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Research Methods for Social Psychology, 2nd Edition



Research Methods for Social Psychology, 2nd Edition

Dana S. Dunn

ISBN: 978-1-118-40605-2 December 2012 408 Pages

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The 2nd edition of Research Methods for Social Psychology offers information on how to conduct empirical research in social psychology. The author teaches readers to think like experimental social psychologists, that is, to use or develop explanatory theories and to manipulate and measure variables in order to explain the origin or purpose of some aspect of social life. It provides information to perform research projects on human social behavior from start to finish, from selecting a research topic to collecting and analyzing data to writing up and the results using the American Psychological Association’s required format (i.e., APAstyle). Along the way, they will learn about the particular ethical issues social psychologists face, the logic of experimental design, alternative research approaches, sorting accuracy from error in research, and how to orally present their findings, among other issues.

This book contains up-to-date scholarship and emphasizes active learning through pedagogical activities and exercises designed to help students design and execute their own social psychological research.

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Preface to the Second Edition xi

Acknowledgments xiv

About the Author xv

1 Studying Social Psychology 1

Introducing and Defining Social Psychology 1

Establishing Causality: The Importance of Experimentation in Social Psychology 3

Levels of Explanation: Social Psychology’s Relation to Other Fields of Inquiry 5

Personality Psychology’s Relation to Social Psychology 7

The Scientific Method: Doing Social Psychology 8

Why? Social Psychology is Social 11

Social Thought 12

Social Influence 12

Social Connections 12

Where? The Lab and the Field 13

The Lab 13

The Field 13

One More Distinction: Basic and Applied Research 15

Social Psychologists Today 16

Active Learning Exercise 1A: Learning About Active Social Psychologists 16

Learning Research Methods for Social Psychology 18

Active Learning Exercise 1B: Planning a Research Project in Social Psychology 18

Exercises 19

2 Developing Research Topics in Social Psychology 20

The Scope of Social Psychology 22

Traditional Topics and New Avenues for Research 23

Extending Earlier Research 26

Finding a Research Question 26

Self-Reflection 26

Explore but Verify Hindsight 27

Your Campus 27

Your Community 28

Look to the Media 29

The Wider World 29

Ask an Expert 30

The World Wide Web 30

Watch Other People 31

Other Sources for Research Ideas 31

Active Learning Exercise 2A: Developing Topic Ideas by Brainstorming 32

Active Learning Exercise 2B: Keeping a Social Psychology Log 33

Searching the Social Psychological Literature 34

Searching Databases 36

Searching the Library Catalog 39

Seeking Help: Speak to Reference Professionals 39

Active Learning Exercise 2C: Maintaining a Bibliography and Organizing Sources 40

Reading Social Psychology Research 41

Borrowing Ideas from Published Social Psychology Experiments 43

Exercises 44

3 Ethical Issues in Social Psychological Research 45

Milgram’s Obedience Research 47

Other Ethically Challenging Examples 50

The Problem of Deception in Social Psychology Experiments: Balancing Benefits and Costs 51

Arguments for Using Deception: Some Benefits 53

Arguments Against Using Deception: The Costs 55

The Special Role of Confederates 56

Labels Do Matter: Participants, Not Subjects 57

Institutional Review Boards 59

Active Learning Exercise 3A: Forming an In-Class IRB 61

Active Learning Exercise 3B: Completing an IRB Form 62

Informed Consent is Essential 63

Confidentiality 64

Obtaining Informed Consent 65

Active Learning Exercise 3C: Creating an Informed Consent Form for Your Project 66

Ethical Issues and Field Research 68

Shared Virtues: Ethical Treatment, Education, and Science 69

A Last Word on Ethics? 70

Exercises 71

4 Basic Experimental Design 72

The Logic of Experimentation 73

The Advantages of Experiments 76

Why Experiments Matter in Social Psychology 77

Turning a Research Question into a Hypothesis 77

Operational Definitions in Social Psychological Research 78

Active Learning Exercise 4A: Writing an Operational Definition 80

Independent and Dependent Variables 81

Active Learning Exercise 4B: Identifying Independent and Dependent Variables in Social Psychology Experiments 82

Doing Randomization in Social Psychology Experiments 83

Issues of Error 83

Sampling and Randomization 87

Active Learning Exercise 4C: Performing Random Assignment and Random Selection 89

