Curiosity, skepticism, and open-mindedness are the driving forces behind scientific inquiry.
Diffusion of Responsibility- a psychological state in which each person feels decreased personal
responsibility for intervening.
Gathering Evidence: Steps in the Scientific Process
o Initial observation/ Question
Why did no one help in the Kitty Genovese case?
o Form Hypothesis
IF multiple bystanders are present, THEN a diffusion of responsibility will
decrease each bystander’s likelihood of intervening.
Hypothesis- a tentative explanation or prediction about some
o Test Hypothesis (Conduct research)
Create “emergency” in controlled setting.
Manipulate perceived number of bystanders.
o Analyze data
Helping decreases as the perceived number of bystander’s increases. The
hypothesis is supported! (If the data does not support the hypothesis, revise
o Further Research and Theory Building
Additional studies support the hypothesis. A theory of social impact is
developed based on these and other findings.
o New Hypothesis Derived from Theory
The theory is tested directly by deriving a new hypothesis and conducting new
So basically, it consists of asking a question, forming a hypothesis, conducting research, and
drawing conclusions based on data analysis.
Theory- set of formal statements that explain how and why certain events are related to one
Causes of behavior- the conditions responsible for its occurrence.
Hindsight Understanding- after the fact understanding.
o The main problem with relying solely on hindsight reasoning is that related past events
can be explained in many creative, reasonable, and sometimes contradictory, ways.
There is no sure way to determine which, if any of the alternatives is correct.
Theory development is the strongest test of scientific understanding because good theories
generate an integrated network of predictions. A good theory has several different
o It incorporates existing facts and observations within a single broad framework. Aka, it
organizes information in a meaningful way. o It is testable. It generates new hypothesis- new specific predictions- whose accuracy or
inaccuracy can be evaluated by gathering new evidence.
o The predictions made by the theory are supported by the findings of new research.
o It confirms the law of parsimony: if 2 theories can explain and predict the same
phenomena equally well, the simpler theory is the preferred one.
Variable-any characteristic that can differ. For ex. Gender.
Operational definition- defines a variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or
measure it. In essence, operational definitions translate an abstract term into something
observable and measurable.
Self-report measures- ask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings,
experiences, or behavior. This information can be gathered in interviews, questionnaires, or
specially designed psychological tests.
o The accuracy depends on the person answering the question honestly.
Self-desirability bias- the tendency of participants to give an answer that gives a good
impression rather than one that reflects how they truly feel or behave.
Reports by others- we can also learn about someone’s behavior by obtaining reports made by
other people. People who know a person can provide useful information about them.
Physiological Measures- scientists can measure many aspects of physiological functioning
ranging from heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, and hormonal secretions, to electrical
and biochemical processes in the brain.
Behavioral Observations- to observe people’s overt (I.e. directly visible) behaviors in real life or
Archival measures- already existing records or documents.
o Psychologists use these sometimes to gather information about people’s overt behavior.
Unobtrusive measures- records behavior in a way that keeps participants unaware that they are
Descriptive methods- involve recording observations or surveys.
Correlation methods- involve measuring the strength of an association between 2 or more
Experimental methods- involve manipulations to establish cause and effect relationships
between 2 or more events.
Descriptive research- seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave, particularly in
Case Study- in-depth analysis of an individual, group, or event. By studying one, researcher
hopes to understand the principles of behavior that are true for people or situations in general.
When a rare phenomenon occurs, the case study method enables scientists to
study it intensively and collect a large amount of data.
A case study may challenge the validity of a theory or widely held scientific
belief. It can illustrate effective intervention programs developed by clinical
psychologists to treat special populations.
Case studies are a poor method for determining cause-effect relations.
Generalizations of the findings: will the principles uncovered in a case study
hold true for other people or in other situations?
To establish the generalization of a general principle, investigators must
conduct more case studies, use other research methods, and test a
variety of cultural g