A fuller list can be found here: We’ll discuss the empirical approach and review the findings of many research projects throughout this book, but for now let’s take a look at the basics of how scientists use research to draw overall conclusions about social behavior.
Keep in mind as you read this book, however, that although social psychologists are pretty good at understanding the causes of behavior, our predictions are a long way from perfect.
Of course, both of these contradictory outcomes cannot be true.
The problem is that just reading a description of research findings leads us to think of the many cases that we know that support the findings and thus makes them seem believable. Our common sense also leads us to believe that we know why we engage in the behaviors that we engage in, when in fact we may not.
For example, an operational definition of Sarah’s liking for Robert might involve asking her to complete the following measure: The operational definition would be the average of her responses across the three questions.
Because each question assesses the attitude differently, and yet each question should nevertheless measure Sarah’s attitude toward Robert in some way, the average of the three questions will generally be a better measure than would any one question on its own.
If we are interested in learning how much Sarah likes Robert, then we need to have a measure of her liking for him.
But how, exactly, should we measure the broad idea of “liking”?
” and respond to each statement with either “True” or “False.” Based on your past observations of people’s behavior, along with your own common sense, you will likely have answers to each of the questions on the quiz. Would you be willing to bet that all, or even most, of your answers have been shown to be correct by scientific research?
If you are like most people, you will get at least some of these answers wrong.