Chapter 2- Conducting Research in Social Psychology
Two types of Research:
Basic Research: research designed to increase knowledge about social behavior
Applied Research: research designed to increase the understanding of and solutions to
real-world problems by using current social psychological knowledge
Steps in the process of Social Psychological research:
Step 1: Select a topic and review past research.
Step 2: Develop a theory and generate some hypotheses.
What is a theory? A theory is an organized system of ideas that seeks to explain why two
or more events are related.
What makes a good theory?
• Predictive accuracy – Can it reliably predict behavior?
• Internal coherence – There should not be any logical inconsistencies or
unexplained coincidences among any of the theoretical ideas.
• Economy – Contains only the principles or concepts necessary to explain
the phenomenon in question and no more.
• Fertility – The ability to fire the imagination of other scientists so that the
ideas in the theory are tested and extended to a wide variety of social
How do you determine the predictive accuracy of a theory? You can determine the
predictive accuracy of a theory by formulating a hypothesis.
Hypothesis: an educated guess or prediction about the nature of things based upon
Methodologies – Observational, correlational, or experimental
What kind of study should you do?
What is the difference between a lab study and a field study?
Field Study: the researcher studies individuals in a natural setting.
Lab study: the researcher creates situations and carefully controls them. Step 3: Obtain approval to conduct your study (ETHICS)
Deception: a methodological technique in which the researcher misinforms participants
about the true nature of what they are experiencing in a study.
Confederate: a trained member of the research team who follows a script designed to
create a specific impression on the research participant.
Institutional Review Board (IRB): a panel of scientists and nonscientists who ensure the
protection and welfare of research participants by formally reviewing researchers’
methodologies and procedures prior to data collection.
Informed consent: a procedure by which people freely choose to participate in a study
only after they are told about the activities they will perform.
Debriefing: a procedure at the conclusion of a research session in which participants are
given full information about the nature and hypotheses of the study.
Why is debriefing necessary?
1. Provides educational experience
2. Helps correct problems with or misunderstandings about the study
Step 4: Collect the Data
Sample: a relatively small group of people who are selected to participate in a research
Population: all the members of an identifiable group from which a sample is drawn.
Step 5: Analyze the Data and Reevaluate the Theory
Use statistical analyses to analyze data and make sure that a difference wasn’t found due
Step 6: Report the results at a conference, in a journal, etc.
What is replication? Replication involves repeating a study’s scientific procedures using
different participants in an attempt to duplicate the findings.
What is a meta-analysis? Meta-analysis is the use of statistical techniques to summarize results
from similar studies on a specific topic to estimate the reliability and overall size of the effect.
Observational Research – a scientific method involving systematic qualitative and/or
quantitative descriptions of behavior Three common types of observational research:
1. Naturalistic observation
2. Participant observation
What are the benefits of observational research? Benefits of observational research are 1)
that it allows researchers the opportunity to watch behavior in its “wholeness,” providing
the full context in which to understand it, 2) provides researchers the opportunity to
record rare events that may never occur in a controlled laboratory environment, 3) allows
researchers the opportunity to systematically record events that were previously seen only
by nonscientists, and 4) allows researchers to observe events that would be too risky,
dangerous, or unethical to create in the laboratory.
What are the drawbacks? Drawbacks of observational research are 1) conclusions must
be made carefully because observational research does not manipulate events to
determine their effect on outcomes, 2) observer bias, which occurs when preconceived
ideas held by the researcher affect the nature of the observations made, 3) a researcher’s
presence can significantly alter the behavior of those being studied, and 4) observational
methods pose the most ethical problems involving invasion of others’privacy.
Correlational Research – research desig