Sample Exam Questions for "Research in Social Psychology"

Last updated:
12 Nov 2005


  1. What are the main research methods used in social psychology (include examples)?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of conducting field experiments in social psychology?
  3. Specify three limitations of laboratory experiments as they have generally been conducted in social psychology.

Multiple choice

Social psychology is distinct from other social science disciplines because of:
a. the levels of explanation that it uses
b. how research is conducted
c. what it studies
d. all of the above

Major research in social psychology has been undertaken recently in topics such as:
a. tourism, fashion trends and free will
b. behaviour, genetics, youth icons and gay culture
c. sexism, conformity, stereotyping and bargaining
d. memory, acoustics and schedules of reinforcement

In social psychology, a scientific hypothesis refers to:
a. a prediction about causes or about relationships between variables
b. a statement that can be empirically tested
c. a statement that is drawn from prior knowledge, or which is an assumption, or which is based on observation
d. all of the above

According to Popper (1969), a scientific hypothesis:
a. should only be used in the physical scientists
b. can be rejected but not proved
c. can be proved but not rejected
d. is beyond the scope of social psychology

At a broad level, research in social psychology can be said to use two types of methods:
a. quantitative and statistical
b. discursive and narrative
c. correlational and multivariate
d. experimental and non-experimental

Research in social psychology employs methods that are:
a. both experimental and non-experimental
b. based on archives but not case studies
c. cross-cultural but not developmental
d. usually observational

An experimental manipulation is:
a. sure to enrage radical activists
b. a form of unethical deception
c. what an experimenter does when a result is rigged
d. carried out on one or more independent variables

In social psychology, a dependent variable in an experiment:
a. is a dimension that the experimenter suggests may vary by manipulating an independent variable
b. is dependent on variation in the independent variable
c. can be a wide variety of behaviours
d. all of the above

Laboratory experiments are designed so as to:
a. establish external validity
b. be as close as possible to a real-life experience
c. control for confounding variables
d. justify keeping rats and pigeons in the department

A confounding variable in a research design is:
a. high on internal validity
b. an unintended independent variable that covaries with an intended independent variable
c. dependent on using a lie detector
d. a bonus because it is unexpected

The double blind procedure is used in experiments to:
a. reduce social desirability
b. confound everyone except the experimenter
c. make the results externally valid
d. reduce the experimenter’s bias

Evaluation apprehension, demand characteristics and social desirability refer to:
a. responses that are triggered by the way a confederate behaves
b. variables that intervene between stimulus and response
c. variables that are confined to research in third world countries
d. responses by a participant that can bias an experimental result

Non-experimental methods include:
a. archival research, surveys and case studies
b. repeated measures method and field experiment
c. field studies
d. a and c

Because she is intrigued by carrying out _______________, Rebecca positioned herself at some traffic lights. She then either stared or did not stare into the eyes of drivers who were waiting for a green light. She then measured whether her staring affected the speed at which they took off. (We must assume that an ethics committee gave approval for this!)
a. archival research
b. field experiments
c. surveys
d. case studies

Informed consent:
a. means that deception in research is no longer possible
b. is a very important issue addressed in human research ethics
c. is not necessary when using anonymous questions and participation is voluntary
d. only applies to studies in a laboratory

In research, the term ‘debriefing’ refers to:
a. the harmful effects of the research being dissipated by offering a reward
b. participants being given a full explanation of what the experiment was about
c. participants being told why they cannot talk to others afterwards the research
d. the remuneration that the assistant gets paid for helping the experimenter

The right to privacy, informed consent and the use of deception:
a. are three of several ethical principles that are now well established to guide psychological research
b. have been in operation since the early beginnings of social psychology
c. are principles that distinguish social psychology from other social sciences
d. are principles that apply to paparazzi but not to every-day people

The most important issues upon which ethical principles in dealing with participants in psychological research are based, are (in descending order of importance):
a. 1. respect for privacy; 2. informed consent; 3. debriefing
b. 1. informed consent; 2. respect for privacy; 3. use of deception
c. 1. use of deception; 2. informed consent; 3. respect for privacy
d. there is no agreed basis for ranking ethical principles

