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Chapter 1: Social Psychology

Thursday, December 10, 2015

10:43 PM

The scientific study of the interactions between two or more people
The investigation of the ways in which our thoughts, feelings, and
actions are influenced by the social environment we live in
Focus is on the individual and how their thoughts, ideas and actions
are shaped by the environment they live in
Correlational study
Used to make PREDICTIONS

A correlation refers to the tendency for one event to be

associated with changes in another

Does NOT mean that one event CAUSES another

Third Variable Problem

The two variables can be linked to a third variable that

causes the two to be related, and with a correlational study,
there's no way to definitively prove causation
Directionality Problem

In a correlational study, it can be determined that two

variables are related to each other, but it is not known which
variable causes the other
With the correlational study, social psychologists try to

determine how different variables are related to one another

Useful in natural settings where experiments can be difficult to

Allows for the gathering of a large amount of information in a

relatively short period of time

However, because it does not offer any definitive information

about cause and effect relationships, social psychologists prefer the

experimental method
Experimental Study

One variable is changed systematically, and that change's effect

on another variable is measured

Independent Variable

Variable that is manipulated to produce a change

Dependent Variable

Variable that is changes, and whose change is observed

by the researcher
Participants might be exposed to low, medium, and high levels

of manipulation of the independent variable, which should in theory

show different levels of causation
Different from correlational studies because the variables are


In correlational studies, naturally occurring changes are

observed and analyzed, and those changes therefore cannot be
attributed to causation
Requirements for Success

Random Assignment of Participants to Experimental

Participants must be randomly assigned to

whatever condition they get in order to prevent changes in

the dependent variable coming from something other than
changes in the independent variable
If participants are not randomly assigned, they

might bring differences with them that can have an effect

on the study

All Other Factors Must Be Held Constant

Only one variable can be manipulated at a time

Different conditions may affect the dependent

variable, making it impossible to determine what the effect

of the independent variable was
"Confounding" the independent variable with

another variable must be avoided

External Validity

Because most experiments are conducted in a lab setting,

their results may not be able to be generalized to real-life
Behaviors that are observed in a lab setting may

not actually happen in the real world

The collective analysis of two or more previous studies
Often, many studies are combined