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Chapter 2

Psychology 1000 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Murder Of Kitty Genovese, Cadency, Parenting Styles

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Terry Biggs

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Psychology 1000 Chapter 2 Notes
CHAPTER 2 – Studying Behaviour Scientifically
Scientific Attitudes
Curiosity, scepticism and open-mindedness driving forces behind scientific
Scientists must remain open-minded to conclusions that are supported by
facts even if those conclusions refute their own beliefs
John Darley and Bib Latane analyzed the Kitty Genovese murder which
consisted of 38 bystanders that didn’t call for help
oPresence of multiple bystanders produced a diffusion of responsibility
Diffusion of Responsibility: a psychological state in which each
person feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening
Gathering Evidence: Steps in the Scientific Process
Hypothesis: an uncertain explanation or prediction about some phenomenon
Steps (example - Kitty Genovese) :
1. Initial Observation/ Question
Why did no one help?
2. Form hypothesis - Prediction
IF multiple bystanders are present THEN a diffusion of responsibility
will decrease each bystander’s likelihood of intervening
3. Test Hypothesis (conduct research) – Gather evidence
Create “emergency” controlled setting
Manipulate perceived number of bystanders
Measure helping
4. Analyze Data – Draw conclusions
Helping decreases as the number of bystanders increase
Hypothesis is supported

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Psychology 1000 Chapter 2 Notes
If not, revise and retest
5. Further Research and Theory Building
Additional studies support hypothesis
Theory of Social Impact is developed based on these and other
6. New Hypothesis Derived from Theory
Theory tested directly by deriving a new hypothesis and conducting
new research
Theory: set of formal statements that explains how and why certain events
are related to one another
Two Approaches to Understanding Behaviour
1. Hindsight Understanding
Soren Kierkegaard (philosopher): “Life is lived forwards but understood backwards”
Hindsight Understanding: after the fact reasoning
Main issue is related past events can be explained in many creative,
reasonable and sometimes contradictory ways
No sure way to determine which alternative is correct
2. Understanding Through Prediction, Control and Theory Building
If we understand the causes of a given behaviour then we should be
able to predict the conditions under which the behaviour will occur in
the future
If we can control those conditions then we should be able to produce
the behaviour
Theory development is strongest test of scientific understanding since
they generate an integrated network of predictions
Good theories have these characteristics:
oOrganizes info in a meaningful way (i.e. incorporation of
observations and existing facts)

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Psychology 1000 Chapter 2 Notes
oPredictions supported by findings
oConforms to law of parsimony
Law of Parsimony: if 2 theories can explain and predict
the same phenomenon equally well, the simpler theory is
the preferred one
Predictions based on understanding has advantages:
oSatisfies curiosity
oIncreases knowledge
oGenerates principals that can be applied to new situations that
haven’t been directly experienced
Defining and Measuring Variables
Variable: any characteristic that can differ
oVariables represent non-material concepts: memory, personality,
intelligence, stress, learning and motivation
Operational Definition: defines a variable in terms of specific procedures used
to produce or measure it
oThey translate an abstract term into something observable and
Measurement techniques:
1. Self- Report Measures
oAsk ppl to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences
or behaviour
oAccuracy depends on how willing ppl are to tell the truth
oSelf reports may be distorted by social desirability bias
Social Desirability Bias: tendency of participants to give an
answer that gives a good impression rather than one that
reflects how they truly feel or behave
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