Scientific Principles in PSYC
- Science is an approach to asking and answering questions about the
universe through reason, intuition, and common sense, religion and
spirituality, the arts and the teachings of family, friends and others.
Scientific attitudes p.38
Gathering evidence: Steps in the scientific process
- Continuous interplay between observation and explaining events.
1. Identify a question of interest.
2. Gather info and form hypothesis. (prediction about some
phenomenon; “If-then statement.”
3. Test hypothesis by conducting research.
4. Analyze date, draw tentative conclusions, and report findings.
5. Build a body of knowledge.
Identify, gather info & form hyp., test, analyze, build.
- Theory: set of formal statements that explain how and why certain
evets are related to one another.
Two approaches to understanding behaviour p.40
Hindsight (after the fact understanding)
- “Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards.” (Soren
- Understanding behaviour in our everyday lives after it happened.
Understanding through prediction, control and theory building
- Theory development is the strongest test of scientific understanding
because good theories generate an integrated network of predictions.
Existing facts and observations – organizes info in a meaningful
Predictions are supported by new research.
The simpler theory is the preferred one.
- It satisfied our curiosity, increases knowledge and generates
principles that we can apply to new situations.
Defining and measuring variables p.41
- Variable: Any characteristic or factor that can vary from one person
to another and over time.
- Many variables represent abstract concepts that cannot be observed
- Operational definition: variable in temps of specific procedures used
to produce or measure it. Something measurable and observable. Self reports and reports by others p.42
- Report on your own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences or
-Social desirability bias: tendency to respond in a socially acceptable
manner rather than according to one truly feels or behaves.
Measures of overt behaviour p.43
- Record overt behaviour. (directly observable)
- Reaction time: speed of response.
- Reliable: consistent observation.
- Unobtrusive measures: records behaviour in a way that keeps
participants unaware that certain responses are being measured.
- Archival measures: records or documents that already exist.
Psychological tests. p.44
- Psychologists develop tests that measure variables.
- Assess what people are experiencing.
- 1) ask questions, 2) gather info & formulate a hypothesis, 3) conduct
research to test, 4) analyze the data, 5) build a body/go further
- We generally use hindsight to explain behaviour even though there’s
no way to ascertain which is correct. Psychologists prefer to test
through prediction, control and theory building.
- A good theory organizes known facts that are testable and generates
- to measure behaviour, we obtain self-reports, reports from others,
observe using unobtrusive measures, analyze data, administer tests
and record responses.
Methods of research
Descriptive research: recording events
- Descriptive research: seeks to identify how humans and other
animals behave, in natural settings.
Case studies: treating cases of failure to thrive (starvation) in
- Case study: in-depth analysis of an individual, group or event.
- Enables scientists to study, challenge the validity of a theory and
third they can be a vibrant source of new ideas. Naturalistic observation: Bullying in Canadian schoolyards p.46
- Verbal assertion: Verbally requesting that the bullying stop.
- Physical assertion: Physically separating the bully and victim, but not
physically attacking either