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5 No help Help
6 Help No help
7 Help No help
8 Help No help
9 Help No help
10 Help No help

that our results in this hypothetical experiment look like those shown in Table 1.1.
Seven out of 10 participants in the no-bystander condition helped (70%), whereas only
2 out of 10 helped in the 3-bystander condition (20%). Thus, we would conclude that
you are more likely to get help when there are no other bystanders present than if there
are three bystanders.
Notice, however, that we do not say that you will never receive help when three
bystanders are present. In fact, two participants helped in that condition. Nor do we
say that you always receive help when there are no bystanders present. In fact, in three
instances no help was rendered.
The moral to the story is that the results of experiments in social psychology represent
differences between groups of participants, not differences between speci¬c individuals.
Based on the results of social psychological research, we can say that on the average,
groups differ. Within those groups, there are nearly always participants who do not behave
as most of the participants behaved. We can acknowledge that exceptions to research ¬nd-
ings usually exist, but this does not mean that the results reported are wrong.

Ethics and Social Psychological Research
Unlike research in chemistry and physics, which does not involve living organisms,
research in social psychology uses living organisms, both animal and human. Because
social psychology studies living organisms, researchers must consider research ethics.
They have to concern themselves with the treatment of their research participants and
with the potential long-range effects of the research on the participantsʼ well-being. In
every study conducted in social psychology, researchers must place the welfare of the
research participants among their top priorities.
Questions about ethics have been raised about some of the most famous research
ever done in social psychology. For example, you may be familiar with the experiments
on obedience conducted by Stanley Milgram (1963; described in detail in Chapter 7).
In these experiments, participants were asked to administer painful electric shocks to
an individual who was doing poorly on a learning task. Although no shocks were actu-
ally delivered, participants believed they were in¬‚icting intense pain on an increasingly
Social Psychology

unwilling victim. Following the experiment, participants reported experiencing guilt
and lowered self-esteem as well as anger toward the researchers. The question raised
by this and other experiments with human participants is how far researchers can and
should go to gain knowledge.
Research conducted by social psychologists is governed by an ethical code of
conduct developed by the American Psychological Association (APA). The main princi-
ples of the APA (2002) code are summarized in Table 1.2. Notice that the code mandates
that participation in psychological research be voluntary. This means that participants
informed consent An cannot be compelled to participate in research. Researchers must also obtain informed
ethical research requirement consent from the participants, which means that they must inform them of the nature of
that participants must be the study, the requirements for participation, and any risks or bene¬ts associated with
informed of the nature of
participating in the study. Subjects must also be told they have the right to decline or
the study, the requirements
withdraw from participation with no penalty.
for participation, any risks
Additionally, the APA code restricts the use of deception in research. Deception
or bene¬ts associated with
participating in the study, occurs when researchers tell their participants they are studying one thing but actually
and the right to decline or are studying another. Deception can be used only if no other viable alternative exists.
withdraw from participation When researchers use deception, they must tell participants about the deception (and
with no penalty.
the reasons for it) as soon as possible after participation.
Following ethical codes of conduct protects subjects from harm. In this sense, ethical
codes help the research process. However, sometimes ethical research practice con¬‚icts
with the requirements of science. For example, in a ¬eld experiment on helping, it may
not be possible (or desirable) to obtain consent from participants before they participate
in the study. When such con¬‚icts occur, the researcher must weigh the potential risks
to the participants against the bene¬ts to be gained.

Rick Rescorla and 9/11 Revisited
How can we explain the behavior of Rick Rescorla on 9/11? Social psychologists would
begin by pointing to the two factors that contribute to social behavior: individual char-
acteristics and the social situation. Was there something about Rescorlaʼs personality,
attitudes, or other characteristics that predisposed him to act altruistically? Or was it the
social environment that was more important? Social psychologists focus on the latter.
Rescorlaʼs experiences in Vietnam, where he lost several men under his command, surely
helped shape his behavior on 9/11. Close associates indicate that he was determined
never to lose people for whom he had responsibility. Of course, there were others who
experienced the same kind of loss as Rescorla, but did not translate it into altruism. His
unique way of viewing the social situation led him to do what he did.
Social psychology is not the only discipline that would be interested in explaining
Rick Rescorlaʼs and the 9/11 hijackersʼ behavior. Biologists studying ethology would
look at Rescorlaʼs behavior in the light of what altruism does to help a species survive.
Sociologists might point to poverty and lack of education contributing to terrorist acts.
Each discipline has its own way of collecting information about issues of interest.
Social psychology would face the daunting task of explaining Rescorlaʼs behavior (and
the behavior of the hijackers) by conducting carefully designed research. Through the
scienti¬c method, one could isolate the variables that contribute to aggressive acts and
altruistic acts such as those that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Chapter 1 Understanding Social Behavior 23

