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Scientific Method.docx

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Kenneth Campbell

Psychology Lecture 3 9/13/2012 6:05:00 AM Big Research Issues (at least according to Myers)  Stability vs change  Rationality vs irrationality  Nature vs nurture Epistemology (Methods of Obtaining Knowledge/Truth)  Divine (non-physical) insight  Pure logic and thought (Aristotle)  Scientific manipulation Divine Inspiration Pure Logic/Reasoning Scientific Method-Manipulation Idealism vs Materialism  Is all that exists material in form? o Laws of physical universe  Psychology “concepts”? o Love, hate liberty, free will, the mind, “conscious – unconscious” Scientific Process 1. Observation of universe. What is the problem that needs to be solved? o 1. Variables: what is it that varies (changes)? Why? 2. Development of a theory. A possible “answer” to the question that is being asked. 3. Theory: literature search and a summary/synthesis of what is already known. o Note that this is not “opinion” or “speculation”.  Different theories. Controversy  Statement of the hypothesis 4. Definition of variables of interest. Operational definition. Before a theory can be tested, we need to define our variables. 6. Measure quantification of variables. Quantification = more or less 7. Design the study. Requires a knowledge of different research designs and the advantages/disadvantages of each design 8. Run the study 9. Analyze the results. Usually (but not always) requires the use of statistics 10. Interpret the results… is the hypothesis supported? Update theory (is it correct or wrong?) Theory  Define the problem:  Obtain the known “facts”. What appears to cause the variation?  What are the possible answers? (what is the controversy?)  Development of theory… a summary (synthesis of what we already know)… Theories/Hypotheses  Theories are formed after a review and synthesis of the relevant literature of the known “facts:.  A theory attempts to explain facts. (stress, smoking, cancer) – predicts behavior or events  Theory vs speculation (opinions). A theory is only formed after an objective review and synthesis of already known fact Hypotheses 5. A theory (based on an synthesis of previous facts) makes a testable prediction called an hypothesis.  The results of the study will allow us to say whether the theory is true or false.  A GOOD theory is one that potentially can be proven to be WRONG.  Replication – Others should be able to replicate what you have done and what you have found Logical Positivism  Based on theory, scientists form an hypothesis (or prediction). Stress; smoking; cancer  According to many philosophers of science, we assume all hypotheses are false under proven otherwise.  Scientists can prove the positive (something exists). We cannot prove the negative (something does not exist)  The null hypothesis Psychology Lecture 4 9/13/2012 6:05:00 AM Date: 09/18/12 Logical Positivism  Even scientific theory must be potentially falsifiable  We cannot prove something does not exist  We can prove something exists  Based on theory, scientists form an hypothesis (or prediction). o E.g.: Stress or smoking causes cancer  According to many philosophers of science, we assume all hypotheses are false under proven otherwise  Thus, we assume the negative. We assume the hypothesis is false.  The null hypothesis 6. Design the study. Testing of hypothesis (unbiased, objective). This involves the design of a study to answer the questions & resolve the controversy  Experimental manipulation. The experimenter manipulates the independent variable  This might cause the dependent variable (that which she/he is measuring) to vary. Sources of Variance  Explained variance  Unexplained variance Measures of Central Tendency  There are usually (almost always) individual differences in the dependent measure. Some individuals score high; some score low.  Statistics typically employ three different measures of central tendency (the “typical” score).  These are the mode, mean and median  The mode is the score that occurs most often.  The mean is the average of all scores.  The median is the score at which half the individuals score above and half score below. Problems with the Mean o At times, our measures are not normally distributed. Extremly high (or low) scores might distort the average (or mean). Most university students are in their late teens or early 20s. However, some are in their 70s. The older studens would tend to “pull up” the mean. o In this case, the median might be a better measure of central tendency 7.Define vafriables of interest. Operational definition.  Means of measuring variables of interest.  Random assignment of subjects (participants) to one condition or another  Data collection. Run the study.  Analyses of the data. Is the hypothesis supported? Social Modelling  Will watching violent television influence children’s behavior?  Will watching sexual activity on television influence inappropriate sexual activity in adults? Controversy  If children watch violent mass media, will be more aggressive or if children watch violent mass media, the aggression drive will be released thus less aggressive Design Study  A “control” group of 10 children cannot watch any violent programmes. They can only watch one “nonviolent” cartoon per day for an entire month.
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