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Applied Social Psychology

In psychology, you conduct research not just to reach an expected conclusion but to expand your knowledge about psychology and understand how to apply it to improve the lives of others.

Throughout this lab course, several studies have been used to highlight and explain the research aspects of various concepts of social psychology. You would have noticed that each of these research studies had some application in real-life situations. The challenge is to understand how to use the findings from these research studies in applied settings. This is the premise behind translational research, which looks at the application of research in a more direct and efficient manner. 

Translational research focuses on the practical applications of scientific discoveries. In this research, students and researchers study diseases at a molecular level and then progress to the clinical or population level. New tools are provided to clinicians to be used on patients and their impact is assessed later, resulting to major observations and investigations.

View the PDF transcript for Translational Research

Although translational research is a common practice in the medical field, such as in clinical trials, the use of translational research in clinical psychology is still rare. See linked document for a study conducted by Tashiro and Mortensen to understand how social psychology can improve psychotherapy through translational research.

See the linked document for a Nonclinical Perspective on applied social psychology.

Additional Materials

View the PDF transcript for Applied Social Psychology Clinical Perspective

View the PDF transcript for Applied Social Psychology Nonclinical Perspective



media/week10/SU_PSY3011_Translational_Research.pdf

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PSY3011_Social Psychology Lab

© 2009 South University

Translational Research

The Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) is a multi- and interdisciplinary
“collaboratory” funded by the National Institutes of Health to advance translational research.

Introduction

ITHS describes translational research as “something that transforms scientific discoveries arising
from laboratory, clinical, or population studies into clinical or population-based applications to
improve health by reducing disease incidence, morbidity, and mortality.”

Objective

ITHS utilizes transitional research to provide mental health services through specific divisions
such as the Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development (DATR). DATR
plans, supports, and administers programs of research, research training, and resource
development aimed at understanding the pathophysiology of mental illness and hastening the
translation of behavioral science and neuroscience advances into innovations in clinical care.

Focus

DATR (2008) supports research on the etiology and pathophysiology of mental illness in
order to:

• Define predictors and understand the mechanism of treatment response.

• Create and refine biomarkers, behavioral assessments, and phenotypic
characterizations of diseasess.

• Evaluate existing therapeutics for new indications, and, in collaboration with
academic, industry, and regulatory agencies, hasten the development of more
effective new treatments for mental illnesses.

(Source: Institute of Translational Health Science, 2009)

media/week10/SUO_PSY3011 Applied Social Psychology Clinical Perspective.pdf

Applied Social Psychology
Clinical Perspective

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©2016 South University

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Applied Social Psychology – Clinical Perspective

Applied Social Psychology

Tashiro and Mortensen (2006) did an extensive literature review on current issues in clinical psychology
and the way research in social psychology can benefit from those issues. In the study, they examined the
use of translational research in the medical field to determine whether clinical psychology can also be
used in applied psychology. In their study, they described several conceptual and methodological issues
in translational research, including considerations about the time frame, the scope of the hypothesis
tested, the dose of the treatment, contraindications, and sampling.

Specifically, Tashiro and Mortensen pointed out the following issues:

 Determining the affect of a condition on an individual’s lifestyle: The major challenge with the
treatment of individuals battling with depression is to determine how the battle and the
symptoms of depression affect an individual’s lifestyle, including attitude, self-esteem, and self-
efficacy.

ï‚· Determining the effectiveness of a drug on a condition: Clinical trials are conducted to test the
effectiveness of, for example, Drug A on Condition B. The trials use a straightforward objective
method to determine the effectiveness of the medication. Although clinical psychotherapy also
functions on the same lines, the reason it specifically works is less clear or at least more subjective
than objective.

ï‚· Determining the depth of a research study: To effectively translate the findings of a research
study into an application, it is essential to determine the depth of the study. For instance, just to
test whether a therapeutic technique (such as a helmet restraint) works, it would be unethical to
manipulate behavioral outbursts, causing self-injury, in individuals diagnosed with mental
retardation (Blankenship & Lamberts, 1989).

PSY3011 Social Psychology lab

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Applied Social Psychology

References

Blankenship, M., & Lamberts, F. (1989). Helmet restraint and visual screening as treatment for self-

injurious behavior in persons who have profound mental retardation. Behavioral Residential

Treatment, 4(3), 253–265.

Tashiro, T., & Mortensen, L. (2006). Translational research: How social psychology can improve

psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 61(9), 959–966.

© 2016 South University

media/week10/SUO_PSY3011 Applied Social Psychology Nonclinical Perspective.pdf

Applied Social Psychology
Nonclinical Perspective

PSY3011 Social Psychology lab

©2016 South University

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Applied Social Psychology – Nonclinical Perspective

Applied Social Psychology

Blankenship and Lambert conducted a study to test helmets with visors to determine which helmet was
effective in preventing women from inflicting self-injuries. The problem in this study, other than the
ethical considerations regarding the method, was that they did not analyze the actual reasons why
individuals engaged in self-injury. This study was used to demonstrate the potential ethical issues with
translational research.

Now that you have discussed the application of social psychology in clinical settings, the question that
arises is, “Can research in social psychology be also applied to areas other than a clinical setting?” The
answer to this question is, although social psychology research is a common practice in the medical field,
it also helps to identify and potentially address issues that individuals face in real life.

A Study on Translational Research

Paetzold, Garcia, Colella, Ren, Triana, and Ziebro (2008) conducted a study to examine the perceptions of
individuals with disabilities when asked to accommodate in a classroom.

Experimental Setup: For this study, Paetzold et al. assigned different task situations to different groups
comprising university students. The tasks were related to reading and memory recall. Some groups had
a confederate (research assistant) who pretended to have dyslexia and needed accommodations, and
other groups had no confederate. All groups also had individual and group competition goals.

Findings: The study demonstrated issues such as the phenomenon of self-serving bias. Students
perceived that a person with a disability had an unfair advantage when it came to the use of
accommodations.

Synopsis: The study helps to identify some of the potential issues with the use of accommodations by
students with disabilities. Even though the research was limited in scope to testing only college students,
if applied to workplace accommodations and the efficacy of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),
such research would help you understand how to improve the potential issues with stereotyped attitudes
in individuals with disabilities.

PSY3011 Social Psychology lab

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Applied Social Psychology – Nonclinical Perspective

Applied Social Psychology

References

Blankenship, M., & Lamberts, F. (1989). Helmet restraint and visual screening as treatment for self-

injurious behavior in persons who have profound mental retardation. Behavioral Residential

Treatment, 4(3), 253–265.

Paetzold, R., Garcia, M., Colella, A., Ren, L., Triana, M., & Ziebro, M. (2008). Perceptions of people with

disabilities: When is accommodation fair? Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 30, 27–35.

© 2016 South University

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