Lecture #1 01/21/2014
Authority: Someone tells us that a statement is true
Reason: Using thought and logic to decide that something is true.
Empiricism: Observing the world to decide that something is true
Case of Clever Hans
A form of involuntary and unconscious cuing. The term refers to a horse (Kluge Hans, referred to in the
literature as "Clever Hans") who responded to questions requiring mathematical calculations by tapping his
hoof. Pfungst launched an independent investigation of Hans ability with the help of M. von Osten.
Conclusion: Hans was indeed clever, but he did not have any “humanlike” intellectual abilities.
When we say we are “skeptical,” we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe.
skepticism is a method, not a position.
Connectivity Principle: (stanovich, 2010)
New theories in science must make contact with previous established empirical fact.
New findings should usually fit established scientific theories.
For a new theory to be adopted, it must explain old, wellestablished findings, explain previously
unexplained findings, and point to as of yet unknown findings.
Bat and Ball problem:
A bat and ball cost $1.10, the bat costs one dollar more than the ball.
How much does the ball cost?
1.05$ for the bat, 0.05$ for the ball.
The cognitive miser: People tend to consider very little information when they need to take decisions;
they avoid thinking. Vividness problem (Stanovich, 2010)
When faced with a problemsolving or decisionmaking decision situation, people retrieve from memory the
information that seems relevant to the situation at hand
For scientists, testimonial evidence is useless, because:
the sample of the “study” is 1
cause cannot be determined
multiple alternative explanations are available
Other common examples: diets, medical treatments, selfhelp, learning…
Unfortunately, pseudoscientists and charlatans use testimonials profusely to deceive people.
The confirmation bias is a pervasive cognitive phenomenon (Baron, 2008).
People may continue to hold beliefs for which there is no empirical support (e.g., astrology) because they
only seek confirmatory evidence.
The search for counterevidence is a more powerful way of testing theories and ideas
Missing knowledge that may lead people to take suboptimal or inappropriate decisions (Stanovich, 2009).
Examples from the domain of probability:
Insensitivity to sample size (base rate neglect) – Nurse vs. hockey player problem
Insensitivity to prior probability of outcome – Hospital problem
“Gambler’s fallacy” – coin toss problem The Forer effect and fortune telling
If some ideas have been demonstrated to be false, why do they stick around?
Key insight: “…a belief may spread without necessarily being true or helping the human
being who holds the belief in any way.” (Stanovich, 2009, p. 162).
Properties of the ideas (see memetics, Blackmore, 1999):
Interesting (e.g., ghost stories)
Selfreplicating properties (e.g., chain emails)
desire to believe things (life after death)
need to assign a cause.
What is science?
Science is a method for acquiring knowledge that protects us against our propensity for flawed and
Empirically Solvable Problems
type of questions that scientists address are potentially answerable by means of currently available
Theoretical constructs can be operationalized Theory tested is falsifiable (Popper, 1959)
Mathematical and technological tools are available.
Structured observations that reveal something about the underlying nature of the world.
Replication and Peer Review
To be considered legitimate, research must be presented to the scientific community in a way that enables
evaluate and criticize claims and theories
to reproduce experiments
to replicate results
. Lecture #2 01/21/2014
How does Scientific research proceed?
1) Develop a question
2) Embed the question in theoretical context
4)conduct the experiment
5) Analyze data
7)communicate the results
Develop a question
Scientific research is a complex enterprise. It requires:
Conceptual and methodological expertise in a highly specialized area of knowledge
Access to the scientific community (written work and “live” contact)
Funding (for technology and human resources)
scientific research requires extensive training.
Experts in Psychology: (it takes 10 years to become an expert in any field)
Experimental psychologists (Ph. D.)
Clinical psychologists (Ph. D or D. Psy)
Many other peripheral professions have some expertise in psychology. Lecture #2 01/21/2014
Experts get their research ideas:
Sources are multiple (intuition, observation, specific problems), but mostly, researchers pursue a program
They: develop and refine methodological techniques, gather empirical data, evaluate theories.
Embed the question…
Theory: It is a set of logically organized constructs that serve to explain and predict empirical phenomena.
Construct: A scientific concept that is meaningful because it is part of a theoretical network.
Operationalization (of theoretical constructs): To establish a clear relationship between the theoretical
construct and its empirical basis in the operations producing the data.
In science, questions are answered by posing hypotheses.
Hypothesis. A provisional explanatory proposition which makes certain definite predictions concerning
Ex: if theory X is correct, then I should observe Y in the world.
An inference that draws a conclusion about a specific event on the basis of a general concept.
Conclusion follows if the structure of the argument is sound and premises are true.
An inference that builds a general explanation about a phenomenon based on a subset of observations.
The strength of the induction is proportional to that of the evidence.
Design the experiment Lecture #2 01/21/2014
There are multiple research designs. Selection depends on the state of knowledge.
Descriptive research and case studies
Nonexperimental and quasiexperimental designs
Conduct the experiment
Once the study is designed, the research conducts the experiment.
Obtains permission from Ethics Review Board
Selects and recruits participants
Collects the data
Analyze the data
Methods of characterizing or summarizing a given set of data.
Averages: mean, median, mode
Dispersion: range, variance, standard deviation
Tables, Graphs, and Figures
The aspect of statistics that deals with methods for making appropriate inferences about populations on the
basis of samples.
