Social-Psychology-as-a-Science by akgame

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									Social Psychology as a Science
     What is Social Psychology?
• The study of how individuals’ thoughts,
  feelings, and behaviors are influenced by
  other people.
• interaction of the person and the situation
  – Lewin’s formula: b = f (p,e)
  What Makes Social Psychology
           Unique?
• issues are addressed in numerous fields
  –   philosophy
  –   theology
  –   literature
  –   anthropology
  –   sociology
  –   economics
  What Makes Social Psychology
           Unique?
• level of cause and effect
  – groups and/or individuals affect the individual
  What Makes Social Psychology
           Unique?
• level of cause and effect
• recall Allport’s (1954) definition
   – “Social psychology involves the use of scientific
     methods to explore the ways in which a person’s
     thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced
     by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of
     others.”
           Ways of Knowing
• epistemology: the basis of knowledge --
  concerned with the nature, origins, and limits
  of knowledge
            Ways of Knowing
• two general epistemologies
  – 1. rationalism: assumes that source of
    knowledge is logical thinking and reasoning
    ability
     • does not ignore the importance of experience
     • truth is logical, plausible, and believable
            Ways of Knowing
• two general epistemologies
  – 1. rationalism
  – 2. empiricism: assumes that the source of
    knowledge is our experiences and observations of
    the events of the world
     • does not ignore the need for logic and reason
     • truth is found in that which is observable and
       measurable
            Ways of Knowing
• two general epistemologies
  – 1. rationalism
  – 2. empiricism

• science seeks empirical knowledge
• psychology relies almost exclusively on
  empirical methods (e.g., observation,
  experimentation)
            What is Science?
• science is both a goal and a method
             What is Science?
• science is both a goal and a method
  – an attempt to find governing principles that
    underlie phenomena
     • What do things work the way they do?
     • Why do people do the things they do?
            What is Science?
• science is both a goal and a method
  – an attempt to find governing principles that
    underlie phenomena
  – pursue knowledge of the governing principles via
    observation
               What is Science?
• Is science “value free?”
  –   methods (e.g., experiment vs. survey)
  –   choice of topics
  –   questions asked
  –   application of knowledge
  –   interpretation of data

• not “value free”
               What is Science?
• some characteristics of science
  –   precision and reliability
  –   skepticism
  –   thinking critically
  –   creative and imaginative

• TENSION: creative and imaginative, yet
  skeptical
           Process of Science
• scientific methods attempt to deal with the
  inherent tension between creativity and
  skepticism

• science is a process of “conjecture and
  refutation”
  – Sir Karl Popper, philosopher of science
           Process of Science
• conjecture: develop potential explanations
  for phenomena
  – e.g., hypotheses
           Process of Science
• conjecture: develop potential explanations for
  phenomena

• refutation: process of falsifying the
  conjectures
         Forming Hypotheses
• application as a source of hypotheses
  – Stanford prison study
  – Lewin’s organ-meat study
         Forming Hypotheses
• theory as a source of hypotheses
  – a set of general propositions describing the causal
    relationships amongst different constructs
                        Theory
• a set of general propositions describing the
  causal relationships amongst different
  constructs
  – statement about constructs (i.e., abstract
    concepts)
     • e.g., self-esteem, stereotypes, intelligence
                      Theory
• a set of general propositions describing the
  causal relationships amongst different
  constructs
  – describes causal relationships
     • insight into why events occur
     • explains what causes/leads to what
                       Theory
• a set of general propositions describing the
  causal relationships amongst different
  constructs
  – statement of general propositions
     • applies to many people in many circumstances
     • degree of generality differs for different theories
                       Theory
•   statement about constructs
•   describes causal relationships
•   statement about general propositions
•   precise
    – make specific, clear predictions
                       Theory
•   statement about constructs
•   describes causal relationships
•   statement about general propositions
•   precise
•   coherent
    – tells a clear story and is not self-contradictory
                      Theory
•   statement about constructs
•   describes causal relationships
•   statement about general propositions
•   precise
•   coherent
•   parsimonious
    – uses as few concepts as necessary
                      Theory
•   statement about constructs
•   describes causal relationships
•   statement about general propositions
•   precise
•   coherent
•   parsimonious
•   falsifiable
    – can only be proven incorrect
           Falsifying A Theory
• disconfirming the propositions
  – theoretical propositions are typically based on if-
    then statements
     • If the theory is correct (antecedent), then the data will
       come out as predicted (consequent).
           Falsifying A Theory
• disconfirming the propositions
  – we can only know the consequent
     • the data came out as predicted
  – does not mean that the antecedent is true
     • If Austin is a man, then he is a mortal.
     • Austin is a mortal. (affirming the consequent)
     • Therefore he is a man. (concluding the antecedent is
       true)
           Falsifying A Theory
• disconfirming the propositions
  – we can only disconfirm, or negate, the
    consequent
     • The data did not come out as predicted. Thus the
       theory must not be correct.
  – however…
     • There may be numerous reasons why the data did not
       come out as predicted.
            Falsifying A Theory
• disconfirming the propositions
  – What can be done?
     • science is a process
         – discover limiting conditions of the theory
     • all alternative explanations are not created equal
     • but, other theories might be able to account for
       contrary evidence
  What Do Theories Do For Us?
• help us understand observations
  – provide a framework to understand isolated
    facts/observations
  – identify patterns, draw connections
  What Do Theories Do For Us?
• help us understand observations
• help us make predictions
  – use propositions of a theory to predict the
    relations among different variables in certain
    situations
Help Us Understand Observations




