Discussing the five goals of science scholars distinguish between description, prediction, determining causality, explanation, and control. Description goals explore the nature of the object of the research while the scientists hypothesize about possible reactions. Causality determination focuses on the correlation of variables. The explanation provides a perspective on the causes. Control includes the application of the obtained knowledge in practice. Social psychologists rely on all of the goals mentioned above – they observe and compile descriptions of people or phenomena, then they search for consistent patterns, determine their causes, and provide explanations as to why the patterns appear. Finally, social psychologists use their knowledge to conduct controlled experiments.
Social psychology is a scientific discipline because it relies on a scientific method that has core values to build research, including experimental or correlational research methods. Core ideas defined by social psychologists are accuracy, objectivity, skepticism, open-mindedness, and ethics. Besides, data collection and measurement is another important part of scientific research, all the gathered data needs to be accurately, skeptically, and open-mindedly tested and verified. A professional approach to the research relies on ethical standards that ensure the integrity of the work.
To design research social psychologists rely on theories such as scope, range, testability, and parsimony. Scope reflects the number of behavioral patterns the research covers. The range reflects the applicability of the research to particular groups of individuals. Testability shows whether or not the findings of the research can be challenged. Parsimony refers to the clarity of the explanation of the research happening relying on as few theories as possible. The social media study will observe behavior and describe it, make predictions concerning the changes of variables, explain outcomes and their causes, and find applications for the new knowledge. The observation practiced for the study is unobtrusive (no interactions between the observers and the object).