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Science of

Social Behavior
Lecture 1
Feb 2, 2016

Social Psychology

The scientific study of


feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of individuals in
social situations;
regularities in social behavior, social thinking, and
the experiences of the social world;
cognitive, aective, and behavioral aspects of
humans interacting with other humans.

Social Psychology

The scientific study of


feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of individuals in
social situations;
regularities in social behavior, social thinking, and
the experiences of the social world;
cognitive, aective, and behavioral aspects of
humans interacting with other humans.

1 Social Thinking
Impression Formation
Attribution
Stereotypes & Prejudice

2 Social Influence
Obediance
Conformity
Persuasion

3 Social Relations
Communication
Relationships
Aggression

History if Social Psychology


1895-7: Le Bon: theory of crowd behavior;
Triplett conducts experiment on a "social facilitation" effect.
1908: First textbooks of social psychology
1921: Journal of Abnormal Psychology
Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology
Origins of experimental method in 1930s: Lewin
Growth period: 1950s-1960s: Asch, Sherif, Heider, Festinger
1968: Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
1970s-80s: Fast rise of the cognitive approach

What does scientific mean?

Make claims, formulate hypotheses that are testable

Actual testing (transparent systematic)

Generalizability of result

Not truth by authority, past practice, or preference

Multiple cases, multiple contexts, replications

Science as social institution: Information sharing,


publication, debate, falsification, revision, convergence

Theory +

A theory describes the relationship between two or


more variables and the causal mechanism of this
relationship. It explains why a phenomenon exists.
We can use a theory to predict certain phenomena.
We can use a theory to explain certain phenomena.
Antecedent conditions
General laws

Theory +

A theory describes the relationship between two or


more variables and the causal mechanism of this
relationship. It explains why a phenomenon exists.
We can use a theory to predict certain phenomena.
We can use a theory to explain certain phenomena.

Testing a theory always means testing its predictions.

Preliminary support (not verification), falsification

Cumulative support (meta-analysis techniques)

Relationships

One phenomenon causes another


We can change Y by changing X.
(but is not evidence for direct Y X causation)

One phenomenon correlates with another


We can predict Y from X.

Causation implies correlation;


correlation does not imply causation.

Statistical Tests for Prediction


Correlation coefficient

Regression (outcome = Y, predictor = X)


(Univariate) regression: Y X
Multiple regression: Y X1, X2, X3
- Predictors compete with each other

What Predicts College Success?

Y X1, X2, X3

First-year GPA [HS GPA, SAT], [AP], [self-concept]


primarily: math/science self-concept, mastery/organization,
verbal self-concept, instrinsic goals

First-year GPA
[HS GPA, SAT]: predicts 23% [corr = .48]

[AP]: predicts 21%, pure addition = 9% [corr = .30]


[self-concept]: predicts 14%, pure = 8% [corr = .28]

total R = .63

Positive Correlation

Negative Correlation

Challenges to Prediction

Complex, overlapping relationships

Measurement error

Sampling from population

Want to guard against chance relationships

Statistical significance (p value)

Also want to guard against unimportant (weak) results

Eect size

Measurement Instruments

Verbal: Questionnaires, surveys, scales, single items

Nonverbal: Reaction times, physiological markers,


fMRI, observed behavior.

Need to be reliable

Consistently and repeatedly measure the same

Need to be valid

Truly measure what it is claimed to measure.

Test for Causality

Experimentally manipulate X; measure Y.

X = independent variable (IV)


Y = dependent variable (DV)

Experimental group
Control group

Random assignment to XE and Xc no systematic


dierence between groups except for the manipulation.

Therefore, eects in A must be caused by X.


- Barring chance replicate!
- X is an operation; what is the process
set in motion?
- Always: X M Y

Test for Causality

Experimentally manipulate X; measure Y.

Experimental group
Control group

X = independent variable (IV)


- Did we really measure Y?
Y = dependent variable (DV)

Random assignment to XE and Xc no systematic


dierence between groups except for the manipulation.
- Is there really no other dierence
between XE and Xc ?

Statistical Tests for Experiments

Means analysis

Factor = variable with levels

Dose
0g

50g

Tests to rule out that groups dier only by chance

t test (for one factor with two levels only)

Analysis of variance (ANOVA)


- For any number of levels per factor and
any number of factors.
- = Design

100g

A0

A1

A0

A2

A1

B0
B1

Within-subject designs vs. Between-subjects designs

B0

A0
B1

B2

B0

A1
B1

B2

C0
C1

Explaining Findings

People who attend church have lower mortality rates


than those who do not attend church.

Should doctors send people to church?

correlates/confounds/mediators:
- personal health care behavior (e.g., physical activity); confidants

patterns:
- amount of attendance does not matter; other religious pratices
and beliefs dont matter;
- with increasing age, attendance eect declines

Not measured: self-concept, personality,


depression, despair...

Explaining Findings

Height predicts intelligence

Should we give growth hormones to kids to make them


more intelligent?

Kids who play violent video games are more aggressive


in school and at home.

States with abstinence-only sex education have higher


homicide rates than those without such sex education.