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HOW CAN RESEARCH METHODS IMPACT YOU EVERY DAY?

  • Research methods can help us better understand why we think and behave the way we do. This helps us think more effectively and critically evaluate and process the information we confront every day.

  • The ability to think critically is the first step in making better decisions about everything from which products to buy to how to answer a question on an exam. Separating common sense, hindsight bias, and the false consensus effect from a scientific way of thinking can lead you to make the most effective choices.

HOW DO SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGISTS FIND THE TRUTH?

  • Like detectives, social psychologists gather evidence to answer questions, test theories, and come to conclusions. To do this, a researcher poses a question, researches theories, develops a hypothesis, and tests the hypothesis using variables with operational definitions, samples, and replication. Once the researcher draws a conclusion, the cycle begins again.

  • When conducting research, social psychologists must consider ethics and culture. Because study participants are often human beings, informed consent and debriefing must be a part of the process.

WHAT CAN DESCRIPTIVE METHODS SHOW US?

  • Descriptive methods answer the who, what, when, where, and how questions about a particular phenomenon. They describe patterns and trends but do not evaluate cause–and–effect relationships.

  • These methods include naturalistic observation, self–report or survey data, and other methods such as archival, case, and field studies.

WHAT DO CORRELATIONS TELL US ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS?

  • Correlations help us to examine the relationship between two variables, and what patterns the associations form (e.g., positive, negative, illusory correlations).

  • Correlational research cannot lead to causal conclusions. Correlations have several limitations such as the third variable and bi–directional causality problems, but can be beneficial for helping us predict behaviour.

WHAT DO EXPERIMENTAL METHODS HAVE TO SAY?

  • Experimental methods differ from descriptive ones in that researchers attempt to control all factors that may affect the results. These methods can support or deny an existence of a cause–and–effect relationship.

  • Independent and dependent variables are used to conduct experimental methods. Researchers will take measures like random assignment, single– and double–blind studies, and the use of placebos to take into account confounds and participant and experimenter bias that could alter the results.

HOW DO WE CONDUCT ETHICAL RESEARCH?

  • Experiments with questionable ethics have brought about the development of specific ethics guidelines that regulate human research.

  • While deception is still permitted in experiments, participants must provide their informed consent to participate and be fully debriefed as to the true nature of the study at its conclusion.