Common Experimental Designs in Social Psychology 92

Between-Subjects Research Designs 92

Within-Subjects Research Designs 98

Active Learning Exercise 4D: Recognizing Main Effects and Interactions 99

Joining Between- and Within-Subject Variables: Mixed Designs 104

Design Matters 104

Exercises 105

Active Learning Exercise 4B Answers 105

Table 4.6 Answers 105

5 Alternatives to Experimental Research in Social Psychology 106

Leaving the Comfort of the Lab: Problems and Prospects 109

Observational Research 110

Active Learning Exercise 5A: Designing and Conducting an Observational Study 111

Correlational Approaches 112

Active Learning Exercise 5B: Conducting a Correlational Study on Personality 115

Quasi-Experimental Research Designs 117

Nonequivalent Group Designs 118

Time Series Designs 120

Survey Research 123

Approaches to Surveying Opinion 123

Experience Sampling Methods and Diary Approaches 124

Active Learning Exercise 5C: Conducting an ESM Study 125

Dear Diary: An Example 126

Internet-Based Research 127

Internet Ethics 128

Time, Participant Loss, and Sampling Issues 129

An Internet-Based Example: Online Character Pre- and Post-September 11, 2001 131

Archival Research and Meta-Analysis 133

Summarizing Studies of Social Behavior: Meta-Analysis 138

Conclusions 140

Exercises 140

6 Developing Questionnaires and Surveys 142

Caveat Emptor: Let the (Jam) Buyer Beware 143

The Obvious Advantage of Asking Questions 145

Sampling Issues 146

Probability and Nonprobability Samples 147

Scales of Measurement 149

Nominal Scales 150

Ordinal Scales 151

Interval Scales 151

Ratio Scales 151

Types of Questions: Open-Ended and Close-Ended 152

Open-Ended Questions 152

Close-Ended Questions 154

The Most Common and Useful Numerical Scale: The Likert Scale 155

Writing Clear Questions 157

Phrasing 158

Sequencing Questions 163

Being Sensitive 165

Last Words on Wording for Questionnaires and Surveys 165

Active Learning Exercise 6A: Writing and Revising Questions 166

Active Learning Exercise 6B: Pilot Testing Questions 167

Social Desirability Concerns, Halo Effects, and Yea-Saying 167

We Like to be Liked 167

Likes or Dislikes Can Matter 169

Yes, Yes, A Thousand Times, Yes 170

Anonymity or Identity? 171

A Brief Word on Survey Data Collection 171

Questionnaires and Surveys as Precursors to Experiments 172

Exercises 173

7 Introducing a Difference: Independent Variables 174

Conceiving Independent Variables 176

Types of Independent Variables 178

Can One Operationalization of an Independent Variable Represent All Possibilities? 180

Providing Context for the Independent Variable: Instructions 181

Plan for Piloting 182

Delivering the Independent Variable 182

Delivery via Authority: The Experimenter 183

Personal Delivery: Confederates and Peers 184

Written Delivery 185

Other Forms of Delivery 185

One More Time: Instruct, Repeat, and Probe 186

Active Learning Exercise 7A: Developing Independent Variables 187

How Many Independent Variables? A Reprise 188

Individual Differences as Independent Variables: Prospects and Problems 188

Verifying Cause and Effect: Manipulation Checks 189

Active Learning Exercise 7B: Developing a Manipulation Check 191

The Best Laid Plans (and Independent Variables) 192

Perform an Internal Analysis 193

Ask Participants But be Wary 194

Impact: Increase Obviousness 194

Reconsider the Hypothesis 195

Keep a Causal Focus 196

Exercises 196

8 Measuring What Happens: Dependent Variables 198

Behavioral Dependent Measures 199

Measuring What People Do 202

Measuring Intentions and Future Commitments 205

Behavioral Measures in Disguise: Unobtrusive Measures 206

Active Learning Exercise 8A: Creating Creative Dependent Measures 208

Verbal Measures 209

Varieties of Verbal Measures Revisited 210

Some Additional Verbal Dependent Measures 214

Other Types of Dependent Measures 216

Nonverbal Measures 216

Implicit Measures 216

Physiological Measures 217

False Physiological Feedback: The Bogus Pipeline 219

Narrative Approaches 219

Some Practical Issues for Administering Dependent Variables 219

Active Learning Exercise 8B: Developing Dependent Variables by Looking to the Literature 221

Reliability and Dependent Variables 222

Exercises 223

9 Validity and Realism in Research 224

Trusting Research Evidence: Demonstrating Internal Validity 226

General Threats to Internal Validity 228

Reprise: Ways to Enhance a Study’s Internal Validity 231

Generalizing to Other Settings: External Validity 231

External Validity via Replication 232

College Sophomores as Threats to External Validity 233

Context Matters 234

Enhancing External Validity 235

In Praise of External Invalidity 236

The Social Psychologist’s Challenge: Trade-Offs Between Internal and External Validity 237

Active Learning Exercise 9A: Evaluating Your Project’s Internal and External Validity 238

Making It Real: Mundane, Experimental, and Psychological Realism 239

Active Learning Exercise 9B: Enhancing Mundane and Experimental Realism 242

(Re)Considering Construct Validity 243

Beyond Construct Validity 244

Validity and Realism via Replication 244

Exercises 245

10 Conducting Social Psychology Experiments: Practical Matters 246

Setting the Stage 248

Deception Revisited: Think Carefully Before You Decide to Deceive Participants 249

