Research Methods In Social Psychology

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  • 1.  
  • 2.
    • psychology relies on empirical methods
    • theories are general propositions about causal relationships amongst constructs
    • hypotheses are conceptual statements that require operationalization
    • science is a process of “conjecture and refutation”
  • 3.
    • Hypothesis: Southern white males are more prone to aggression than are Northern white males. (conjecture)
    • We’ll look at different strategies to examine hypotheses. (refutation)
  • 4.
    • putting theories to the test
    • What evidence supports (and, more importantly, disconfirms) our theories?
  • 5.
    • assesses the amount or average level of a given variable in a population
      • e.g., public opinion surveys
    • not a true test of an hypothesis
      • What is the white male homicide rate in the South?
  • 6.
    • What is the white male homicide rate in the South?
    adapted from Nisbett (1993)
  • 7.
    • critical issues
      • random sampling
      • basis of comparison
    • informative, but not a hypothesis test
      • What else could account for the findings?
  • 8.
    • investigates whether changes in one variable are related to changes in another variable
      • What is the relationship between being from the South and aggressive behavior?
  • 9.
    • correlation coefficients
      • range from +1.00 to -1.00
      • positive correlation : increase/decrease in the same direction
  • 10.  
  • 11.
    • correlation coefficients
      • range from +1.00 to -1.00
      • negative correlation : increase/decrease in opposite directions
  • 12.  
  • 13.
    • correlation coefficients
      • range from +1.00 to -1.00
      • strength of the relationship: closeness to +1.00/-1.00, not by the valence (+/-)
      • Which indicates a stronger correlation: -.74 or +.21?
  • 14.  
  • 15.
    • What is the relationship between being from the South and aggressive behavior?
      • Nisbett (1993)
        • homicide rate and “southernness”: rs = .37 & .52
      • in the social sciences (Cohen, 1992)
        • r = .50 (strong)
        • r = .30 (moderate)
        • r = .10 (small)
  • 16.
    • strengths of this approach
      • can be a random sample
      • actual behavior
      • has good generalizability (i.e., external validity)
      • potential for numerous variables
  • 17.
    • weakness of this approach
      • cannot infer a cause-effect relationship
    • factors for inferring causality
      • association -- yes
      • temporal priority -- no
      • rule out a spurious relationship -- no
  • 18.
    • temporal priority
    southernness homicide rates time
  • 19.
    • temporal priority
    southernness homicide rates homicide rates southernness or time time
  • 20.
    • temporal priority
    • direction of causality problem
    southernness homicide rates homicide rates southernness or time time
  • 21.
    • rule out a spurious relationship
    southernness homicide rates another variable spurious
  • 22.
    • rule out a spurious relationship
    southernness homicide rates poverty rs = .38 & .42 (Nisbett, 1993)
  • 23.
    • rule out a spurious relationship
    • 3rd variable problem
    southernness homicide rates another variable spurious
  • 24.
    • strengths
      • potential for numerous variables
      • good generalizability
    • weaknesses
      • cannot make causal conclusions
        • direction of causality
        • 3rd variable problem
  • 25.
    • direction of causality problem
      • Does “southernness” lead to more aggression or does a propensity for aggression lead to more “southernness”?
      • solution: we cause (i.e., manipulate) one of the variables
        • insult one group on Southerners, but not another
  • 26.
    • direction of causality problem
      • if we control who is insulted, then measure aggressiveness, we know the direction of causality
      • but, we still have the 3rd variable problem
        • SES
        • poor social skills
  • 27.
    • random assignment to condition
      • if SES or social skills have an effect on aggression, it should be equal for both groups
      • We can address the problems of correlational research by doing experiments.
  • 28.
    • characteristics
      • manipulation of a variable
        • solves the direction of causality problem
      • randomly assign to conditions
        • solves the 3rd variable problem
  • 29.
    • language of experiments
      • independent variable
      • dependent variable
      • operational variable
      • random assignment
  • 30.
    • testing theory
      • Does the independent variable cause changes in the dependent variable?
    southernness aggression cause
  • 31.
    • the Southern culture of honor hypothesis
      • Cohen et al. (1996)
      • 2 (Southern/Northern) X 2 (insult/no insult)
      • “ chicken”, cortisol, testosterone
  • 32. Insult No Insult Distance at which participants gave way to confederate (inches)
  • 33. Insult No Insult Distance at which participants gave way to confederate (inches)
  • 34. Insult No Insult Percentage Change in Cortisol Level
  • 35. Insult No Insult Percentage Change in Cortisol Level
  • 36. Insult No Insult Percentage Change in Testosterone Level
  • 37. Insult No Insult Percentage Change in Testosterone Level
  • 38.
    • strengths
      • allows for causal conclusions to be made -- best test of theory
    • weaknesses
      • not all questions are amenable to experiments
      • concerns about generalizability
  • 39.
    • expectancy effects
    • demand characteristics of the situation
    • social desirability concerns
    • ethical dilemmas
  • 40.
    • refutation: process of testing theories
    • descriptive research is informative, but limited in theory testing
    • correlational research is more informative, but does not allow for causal explanations
    • experiments are the best test of theories
  • 41.
    • social cognition
      • how we think about the social world