Theory Design Lab/Observer-psychology effect

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use in the subject social studies.

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use in the subject citizenship education.

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use in the subject psychology.

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use in the subject pedagogy.

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use in the subject philosophy.

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use in the subject practical philosophy.

The observer-psychology effect[edit | edit source]

The observer-psychology effect is a hypothetical effect that for some reason assumes that the complexity of the psychology of an observed individual is somehow dependent on the complexity of the (psychological) model(s) formed by the observer(s). The effect is not to be confused with the observer-expectancy effect.

What are possible arguments in favor of more general hypotheses?[edit | edit source]

A — A more general hypothesis could be that prejudices about people's cognition do affect their cognition.
B — An even more general hypothesis could be that prejudices about people somehow affect people.

There are cases when prejudices about people affect the way people are seen and/or behave.

  • In which cases do prejudices about people affect people (e.g. public image, marketing, celebrity status)?
  • Do the observations show any indication that might support either (A) or (B)?
  • What are the scientific explanations for these observations? What are the psychological effects that do apply?


If the schedule allows for two teaching units the following homework can be given for the next teaching unit:

  • Describe your own more specific hypothesis, irrespective of your opinion whether the effect may exist or not.
  • Describe conceivable effects of your own hypothesis.
  • Can your theory be disproven?


What are possible arguments in favor of the hypothesis?[edit | edit source]

Cquote1.svg  Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. Cquote2.svg

William James

  • What effects should you be able to observe if the hypothesis would apply?
  • Are there indications that the hypothesis might apply in general?
  • Are there indications that the hypothesis might apply to children and teenagers?
  • Are there indications that the hypothesis might apply in school?
  • Do your observations support the hypothesis as it is phrased?
  • How would you explain the observed effects properly? What are the psychological effects that do apply?
  • What are the possible effects on the self-concept of a pupil?


The term "robot psychology" can be used for a very implausible psychological model that basically assumes that people follow instructions they are given like robots and that no further consideration for their psychology is necessary.

  • Under which conditions does the danger of "robot psychology" increase significantly?


Conclusions[edit | edit source]

  • If the hypothesis would apply in the simple form in which it has been presented, what would be a resulting moral obligation?
  • Does this moral obligation apply anyway?
  • What follows (e.g. for parent education programs)?


Answers to some of the questions can be gathered as mind maps.


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