Textbook Notes (362,768)
Psychology (9,545)
PSYB01H3 (585)
Anna Nagy (283)
Chapter 4

# PSYB01 Chapter 4 textbook notes

9 Pages
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School
University of Toronto Scarborough
Department
Psychology
Course
PSYB01H3
Professor
Anna Nagy
Semester
Summer

Description
Chapter 4 Studying Behavior Variables A Variable is any event, situation, behavior, or individual characteristic that varies (ie. Cognitive task performance, word length, gender, age, self-esteem, etc) Each of these variables represents a general class within which specific instances will vary. The specific instances are called the levels or values of the variable. A variable must have two or more levels or values. Some variables will have numeric values, hence they will be quantitative (ie. Age, your IQ, etc.). They differ in amount or quantity. Algebra can be applied to such variables (ie. Measure the mean). Some variables are not numeric and instead identify categories, hence they are categorical (ie. Gender, occupation). These variables differ, but not by quantity, and algebra cannot be applied to them. Variables can be classified in four general categories: 1. Situational variables describe characteristics of a situation or environment (ie. The length of words you can read in a book, the spatial density of a classroom, the credibility of a person who is trying to persuade you, etc.) 2. Response variables are the responses or behaviors of individuals (ie. Reaction time, performance on a cognitive task, etc.) 3. Participant or Subject variables are individual differences; they are the characteristics of individuals (ie. Gender, intelligence, personality traits, etc.) 4. Mediating variables are psychological processes that mediate the effects of a situational variable on a particular response (ie. helping is less likely when there are more bystanders to an emergency; the mediating variable is diffusion of responsibility). Operational Definitions of Variables A variable is an abstract concept that must be translated into concrete forms of observation or manipulation, thus a variable such as aggression must be defined in terms of the specific method used to measure or manipulate it. Operational definitionf a variable a definition of a variable in terms of the operations or techniques the researcher uses to measure or manipulate it. Variables must be operationally defined so they can be studied empirically. Cognitive task performance may be operationally defined as the number of errors detected on a proofreading task during a 10 minute period There may be several levels of abstraction when studying a variable (ie. stress is a very abstract variable). When researchers study stress, they might focus on a number of stressors noise, crowding, etc. A researcher would probably choose one stressor to study then develop an operational definition of that type of stressor. They would then carry out research both pertaining to that specific stress and the more general concept of stress. The key point is that researchers must always translate variables into specific operations to manipulate or measure them. Operationally defining variables causes researchers to discuss abstract concepts in concrete terms, a process that can lead to the realization that the variable is in fact too vague to study. This doesnt mean 1 www.notesolution.com
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