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Psychology (9,549)
PSYB01H3 (585)
Anna Nagy (283)
Chapter 4


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Anna Nagy

PSYB01CH4Studying BehaviorVariable any event situation or individual characteristic that varies Ex of variable a psychologists might study cognitive task gender reaction time rate of forgetting aggression Each of these variables represent a general class called the levels or values of the variable Variable must have two or more levels or values Variables can be classified into four general categories situational variables response variables participantsubject variables and mediating variablesSituational Variable describes characteristics of a situation or environment the length of words that you read in a book the credibility of a person who is trying to persuade you Response Variable responses or behaviors of indivduals such as reaction time performance on a cognition task and helping a victimin an emergency situationParticipantSubject variable individual differences These are the characteristics of individuals including gender intelligence and personality traitsMediating variable psychological processes that mediate the of a situational variable on a particular responseDarley and Latane bystander effect Operational Definitions of VariablesIt is important to know that a variable is an abstract concept that must be translated into concrete forms of observation or manipulation So a variable like aggression or cognitive task performance you will operationalize itOperational definition operations or techniques used to measure or manipulate it Variables must be operationally defined so they can be studied empiricallyA variable such asspeaker credibility might be conceptualized as two levels and operationally defined as a speaker described to listeners as a Noel Prize Recipient or as a substitute teacher The task of operationally defining a variable forces scientist to discuss abstract concepts in concrete terms The key point is that researchers must always translate variables into specific operations to manipulate or measure them Operational definition also helps us communicate our ideas to others If someone wishes to tell me about aggression I need to know exactly what is meant by this term because there are many ways of operationally defining it For example aggression can be defined as 1 the number and duration of
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