Recruiting Participants 250

Active Learning Exercise 10A: Participant Pools, Sign-up Sheets, and Giving Credit 250

Demand Characteristics 253

Reducing Experimenter Biases 254

Active Learning Exercise 10B: Writing a Script for Your Study 257

Record Keeping 259

Active Learning Exercise 10C: Creating a Data Record Sheet 260

Conducting a Postexperimental Interview 262

On The Rare Occasion When Deception Is Necessary 263

Active Learning Exercise 10D: Crafting a Debriefing Protocol 263

Active Learning Exercise 10E: Writing a Debriefing Sheet 265

Closing Thoughts: Pilot Testing and Long-Term Change 266

Exercises 267

11 Data Analysis 268

Basic Statistics 270

Mean, Mode, and Median 271

Variance and Standard Deviation 273

Correlation: A Reprise 274

Some Brief Comments on Statistical Power and Effect Size—and a Caveat 274

The Role of Data Analysis in Social Psychological Research 276

Plan Analyses In Advance 277

Active Learning Exercise 11A: Planning Data Analyses and Selecting the Proper Statistical Test(s) 278

Interpreting and Reporting Results 281

Stereotype Threat Revisited 282

Active Learning Exercise 11B: Putting Results into Words 284

Learning from Success, Learning from Failure 287

Exercises 287

12 Presenting Social Psychological Research 288

Persuasive Communication 289

Who 289

What 290

Whom 290

Writing Like a Social Psychologist: A Matter of (APA) Style 291

Sections Found in APA-Style Papers 292

Title 295

Author Note 296

Abstract 296

Introduction 297

Method 300

Results 302

Discussion 303

References 305

Tables and Figures 307

Appendix 308

Additional Formatting Guidelines 308

Active Learning Exercise 12A: Drafting an APA-Style Lab Report of Your Social Psychology Project 309

Seeking Feedback on Your Writing 311

Preparing a Poster Summary 312

Active Learning Exercise 12B: Making a Poster 314

Enter Talking: Preparing and Delivering Oral Research Presentations 314

Preparing a Talk 315

Evaluating a Talk 317

Active Learning Exercise 12C: Giving Social Psychology Away via Audience Handouts 318

Active Learning Exercise 12D: Host a Paper or Poster Session 318

Parting Thoughts 319

Exercises 320

Appendix A Major Journals in Social Psychology 321

Appendix B Reading Journal Articles in Social Psychology 322

Appendix C Student Research Paper 325

References 338

Author Index 361

Subject Index 371

  • The book and all examples in it adhere to the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2010).
  • A new, annotated APA-style sample student paper (Appendix C).
  • A new outline based on the APA-style student paper (chapter 12).
  • A revised history of Triplettnull; co-action experiment (chapter 2).
  • New suggestions for sources of research ideas (chapter 2).
  • Updated suggestions for online searching of the social psychological literature (chapter 2).
  • Discussion of Burgernull; (2009) replication of Milgramnull; classic obedience to authority study (chapter 3).
  • Additional examples of archival sources for research (chapter 5).
  • Broader discussion of online surveys for student research (chapter 6).
  • Discussion of ways that the Internet may be influencing peoplenull; recall of events, which in turn may impact verbal dependent measures (chapter 8).
  • Consideration of the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) as a tool for exploring peoplenull; acoustic social lives (chapter 8).
  • A social psychological research example involving the medial prefrontal cortex and fMRI technology (chapter 8).
  • Suggestions regarding assessing longer-term attitude change (chapter 10).
  • Discussion of the possible shortcomings of traditional significance testing in light of Bayesian analytic techniques (chapter 11).
  • Updated information on how to write an APA-style paper based on the 6th edition of the Publication Manual (chapter 12).
  • New sample references for articles, books, and chapters written in APA-style (chapter 12).
  • Advice on writing Author Notes and referencing doi (Digital Object Identifier) numbers for research sources (chapter 12).
  • A rubric designed to help students plan, deliver, and evaluate one anothernull; oral presentations (chapter 12).
  • New exercises added to the list appearing at the end of each chapter.
  • Additional journals added to the list of Major Journals in Social Psychology (Appendix A)
  • Over 60 new or updated citations.
  • Active learning activities on social psychology in each chapter, as well as thought exercises at the end of each chapter

  • Guidance on developing social psychology research topics, advice on ethics reviews of research projects, instructions on how to design independent and dependent variables, and assistance with performing a post-experimental interviews with participants

  • A standalone chapter on basic data analysis, in addition to directions for putting statistical results into words

  • Guidance on writing APA-style summaries of social psychology experiments, as well as giving oral and poster presentations; includes a sample annotated APA-style lab report