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Chapter 1 This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law: any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network; preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images; any rental, lease, or lending of the program. The Field of Social Psychology: How We Think about and Interact with Others Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon
The Field of Social Psychology Social Psychology –A Working Definition –Its Cutting Edge –Research Methods –Quest for Knowledge and Rights of Individuals: Seeking a Balance
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon A Working Definition Social Psychology: The scientific field that seeks to understand the nature and causes of individual behavior and thought in social situations –Scientific in nature and follows core values: Accuracy, Objectivity, Skepticism, Open-Mindedness Does not rely on personal experience, intuition, and “common sense” notions –Focuses on the behavior of individuals
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon A Working Definition –Seeks to understand the causes of social behavior and thought, which includes: Actions and characteristics of others Cognitive processes: Memories, inferences Environmental variables Cultural context Biological factors
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon A Working Definition Evolutionary Psychology: A new branch of psychology that seeks to investigate the potential role of genetic factors in various aspects of human behavior
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon A Working Definition What are your thoughts?What are your thoughts? –Are the findings of social psychologists simply common sense? Why or why not? –What are examples of behaviors or situations that would be more likely studied by a social psychologist than by a sociologist? –What environmental, cultural, and biological factors may be of interest to social psychologists? Why?
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Its Cutting Edge Recognizes that cognition and behavior are two sides of the same coin Examines Social Neuroscience: research area that seeks knowledge about the neural and biological bases of social processes Studies role of implicit (nonconscious) processes Adopts a Multicultural Perspective: A focus on understanding the cultural and ethnic factors that influence social behavior
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods Systematic Observation—behavior is systematically observed and recorded –Naturalistic observation—systematically observe behavior in natural settings –Survey Method—large number of people answers questions about their attitudes or behavior Has many advantages Must meet certain requirements – Issues of sampling and wording of items
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods Correlational Method—a scientist systematically observes two or more variables to determine whether changes in one are accompanied by changes in the other –Allows predictions to be made A stronger correlation yields a more accurate prediction. –Correlations range from -1.00 to +1.00. »The farther away from 0, the stronger the correlation.
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods –Correlations can be either positive or negative. A positive correlation means that as one variable increases the other increases or as one variable decreases the other decreases—the two variables move in the same direction. A negative correlation means that as one variable increases, the other decreases—the two variables move in opposite directions.
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods –A correlation between variables does not mean that one variable causes changes in the other variable. Correlation does not equal causation.
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods What are your thoughts?What are your thoughts? –What social psychological topic would be good to study using the systematic observation method? –What social psychological topic would be good to study using the survey method? –What are examples of a positive correlation and a negative correlation? –Why doesn’t a correlation between two variables mean that they are causally related?
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods Experimentation (Experimental Method)— one or more factors (the independent variables) are systematically changed to determine whether such variations affect one or more factors (dependent variables) –Used to attain the goal of explanation –Can determine causal relationships
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods –Involves two key aspects Independent Variable—variable that is systematically changed in an experiment Dependent Variable—variable that is measured in an experiment –Has two requirements to be valid and successful Random Assignment of Participants to Groups— research participants must have an equal chance of being exposed to each level of the independent variable
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods And, all factors that might affect behavior other than the independent variable must be held constant. –If not, the independent variable may be confounded with another variable, which results in meaningless findings.
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods –Because experiments are often conducted in laboratory settings, the issue of external validity— the extent to which the findings can be generalized to real-life social situations and to people different from those who participated in the experiment—often is raised.
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods Interpreting Research Results –Inferential Statistics—special form of mathematics that allows the evaluation of the likelihood that a given pattern of research results occurred by chance alone If the likelihood that the results were due to chance is low (less than five times in a hundred), the results are described as significant. –Results are viewed as tentative until replicated.
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods –Interpreting diverse results Involves a statistical technique called meta-analysis –Data are combined from independent studies in order to determine whether specific variables (or interactions between variables) have significant effects across these studies.
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods The Role of Theory in Social Psychology –Procedure involved in building theories: Theories are proposed on the basis of existing evidence. Theories help to organize information and make predictions about observable conditions. Hypotheses based on a theory are tested by research. If results support theory, confidence in theory is increased. If not, theory is modified and further research is conducted. In the end, the theory is accepted or rejected, but always remains open to further testing and refinement.
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods The Role of Theory
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Research Methods What are your thoughts?What are your thoughts? –What are advantages and disadvantages of each type of research method that social psychologists use? –If a researcher was conducting an experiment to see whether the attractiveness of a job candidate affected people’s likelihood to hire the candidate, what would be the independent variable in this study? What would be the dependent variable in this study?
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Seeking an Appropriate Balance The Use of Deception—a technique whereby researchers withhold information about the purposes or procedures of a study from their participants. –Some kinds of research may require it. –However, its use raises ethical issues: Participant could be harmed (experience distress, anxiety). Participant could develop negative attitudes toward psychological research.
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Seeking an Appropriate Balance –Safeguards that must be followed: Informed consent—provide research participants with as much information as possible about a research project before they decide whether to participate in it. Debriefing—at the conclusion of the study, provide participants with full information about the nature of the research and the hypotheses under investigation. Deception should be used only when absolutely necessary and care must be taken to protect rights, safety, and well-being of participants.
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon Seeking an Appropriate Balance What are your thoughts?What are your thoughts? –Is deception sometimes warranted in social psychological research? Why or why not? –What are examples of social psychological topics that may need to be studied using some sort of deception? –Are the safeguards taken by social psychologists when deception is used sufficient? Why or why not?