Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #16 (Social Cognition)

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In short: Our second case-study from mainstream psychology is 'Social Cognition Models'

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Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #16 (Social Cognition)

  1. 1. PS409 Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience Dr Brian Hughes School of Psychologybrian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes
  2. 2. Case Studies:Examples of Psychology-related Pseudoscience
  3. 3. Case Studies fromWithin Mainstream Psychology: 2. Social cognition models
  4. 4. Social cognition models Not at Very all much How easy will it be for you to 1 2 3 4 avoid between-meal intake of sugared snacks and drinks in future? How likely is it that you will avoid 1 2 3 4 between-meal intake of sugared snacks and drinks in future?
  5. 5. Social cognition models “Theory of reasoned action” (Fishbein & Azjen, 1975)• Belief about outcomes Attitude towards• Evaluations of the behaviour outcomes Importance of Behavioural Behaviour• Belief about norms intention others’ attitudes• Motivation to Subjective norm comply
  6. 6. Social cognition models “Theory of planned behaviour” (Azjen, 1985)•Belief about Attitude towards•Evaluations of the behaviour Behavioural Behaviour• Belief about intention others’ attitudes• Motivation to Subjective norm comply• Internal control factors Behavioural• External control control factors
  7. 7. Social cognition models SCMs account for c. 5% of published research in health psychology (i.e., 1 in every 20 studies) Regularly applied in health promotion areas such as exercise, diet, sugar restriction, health screening, breast self-examination, safety helmet use, organ donation, drug use, sun cream use, smoking, use of antibiotics, etc.
  8. 8. “Beliefs about “Subjective “Perceived outcomes” norms” behavioural control”
  9. 9. Social cognition models Some problems (Ogden, 2003): SCMs lack falsifiability Unsupported or partially supported by data Lack of support “explained away” Tautological relationships Overlap of “predictors” and “outcomes” Vagueness in measurement “Self-reported” behaviours not objective Confirmation bias SCM questionnaires influence, rather than measure, attitudes and/or behaviour
  10. 10. Social cognition models Not Very at all much How easy will it be for you to avoid 1 2 3 4 between-meal intake of sugared snacks and drinks in future? How likely is it that you will avoid 1 2 3 4 between-meal intake of sugared snacks and drinks in future? • Belief about outcomes Attitude towards the • Evaluations of behaviour outcomes Behavioural Behavioural Behaviour • Belief about intention others’ attitudes Subjective norm • Motivation to comply • Internal control r = +.35, factors Behavioural control Behavioural p < .001 • External control factors Masalu & Astrom (2001), J Health Psychol
  11. 11. Social cognition models Ogden (2003) Lack of falsifiability Confirmation bias Vagueness in measurement Health Psychology, 22:424-8 Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 33:1-10
  12. 12. Social cognition models
  13. 13. But is it pseudoscience? Vagueness in measurement? Poor construct validity Lack of parsimony? Within-model redundancy Unfalsifiability? Theories retained even when unsupported empirically Reliance on auxiliary hypotheses/special pleading Exaggerated importance of key contributors? Model authors taken as sources of authoritative verdicts on disputes
  14. 14. PS409 Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience Dr Brian Hughes School of Psychologybrian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes

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