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PSYC 100
Daniel Levitin

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Introduction to Psychology 100 Class Notes
9/3: Lecture 1
-The Mind Body Problem: Mind existed before we were even born, while the body is a
recycled, tangible, dying thing.
-Pre-Selection Bias: When there is a bias even before you select the group being studied.
For example, you test only religious people on whether or not religion is important to
-Confound: Lie, not what you really feel.
-Experimenter expectation: Says what they think the experimenter wants to hear
-Lab bias: People behave differently in labs than in real life.
-Randomized Experiment: Random group of people
-Controlled Experiment: No outside effect
-Placebo Effect: 3 pills example
Association is not Causation
Correlation is not Causation
Ex: Smoking kills is a correlation not causation
9/ 7: Lecture 2
The 7 Claims of Psychological Science
1. Psychology is an empirical science because it can be measured, repeatable.
John Darley and Latine: Observed that people can be influenced by situations.
A social psychologist will say that the situation you are in can overcome these
Divinity Student Example
-Study by Darley
-Gives divinity student task of going to this meeting. Meeting is other side of campus.
Some are told to hurry, others are told to take their time. On the way, there is a man dying,
asking for help on the floor. This experiment found that the students in a hurry were less
likely to help. But was this study flawed? Yes
There were a lot of things wrong with Darley’s Study:
1) since all participants were Priest students
2) Just because they are priests does not mean they are helpful people
3) Study was all men
4) Diffusion of responsibility (someone else will help)
Psychological Science

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Experiments come from observations
Not all experiments are testable though
There has to be validity to experiments, they have to be repeatable and testable
How do we measure behavior?
correlation: relating two things to one another without causation
*Correlation is not Causation
Observation: Can track accuracy on how they react
Brain Scans such as FMRI, MEG
Just noticeable difference: Smallest change in something that is noticeable.
Independent Variable: upbringing, what the experimenter can control.
Dependent Variable: Report of the testee, result
Independent Review Board
-all experiments must go through this board. They decide if it is worth doing the
experiments to make sure it is safe and legal.
-Oversee all experiments involving humans and animals
-Can’t just be any experiment, has to be worthwhile and scientifically valid.
-Informed Consent: Participants have to know everything
9/9: Lecture 3
Chapter 2
The Four Goals of Scientific Research
1. Description of behavior
We try to describe what we observe. No manipulation of the
variables at all.
2. Prediction of behavior
Want to be able to predict an outcome. To do this you need to first
3. Determination of the causes of behavior
Determine cause of what you see. You predict something, but you want
to know why
4. Explanation of behavior (underlying mechanisms)
Explain what you see.
Example: Early scientific ancestors described the movement of stars. But they could not
predict where the stars would appear later. They then stated naming the planets (Venus
mars) and they tracked them. After systematic documentation, they were eventually able to
predict where a planet would end up, and how long it would take. Lacked an understanding
of what caused these motions. Later, Einstein would give us a cause.
Why you should be Skeptical of Scientific Data

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Clever Hans
-A famous Austrian horse (early 1900s) that apparently could do arithmetic. He could
add/vsubstract up to 20. There was mental science back then, not psychology. So mental
scientists tested this horse. These scientists asked themselves,
-What if a different trainer asked a question? Turns out the trainer just had to be in the
room, but someone else could ask him. When the trainer was not in the room or couldn’t
hear, the horse couldn’t do it. Turns out, the trainer would give subtle non-verbal cues, that
even he himself did not realize. Like a sigh, or a change in body position.
Important lesson in psychology, because it teaches us that behavior can be
affected by factors that we don’t necessarily see.
YouTube video of a bird dancing to the backstreet boys. Contradictory to the previous
belief that only humans can synchronize to music. The fact that a species can do it was big
news. But turns out that snowball won’t dance unless his owner is dancing. So he might be
synchronizing to the visual, not the sound.
Harvard Study
-Development Office: Once you graduate, they ask you for donations. Harvard’s
development office is good at what they do, because they get a lot of money. Here was
their speech:
“Two years after graduating form Harvard, graduates were earning an average of
140,000 dollars a year.”
What they want you to believe is that a Harvard degree is worth a certain amount of
money. That going to Harvard CAUSES you to get a good job with a lot of money. So
there is a cause and effect relationship between a Harvard degree and their pay.
This statement is misleading because:
1) Response bias: Only the ones who made a lot of money answered the survey on
how much money they made. The percentage of the people they asked that
responded changes a lot.
2) How many people did they ask?
3) Some people lie
4) Why did they only ask the year of 2006? Is it the only impressive year out of
all the other years?
5) Is it possible that they manipulated the data?
6) Is 140,000 before or after taxes?
7) Maybe they asked the question in a range format (if you make between
100,000 to 140,000)
8) 140,000 in what currency? Money is worth differently in different places, so it
fluctuates. The graduates that make 140,000 might live in an expensive city, so
not as much purchasing power.
9) No comparison with other universities. Mcgill graduates might make 1 million
after 2 years. Without comparison, there is no value.
10) What was the size of the graduating class? 6? 2,000?
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