- Explain why social psychologists rely on empirical methods to study social behavior.
- Provide examples of how social psychologists measure the variables they are interested in.
- Review the three types of research designs, and evaluate the strengths and limitations of each type.
- Consider the role of validity in research, and describe how research programs should be evaluated.
Social psychologists are not the only people interested in understanding and predicting social behavior or the only people who study it. Social behavior is also considered by religious leaders, philosophers, politicians, novelists, and others, and it is a common topic on TV shows. But the social psychological approach to understanding social behavior goes beyond the mere observation of human actions. Social psychologists believe that a true understanding of the causes of social behavior can only be obtained through a systematic scientific approach, and that is why they conduct scientific research. Social psychologists believe that the study of social behavior should be empirical—that is, based on the collection and systematic analysis of observable data.