Lecture 1: Jan 9 Research and method.
Gathering Information and Theories
• Empiricism: Basing knowledge on observations
• A theory is a summary statement, a general principle, or set of principles about a class of
events. It Can be very specific or very broad (or anywhere in between). ( it is basically Based
on observations which can lead to set of principles about a class of events. Throughout
history, men can be seen from bones to have more physical combat judging from the health
of their bones. Boys who play with violent)
• Theories seek to explain 1) some phenomena , wn and based on
e t 2) Predict new information (Should be able to predict related events. Like
skeleton example. Perhaps men were also doing more physical labor like hunting, taking
down predators etc. It is somewhat related to the subject at hand)
• How do we evaluate a theory?
– A THEORY should be testable
– Should generate hypotheses: which are Predictions about specific events that are
derived from one or more theories.
(Sometime conditions need to be revised to support the hypothesis. You can tweak and
tweak till it supports your hypothesis or predictions by changing you hypothesis. A
good theory should always have like 34 hypotheses to go with it)
• Breadth of information behind the theory
– Basing a theory on one source of information weaken the theory
• Parsimony: Include as few assumptions as possible.
– Can keep a theory simpler and more organized. (Prefer the theory that has the least
amount of assumptions. Two machines. Both do the same task at hand and equally as
well.The machine with the fewer moving parts, has a smaller chance of one of those
parts breaking down on you). Parsimony is controversial. This is because human
beings are complex and not simple. All our behaviour has many explanations. Some
theories need to be more complicated than we li k e
Variables and measuring variable
• What is a variable?
– Something that varies. Dimensions along which variations exist.
– Must vary for at least two values.
• Nominal or Categorical Variables :(e.g., gender) M or F ( one or the other. Cannot have two
• Continuous Variables: Makes use of real numbers designating amounts to reflect relative
differences in magnitude. Scores reflected on a continuum. (e.g., selfesteem) Jon has higher
selfesteem than Chris because Jon’s score is 5.3 and Chris’s score is 3.7.
• Observer ratings: An assessment in which someone else produces information about the
person being assessed. Assessment and measurement usually mean the same
• Selfreport: An assessment in which people make ratings pertaining to themselves (e.g., how
• Example (Going straight to the source. Asking them/ hoping it’s the truth)
– “I find it hard to approach members of the opposite sex.” (T/F) (1 or the other. Forced
choice, one or the other (nominal value)
– “I would prefer a potential partner with earning potential.” ( diff magnitude) Lecture 1: Jan 9 Research and method.
o (Agree) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (strongly disagree)
– “Please briefly describe the emotions that the thought of your partner confiding secrets in
someone else arouses in you ( this is an open minded question so the response can very a lot)
Establishing Relationships among Variables
• To establish a relationship must study at least two levels of the variable we’re interested in.
• Do individuals who are more optimistic about a test perform better?
– Need to know how individuals who are optimistic perform on the test, as well as
individuals who are pessimistic.
– (Its good to have confidence. We need something to compare to. Hence why the two
levels so we can establish relationship between these variables)
• A relationship in which two variables or dimensions convary when measured repeatedly
• Two distinct aspects of a correlation
– The direction: can be positive and negative
– The strength of the correlation
• Examples: Does the amount of extraversion correlate with the number of friends a person has
• Variable #1: Level of extraversion (
• Variable #2: Amount of friends facebook
• Results: If the correlation is negative, since as extraversion increase, the number of friend
increase (there is an inverse relationship). If the correlation is positive, then extraversion
increase, friend increase as well.
Strength of a Correlation
• The strength of a correlation refers to how closely associated the two variables are.
• Represented with a correlation coefficient( R) that ranges from 01
• Positive correlations have positive number and negative correlations have a negative number
(Sign indicates the direction)
• r = 0.9 is just as strong and +0.9. the signs only dictate the direction.
Correlation is NOT Causation
• A correlation does NOT demonstrate causality, which is the relationship between a cause and
an effect ((Can imply cause and effect but never guarantee it)
• Susceptible to reverse causality
– Not being able to ((distinguish which variable is causing the other variable). For
example: in the above study, it could be just that people a narcist and they think
they are better then every one else or it could be that they have a lot of statuses #
that cause them to extraverted.
• Correlations are susceptible to the 3 variable proble .vThe possibility that an unmeasured
variable caused variations in both of two correlated variables.
• Confound: additional variable, or a nuisance variable, that may influence our dependent
variable or varies systematically with our independent or predictor variable.
3 essential factors that establish causality
1. Covariation: Need to observe that changes in one variable correspond to
changes in another variable Lecture 1: Jan 9 Research and method.