Methodology Social Psychology: an Empirical Science

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Scientific Method

METHODOLOGY
Social Psychology: An Empirical Science

Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a specific prediction about how one variable is related to another. Must be falsifiable. Must be operationally defined.
Stated in observable, measurable terms. Allows for replication.

Types of Research Strategies
The Observational Method: Describing Social Behavior
Researchers measure and record observable behavior of participants as it occurs in its natural state or habitat. Can obtain data about a natural behavior, rather than about a behavior that is a reaction to an artificial experimental situation. It is important to establish interjudge reliability, which is the level of agreement between two or more people who independently observe and code a set of data. Archival Analysis A form of the observational method in which the researcher examines accumulated documents (archives).

Types of Research Strategies
Limits of the Observational Method
Certain kinds of behavior are difficult to observe because they occur only rarely or only in private. With archival analysis, the original writers may not have included all the information researchers would later need. Social psychologists want to do more than just describe behavior. They want to predict and explain it.

Types of Research Strategies
The Correlational Method: Predicting Social Behavior The researcher does not manipulate any variable but observes and measures two or more variables to find relationships (i.e., how much one can be predicted from the other) between them. If there is a correlation between two variables, a change in one variable is accompanied by a change in another. A positive correlation is one in which the two variables move in the same direction. A negative correlation is one in which the two variables move in opposite directions.

Correlation does not imply causation.
Does not tell us in any direct way whether a change in one variable is the cause of change in another.

Types of Research Strategies
The Experimental Method: Explaining Social Behavior
A procedure in which a researcher manipulates one or more independent variables and looks for changes in one or more dependent variables. An independent variable is the variable that is manipulated by the experimenter. The “cause”.

Internal Validity
Internal Validity
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 conditions. Random Assignment to Condition 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.

A dependent variable is the variable that is measured, counted, or recorded. It “depends” on the independent variable. The “effect”.

Only in an experiment can researchers isolate a single factor and examine the effect of that factor alone on a particular behavior, since everything else was held constant.

External Validity
External Validity
The extent to which the results of a study can be generalized to other situations and to other people. Generalizability across situations: the extent to which we can generalize from the situation constructed by an experimenter to real-life situations. Generalizability across people: the extent to which we can generalize from the people who participated in the experiment to people in general.

External Validity
Generalizability Across Situations
By virtue of gaining enough control over the situation so as to randomly assign people to conditions and rule out the effects of extraneous variables, the situation can become somewhat artificial and distant from real life. Mundane Realism is the extent to which an experiment is similar to...
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