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Research Methods in Psychology(chapter2).docx

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Joe Kim

Research Methods in Psychology Sept 18, 2012 Introduction -questions about psychological processes are directly relevant to the kinds of thoughts & behaviours you experience daily -psychologists interested in further exploring theses questions using formal methods -set of techniques & concepts known as the scientific method -experience, common sense & reasoning are tools used daily to answer questions & solve problems -"obvious" or common sense" may in some cases be entirely wrong→Ex. ob-ob mouse -formal framework promotes self-correcting nature of scientific venture & prevents missteps in understanding of human behaviour Why we need the Scientific Method: Jaytee the Psychic Dog -operational definition: describes actions/operations made to measure/control variable -variable: characteristic free to take on 2+ diff. values -operational definition of key variable -scientific method, which operational definitions key part of, requires evaluation of claims like Jaytee according to set of rules •designed to minimize chances of being mislead by stories that sound good, but are unsupported by facts Operational Definitions -key element in design of any scientific study 1. operational definitions are essential 2. they're always open to argument -examining operational definitions used by researchers is key step in critically evaluating research Psychology as a Science -scientific method forces us to examine & test claims, otherwise tempted to accept w/o critical thought b/c they're appealing Asking Questions & Multiple Methods of Analysis -before scientists begin collecting data, make choices that determine how research will proceed •choices guided by level of analysis that's applied to problem -level of analysis influences kind of questions asked & answered -problems in psych often thread across many fields •researchers apply multi-level approach, incorporating ideas fr. variety of perspectives *important to consider multiple levels of analysis to get most accurate, well rounded theories -operating in diff. paradigms asking very diff. questions→diff. answers • paradigm shift: dramatic change in our way of thinking 2.1 The Scientific Approach to Psychology -by following standard set of rules when designing studies & collecting data, scientists able to trust other's work & can build on •Ex. Issac Newton: used previous work by others as starting point, needed to trust Basic Rules Central to Scientific Practice: -Parsimony: choosing simplest theory w/ most explanatory power -Natural Order: attributing same effects to same causes -Generalizability: ensuring causes & effects observed in scientific practice applicable in all situations involving same causes -Conservatism: skepticism towards new theories until new evidence undeniable -proper scientific research requires claims & theories based on observable, testable, phenomena, not just reasonable claims, opinions, assumptions 2.2 The Scientific Approach to Psychology II Inductive & Deductive Reasoning in Science -need theory to explain & relate them -inductive reasoning used to move fr. facts to a theory that allows us to describe how observations related -deductive reasoning used to test theory by making specific predictions about situations/ events not observed directly -good theory must be able to encompass all known facts, not just some -theory used to generate prediction , new data doesn't conform, theory modified/abandoned -diff. b/t scientific theory & "idea": scientific theory generates testable predictions The Scientific Method -must carefully consider how to collect & analyze data to produce reliable & meaningful results 1. Construct a theory •general set of ideas about the way the world works 2. Generate hypothesis •testable statement guided by theories that make specific predictions about the relationship b/t variables 3. Choose research method •the way in which the hypothesis will be tested 4. Collect data •taking measurements of the outcomes of the test 5. Analyze data •understand data & discover trends/relationships b/t variables *will decide if hypothesis is plausible or not in this step* 6. Report the findings •publish articles in scholarly journals 7. Revise existing theories •to include new info into our understanding of the world Conducting an Experiment Ex. Eric buys energy drink which claims to enhance memory & test scores Theory: Test performances can be affected by external factors that occur while studying Hypothesis: Students taking energy drink should show improved test performance when compared w/ students not drinking energy drinks Choose research method: between subjects, double blind, experimental design, IV=drink, DV=test score Collect data: had all participants write same test *didn't manipulate independent variable properly* one consumes drink b/f test, one doesn't consume drink b/f test *can't be sure difference in test scores due to drink* Analyze data: used descriptive (mean, stdev, histogram) & inferential (t-test) statistics P=0.44, p>0.05 no conclusive evidence to support hypothesis that energy drinks improve test performance Report findings Revise Theories: since evidence doesn't support hypothesis, must revise/abandon original hypothesis Testing Hypothesis: Reliability & Validity -anecdotal evidence: evidence gathered fr. others/self experience -single experience might not be representative -personal experience might not represent others -can't be sure result is due to energy drinks alone -for test to be considered useful for scientific inquiry, must be both reliable & valid •Reliability: ability of any test to have same output when same input is entered •Construct Validity: ability of test to measure what we intend to measure 2.3 Research Design: Case Studies, Correlations & Experiment Case Studies -detailed examination of one particular individual Correlational Studies -observational studies: studies where scientists observe the effect of variables they're interested in w/o performing any manipulation -simple correlation measure of direction & strength of relationship b/t 2 variables -positive correlation: as value of one variable increases, value of other also increases -negative correlation: increasing values on one variable, decreases value of other -zero correlation: no relationship -correlation coefficient: describes correlation numerically •ranges -1.00 to +1.00 •+1.00=perfect +ve correlation b/t 2 variables •-1.00=perfect -ve correlation b/t 2 variables -sign refers to direction of relationship, not strength -correlation doesn't allow us to tell "cause" & "effect", no matter how strong relationship is -can't have correlation b/t 3+ diff. variables -confounding variable: another factor that can contribute to the results of an experiment *correlation doesn't equal causation* 2.4 Experiments -researcher manipulates 1+ variables & measures changes that occur in 2nd variable -careful observations & measures to control vari
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