studies designed specifically to solve a particular social problem;
building a theory of behaviour is usually secondary to solving the specific problem
Ethical Issues in Social Psychology
What is required for good science and ethical science can be contradictory
Informed consent – procedure whereby researchers explain the nature of the experiment
to participants before it begins, and obtain their consent to participate
Deception – procedure whereby participants are misled about the true purpose of a study
or the events that will actually transpire
Guidelines for Ethical Research
Debriefing – process of explaining to the participants, at the end of the experiment, the
purpose of the study and exactly what transpired
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Document Summary

Chapter 2 methodology: how social psychologists do. A fundamental principle of social psychology is that many social problems, such as the causes of and reactions to violence, can be studied scientifically. The thing to remember is that when we study human behaviour, the results may appear to have been predictable in retrospect. Social psych is an empirical science with a well-developed set of methods to answer questions about social behaviour. Methods include observational method, correlational method, and experimental method. Theory organized set of principles that can be used to explain observed phenomena. Hypothesis testable statement or idea about the relationship between 2 or more variables. Observational method technique whereby researcher observed ppl and systematically records measurements of their behaviour. It is important that researchers define the behaviours of interest. Operational definition precise specification of how variables are measured or manipulated.