Social Psychology as Science Friday, January 21, 2005 I. Social Psychology A. is relevant 1. focuses on human behavior 2. asks the age-old question, “What is the nature of human nature?” Jean Jacques Rousseau’s “Noble Savage” who is corrupted by society? Sigmund Freud’s piles of garbage held in check by society? 3. the importance of applied research B. can be vitally important C. is a science, however inexact II. Truth and Science A. Narrative Truth 1. rings true 2. rhetorically sound and aesthetically appealing 3. a kind of “literary” truth B. Historical Truth 1. verifiable through repeated observations 2. the stuff of science and empiricism 3. precision and reliability important a. precise and technical language b. measures and observations must be repeatable and reliable 4. Science is skeptical; characterized by a critical attitude III. Social Scientists, Science, and Values A. Historical Truth > Narrative Truth B. Some obvious values 1. guide some psychologists to social psychology 2. determine topics or behaviors of interest 3. determine choice of method 4. influence how we use knowledge C. Some nonobvious values 1. Data don’t speak for themselves. 2. We all fall prey to nonconscious ideologies. 3. Language is value-laden. independent versus deviant dependent versus cooperative education versus propaganda assertive versus aggressive IV. Summary A. Social psychology is relevant, can be vitally important, and is a science, however inexact. B. Social psychologists value historical truth over narrative truth. C. Both obvious and nonobvious values play a role in science.