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Chapter 2: Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research

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Hindsight bias
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The tendency for people to exaggerate, after knowing that something occurred, how much they could have predicted it before it occurred
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Ex hindsight bias: Birds of a feather flock together or opposites attracts
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Once people knew that people are attracted to similar people they claimed it “Wasn’t surprising.”
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Empirical Science
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SP is an empirical science. All evidence must be based on evidence. Hypothesis can be tested using observation and experiment Develop theories Derive hypothesis from theory Test hypothesis revise theory
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Theories
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Develop theories to explain and predict phenomenon – Interrelated constructs, definitions, and propositions – Present a systematic view of a phenomenon by specifying relations among variables
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Hypothesis
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Derive hypothesis from theory – Prediction about what will happen in the study – Specifies the association one expects to find between variables
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Observational research method
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The technique whereby a researcher observes people and systematically records measurements or impressions of their behavior Describes social behavior Systematic observation: Looks then records Focus: Description Question answered: What is the nature of the phenomenon? Naturalistic Archival
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Naturalistic Observation
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Observation of peoples behavior in their natural environments
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Correlational research method
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The technique whereby two or more variables are systematically measured and the relationship between them (i.e. how much one can be predicted from the other) is assesed Predict social behavior Focus: Prediction Question answered: From knowing X, can we predict Y? r=0 no correlation r=1 perfectly correlated survey CORRELATION NOT CAUSATION
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Positive Correlation
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Increase value of one variable is associated with increase value of another variable r=.84
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Negative Correlation
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Increase value of one variable is associated with decrease value of another variable r=-.84
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Experimental research method
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The method in which researcher randomly assigns participants to different conditions and ensures that these conditions are identical except for the independent variable (the one thought to have a casual effect on peoples responses) Focus: Casuality Question: Is variable X a cause of variable Y? Independent variable dependent variable
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Weaknesses of Observational method
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Certain behaviors are difficult to observer Original document may not have all of the data needed Doesn’t allow for prediction and explanation
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Ethnography
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The method by which researchers attempt to understand a group or culture by observing it from the inside, without imposing any preconceived notions they might have
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Interjudge reliability
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The level of agreement between two or more people who independently observe and code a set of data; by showing that two or more judges independently come up with the same observations, researchers ensure that the observations are not the subjective, distorted impressions of one individual
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Archival analysis
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A form of the observational method in which the researcher examines the accumulated documents, or archives, of a culture (e.g. diaries, novels, magazines, and newspaper)
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Correlation Coefficient
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A statistical technique that assesses how well you can predict one variable from another – for example, how well you can predict peoples weight from their height
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Survey
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Research in which a representative sample of people are asked (Often anonymously) questions about their attitudes or behavior
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Random selection
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A way of ensuring that a sample of people is representative of a population by giving everyone in the population an equal chance of being selected for the sample
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Strengths of correlational method
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Able to investigate relations between variables that are difficult to observe • Sample representative segments of population
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Weaknesses of correlational method
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People may not know the answer- but they think they do
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Independent variable
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The variable a researcher changes or variables to see if it has an effect on some other variable
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Dependent variable
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The variable a researcher measures to see if it is influenced by the independent variable the researcher hypothesized that the dependent variable will depend on the level of the independent variable
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Weaknesses of the experimental method
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Artificial, distant from real life
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Strengths of the experimental method
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Trade-off with increasing control over the situation to make it similar for all participants
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Random assignment to condition
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A process ensuring that all participants have an equal chance of taking part in any condition of an experiment; through random assignment, researchers can be relatively certain that differences in the participants personalities or backgrounds are distributed evenly across conditions
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Experimental Method (Situations and people)
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Situations – Generalize from the experimental situation to real-life situations People – Generalize from the people who participated in the experiment to people in general
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Probability level (p-level)
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A number calculated with statistical techniques that tells researchers how likely it is that the results of their experiment occurred by chance and not because of the independent variable or variables; the convention in science, including social psychology, is to consider results significant (trustworthy) if the probability level is less than 5 in 100 that the results might be due to chance factors and not the independent variables
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Internal validity
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Making sure that nothing besides the independent variable can affect the dependent variable; this is accomplished by controlling all extraneous variables and by randomly assigning people to different experimental
