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Chapter notes

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Steve Joordens

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Roshan Singh
Mr. Joordens
Chapter 2 Notes
The scientific method only guarantees that the particular question being asked will be answered and it is
not necessary that it will be relevant when applied to everyday life situations. In fact, most of them are
trivial and in a sense if a trivial question is asked, you are given a trivial answer.
Goal of scientific psychological research is to discover the causes of behaviour.
Scientists conduct 3 main types of research:
Naturalistic observation The observation of the behaviour of people or other animals in their
natural environments. Least formal and require very few rules to be followed. It provides the
foundation to the biological and social sciences. Example: Charles Darwin
Correlational studyThe examination of relations between two or more measurements of
behaviour or other characteristics of people or other animals. Researchers examine this in order to
explain the observed behaviours.
ExperimentA study in which the researcher changes the value of an independent variable and
observes whether this manipulation affects the value of a dependent variable. Only experiments
can confirm the existence of cause-and-effect relations among variables.
Scientific methodA set of rules that governs the collection and analysis of data gained through
observational studies or experiments.
ReplicationRepetition of an experiment or observational study to see whether previous results will be
In the original Greek, hypothesis means suggestion and it still conveys the same meaning.
HypothesisA statement, usually designed to be tested by an experiment, that tentatively expresses a
cause-and-effect relationship between two or more events.
A common misconception is that research hypotheses occur spontaneously and mysteriously to scientists.
It occurs as a result of accumulated research and scholarship.
TheoryA set of statements designed to explain a set of phenomena; more encompassing than a
hypothesis. It is basically a way of organizing a system of related hypotheses to explain some larger aspect
of nature.
A good theory is one that generates testable hypotheses i.e. hypotheses that can potentially be supported
or proved wrong by scientific research.
VariableAnything capable of assuming any of several values.
ManipulationSetting the values of an independent variable in an experiment to see whether the value
of another variable is affected.
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Roshan Singh
Mr. Joordens
Chapter 2 Notes
Manipulation and measurements of variable help us evaluate hypotheses.
Experimental groupA group of participants in an experiment, the members of which are exposed to a
particular value of the independent variable, which has been manipulated by the researcher.
Control groupA comparison group used in an experiment, the members of which are exposed to the
naturally occurring or zero value of the independent variable.
Independent variableThe variable that is manipulated in an experiment as a means of determining
cause-and-effect relations.
Dependent variableThe variable that is measured in an experiment.
Nominal fallacyThe false belief that one has explained the causes of a phenomenon by identifying and
naming it; for example, believing that one has explained lazy behaviour by attributing it to laziness.
Operational definitionThe definition of a variable in terms of the operations the researcher performs
to measure or manipulate it.
ValidityThe degree to which the operational definition of a variable accurately reflects the variable it is
designed to measure or manipulate.
One of the meanings of the word confound is to fail to distinguish.
Confounding of variablesInadvertent simultaneous manipulation of more than one variable. The
results of an experiment involving confounded variables permit no valid conclusions about cause and
Habituation is when a stimulus is presented repeatedly.
CounterbalancingA systematic variation of conditions in an experiment, such as the order of
presentation of stimuli, so that different participants encounter them in different orders; prevents
confounding of independent variables with time-dependent processes such as habituation or fatigue.
ReliabilityThe repeatability of a measurement; the likelihood that if measurement was made again it
would yield the same value.
The degree of subjectivity in taking a measurement is another factor that affects reliability. Researchers
often attempt to study variables whose measurement is subjective.
Interrater reliabilityThe degree to which two or more independent observers agree in their ratings of
another organisms behaviour.
Random assignmentProcedure in which each participant has an equally likely chance of being
assigned to any of the conditions or groups of an experiment.
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