Table 1.2 Summary of the 2002 APA Ethical Principles That Apply to Human Research Participants

1. Research proposals submitted to Institutional Review 6. Informed consent may be dispensed with only
Boards shall contain accurate information. Upon (1) where research would not reasonably be assumed
approval researchers shall conduct their research to create distress or harm and involves (a) the study of
within the approved protocol. normal educational practices, curricula, or classroom
management methods conducted in educational
2. When informed consent is required, informed consent settings; (b) only anonymous questionnaires,
shall include: (1) the purpose of the research, expected naturalistic observations, or archival research for
duration, and procedures; (2) their right to decline which disclosure of responses would not place
to participate and to withdraw from the research participants at risk of criminal or civil liability or
once participation has begun; (3) the foreseeable damage their ¬nancial standing, employability, or
consequences of declining or withdrawing; (4) reputation, and con¬dentiality is protected; or (c)
reasonably foreseeable factors that may be expected the study of factors related to job or organization
to in¬‚uence their willingness to participate such effectiveness conducted in organizational settings for
as potential risks, discomfort, or adverse effects; which there is no risk to participants™ employability,
(5) any prospective research bene¬ts; (6) limits of and con¬dentiality is protected or (2) where otherwise
con¬dentiality; (7) incentives for participation; and permitted by law or federal or institutional regulations.
(8) whom to contact for questions about the research
7. Psychologists make reasonable efforts to avoid
and research participants™ rights. They provide
offering excessive or inappropriate ¬nancial or other
opportunity for the prospective participants to ask
inducements for research participation when such
questions and receive answers.
inducements are likely to coerce participation. When
3. When intervention research is conducted that includes offering professional services as an inducement for
experimental treatments, participants shall be informed research participation, psychologists clarify the nature
at the outset of the research of (1) the experimental of the services, as well as the risks, obligations, and
nature of the treatment; (2) the services that will or will limitations.
not be available to the control group(s) if appropriate;
8. Deception in research shall be used only if they have
(3) the means by which assignment to treatment and
determined that the use of deceptive techniques
control groups will be made; (4) available treatment
is justi¬ed by the study™s signi¬cant prospective
alternatives if an individual does not wish to participate
scienti¬c, educational, or applied value and that
in the research or wishes to withdraw once a study has
effective nondeceptive alternative procedures are
begun; and (5) compensation for or monetary costs
not feasible. Deception is not used if the research
of participating including, if appropriate, whether
is reasonably expected to cause physical pain or
reimbursement from the participant or a third-party
severe emotional distress. Psychologists explain any
payer will be sought.
deception that is an integral feature of the design
4. Informed consent shall be obtained when voices or and conduct of an experiment to participants as early
images are recorded as data unless (1) the research as is feasible, preferably at the conclusion of their
consists solely of naturalistic observations in public participation, but no later than at the conclusion of the
places, and it is not anticipated that the recording data collection, and permit participants to withdraw
will be used in a manner that could cause personal their data.
identi¬cation or harm, or (2) the research design
9. Participants shall be offered a prompt opportunity
includes deception, and consent for the use of the
to obtain appropriate information about the nature,
recording is obtained during debrie¬ng.
results, and conclusions of the research, and they take
5. When psychologists conduct research with clients/ reasonable steps to correct any misconceptions that
patients, students, or subordinates as participants, participants may have of which the psychologists are
psychologists take steps to protect the prospective aware. If scienti¬c or humane values justify delaying
participants from adverse consequences of declining or withholding this information, psychologists take
or withdrawing from participation. When research reasonable measures to reduce the risk of harm.
participation is a course requirement or an opportunity When psychologists become aware that research
for extra credit, the prospective participant is given the procedures have harmed a participant, they take
choice of equitable alternative activities. reasonable steps to minimize the harm.
Social Psychology

Chapter Review
1. What is social psychology?
Social psychology is the scienti¬c study of how we think and feel about,
interact with, and in¬‚uence each other. It is the branch of psychology that
focuses on social behavior”speci¬cally, how we relate to other people in our
social world. Social psychology can help us understand everyday things that
happen to us, as well as past and present cultural and historical events.