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External validity
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The extent to which the results of a study can be generalized to other situations and to other people
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Psychological realism
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The extent to which the psychological processes triggered in an experiment are similar to psychological processes that occur in everyday life
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Cover story
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A description of the purpose of a study, given to participants, that is different from its true purpose and is used to maintain psychological realism
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Field experiments
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Experiments conducted in natural settings rather than in the laboratory – Study behavior outside of the lab in natural setting – Same design as a laboratory experiment, but use real-life setting – Participants unaware they are in an experiment
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Basic dilemma of the social psychologist
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The trade-off between internal and external validity in conducting research; it is very difficult to do one experiment that is both high in internal validity and generalizable to other situations and people
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Replications
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Repeating a study, often with different subject populations or in different settings
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Meta-analysis
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A statistical technique that averages the results of two or more studies to see if the effect of an independent variable is reliable
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Basic research
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Studies that are designed to find the best answer to the question of why people behave as they do and that are conducted purely for reasons of intellectual curiosity
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Applied research
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Studies designed to solve a particular social problem
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Cross-cultural research
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research conducted with members of different cultures, to see whether the psychological processes of interest are present in both cultures or whether they are specific to the culture in which people were raised
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Evolutionary theory
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A concept developed by Charles Darwin to explain the ways in which animals adapt to their environments
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Natural selection
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The process by which heritable traits that promote survival in a particular environment are passed along to future generations; organisms with those traits are more likely to produce offspring
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Evolutionary psychology
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The attempt to explain social behavior in terms of genetic factors that have evolved over time according to the principles of natural selection
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Informed consent
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Agreement to participate in an experiment, granted in full awareness of the nature of the experiment, which has been explained in advance
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Deception
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Misleading participants about the true purpose of a study or the events that will actually transpire
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Debriefing
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Explaining to participants, at the end of an experiment, the true purpose of the study and exactly what transpired
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Mundane realism
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Extent to which an experiment is similar to real-life situations
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Institutional review board (IRB)
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A group made up of at least one scientist, one nonscientist, and one member not affiliated with institution that reviews all psychological research at that institution and decides whether it meets ethical guidelines; all research must be approved by the IRB before it is conducted
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1: Suppose a psychologist decides to join a local commune to understand and observe its members’ social relationships. This is what?
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1: Ethnography
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2: What is the basic dilemma of the social psychologist is that?
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2: There is a trade off between internal and external validity in most experiments
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3: What are the guidelines for ethical research?
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3: All research is reviewed by an IRB that consists of at least one scientist, one nonscientist, and one person unaffiliated with the institution A researcher receives informed consent from a participant unless deception is deemed necessary and the experiment meets ethical guidelines When deception is used in a study, participants must be fully debriefed
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4: What is a basic assumption that social psychologists make?
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4: Many social problems can be studied scientifically
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5: What is true about social psychological findings?
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5: They sometimes seem obvious after we learn about them, because of hindsight bias
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6: How do social psychologists formulate hypotheses and theories?
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6: They are inspired by previous theories and research They disagree with a previous researchers’ interpretation of his or her study They construct hypothesis and theories based on personal observations
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7: What question can the observational method answer?
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7: How polite are people in public places?
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8: What question can the correlational method answer?
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8: Are people from the southern US more polite in public places than the people from the northern US
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9: What question can the experimental method answer?
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9: Does playing violent video games cause people to be more rude to someone who cuts in line in from of them?
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10: How can you increase the external validity of a study?
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10: Replicate the study with a different population of people in a different setting
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11: Why do social psychologist often do experiments in the lab, rather than the field?
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11: To increase internal validity
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12: What is the purpose of cross-cultural research?
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12: The purpose of cross-cultural research is to see which social psychological findings are universal and which are culture-bound
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13: What does evolutionary psychology do?
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13: Evolutionary approaches can generate novel hypotheses about social behavior that can then be tested with experiments
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14: What is social neuroscience concerned with?
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14: Social psychologist are increasingly interested in the connection between biological processes and social behavior