Psychology – Operational Definitions

Think about it like this – any concept that is abstract or an internal mental process needs to be defined in concrete measurable behavior. Even what may be obvious is not always. Take the question – did a diet work? You might say, the measure by pounds lost. Well, that is not the most common measure – it is body mass index (height by weight measurement). People also use hip to waist ratio and percent body fat. “Acceptable” Waist to hip ratio and body fat varies by gender. You also might include a measure of how the person felt about the diet. The person might feel that, yes they might lose weight but not be successful because they felt they had to make too big of a lifestyle change and so gave up. So, if you were to create an experiment to manipulate and measure the examples, how would you?

For this assignment, you need to make sure that you operationalize both the independent AND dependent variables for each experiment – as specifically as possible.

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You can define them in different ways – see Ch 4 in the Cozby and Bates textbook for a general description. Chapter 10 has a section on measuring the dependent variable.
*Ch. 4 and Ch. 10 textbook information will be provided.

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