2. How do social psychologists explain social behavior?
An early model of social behavior proposed by Kurt Lewin suggested that
social behavior is caused by two factors: individual characteristics and the
social situation. This simple model has since been expanded to better explain
the forces that shape social behavior. According to modern views of social
behavior, input from the social situation works in conjunction with individual
characteristics to in¬‚uence social behavior through the operation of social
cognition (the general process of thinking about social events) and social
perception (how we perceive other people). Based on our processing of social
information, we evaluate the social situation and form an intention to behave
in a certain way. This behavioral intention may or may not be translated into
social behavior. We engage in social behavior based on our constant changing
evaluation of the situation. Once we behave in a certain way, it may have an
effect on the social situation, which in turn will affect future social behavior.

3. How does social psychology relate to other disciplines that study social
There are many scienti¬c disciplines that study social behavior. Biologists,
developmental psychologists, anthropologists, personality psychologists,
historians, and sociologists all have an interest in social behavior. Although
social psychology has common interests with these disciplines, unlike biology
and personality psychology, social psychology focuses on the social situation as
the principal cause of social behavior. Whereas sociology and history focus on
the situation, social psychology takes a narrower view, looking at the individual
in the social situation rather than the larger group or society. In other words,
history and sociology take a top-down approach to explaining social behavior,
making a group or institution the focus of analysis. Social psychology takes a
bottom-up approach, focusing on how individual behavior is in¬‚uenced by the
Chapter 1 Understanding Social Behavior 25

4. How do social psychologists approach the problem of explaining social
Unlike the layperson who forms commonsense explanations for social behavior
based on limited information, social psychologists rely on the scienti¬c
method to formulate scienti¬c explanations”tentative explanations based on
observation and logic that are open to empirical testing. The scienti¬c method
involves identifying a phenomenon to study, developing a testable research
hypothesis, designing a research study, and carrying out the research study.
Only after applying this method to a problem and conducting careful research
will a social psychologist be satis¬ed with an explanation.

5. What is experimental research, and how is it used?
Experimental research is used to uncover causal relationships between
variables. Its main features are (1) the manipulation of an independent variable
and the observation of the effects of this manipulation on a dependent variable,
(2) the use of two or more initially comparable groups, and (3) exercising
control over extraneous and confounding variables. Every experiment includes
at least one independent variable with at least two levels. In the simplest
experiment, one group of participants (the experimental group) is exposed
to an experimental treatment, and a second group (the control group) is not.
Researchers then compare the behavior of participants in the experimental
group with the behavior of participants in the control group. Independent
variables can be manipulated by varying their quantity or quality. Researchers
use random assignment to ensure that the groups in an experiment are
comparable before applying any treatment to them.
The basic experiment can be expanded by adding additional levels of
an independent variable or by adding a second or third independent variable.
Experiments that include more than one independent variable are known as
factorial experiments.

6. What is correlational research?
In correlational research, researchers measure two or more variables and look
for a relationship between them. When two variables both change in the same
direction, increasing or decreasing in value, they are positively correlated.
When they change in opposite directions, one increasing and the other
decreasing, they are negatively correlated. When one variable does not change
systematically with the other, they are uncorrelated. Even if a correlation is
found, a causal relationship cannot be inferred.
Social Psychology

7. What is the correlation coef¬cient, and what does it tell you?
Researchers evaluate correlational relationships between variables with
a statistic called the correlation coef¬cient (symbolized as r). The sign of
r (positive or negative) indicates the direction of the relationship between
variables; the size of r (ranging from “1 through 0 to +1) indicates the strength
of the relationship between variables.

8. Where is social psychological research conducted?
Social psychologists conduct research either in the laboratory or in the ¬eld. In
laboratory research, researchers create an arti¬cial environment in which they
can control extraneous variables. This tight control allows the researchers to be
reasonably con¬dent that any variation observed in the dependent variable was
caused by manipulation of the independent variable. However, results obtained
this way are sometimes legitimately generalized beyond the laboratory setting.
There are several kinds of ¬eld research. In the ¬eld study, the researcher
observes participants but does not interact with them. In the ¬eld survey, the
researcher has direct contact with participants and interacts with them. Both of
these techniques allow the researcher to describe behavior, but causes cannot be
uncovered. In the ¬eld experiment, the researcher manipulates an independent
variable in the participantʼs natural environment. The ¬eld experiment increases
the generality of the research ¬ndings. However, extraneous variables may


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