Social Psychology Research and Prosocial Behavior

Social Psychology Research and Prosocial Behavior

As a student of psychology, it is important to fully understand how research is conducted, as well as the numerous issues associated with sound research. Two important research topics are validity and ethics. When a research study lacks internal or external validity, the results may be misleading. When practitioners then apply the results of the study to a real world situation, the impact may be ineffective, may achieve different results than expected, or may even be harmful. Addressing validity in research is essential.

Another important consideration in psychological research is ethics. Any research must be ethical in how it is conducted and how the results are used. A high level of ethics is especially critical when it comes to research involving human subjects, which is the case with most psychological research. Ethics in research involves honesty, objectivity, integrity, carefulness and competence, openness, respect for intellectual property, respect for privacy, confidentiality, responsible publication of findings, social responsibility, non-discrimination, legality, care of animals for those studies involving animals, and protection of the rights of human subjects.

This Assignment asks you to analyze a social psychology research article for validity and ethics. The skills practiced can be applied to a critique of any scientific research study. Then, you will use theory to explain how prosocial behavior is relevant to the topic of your selected research article.

To prepare:

  • Review Chapter 2 in your course text, focusing on journal article analysis.
  • While reading Chapter 11, reflect on how prosocial behavior can be used to address problems.
  • Read the online article, “What Is Ethics in Research and Why Is It Important?” Focus on the expectations of ethics for the scientific community, how results are used in the real world, and related ethical issues.
  • Choose one of the journal articles from this week’s Learning Resources to analyze (not Resnik’s online article about ethics).

The Assignment (2–4 pages):

Analyze the article you selected by responding to the following questions:

  • Briefly, what were the research method, the purpose of the study, and the main finding(s)? As this is a brief statement of the main finding(s), do not provide details such as means or other statistics.
  • What potential threats are there, if any, to the study’s external validity or generalizability? What about the study, if anything, enhances its external validity or generalizability?
  • Do you have any concerns regarding whether the study was conducted ethically? Explain in terms of the information you learned in the assigned readings (e.g., informed consent).
  • Recall this week’s Discussion Spark about various prosocial behaviors. What prosocial behavior or act could increase understanding of, or provide support to someone dealing with the issues presented in your selected journal article? The prosocial behavior could be something described in the journal article, explored in the Discussion Spark, or a prosocial behavior that has not previously been mentioned in the course.
  • What theory or concept described in Chapter 11 explains the motive for this prosocial behavior?
  • What personal quality of an individual or situational determinant would increase the likelihood of this prosocial behavior occurring?

Required Readings

Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Sommers, S. (2016). Social psychology (9th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

  • Chapter 2, “Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research”
  • Chapter 11, “Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help?”
  • “Making a Difference With Social Psychology: Attaining a Sustainable Future” (pp. 456–461)

Resnik, D. (2015). What is ethics in research & why is it important? Retrieved from http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/resources/bioethics/whatis/

 

Select and read one of the following articles for this week’s Assignment:

Burnette, J. L., & Finkel, E. J. (2012). Buffering against weight gain following dieting setbacks: An implicit theory intervention. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(3), 721–725.

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