Safeguard against making theoretical arguments based on a “lucky” result.
For all inferential statistics, the pvalue indicaprobability that the result was obtained by chance. Lecture #2 01/21/2014
Interpret the data
Once the data have been analyzed, the researcher determines what they mean.
If the hypothesis is supported:
What do the results mean for theory?
How can the results be extended?
How can the results be applied?
If the hypothesis is not supported:
Was the methodology wrong?
Was the theory wrong?
When the research has been conducted, psychologists communicate their data and their interpretations to
the scientific community.
The main vehicles vary depending on the scientific discipline, but in psychology, they are:
Posters, Talks, Books, Peer Reviewed Journal articles.
Scientific conferences in all areas of science are organized regularly.
Scientists communicate informally Lecture #2 01/21/2014
Talks: Short formal oral presentations of one or a few experiments followed by a question period.
This is most important form of scientific communication in psychology.
Written work constitutes science’s collective memory.
The peerreview process ensures that minimal scientific standards are met.
It presents the research process in a logical / chronological order
It facilitates the dissemination of scientific knowledge.
1) intro general interest, theoretical framework, hypothesis.
2) method participants, materials, procedure.
3) results descriptive statistics (graphs, figures, stats)
4)discussion summary of results in relation to hypothesis, discussion in relation to field.
Example of scientific research:
Rubin 1970: measurement of romantic love.
Goal: attempt to introduce and validate a socialpsychological construct of romantic love.
Result: Romantic love as a scientific construct: “…may be defined simply as love between unmarried
oppositesex peers of the sort which could possibly lead to marriage.”
Rubin operationalized romantic love by developing a scale (i.e., a romantic love measure):
Affiliative and dependent need
Predisposition to help
Exclusiveness and absorption
Scientists cannot say something is PROVEN: Lecture #2 01/21/2014
Conditional statements can be use to show that a particular theory is false, but they cannot be used to
show a particular theory is true.
Hypotheses are conditional statements (if proposition P, then proposition Q)
If two people are in love, then they should spent more time gazing into each other’s
The first part is the ecedent , the second part if the Consequent.
Ex. If person drinking alcohol…….then person is 19+.
Person is drinking (beer), check the age,
The person is underage, check what he/she is drinking.
Affirming the consequent:
The person is an adult, check what he/she is drinking.
The person is not drinking (coke), check his/her age.
Modus Ponens establishes sufficiency, but not necessity.
Sufficiency: The theory can account for the empirical data, but other explanations may still be plausible.
Necessity: The theory must be the explanation for the empirical data.
Modus Tollens can eliminate a particular theory that is wrong, but it cannot establish that a particular
theory is true.
The logic of Modus Tollens explains why scientists refuse to say that a theory or idea has been proven.
Lecture #2 01/21/2014 Lecture #3 01/21/2014
What is Psychology?
Study of the mind and behaviour
Embraces all aspects of the human experience
Actions of the brain
Actions of nations
“the understanding of behaviour” enterprise of psychologists
How do researchers chose their measures?
Area of interest/ expertise
Type of problem to be addressed (basic vs applied research)
Maturity of the research area
the complexity of psychology as a problem makes it unlikely that the field will develop a unifying theory
The Language Gene The KE family story
extended family with a dominantly inherited speed disorder
referred to a specialized clinic Lecture #3 01/21/2014
most testes did not distinguish impaired family members from the unimpaired ones
those that did involved the use of grammatical rules
Conclusion: because the deficits are apparent in all aspects of language their roots probably lie in the
underlying grammar rather than in a peripheral processing system
also had orofacial dyspraxia
Autosomal dominant gene was responsible
Mutated gene on chromosome 7 Fox P2
Only gene known to individually influence language development
helped researchers develop our understanding of linguistics, biology, psychology, neuroscience, human
Broca’s area concerned with production of speech vs. Wernicke’s area concerned with language
Operationalization to establish a clear relationship between the theoretical construct and its
Measurment defined as the assignment of numerals to objects or events according to rules
Four important questions
1) does the measurement instrument have the potential to measure a given object? (calibration)
2) how precise is the measurement? (scale) Lecture #3 01/21/2014
3) How consistent is the measurement? (reliability)
4) How strong is the relation between the measurement and the theoretical construct? (validity)
Calibration the process of determining the relation between the output of a measuring instrument and
the value of the input
can the measurement technique measure what it is designed to measure?
Galileo first scholar who attempted to measure the speed of light
Ole Roemer (1670’s) he obtained the speed of light was 300,000 kilometers per second
Floor Effect the clustering of scores at the low end of the measurement scale
Ceiling Effect the clustering of scores at the high end of the measurement scale
Nominal Scale a scale of measurement in which the categories represent a qualitative difference in the
variable being measured
Ex: Gender: men and women; Country of Origin: Canada, USA, Mexico…
Ordinal Scale a scale of measurement in which the categories have different names and are organized
Interval Scale a scale of measurement in which the categories are sequentially organized and all are
of the same size
Ex: dates: Day 1, Day 2; Temp: 10 degrees, 11 degrees, 12 degrees
there is no zero point Lecture #3 01/21/2014
Ratio Scale a scale of measurement in which the categories are sequentially organized, the categories
are the same size and the zero point of nonarbitrary