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Chapter 1: Scientific Understanding of Behaviour.

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University of British Columbia
PSYC 217
Paul Wehr

Chapter 1: Scientific Understanding of Behaviour Learning Goals: 1. Identify reasons for understanding research methods. 2. Describe the scientific approach to learning about behavior, and contrast it with pseudo scientific research. 3. Define and give examples of the 4 goals of scientific research in psychology: description, prediction, determination of cause, and explanation of behaviour. 4. Compare and contrast basic and applied research. Goal 1: Uses of research methods: • Able to read methods section of articles. • read reports critically (evaluate). • To evaluate information; informed consumer of research • Use in career: Some jobs require knowledge in research methods and evaluate research reports ex: mental health professionals, business (marketing strategies), Educators. • Participate in public policy debates.. • Program evaluation (e.g., DARE drug prevention program targeted to school students.) – 2 see if these programs are efficient and meet their goals. If not they should move funding to another project. Goal 2: Describe the scientific approach to learning about behavior, and contrast it with pseudo scientific research. Methods of acquiring knowledge: • Intuition- common beliefs & conclusions that comes from life observations of the world around us. Ex: finding love as soon as u stop looking for it. (personal judgment/experience – cognitive and motivational biases affect our perceptions, hence we draw invalid conclusions ). Illusory correlation- cognitive bias that occurs when we focus on two events that stand out and occur together. • Authority- listening and accepting information from the news & powerful figures. Believing that statements from such authorities must be true. Ex: Ads using celebrities (authorities) to sell products. Scientific approach rejects intuition and authority, it requires more evidence before making conclusions . • Scientific Approach (empiricism & skepticism)- Scientists are skeptical. Skepticism means that ideas must be evaluated on the basis of accurate methods and results from scientific investigations. Empiricism is a fundamental characteristic of scientific method. Where knowledge is based on structured systematic observations. They first come up with a hypothesis (an idea that might be true), then they collect and evaluate data, to assess if the hypothesis is true. 4 characteristics of scientific inquiry; 1; scientist reports accurate observations, others can replicate the methods used to check if they get same results, replicating detects alternative explanations to results such as confounding variables (other factors that might influence results). 2; scientists search for observations, develop theories and conduct research to argue that their data supports their theories. 3; reports are evaluated by others and can be falsified (Scientists falsify theories; theories can only be proven wrong, never proven correct). Falsifiable ideas are ideas that can either be supported or refuted using empirical data (experimentable). 4; then it is submitted for peer review (reviewed by other scientists that will evaluate it so they decide to publish it or not) before publishing research to journal/scientific publications. • Pseudoscience- studies which use scientific terms to support claims without using scientific data. Marketers use pseudoscience to promote products and experiences to improve your life without scientific evidence
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