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Social Psychological Assignment

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The assignments in this unit are designed to help you understand how social psychological knowledge is built, study by study.

For Assignment 1, you were provided with the details of a hypothetical experiment with a 2 x 2 between-subjects factorial design (a commonly used design in the field of social psychology). Assignment 1 gave you the opportunity to work on framing a research question in the context of the relevant literature, reporting the necessary details of the study and its results, and interpreting the findings. Please be sure to view your feedback for Assignment 1 when it becomes available, as it may help you with Assignment 2.

Assignment 2 gives you the opportunity to develop your own research question and design a study to test it. This assignment allows you to further
• demonstrate coherent knowledge of relevant concepts, theories, and research methods (Learning Outcome 1)
• apply these concepts, theories, and methods to a specific study (Learning Outcome 2),
• source, evaluate, and critique relevant research (Learning Outcome 3)
• demonstrate effective written communication s******s in accordance with APA guidelines
(Learning Outcome 4)

The topic for assignment 2 is social norms. I chose this because social norms can help us understand people’s behaviour across a range of important domains. Schultz et al. (2018) have recently published a paper in which they reflect on one of their key papers in this area (Schultz et al., 2007). Their reflection brings research to life in a way that you don’t often see in the scientific literature. Reading this paper is a good way to start learning about social norms and their potential impact. You’ll see that social norms can be utilised to promote environmentally friendly behaviours.

You’ll learn about how the researchers drew upon theory (Cialdini et al., 1991) to design an intervention that they tested in a field experiment. Their 2007 paper was highly cited in the scientific literature and their ideas were adopted by an energy company, resulting in substantial savings in household e******** cost******** reductions in CO2 emissions.
Your task for this assignment is to work in a group of 6 students to design an experiment that would tell us something new and interesting about the impact of social norms on behaviour.
• Your experiment must include the following
One independent variable (IV) should be an experimental manipulation of social
Your study should involve a second IV or subject variable (SV) that you think will
alter the impact of the social norm on behaviour. This might be another manipulated IV, or it could be a SV that is a relevant pre-existing difference among participants. This will depend on your research question and whether it is possible to manipulate the variable of interest.
For the purposes of this assignment, you should have two levels for each IV/SV, so you can conceptualise your design as a 2 x 2 factorial design. In the case of manipulated IVs, we often call these levels “conditions”.
• The dependent variable (DV) should be a relevant behaviour.

It can be useful to think about experimental research design using a matrix, where you specify the number and type of conditions for each IV/SV. For instance, below is what is typically called a 2 x 2 design. This means there are two IVs/SVs, each with two levels/conditions. By combining these, we end up with 4 groups of participants: 2
Second IV/SV Level 1 Level 2
Condition 1
Group 1 Group 3
Condition 2
Group 2 Group 4
Social Norm IV
Start by reading the three starter references. Read Schultz et al. (2018) to familiarise yourself with a key study in this area and its theoretical and practical impact. Then, read the original study by (Schultz et al., 2007) and the theory on which it is based (Cialdini et al., 1991). Talk with your group about potential ideas and conduct literature searches to see what else has been done in this area. Think about other variables, domains, and ideas. As you come up with potential research ideas, think about the contribution you could make. What could we learn that we didn’t already know? What would be the theoretical and practical contribution? You should be able to explain why your research is novel and important.

Your proposal should explain and justify your study, including its theoretical background, the importance of the research question, the hypotheses, the method, and the relevant ethical issues.
Use theory to build the rationale for your study. The focus theory of normative conduct (Cialdini et al., 1991) is relevant and you can bring in other theories as well.

You will need to specify directional hypotheses for your study based on the relevant literature. Please see the guidelines for the first assignment for an example of how to structure your hypotheses in a study involving two IVs. Here, you would want to talk about the predicted effect of the social norm on behaviour at each level of your second IV/SV.
Lastly, keep ethics in mind as you design your study. Published articles do not typically have a separate ethics section, but for educational purposes, you should include one in your proposal.

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