Jane, who has just started studying the sciences, is absolutely convinced that the scientific method as the one way to achieve true knowledge. Jane’s position is typically:
a. post-modernist
b. positivist
c. reductionist
d. anarchist

The requirement of scientific terms to be defined so that they can be measured is termed:
a. positivism
b. instrumentalism
c. reductionism
d. operationalism

Joe says that an emotional experience will one day be explained in terms of purely physiological factors. Joe’s position reflects:

a. positivism
b. relativism
c. post-modernism
d. reductionism
e. both a and d

Positivism is:

a. stating a research hypothesis in a direct and testable way
b. an uncritical acceptance of the scientific method as the one way to achieve true knowledge
c. a tendency to accept authoritative statements
d. closely related to Gestalt psychology
e. none of the above

Laboratory experiments:

a. are often low on mundane realism but should be high on experimental realism
b. are always high on mundane realism
c. are never high on internal validity
d. may be low on experimental realism but must be high on mundane realism
e. none of the above

A common problem with performing laboratory-based experiments is:

a. reactivity
b. lack of mundane realism
c. low internal validity
d. both a and b
e. a, b and c

Some of the advantages of using non-experimental methods in social psychology are:

a. they may be more ethical than experiments.
b. they control for extraneous variables.
c. potentially large amounts of data can be collected.
d. both a and c.
e. a, b and c.

Experimental realism refers to:

a. the extent to which the results of an experiment can be generalised to the real world.
b. the similarity between the conditions of the experiment and those encountered in everyday life.
c. the extent to which participants act in ways to please the experimenter.
d. the level of control over extraneous variables.
e. the extent to which the experiment is absorbing and meaningful for participants.


Which of the following techniques might be most useful in overcoming social desirability bias when measuring attitudes:

a. the expectancy value technique
b. the bogus pipeline technique
c. the lost letter technique
d. both b and c
e. none of the above

One of the following is not a distinctive feature of Social Psychology

a. Uses experimental and non-experimental methods to explore questions
b. Attempts to make theory testable
c. Searches for causal relations among variables
d. Investigates social phenomena
e. Uses laboratory studies to study social phenomena

Below is a list of features which might be present in the conduct of a social psychology study. Which ones from the list below are antagonistic to the random allocation of participants to experimental and control groups?

i.Allowing participants to choose which group they wish to participate in
ii. Putting older participants in one group and younger participants in the other group
iii.Putting participants who respond to the experimenter’s request first in one group, and later contacts in a second group
iv. Putting taller participants in one group and shorter participants in the other
v. Using a random number generator to allocate participants to each group

a. i. & ii only
b. i & iii only
c. v. only
d. i. ii. iii. iv. and v
e. i. ii. iii. & iv

Operational definitions are those which ________________

a. define a theoretical term in a manner that renders it susceptible to measurement
b. define a measurement in a form that makes sense theoretically
c. define reality
d. define constructs that are essentially non-measurable
e. define attributions in relation to their antecedents

The double-blind experimental procedure controls for the
a. experimenter effect
b. participant effect
c. internal validity of the study
d. external validity of the study
e. none of the above

Positivism is __________________________________________________

a. An approach to explanation which accentuate the positive aspects of experience
b. The non-critical acceptance of science as the only way to arrive at true knowledge
c. An approach which denies the possibility of objectivity
d. A uniquely North American approach to the formulation of social knowledge
e. An approach which stresses the study of the self

An acquiescent response set refers to:

a. people who always conform with the group
b. people who obey authorities
c. a tendency to comply with requests
d. answers to attitude items that tend to all agree with the statements presented
e. attitudes that are easily changed via persuasion

A semantic-differential attitude scale:

a. is the underlying basis of discourse analysis
b. uses word meanings, and locates an attitude concept on an evaluative dimension
c. is built up in terms of people’s personal constructs
d. differentiates between questionnaires written in different languages
e. requires only a yes/no response

35% of people agreed with the statement “Capital punishment should be introduced for serious crimes” but only 25% of the same respondents agreed with the statement “Capital punishment should be introduced”. This illustrates

a. that the particular wording of an attitudinal item affects response rates
b. response sets
c. the fundamental attribution error
d. the lack of precision in attitude surveys
e. none of the above