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Chapter 4

PSYB01 Textbook Notes - Chapter 4

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Anna Nagy

Chapter 4 Studying Behavior Variables Variable an event, situation, behavior, or individual characteristic that varies (ie. Word length, gender, age). Each of these variables represents a general class within which specific instances will vary. The specific instances of these is called the levels or values of the variables. 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). They differ in amount or quantity. Algebra can be applied to such variables (ie. Mesure 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 spatial density of a classroom, the credibility of a person who is trying to persuade you). 2. Response variables are the responses or behaviors of individuals (ie. Reaction time, performance on a cognitive task). 3. Participant or Subject variables are characteristic differences of the individuals (ie. Age, gender, intelligence, personality traits). 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 emergencythe 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 definition a definition of a variable in terms of the operations or techniques the researcher used 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, school, 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 www.notesolution.com
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