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Psychology 201W - Operational Definitions, Variables, Relationships Between Variables - Tuesday 28th May 2013.docx

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Owen Thomas

PSYCH 201W Summer 2013 Psychology 201W: Introduction to Research Methods Operational Definitions, Variables, Relationships Between Variables Announcements: - Research Project Outline due this week beginning of labs. Late penalties: one mark off per day. - Course is not curved. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Review on Last Week’s Lecture: - Ethics - Tuskegee Study = Landmark Study, a real case where participants’ rights were ignored and their wellbeing were completely ignored as well. The researchers had good intentions but their execution was bad. - Milgram Obedient Study, a great source of conversation about ethics as well as some other issues related to psychology. - Responsibility to participants:  Beneficence  Autonomy  Justice - Responsibility to colleagues and the public  Data Fabrication  Misleading Research Reports  Plagiarism  Offensive Behaviour Towards Participants ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Q: What makes a Correlational Study? - The independent variable (IV) is not manipulated it is measured. Operational Definitions, Variables, Relationships Between Variables: - To understand operational definitions and the context of this discipline, you have to know:  Psychology is a relatively young discipline (started as a scientific discipline in Germany 1879).  Germany 1879, when Wilhelm Wundt started some of the first experimental labs in Germany.  Studies were short-term memory studies, they started of being focused into consciousness  Trying to figure out what consciousness was made of.  Short-term memory studies were designed to see what could be retained during consciousness, this led to a lot of research on consciousness in psychology and how it relates, various components of consciousness. PSYCH 201W Summer 2013  Problem: Consciousness is an entity that is abstract (hypothetical entity – we assume it to exist).  It is abstract, not physical – not directly observable.  There was a struggle to establish psychology as a science.  Debate whether psychology should move away from studying consciousness.  Psychology went from studying consciousness to studying behaviours because it was directly observable and measureable.  Consciousness thinking about it as “cognition”.  Need to link consciousness to physical entities (e.g. Mass, Force).  Study abstract entities as long as they can be linked to the physical realm. The idea of Operational Definitions came from physics. - The manifestations of behaviour - Have to link abstract entities to the physical realm. - It has a routed the history of the discipline. Operational Definition: A definition of a concept that specifies the operation is used to measure or manipulate the concept or interest. - Gives instructions and measurements so that your study can be replicated. - Every variable used must be operationalized, in order to study it with some objectivity. - Restrict the discussion to things that are observable and measureable. - Have to be able to specify the conditions where the phenomena of interest (whatever it is) can be observed. Class Example: “Freudian Concept of Repression“ - Resists operational definitions Resisting Operational Definitions: - Unless we can operationally define, whatever entity or concept we’re interested in – then it is almost impossible to come up with some kind of test that can be disconfirmed or at least disconfirm the concept we are interested in. - Doesn’t really adhere to the basic rules of science. - Operational Definitions avoid that problem of not being able to disconfirm hypothesis by specifying the conditions under which the phenomenon can occur. Advantages of Operational Definitions: - Objectivity: Doesn’t adhere to the basic rules of Science. - Repeatability of Research: Gives procedures and definitions so that we can research and other people can replicate our studies. - Precision: Increase of precision, reduces any type of misinterpretation. PSYCH 201W Summer 2013 “Correct vs. Useful” definitions - Concepts can be operationally defined in a number of different ways. - Not about whether it is correct, it’s about utility – is it “useful”? Class Example: - Use manifest anxiety scale. - Magnitude of anxiety. - Heart rate - Shoe size How do we know if it is “Useful”? - Do research, what is out there in the literature. - Try our best to come with the
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