|Social Psychology, Fall 2002 -- Instructions
for Assignment #1 :
|Introduction: One of the things that many social
psychologists study is the formation and dissolution of romantic relationships.
Since such relationships certainly involve the influence of individuals
by others, they are clearly in the realm of social psychology. Yet, when
social psychologists first started studying romantic relationships, they
were sometimes ridiculed by people who said that it was impossible to study
something as emotional and intangible as love. For example, in 1975, Senator
William Proxmire, reacting to the news that one psychologist had been given
a grant of $84,000 to study love, commented: "I object to this not only
because no one not even the National Science Foundation can argue that falling
in love is a science; not only because I'm sure that even if they spend
$84 million or $84 billion they wouldn't get an answer that anyone would
believe. I'm also against it because I don't want the answer. I believe
that 200 million Americans want to leave some things in life a mystery..."
Who is right: the critics, or the social psychologists who believe they
can learn something valuable about romantic relationships by studying them?
This assignment asks you to consider this question.
|Task: Your task for this assignment is to examine
a set informative sources about social psychological research on romantic
relationships in order to (1) gain an overview of how social psychologists
study romantic relationships and (2) draw a conclusion about whether or
not it is possible to learn anything useful about romantic relationships
and love using these approaches.
|Process: 1. By searching the resources listed
below, find two social psychologists who do research on romantic relationships.
Use information provided about them to discover what aspect of romantic
love they are interested in, what questions they are asking, and what methods
they are using to ask these questions.
2. By searching the resources listed below, find two social psychology labs that specialize in the study of close, or intimate, relationships. Use the information provided to discover what goes on in those labs: What questions are asked? How is the research done?
3. Complete an online survey on this topic. Are the questions are good/useful questions (and why)
4. At the address provided below, examine the table of contents for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology for the past year (i.e, back to September, 2001). On what aspects of romantic, or intimate, relationships is research being published in this major journal?
5. At the address provided below, read a recent journalistic summary account of a study of romantic relationships.
6. Write a one and one-half page descriptive summary of the "state" of social psychological research on romantic relationships. (What research questions are being asked? What themes seem to be of most interest to researchers? How is the research being done?) Add to this a half-page commentary giving your opinion of the current state of the research. How useful is it? What questions are being answered well? What questions are being ignored or overlooked? Attach to this the names and addresses of the web sites you visited.
|Resources: 1. The starting point for this assignment
is the Social Psychology Network web site at www.socialpsychology.org.
Use the search function on the welcome page to search for "romantic relationships"
or "close relationships". This will lead to such resources as the professional
profile pages of researchers who study romantic relationships, the web sites
for social psychology labs that focus on this topic, and on-line surveys
about romantic relationships.
2. To get to the web site for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology so that you can examine the table of contents, you can either click on "professional journals" in the sidebar of the Social Psychology Network welcome page and follow the links until you reach it or you can go directly to the site at www.apa.org/journals/psp.html
3. To find and read a journalistic account of a recent study on love, go to www.apa.org/monitor/mar99/love.html
Conclusion: You should now have an understanding of how social psychologists study romantic love and a well- justified opinion about whether the research is useful.
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