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Lecture 3

Lecture 3.doc

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PSYC 100
Daniel Levitin

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PSYC 100 Lecture 3 (09/09/2010)
Experimental Design
Confidentiality involves the right of privacy and anonymity. Sometimes in case
studies, get permission from subject to use their initials. By this, researchers also
guarantee that the participant will be honest with the responses.
The Four Goals of Scientific Research
1. Description of behavior
It involves descriptive studies where the nature of the world. Here collect data
and try to describe a phenomenon. No manipulation of variables is involved.
This is can be done in a pain study where it would describe the baseline of
2. Prediction of behavior
Often experimental psychologists will observe behavior in a class room or a
specific setting. This will provide them with a hypothesis of what kind of data
they would have to collect.
E.g. professor studied kids with William Syndrome (genetic abnormality). For a
whole week, kids were observed and researchers spoke to their parents. Later
wrote descriptive studies.
After the descriptive study, experimenters try to predict future behavior that
was observed.
3. Determination of the causes of behavior
This comes after prediction. Want to know why those predictions occur and try
to explain the underlying mechanisms. Determining the causes of the behavior
doesn’t explain the behavior.
4. Explanation of behavior (underlying mechanisms)
The ultimate goal of science is to explain behavior in terms of common
E.g. At first early humans who observed points on the sky were able to
describe by careful observation the position and motion of the planets. Early
scientists believed that the earth was in the center of the universe. They were
able to track the movement of stars and planets (naming them) but they were
not able to predict which body would appear in the sky the future days.
After careful and systematic documentation, early astronomers were able to
predict planetary motion. So in this case they went from observation to
prediction of behavior – advanced two stages of scientific process.
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Later with the discovery of gravity, Newton’s principles of motion and
Einstein’s theory of relativity provided the understanding of the causes of the
orbits behavior. The underlying mechanisms such as gravity are not
understood clearly at all. Then, astronomy has advanced for the first three
stages but we are still missing to achieve the third one.
Need to be skeptical with scientific data
Clever Hans
In the late 1800s, Austrian horse could do simple arithmetic. In that time, mental
scientists who were physicists and philosophers studied this case:
- They tested the horse with a different trainer. He could still do the
arithmetic while his trainer was still in the room; he had to see his trainer.
The effect went away when the trainer was not in the room.
- Also if they covered the trainer’s ears so he wouldn’t know the answer,
Hans couldn’t do it either.
- Actually, the trainer was giving Hans sutle non verbal cues which he
wasn’t aware of i.e. he changed his body position once reached the
This shows that there are a number of factors that may influence the outcome of
any behavior that we might not see at first. We need to be skeptical in studying
Parrot with rocks back and forth in synchrony with music. Until snowball
emerged, it was widely believed by ethologists (scientific study of animal
behavior) and psychologists that humans were the only species that could
synchronize to music. Nowadays we know that primates and elephants can take
sticks and bang it rhythmically. Synchronization is in couples, when a third animal
joins, it is not possible.
Snowball could only synchronize to Backstreet Boys music. Annie Patel,
neuropsychologists, started playing Snowball music with different tempos. Also
they played music with same tempo but slower or faster. Results: Snowball can
only dance when owner is present and it has to be able to see the owner, and the
owner has to be able to hear the music. So it doesn’t mean that it is
synchronizing to the music but it is synchronizing visually to its owner.
These results show an important evolutionary consequence: the evolution of
different neural mechanisms. If it can synchronize to the sound represents one
set of neural mechanism while synchronizing to the site represents a different
neural mechanism. Among animal species, the visual synchrony is more
Levitin suggested Patel to play a piece of music to Snowball in one set of loud
speakers and to play a piece with different tempo to its owner over headphones.
In this conflict, we would observe what Snowball would do: follow the music or
follow its non-synchronize owner. Results: It started synchronized with the sound
but once sees owner dancing more slowly, Snowball slows down and
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