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Lecture 2

Lecture 2 - Jan 12.doc

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PSYC 342
Jens C Pruessner

PSYC342 Lecture 2 - Jan. 12 Summary From Last Class: • Scientific knowledge is communicated via publications, either in print or online journals • Journal’s impact is measured via the Journal Impact Factor • Researcher’s impact is measured via the h-index • Traditional medium is print, but over the past decade, a switch to online journals can be observed • PLoS One as an example that doesn’t judge the impact of a publication (but lets the readers do so) Methods in Research and Academia: • ‘The Scientific method’ • Important Terms: • Hypothesis • Operational definition • Variable • Data • Must gather evidence to formulate a theory which then results in gathering more evidence. This ends up being an endless cycle Essential Components of Scientific Research: • Precision • Skepticism Be skeptical on everything presented • • Area where most errors/problems come from • Reliance on empirical evidence • Cannot have a theory based only on insight, must have data and evidence Precision: Theories • • Organized systems of assumptions designed to explain phenomena and their interrelationships • Hypotheses • Attempt to predict or account for a set of phenomena; specify relationships among variables, and are empirically tested Operational definitions • • Define terms in hypotheses by specifying the operations for observing and measuring the process or phenomenon Skepticism: • Scientists do not accept ideas on faith or authority • Skepticism means treating conclusions, both old and new, with caution • Old beliefs (even in textbook) sometimes need to be reversed Reliance on Empirical Evidence: • A scientist relies on empirical evidence to determine whether a hypothesis is true Karl Popper’s ‘Critical Rationalism’: • Principle of Falsifiability • A scientific theory must make predictions specific enough to disconfirm the theory The theory must predict not only what will happen, but also what will not happen • • Always be overly skeptical about every claim being made (not just in science, but life in general) • Example: Eating hamburgers will make you fat. The ‘principle of falsifiability’ lies in the fact that there may be individuals who eat hamburgers and do not get fat Descriptive Studies: Establishing the Facts • Studies using methods that yield descriptions of behaviour but not necessarily causal explanations • Include: • Case studies • A detailed description of a particular individual being studied or treated which may be used to formulate broader research hypotheses • More commonly used by clinicians because the case is very rare and should be studied in depth on its own • Occasionally used by researchers Features: Intensive examination of the behaviour and mental processes associated with a • specific person or situation • Strengths: Provide detailed descriptive analysis of new, complex, or rare phenomenon • Pitfalls: May not provide representative picture of phenomena • Example: Railroad working in US. Had to put explosives in holes with a stone rod; an explo- sive exploded, drove stone rod through his brain. He still survived, though he had a change in his personality and behaviour • Clever Hans was an Orlov Trotter horse that was claimed to have been able to perform arithmetic and other intellectual tasks Naturalistic Observations • • Researchers carefully and systematically observe and record behaviour without interfering with behaviour • Naturalistic observation: Purpose is to observe how people or animals behave in their natural environment • • Laboratory observation: • Purpose is to observe people or animals in a more controlled setting • Features: Observations of human or animal behaviour in the environment in which it typical- ly occurs • Strengths: Provides descriptive data about behaviour presumably uncontaminated by out- side influences • Pitfalls: Observer bias (if the observer knows what to look for, they will always report the bias) and participant self-consciousness can distort results • Psychological tests • Procedures used to measure and evaluate personality traits, emotional states, aptitudes, in- terests, abilities, and values • Psychological tests can be objective or projective • Projective test: not directly asked about a certain behaviour or personality traits, only asked to describe what you see in random pictures; project meaning into pictures. Ex- perimenter then projects • Objective test: IQ Test. Answers can only be interpreted in one way; no ambiguity of how to interpret the results • Characteristics of a good test include: • Standardization • The test is constructed to include uniform procedures for giving and scoring the test • In order to score tests in a standardized way, an individual’s outcome or score is compared to norms • To establish norms, the test is given to a large group of people who are similar to those for whom the test is intended By
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