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Chapter 2

PSYB10 - Chapter 2.docx

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Connie Boudens

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Chapter 2 PSYB10 Chapter 2 Doing Social Psychology Research Developing Ideas: Beginning the Research Process Asking Questions  Every social psychology study begins with a question  Can come from reading about research that has already done, news story, personal observation, folk wisdom etc. Searching the Literature  Once the question is formed, have to see what research has already been done on this topic and related topics  Electronic database of published research is best way to find this info  Researcher’s original questions is usually changed in one way or another during course of searching the literature o Becomes more precise and specific Hypotheses and Theories  Hypothesis: A testable prediction about the conditions under which an event will occur o Formulated from the vague initial idea we may have for research  Once data is collected, the hypothesis becomes a theory  Theory: An organized set of principles used to explain observed phenomena  Theories are usually evaluated in terms of three criteria o Simplicity, comprehensiveness and their ability to generate new hypotheses (generativity)  Best theories are precise, encompass all relevant info and lead to new hypotheses, further research and better understanding  Social psychologists look at “mini – theories” that address limited and specific aspects of the way people behavior  Good theories should spark research in different aspects of theory Basic and Applied Research  Basic research: Research designed to increase the understanding of human behavior, often by testing hypotheses based on a theory  Applied research: research designed to enlarge the understanding of naturally occurring events to find solutions to practical problems  Some researchers switch back and forth between the two Refining Ideas: Defining and Measuring Social Psychological Variables  Researchers always must decide how they will define and measure the variable in which they are interested Conceptual Variables and Operational Definitions: From the Abstract to the Specific  Conceptual variables: variables that are abstract when the hypothesis is initially developed o Example: Prejudice, conformity, attraction, love, violence, group pressure social anxiety  Operational definition: The specific procedures for manipulating or measuring a conceptual value o Example: defining conformity as the number of times a person agrees with other people even though the answer is wrong  There is no one best way to transform a variable from abstract (conceptual) to specific (operational) o Usually trial and error  There are some systematic ways of checking how valid various manipulations and measure are  Construct validity: The extent to which the measures used in a study measures the variables they were designed to measure and the manipulations in an experiment manipulate the variables they were designed to manipulate Measuring Variables: Using Self-Reports, Observations, and Technology  Two ways of measuring variables: self-report and observations Self-Reports: Going Straight to the Source  Participants disclose their thoughts, feelings, desires, and actions Chapter 2 PSYB10  Widely used  Consist of individual questions or set of questions that together measure a single conceptual variable  Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale – consists of questions that measures individuals’ overall self-esteem  Give researcher access to an individual’s beliefs and perceptions  Can be misleading and not always accurate since responses can be biased o Trying to make themselves look better than they are  Can be affected by the way that questions are asked (how they are worded or the context) o What questions are asked before some questions  Memories can be skewed, biased, unreliable o Scientists try to reduce the amount of time btw incident and self-report  Interval-contingent self reports: respondents report their experiences at regular intervals (once a day)  Signal – contingent: respondents report their experiences as soon as possible after being signaled to do so, usually by means of a beeper  Event-contingent: respondents report on a designated set of events as soon as possible after such events have occurred o Rochester Interaction record (RIR): event-cognitive self-report used to record every social interaction lasting ten minutes or more that occurs during course of study  Narrative studies: collect lengthy responses on a general topic o Can be generated by participants at the researcher’s request or taken from other sources o Diaries Observations  Observe a person’s actions  Can be simple (looking at a single response) or elaborate (like coding of narrative accounts)  Inter-rater reliability: The degree to which different observes agree on their observations o Level of agreement among multiple observers of the same behavior  Avoid bias and distorted interpretations of people’s own behavior  Sometimes behavior is skewed if they know they are being observed o Therefore researches sometimes make observations much more subtly Technology  Changes in heart rate, levels of particular hormones, sexual arousal all are measured using equipment’s and computers  Record speed with which participants respond to stimuli  Brain-imaging technologies take and combine thousands of images of the brain in action o fMRI provide researchers with visual images of activity in parts of the brain while the research participants is thinking, making decisions, responding to audio or visual stimuli o Show which parts of the brain “light up” during certain activities Testing Ideas: Research Designs  Qualitative research: the collection of data through open-ended responses, observation and interviews  Quantitative research: the collection of numerical data through objective testing and statistical analysis  Experimentation is the most preferred method to prove their ideas wrong Descriptive Research: Discovering Trends and Tendencies  Descriptive research: describe people and their thoughts, feelings and behaviors Observational Studies  Use hidden cameras and microphone to record occurrence of certain incidences  Ethics behind using hidden cameras to observe behavior o Questions of accuracy may arise especially when seen in TV shows, paparazzi and journalism Archival Studies  Involves examining existing records of past events and behaviors o Newspaper articles, medical records, diaries, sport statistics, personal ads, crime statistics, hits on web pages  Advantage of having someone there to observe behavior will not affect the behavior – source is from a natural setting Chapter 2 PSYB10  Limitation is that records are not always sufficient or detailed Surveys  Involves asking people questions about their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors  Can be conducted in person, over the phone, by mail or via the Internet  Many social psych questions can only be addressed with survey because they involve variables that are impossible or unethical to observe directly or manipulate o Sexual behaviors o Optimism in the future  There is a science to designing, conducting and interpreting the results to surveys o Test various kinds of wording and question ordering before conducting their surveys  Most important issue that survey researchers face is how to select the people who will take part in the survey o First: must identify the population in which they are interested  Random sampling: A method of selecting participant for a study so that everyone in the population has an equal chance of being in the study Correlational Research: Looking for Associations  Correlational research: Research designed to measure the association between variables that are not manipulated by the researcher  Can be conducting using observational, archival or survey methods  Measure relationship between different variables  The extent to which variables relate to each other/correlate can suggest how similar or distinct two different measures are  Usually variables are not manipulated they are just measured Correlation Coefficient  Correlation coefficient: A statistical measure of the strength and direction of the association between two variables  Can range from -1.0 to +1.0  Absolute value of the number indicated how strongly the two variables are associated  The larger the absolute value of the number, the stronger the association between the two variables and thus the better either of the variables is as a predictor of the other  Correlations obtained at a single point in time across a number of individuals is called concurrent Advantages and Disadvantages of Correlational Studies  Advantages: o It can study the associations of naturally occurring variables that cannot be manipulated or induced (gender, race, ethnicity and age) o Can examine phenomena that would be difficult or unethical to create for research purposes (love, hate, abuse) o Offers researchers freedom in where variables are measured (lab, real-w
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