PSY 220 CH.2
The Methods of Social Psychology
• Experiment with sending letters to employers where the candidate admitted to
manslaughter. Southerner employers were more open to it.
Why Do Social Psychologists do Research (And Why Should You Want to Read About it)?
• Our opinions about why people behave as they do can be mistaken.
• Hindsight bias: People’s tendency to be overconfident about whether they could have
predicted a given outcome.
How Do Social Psychologists Test Ideas?
• Wide variety of methods.
• Hypotheses: A prediction about what will happen under particular circumstances.
• Theory: A body of related propositions intended to describe some aspect of the world.
• Theories often have empirical data as support and have made accurate predictions.
• Balance theory is that people like to have consistent thoughts and behaviours and will do
substantial mental work to achieve this consistency.
• Simplest level of research is observational.
• Participant observation involves observing some phenomenon at close range.
• Experiment living with middle-class and working-class to see school preparations.
Middle-class families were more prepared and it showed in marks.
• Researchers look at archives of various kinds for descriptions of different people and
• Observed that insult related homicides are more common in the South was found by
looking through FBI reports.
• Studies can involve interviewers or written questionnaires. Small or large collections of
• People need to be a random sample of the population as a whole.
• Convenience sample obtained by contacting people who enter a library say, has some
• People who take their time to respond to polls online or in magazines do not represent the
population as a whole.
• Correlational research: Research that does not involve random assignment to different
situations, or conditions, and that psychologists conduct just to see whether there is a
relationship between the variables.
• Experimental research: In social psychology, research that randomly assigns people to
different conditions, or situations, and that enables researchers to make strong inferences
about how these different conditions affect people’s behaviour.
Correlation is Not Causation
• Reverse causation: When variable 1 is assumed to cause variable 2, yet the opposite
direction of causation may be the case. • Third variable: When variable 1 does not cause variable 2 and variable 2 does not cause
variable 1, but rather some other variable exerts a casual influence on both.
• Self-selection: A problem that arises when the participant, rather than the investigator,
selects his or her level on each variable, bringing with this value unknown other
properties that make casual interpretation of a relationship difficult.
• In Correlational research the investigator can only look at the degree of a relationship
between the variables. (R=0 is none, R=1 is perfect)
The Value of Correlational Findings
• Even if coreelational studies cannot prove that a causal relationship exists, clever analysis
of Correlational data can be quite persuasive about the meaning of a relationship.
• Longitudinal study: A study conducted over a long period of time with the same
population, which is periodically assessed regarding a particular behaviour.
• Independent variable: IN experimental research, the variable that is manipulated; it is
hypothesized to be the cause of a particular outcome.
• Dependent variable: In experimental research, the variable that is measured (as opposed
to manipulated); it is hypothesized to be affected by manipulation of the independent
• Random assignment: Assigning participants in ex