adapted from Nisbett (1993)
Help Us Understand Observations




adapted from Nisbett (1993)
Help Us Understand Observations




adapted from Nisbett (1993)
  What Do Theories Do For Us?
• help us understand observations
  – different homicide rates for white male offenders
    across different regions of the country
  – more argument-related murders in the South and
    Southwest than other regions
  – no clear differences in approval of punching
    adult male, but regional differences if a drunk
    bumped into a man and his wife

• Any explanations?
           Theory Development
• Southern culture is historically linked to
  a frontier tradition of property and
  honor. A perceived threat to one’s
  property or honor will likely result in an
  aggressive response. (Cohen et al., 1996; Nisbett, 1993)
         Theory Development
• Southern culture of honor as a theory
  – about constructs
     • honor, culture
  – causal relationships
     • threats to honor cause aggression
  – general propositions
     • not about specific honor or aggression, but specific to
       Southern white males
      Formulating Hypotheses
• hypothesis: statement of the relationship
  that is expected to exist between two or more
  variables
  – Variable 1 affects/increases/decreases Variable 2
  – an explicit causal structure
      Formulating Hypotheses
• variable: a characteristic that varies or
  changes across people or in the same person
  across time and place
  – person variables: gender, cultural upbringing
  – situation variables: under perceived threat
           Testing Hypotheses
• process of testing two different versions of a
  given variable
  – conceptual variable: abstraction used in the
    hypothesis
     • aggression, love, attractiveness
           Testing Hypotheses
• process of testing two different versions of a
  given variable
  – conceptual variable
  – operational variable: concrete, precise empirical
    definition used in testing the hypothesis
     • measured or manipulated
     • critical for replication
     • e.g., attractiveness = smiling or not smiling
           Testing Hypotheses
• operationalizing a variable
  – levels of a variable (values, qualities, quantities)
     • gender: two levels (female, male)
     • income: too many levels
     • physical aggression: shoving, hitting, killing
  – often dictated by the question being considered
           Testing Hypotheses
• Hypothesis: Attraction increases persuasion.
  – How will we measure attractiveness?
     • attractive or unattractive photo
  – How will we measure persuasion?
     • scale items of persuasiveness, agreeing to buy product
           Testing Hypotheses
• In groups of 3-4 people,
  – identify two social psychological variables that
    you think might be related
  – formulate a hypothesis about the relationship
    (conceptual variables)
  – devise a strategy to operationalize the variables
    (operational variables)
     • remember to use appropriate levels of the variables
                 Summary
• psychology relies on empirical methods
• science is a process of “conjecture and
  refutation”
• theories are general propositions about causal
  relationships amongst constructs
• hypotheses are conceptual statements that
  require operationalization
                 Next Time
• Hypothesis: Southern white males are more
  prone to aggression than are Northern white
  males.
  – different strategies to examine hypotheses

								
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