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Chapter 4

☆ Nussbaum - PSYB01 - CHAPTER 4

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University of Toronto Scarborough
David Nussbaum

Chapter 4 DEVELOPING AND DEFINING CONSTRUCTS - A psychological theory is important because it will provide a conceptual framework of the study - Specifies the conceptual meaning of key terms - Identifies how variables are to measured or operationalized - Explains the rationale for importance of particular concepts under study - Explains why particular variables and their measurements are shown - A concrete framework can be thought of as a network of interlocking relationships linking theoretical ideas to concrete variables and their measurements. Construct: abstraction/concept that is specified in a theory in order to describe, explain and predict a wide range of related empirical findings; those studied in psychology are NOT directly observable material entities (e.g. intelligence, memory, anxiety, attention) Operational Definitions of Constructs - E.g. construct of anxiety can be operationalized into 3 distinct variables: 1. Measure of psychophysiology, 2. Observabtional ratings, 3. Self-report – all these 3 represent different dependent variables of the anxiety - Operational definition of a construct not limited to specifying how to measure it; rather in lab studies, an operational definition specifies the conditions under which the construct is expected to occur => operational definition idenitifies the independent variables that are expected to produce the construct. Bushman and Baumeister (1998) - Aim: Investigate conditions that produce interpersonal violence - Construct: interpersonal violence -> simulate conditions under which this is theorized to occur - Method: - 1. Ordinary task where P wrote brief essays on their opinion about abortion that they knew another P will evaluate - Were randomly marked by researchers - 2. P completed reaction-time test against person they thought marked their essays - Adjusted by researchers so P always won, regardless of whether praised or insulted for their essay - When won, P told that they could blast opponent with loud noise at decibel level setting of their choice (not an actual blast, no harm done) - Record: exact decibel level P blasted on their opponent = dependent measure of interpersonal violence - 3. Pencil-and-paper test of narcissism (inflated sense of importance & self- esteem) – narcissm = theoretical construct #2 - Note: Staged manipulation: result of essay - ½ insulted, ½ praised - Findings: increased levels of aggressive responses (measured by decibel level of noise) delivered by insulted P who had scored high on narcissism against person they believed was talking trash about their essays - Tested influences of personality trait of narcissism (construct #2) on construct #1 interpersonal violence Narcissism (IV) - Perceived Threat (Intervening Variable)  Blasting (DV) Intervening variable: hypothetical internal state that is used to explain relationship between DV and IV 1. Scientific theory structure starts with abstract constructs 2. Abstract constructs operationalized into measurable IV and DV - How valid research is depends on extent to which these operations capture the nature of the theoretical constructs under study - How valid theory is depends on extent to which it describes, predicts and explains related empirical findings that are uncovered between DV and IV’s - In many cases, IV-DV relationships linked/connected/mediated by Intervening variables. Building Constructs - Positive psychology: scientific study of ordinary human strengths and virtues; seeks to learn about human thriving, flourishing, optimism, resilience, joy and capabilities - Provides theoretical constructs to study attitudes, actions and feelings E.g. Keyes – built the constructs of… - “mental health” = enduring sense of well-being and happiness that person regularly experiences in life; constitutes well-being and happiness // positive-psychology - “mental illness” = presence of particular symptoms of specific disorder + evidence that symptoms interfere with aspects of everyday functioning // DSM-III-R - Now used several methods of measurement that were operational definitions 1. Self-reported rating scale 2. Diagnostic interview via telephone by researcher trained on DSM - To identify 4 different forms of illness within P => Both mental health and mental illness represented hypothetical constructs that Keyes inferred from related sets of behaviours, emotions, attitudes and experiences - He investigated these 2 constructs using different forms of measurements (stated above) MEASUREMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSTRUCTS Measurement: assignment of numerals to objects or events according to some objective rule [that reflects features of construct under study] - These objects/events are variables, which we select as indicators to measure a given construct E.g. construct = physical anxiety; var1 = GSR – psychophysiological variable to measure physical aspects of anxiety; var 2 = self-report measure of psychological aspects of anxiety; var 3 = observation rating scale based on videotaped interviews -> ADVANTAGES OF MULTIPLE METHODS - Variables and particular measurement operations chosen for study should be consistent with research question - Multiple methods of measurement are essential in order for us to develop complete understanding of phenomenon - By measuring the same construct from different forms of measurement, can test whether these multiple methods of measurement are related, and extent to which they add to our understanding of a given construct (convergent validity) -> LEVELS OF MEASUREMENT Measurement: assignment of numerals to objects or events according to some objective rule [that reflects features of construct under study] - rule => way numbers are used to represent a particular scale of measurement - Variable