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Chapter 2

Social Psychology (Cdn Ed) Sanderson & Safdar Chapter 2

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University of Toronto St. George
Ashley Waggoner Denton

SOC220 – Chapter 2: How do researchers in social psychology test their ideas? Steps in the Research Process: 1. Form a question 2. Search the literature 3. Form a hypothesis 4. Create operational definition 5. Collect and analyze data 6. Propose or revise theory 1. Form a Question -all research starts with a question; some research questions are designed to test established theories in psychology -Realistic Conflict Theory: the belief that actual conflict between groups of people is based on competition between them for finite resources (e.g. conflict in the form of prejudice, with jobs as finite resources, over minority groups taking over jobs) 2. Search the Literature -Literature Review: account of what other researchers have examined and found on a topic and critically appraises them; attempts to reach overall conclusion -without good literature review, there is risk for reinventing the wheel: conducting piece of research you think is original but was already done 3. Hypothesis -can be directly tested, and includes a specific prediction -prediction does not have to be causal -e.g. Christofides facebook study predicted that negative correlation existed between information disclosure and information control -Quasi-experimental approach samples pre-existing groups and then treats them like they are different experimental groups (e.g. finding groups of high self esteem people, etc.) 4. Create Operational Definition -operational definition: describes a specific procedure or measure that you’ll use to test your hypothesis -in facebook study, to test how people control their information on facebook, they developed a scale of questions about how they used fbook’s privacy settings (assumed these behavior of control on facebook was a measure of people’s control of personal information) -had to make new operational definition since personal disclosure on facebook is new; but for concepts like self-esteem, can use Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale -good operational definition = measure is valid (measures what it’s supposed to measure) 5. Collect and Analyze Data -facebook study used online survey to collect data from undergraduate students who were fbook users, that measured self-esteem, needs of popularity, trust etc. -students who answered survey reported that they disclosed more information about themselves on fbook than they did in general; they also reported that information control and privacy were important to them -researchers didn’t find any support for their hypothesis that information disclosure and information control and negatively correlated; found that the need of popularity predicted disclosure, and levels of trust and self-esteem predicted information control (not as predicted; disclosure and control on fbook are affected by diff. aspects of personality and are not as closely related as they thought) Media Connections: Growing Use of Web-Based Experiments -advantages of web-based research: able to collect large amounts of data at low cost from many ppl; allow data from more diverse group than typical university sample -disadvantages: likely to include repeat participants (ppl might have more than 1 email account), participants who are completing the survey may not read items carefully because they are not being watched by experimenter, may skip items, either intentionally (through boredom) or unintentionally 6. Propose or Revise Theory -theory: an organized set of principles that explain observed phenomenon -hypotheses are specific predictions about the association b/w two events, but they do not explain how or why these two events are connected; in contrast, theories give potential explanations -e.g. according to Social Learning Theory, exposure to violence on TV leads to aggression through processes like modelling (learning through actions of others) -in the facebook study, the researchers concluded that information disclosure and information control may not be two ends of the same spectrum (as previous research indicated) but instead are independent behaviors that are influenced by different aspects of personality (revision to pre-existing theory) Types of Correlational Research Methods -fewer students are willing to directly acknowledge engaging in sex w/o condom after consuming alcohol than were willing to indirectly acknowledge such behavior (direct: student was asked to check which statements were true for them; indirect: student was asked to show how many statements were true but not indicate the precise ones) -Correlational research: research technique that examines the extent to which two or more variables are associated w/ one another Observational/Naturalistic Methods -used to describe and measure people’s behavior in everyday situations -eg. Archival research example: research found that STIs are associated with: female gender, Canadian-born status, less than 2ndary school education, low annual family income, having multiple sexual partners, not using a condom at last sexual encounter, history of alcohol, tobacco and drug use (but still naturalistic since data were produced in natural context rather than in a lab -can also collect naturalistic data w/o observing behavior directly: researchers once used weight of tissues to measure mucus produced in studying factors leading to cold -Archival research: researchers use already recorded behavior (e.g. divorce rates) Environmental Connections: The Hazards of Hot Weather -archival research common for researchers examining impact of climate on rates of aggression -hotter summers associated with more violent crimes, including assault, property crime and rape in American cities -aggressive crimes occur more frequently in the hotter geographic regions of countries (e.g. American South) and violent crimes occur more frequently in the summer than in the winter -there is a perception of southerners being more emotionally expressive than northerners in many countries (U.S., Switzerland, Spain, Serbia, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium) in the Northern Hemisphere; the pattern is reversed in some countries in the Southern Hemisphere -shows support for the hypothesis that warm = more expressive, other factors are at play, possibly cultural differences -in Canada, stereotypes differentiating northerners vs. south does not