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Is There Space for Time in Social Psychology Publications? A Content Analysis Across Five Journals

The article titled “Is There Space for Time in Social Psychology Publications? A Content Analysis Across Five Journals” by Spini et al. is focused on determining the extent at which social psychology scholars study people in various social contexts without taking into consideration the methods and theories suitable for the analysis of the personal developments within the social context. The central purpose of the study was to investigate the presence of temporal dimensions in social psychology (Spini et al. 166). The authors examined three main issues: The pervasiveness of different analytical strategies that support studying of change in the context of social psychology studies. Secondly, the authors investigated the extent the time-sensitive analysis is used in psychology studies and the resulting relations to the conventional theoretical and methodological research paradigms. Finally, the third issue was the changes in the presence of time-sensitive analyses in social psychology studies. The idea was to investigate the issues in the context of the social psychology studies conducted within the American and European territories.
Adopting the Corpus research methodology, the scholars conducted a cross-sectional analysis of research articles from the notable periodicals selected due to certain criteria. Particularly, the studies were from the British Journal of Social Psychology (BJSP), European Journal of Social Psychology (EJSP) as the leading journals in Europe and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP) as the mainstream journal published in the USA. Other European journals included Social Psychology Quarterly (SPQ) and Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology (JCASP), which were used to aid in the comparisons. The inclusion and exclusion criteria were based on the year of publication of the journal where the papers included in the study were published between the second half of the year 1999 and the first half of the year 2001. A total of 699 studies were included in the study for the content analysis (Spini et al. 169). The large number of studies researched confirms credibility of the given article.

The researchers discovered that most of the social psychology studies are conducted using psychology students as the study sample. Of the three mainstream journals in the study (JPSP, EJSP, BJSP), the majority of the papers that exclusively used students as study samples were drawn from the JPSP journal. Except the papers drawn from JCASP journal, others confirmed the use of a limited sample in social psychology. The researchers also established that most psychological studies do not include the time or age of the study participants as a significant exploratory variable. Indeed, the researcher confirmed that only 1.3% of the empirical studies included age as an exploratory variable. More than 61% of the articles published in the JPSP articles did not mention the age of the study participants, accounting for the highest number of the studies included for content analysis (Spini et al. 171). The scrupulous investigation and analysis of the obtained data helped the authors to reach informed conclusions.
The type of study designs also varied across the articles included in the comparison. Most studies drawn from the JPSP and EJSP adopted an exclusive experimental study design, though the use of the design was minimal amongst the studies drawn from the BJSP journal. Correlation study design was evident in the JCASP and SPQ journals. Another contradiction was observed between the U.S. published journals (SPQ and JPSP) that included longitudinal designs in publishing and the Europen journal BJSP that contained mostly qualitative studies. The researchers also reported that a paradigm shift has been evident in the research design adopted by scholars from the two regions (Spini et al. 170). American scholars have oscilated from the adoption of experimental to contextual design, while the European scholars have shifted from a developmental to a qualitattive monographic approach. The scholars concluded that the desertion of the temporal dimensions in social psychology studies poses a major threat to the validity and reliability of the findings.

The article has provided adequate information on the possible structural designs, sample size and exploratory variables implemented by scholars from Europe and the USA in their study of social psychology. To the authors credit, they have included a rather extensive sample size substantial for drawing credible information from a broad scope of journal articles. However, the researchers should have included a broad time frame to ensure the approaches adopted by the current and historical scholars are included in the evaluations.

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