Chapter 2: Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research
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PART I: Social Psychology: An Empirical Science.
- Hindsight bias: people exaggerate how much they could have predicted an outcome
after knowing that it occurred.
PART II: Formulating Hypotheses and Theories.
- Theory: an organized set of principles that can be used to explain observed phenome-
- Hypothesis: a testable statement or idea about the relationship between two or more
- Diffusion of responsibility: thinking someone else would call the police (killing of Kitty
PART III: The Observational Method
- Observational method: the technique whereby a researcher observes people and sys-
temically records measurements of their behaviors.
- Very useful method if the goal is to describe what a particular group of people or type
of behavior is like.
- Operational definition: the precise specification of how variables are measured or ma-
- Ethnography: the method by which researchers attempt to understand a group or cul-
ture by observing it from the inside without imposing any preconceived notions they
might have. Chief method of cultural anthropology.
- Interjudge reliability: the level of agreement between two or more people who indepen-
dently observe and code a set of data; by showing that two or more judges indepen-
dently come up with the same observations, researchers ensure that the observations
are not the subjective impressions of one individual.
- Archival analysis: a form of the observational method, whereby the researcher exam-
ines the accumulated documents, or archives, of a culture (e.g.. Diaries, novels, maga-
zines, and newspapers).
- Shows values and interests of a culture. PART IV: The Correlational Method
- Correlational method: the technique whereby researchers systematically measure two
or more variables and assess the relation between them (i.e. How much one can be
predicted from the other).
- Correlation coefficient: a statistical technique that assesses how well you can predict
one variable based on another (e.g. How well you can predict people’s weight from their
- Surveys: research in which a representative sample of people are asked questions
about their attitudes or behavior.
- Random selection: a way of ensuring that a sample of people is representative of a
population, by giving everyone in the population an equal chance of being selected for
- Correlation does not prove causation.
PART V: The Experimental Method: Answering Causal Questions
- Experimental method: the method in which the researcher randomly assigns partici-
pants to different conditions and ensures that these conditions are identical except for
the independent variable (the one thought to have a causal effect on people’s respons-
- The most preferred method in social psychological research design.
Independent and Dependent Variables
- Independent variable: the variable a researcher changes or varies to see if it has an ef-
fect on some other variable.
- Dependent variable: the variable a researcher measures ti see ugh out us influenced
by the independent variable; the researcher hypothesizes that the dependent variable
will depend on the level of the independent variable.
Internal Validity in Experiments
- Internal validity: in an experiment, keeping everything the same but the independent
- Random assignment to condition: the process whereby all participants have an equal
chance of taking part in any condition of an experiment; through random assignment, re-
searchers can be relatively certain that differences in the participants’ personalties or
backgrounds are distributed evenly across condition