can have 1 of 4 scales of measurement - All scales must follow these two criteria: 1. Variable’s attributes or values are mutually exclusive: every case has only 1 attribute/value 2. Variable’s attributes or values are exhaustive: every case can be classified into one of the categories - When both criterion met, then every case corresponds to one, and only one attribute/value - What we think of as mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories may really be only so because of social convention - QUANTITATIVE, QUALITATIVE NOMINAL ORDINAL INTERVAL RATIO - aka Categorical - Numbers assigned to - Has all - Values or Qualitative response choices to allow characteristics of represent fixed level of for rank order (greater ORDINAL and measuring measurement then, less then NOMINAL units and an - Identifies distinctions permitted) - NOMINAL: gives absolute zero variables whose - Aka “ranking scale” name/category point (“0” => values have no - E.g. Likert scale: for each absolutely no math Ordinal level of observation amount of interpretation measurement that - ORDINAL: Rank whatever that - Vary in frequently involves a ordered variable kind/quality, not question about Also: indicates) in amount attitude/opinions that - Distances - Can be added, - aka “Attributes”, wants numerical rating between any 2 subtracted, and instead of of the degree of points are of because “Values” agreement/disagreement known size; numbers have - Classifies data (1= none of the time, to 5 numbers absolute “0”, according to = all of the time) indicating the can be category only - Whenever something values of variable multipled and (e.g. performance, represent fixed divided SPECIAL CASE object cluster) rank measurement OF ordered, then ordinal units but no DICHOTOMIES level of measurement absolute or - Dicthotomy: used fixed zero point variable having - KEY LIMITATION: => “0” doesn’t only 2 values; Cannot assume that indicate complete vary in respondents perceive absence of quality/kind but differences between measured not in amount response scale points as variable => (E.g. gender) equal in distance.(E.g. ratios are not cannot say 1 = none of meaningful the time response is 5x smaller than 5 = all of the time response) State, nationality, Ranking things, grades, Farhrenheit, Income, weight, occupation, military rank, SES Celsius, Kelvin, Speed, religious Standardized Age affilitation, region measures (e.g. of country, DSM intelligence, mental illness personality, diagnosis aptitude, SAT, GRE, MCAT, IQ) - e.g. IQ = 130 is 65 scaled points greater than IQ 65, but NOT twice as great (ratio) - Level of measurement is not inherent in variable itself; many variables measured at different levels with different procedures Nonparametric statistics: test hypotheses for variables that use either NOMINAL or ORDINAL scale of measurement - E.g. Chi square test - Median provides sound quantitative description and summary of ORDINAL data; can then analyze this data with non-parametric statistics to evaluate whether the observed differences in medians is due to chance Parametric statistics: used with variables that are measured on either INTERVAL or RATIO scale - E.g. t-test statistic - Parametric statistics preferable because they provide more powerful test than do non-parametric statistics of a research hypothesis - Parametric statistics provide best chance of establishing whether there is a relationship between independent and dependent variables PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS AND MEASUREMENT Psychometrics: school of psychology that studies application of psychological tests as objective measures of mind and mental processes - “to measure the mind” Culture Counts - Intelligence, like any other theoretical construct, only partially captured by IQ test scores - Misuse of IQ as a tool to stigmatize racial and ethnic groups - No greater example than that of psychometric intelligence to show the need for understanding and appreciating the indispensable role of culture in expression and measurement of human traits - Center of controversy: well-established 15 point gap in IQ - 1. between African American and White American - 1. between case-like minorities and non-stigmatized members of society - 2. Not about whether group IQ disparities exist but about the bases or casues of these differences and their public policy implications - Most egregious of these ideas is the notion that race-based cognitive inequalities are permanently encoded in the genes, and so too are the social inequalities that arise from them; from this hereditarian view of intelligence, an often vitriolic debate arose, very intense, that has been going on in scholarly books (.e.g. Bell Curve, g Factor) - But, genetic interpretations for these racial and ethnic group IQ differences have been unsupported by research - The plant analogy tells us that any interpretation for racial/ethnic differences in IQ cannot use within-group genetic variation to account for between-group differences - Within-group differences due to genetic variation, can also be due to environment - Between-group differences only due to environment Outcome bias: When test consistently gives lower scores for identifiable class of people defined by race/gender/ethnicity Stereotype threat: Strictly situational threat that can be elicited by merely recognizing that a negative group stereotype could apply to you in a given setting - E.g. Larger majority-minority difference in threat condition than in the non-threat condition, which supported Steele and Aronson’s hypothesis that stereotype threat detracts from inority group performance on standardized tests - Been replicated Psychometric Principles Psychological traits: Presumed enduring and stable dispositions (e.g. intelligence, personality characteristics, atttitudes) that can be measured by objective tests - Psychometrics - Provides with most powerful s
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