Social Psych Study Notes:
• Many social problems, such as the causes and relations to violence, can be studied
• Hindsight bias: people exaggerate how much they could have predicted an
outcome after knowing that it occurred.
• Theory: organized set of principles that can be used to explain observed
• Hypothesis: a testable statement about the relationship between variables.
• Diffusion of responsibility: if there is a large crowd observing a crime, they all
assume someone in the crowd will call the police, take action. They in fact, do
• Operational definition: the precise specification of how the variables examined
will be measured or manipulated
• The observational method
o A researcher observes people and systematically records measurements of
o This can be done a number of different ways; from not participating or
intervening in any way (fly on the wall method) to observing the
group/culture from the inside without imposing any preconceived notions
they might have known (ethnographic method).
o Problem; people act differently when they know they’re being
Unobtrusive observation, where they don’t know they are being
watched remedies this situation.
• Interjudge reliability: an agreement; two or more people who independently
observe and code a set of data. By showing that two or more people agree, it
ensures that the data is not the subjective impressions of one individual.
• Archival analysis: the researcher examines the accumulated documents, or
archives of a culture. Diaries, novels, suicide notes, music lyrics, media, all tell
us a great idea about how a society sees itself.
o Gives a unique look at the values and interests of a culture.
• Correlational method
o Technique where researchers systematically measure two or more
variables and assess the relation between them. Can they predict one
• Correlation coefficient:
o A statistic to assess how well you can predict one variable based on
another (how well can you predict people’s weight based on their height?)
o +1 means they’re perfectly correlated, 1 means there is no correlation
o Correlation does not prove causation. Just because something is
correlated, doesn’t mean it caused by that correlation.
• Experimental method: the systematic orchestration of a social event o Most commonly used by social psychologists
• Independent variables: the variable a researcher changes or varies to see if it has