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How Psychologists Study Social Behavior?

1. Descriptive Methods

Procedures for measuring recording behaviors, thoughts, and feelings in their natural state (including naturalistic observations, case studies, archival studies, and surveys).

2. Experimental Methods

Procedures for uncovering causal processes by systematically manipulating some aspect of a situation.

Natural Observation

Recording everyday behaviors as they unfold in their natural settings
  1. Hypothesis: A researcher’s prediction about what he/she will find.
  2. Observer bias: Error introduced into measurement when an observer overemphasizes behaviors he/she expects to find and fails to notice behaviors he/she does not expect.

Case Study

An intensive examination of an individual or group.


The extend to which the findings of a particular research study extend to other similar circumstances or cases.

3. Archival Method

Examination of systematic data originally collected for other purposes (such as marriage licenses of arrest records).

4. Survey Method

A technique in which the researcher asks people to report on their beliefs, feeling, or behaviors.

Social Desirability Bias

The tendency for people to say what they believe is appropriate or acceptable.

Representative Sample

A group of respondents having characteristics that match those of the larger population the researcher wants to describe.

Psychological Tests

Instrument for assessing a person’s abilities, cognitions, motivations, or behaviors.
Reliability: The consistency of the score yielded by a psychological test.
Validity: The extent to which a test measures what it is designed to measure.

Why Social Psychologists Combine Different Methods?

To better understand human nature and the universe around us.

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