PSYB01H3 Lecture Notes - Scientific Method, Illusory Correlation, Falsifiability

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Published on 2 Jul 2012
Methods in Behavioural Research
CH1: Scientific Understanding of Behaviour
Uses of Research Method:
-knowledge of research methods and the ability to evaluate research reports are useful in many fields
>scientific research is important in public policy decisions
-research is also important when developing & assessing the effectiveness of programs designed to
achieve certain goals
The Scientific Approach:
-instead of using scientific approach, many ppl rely on intuition and authority as ways of knowing
The Limitations of Intuition & Authority
-when you rely on intuition, you accept unquestioningly what your own personal judgement or a single
story about one person’s experience tells you about the world
-comes in many forms
>often involves finding an explanation for our own behaviour of the behaviours of others
-used to explain intriguing events observed
-a problem with intuition is that numerous cognitive & motivational biases affect our perceptions, & so
we may draw erroneous conclusions about cause & effect
-illusory correlation: occurs when we focus on two events that stand out and occur together
>i.e., when an adoption is closely followed by a pregnancy, our attention is drawn to the situation & we
are biased to conclude that there must be a causal connection
>likely to occur when we are highly motivated to believe in the causal relationship
>natural to occur, but is not scientific
scientific approach requires much more evidence before conclusions can be drawn
Skepticism, Science, and the Empirical Approach
>recognize their ideas are just as likely to be wrong as anyone else’s
>do not accept on faith the pronouncements of anyone (regardless of that person’s prestige or
>are very skeptical about what they see and hear
-scientific skepticism: ideas must be evaluated on the basis of ‘careful logic’ & results from ‘scientific
-the fundamental characteristic of scientific method is empiricism: knowledge is based on observations
>data are collected to form basis of conclusions about the nature of the world
-Goodstein describes an “evolved theory of science” that defines the characteristics of scientific inquiry
> elements of Goodstein’s evolved theory of science:
observations accurately reported to others: scientists make observations that are accurately reported
to other scientists and the public
search for discovery and verification of ideas: scientists enthusiastically search for observations that
will verify their ideas about the worlddevelop theories, argue that existing data supports their
theories & conduct research that can increase our confidence that the theories are correct
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