exist -in England, stereotype is the opposite, with northerners being perceived as more emotionally expressive than southerners -Meta-analysis: particular literature review that analyzes data from different studies that examine related hypothesis; uses a statistical technique for combining data that have been collected by diff. researchers, which evens out strengths and weaknesses of particular studies -meta-anaysis on studies of "Belief in a Just World" (the idea that good things happen to good people) shows that no significant difference existed between men and women in this belief; this is still valid research even though similarity rather than difference was found Advantages -because they are based on real-world phenomena, they help researchers develop hypotheses and theories -have internal validity -easy to conduct (do not require extensive lab space or assistance) -provide large amounts of data that researchers would not be able to collect on their own -good for when researchers want to examine how something changes over time (researchers most likely would not want to follow study participants over 20 years, etc.) Limitations -presence of observer can influence behavior -observer's own bias can influence how they interpret the behavior they observe (e.g. is pushing aggressive or playful?); -inter-rater reliability: the extent to which two or more coders (people who do ratings independently) agree on the ratings of a particular measure -does not show causation Self-Report or Survey Methods -asks people questions about their thoughts, feelings and behavior -Event Recording or Experience Sampling Measures: particular type of self-report or survey data where participants report various experiences they have at regular time intervals (e.g. respondents report a designated set of events by filling a form whenever they are in these situations, or they carry a programmed watch or beeper and write own various pieces of information like their mood) Advantages -allows researchers to collect data from many participants at the same time, inexpensively -allows researchers to ask questions about topics that could not be assed simply by observing ppl's behavior (empathy, love, prejudice; although you could infer them indirectly) Limitations Question Wording -more people agree when asked if government is spending too much on welfare than when asked if government is spending too much helping the poor -people in the UK report greater intention to exercise if they were first asked a question about how much they would regret not exercising, than if they were asked the regret question after they had stated their intention to exercise -giving information about who is conducting the research influences responses (more people think people should have freedom to express opinions publicly when asked by Catholic Church than when asked by American Nazi party) Response Options -responses provided give people an idea of what the "normal"/typical behavior is, and people don’t want to appear very different from others; likely to choose one of the mid-level choices -survey collected in Germany about reported daily TV watching as a function of response options: more people reported watching more than 2.5 hours of TV daily when there were options for high frequency of TV watching than when this option was the highest response option given Inaccuracy of Responses -experience sampling and event recording measures are used to reduce problems caused by participants’ forgetfulness -reports of sexual behavior that are given retrospectively are lower than reports of sexual behavior that are given using daily diary approach -covert measures are used to minimize problems associated with socially desirable responding: measures that rely on behaviors or reactions that are not directly under a person's control (likely used when respondents are not likely to be honest in their responses) -e.g. to examine heterosexual arousal in response to erotic material featuring heterosexual or homosexual couples, researchers used "penile cuffs" to measure erection strength -found that heterosexual men who were homophobic were the only participants that showed an increase in erection strength in response to homosexual material -researchers who study stereotyping often use covert measures -Implicit Association Test (IAT): covert measure that is based on the assumption that it is easier and faster to make same responses to concepts that are strongly associated with each other than to concepts that are more weakly associated -people respond to two diff. types of stimulus words: first is attitudinal (pleasant, ugly) and the second is the list of stereotypic target word (Caucasian name, women's name, etc.) people press one key when they see pleasant target word and another key when they see unpleasant target word; people are faster at responding to pairs of words that they view as compatible than to incompatible pairs -found an implicit linking of Caucasian with good and Black with bad -students often respond more quickly to pairings of the words "old" and "bad" than pairings of "old" and "young", suggesting that for young people, "old" is more closely linked with "bad" than "young", even though concepts of old and young are related along a continuum and old is no more intrinsically connected to the concept bad than young -Word Completion Test: another type of covert measure; fragment of word (with missing letters) is presented to participants; participants who watched a tape of Asian women completed the word fragments _ICE with RICE and POLI_E with POLITE compared to control group, who filled it with NICE and POLICE -reaction times and facial reactions are also covert measures Research Focus on Neuroscience -Krupp (2008) argued that eye gaze is an accurate an unobtrusive measure; some studies use eye gaze as a way of measuring interest, including sexual interest (difficult to gauge through such measures as self-report) -"Dwell Time": length of time that an individual voluntarily examines a visual stimulus before shifting attention to a new one; found to correlate with genital arousal and to predict self-reported preferences for biological sex and age -male and female participants selectively attended to male face, female face, and genital regions and selectively avoided image background when viewing sexually explicit images of heterosexual couples (researchers tracked eye movements) - in evolutionary terms, these are the most important parts of the body
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