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Ch 2 Notes - Social psychology is built on the scientific...

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Social psychology is built on the scientific method Eliminates contradictions in everyday observations: “too many cooks spoil the broth” vs. “two heads are better than one” Empirical, replicable testing methods. Specific, quantifiable hypotheses Importance of research methods Improves reasoning ability and critical skills Allows better learning and understanding of material Beginning the research process – developing ideas Asking questions to initialize the study; may be triggered by distress (murder: Latané & Darley); Song lyrics (Pennebaker); Expanding upon previous research (Asch) Ex: “Why do bicyclists race faster in the presence of other bicyclists” – the first social psychology experiment published (Triplett) Searching literature to learn about similar, already-completed research; may use Electronic databases: PsycArticles, PsycINFO; the web; Newspaper and magazine articles; textbooks Treeing: going from article to article Hypotheses & theories to outline a prediction Hypothesis: a testable prediction about the conditions under which an event will occur Formed from an idea Empirically testable Theory: an organized set of principles used to explain observed phenomena Formed upon further development of a hypothesis Simple & comprehensive Mini-theories are common: limited, specific aspects of the way people behave; allow for meaningful empirical investigation (ex. Bem’s self-perception theory) The all-encompassing theory (such as those by Freud & Piaget) is avoided Able to generate new hypotheses Testable; Make an important contribution, even if wrong (Ex: Bem’s theory – controversial, but helped to organize previously-discovered evidence, and generated new testable hypotheses. Basic and applied research to answer questions Basic research – increases our understanding of human behavior; designed to test a specific hypothesis from a specific theory Applied research – makes use of theories or methods to enlarge our understanding of naturally occurring events and to contribute to the solution of social problems, Defining & measuring variables – refining ideas
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Conceptual variables are specified with operational definitions Conceptual variables: variables are abstract, general; ex: prejudice, conformity, attraction, love, violence, group pressure, social anxiety Operational definition: how a variable is specifically manipulated or measured Ex. ‘conformity’ = number of times a participant agrees with obviously wrong judgment made by peers. Usually refined with trial and error to perfectly capture the desired variables. Construct validity: the extent to which the [manipulations or measures] really [manipulate or measure] the targeted conceptual variables Ex: measuring the effect of alcohol on aggression: must define what intoxication is (feeling drunk vs. a specific B.A.C.), and what aggression is (usually via unusual behaviors, like administering shocks to someone, due to ethical restrictions – and are these real indicators?)
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