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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Social Psychology: An Empirical Science

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Elizabeth Page- Gould

Chapter 2 Social Psychology An Empirical ScienceSocial Psychology An Empirical ScienceThe results of some of the experiments you encounter will seem obvious because the topic of social psychology is something with which we all intimately familiarsocial behaviour and social influence When we study human behaviour the results may appear to have been predictablein retrospect Hindsight bias well known human tendency where people exaggerate how much they could have predicted an outcome afterknowing that is occurred The opposite finding of an experiment might seem just as obvious as the results that actually were obtained The trick is to predict what will happen in an experiment before you know how it turns out Social psychology is an empirical science with a welldeveloped set of methods to answer questions about social behaviour such as ones about violence with which we began this chapter These methods are 3 types observational method correlational method and experimental methodFormulating Hypotheses and Theories Science is a cumulative process and researchers typically generate hypotheses from previous theories and research A theory is an organized set of principles that can be used to explain observed phenomena Many studies stem form researchers dissatisfaction with existing theories Many studies stem from a researchers dissatisfaction with existing theories and explanations Engage in a continual process of theory refinement Hypothesis A testable statement of idea about the relationship between 2 or more variables They then construct a theory about why this phenomenon occurred and design a stud to see if they are right Most people blamed her neighbours failures to intervene on the apathy indifference and callousness that bigcity life breeds The more people who witness an emergency the less likely it is that any given individual will intervene ie Kitty Genovese and her murderGenoveses neighbours might have assumed that someone else had called the police a phenomenon Latane and Darley 1968 called diffusion of responsibilityA Summary of Research MethodsMethodQuestions Answered1 ObservationArchivalDescription What is the nature of the phenomenon2 CorrelationalDescription What is the relation between X and Y3 ExperimentalCausality Is X a cause of YThe Observational Method Observational Method The technique where a researcher observes people and systematically records measurements of their behaviour At 1 extreme the observer neither participates nor intervenes in any way instead the observer is unobtrusive and tried to blend in with the scenery as much as possibleie Example pg 32 The waistpouch microphone technology also addresses an ageold problem in observational researchnamely that people change their behaviour when they are being observed It is important for researchers to clearly define the behaviour of interest Operational definition The precise specification of how variables are measuremanipulated Ethnography Method by such researchers attempt to understand a group or culture by observing it from the inside without imposing any preconceived notions they might have increasingly being used to describe different cultures and generate hypotheses about psychological principles In observational researchwhether observing childrens behaviour on a playground or behaviour of members of doomsday cultsit is important to establish interjudge reliability the level of agreement between 2 or more people who independently observe and code a set of data by showing that 2 or more judges independently come up with the same observation researchers ensure that the observations are not the subjective impression of 1 individual
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