02 Research Methods

02 Research Methods - Research Methods April 7, 2008 I....

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Research Methods April 7, 2008 I. Fundamental Axioms of Social Psychology a. People construct their own reality, which is influenced by social and cognitive factors b. Social influences are pervasive (real or imagined) i. Everything we think and feel and do is influenced by others within social contexts II. Basic Principles of Social Psychology a. People strive for mastery i. We have evolved this need from a need to accurately predict and control the environment ii. We want to gain rewards and avoid punishments b. People strive for connectedness i. We seek support and acceptance from people/groups we care about ii. We are all very group-oriented and depend on others for mental wellbeing c. People value “me” and “mine” i. We are motive to see ourselves and the people/groups we care about in a positive light III. Cognitive Principles of Social Psychology a. Conservatism i. Established views tend to be self-perpetuating (affects the way we input new information; i.e., expectancy-confirmation bias), making belief change very infrequent and slow 1. a. Made up studies that showed that gun laws actually work or don’t actually work. They found that those whose beliefs coincided with the conclusions of the article evaluated the quality of the article very favorably and those whose beliefs conflicted with the conclusion of the article evaluated the quality of the article very unfavorably b. Accessibility i. Information that is most readily available has the most impact (made accessible either through context or chronic activation) 1. Whatever gets more cognitive “air time” (through exposure from parents, peers, media or self) becomes more often accessible
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c. Superficiality vs. Depth i. People can process information either in detail with effort or superficially without effort 1. People have evolved to use the least amount of cognitive effort needed, because they are being constantly cognitively taxed by daily life ii. Factors that affect this decision: 1. Motivation a. We are afraid that our degree of mastery or connectedness are challenged b. We are afraid that other goals are being threatened 2. Ability a. We are not being overly cognitively taxed IV. Why Use An Experimental Method? a. Common sense can be faulty and often paradoxical i. E.g. “Out of sight, out of mind?” vs. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”; “Birds of a feather flock together” vs. “Opposites attract” 1. Oftentimes we know of behaviors/cognitions that occur, but we rarely know what contexts elicit them and why (moderators and mediators) b. People are often biased when we interpret evidence, which is why we use quantitative methods i. Remember: Conservativism and accessibility ii. Often, stereotypes or preconceived notions act as the hypothesis that we seek to confirm 1. The experimental method forces us to try to disconfirm the hypothesis iii. Most often, people are completely unaware of their own biases
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02 Research Methods - Research Methods April 7, 2008 I....

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