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5 Aug 2010
Chapter 5 - Research Methods In The Study of Abnormal Behaviour
Science and Scientific Methods
๎‚™ Science is the pursuit of systematized knowledge through observation. It refers to both the method (the
systematic acquisition and evaluation of information) and to a goal (the development of general theories that
explain the information)
Testability and Replicability
๎‚™ A scientific approach requires that the propositions and ideas must be stated in a clear and precise way so that
they can be tested
๎‚™ A hypothesis must be amenable to systematic testing that could show it to be false
๎‚™ Whatever is observed must be replicated
๎‚™ If it cannot be reproduced, scientists become wary of the legitimacy of the original observation
The role of Theory
๎‚™ A Theory is a set of propositions meant to explain a class of phenomena
ยพ It permits the generation of a hypotheses, expectations about what should occur if a theory is true
ยพ Theories are constructions put together by scientists
ยพ In creating a theory, scientists use theoretical concepts, unobservable states or processes that are inferred
from observable data
๎‚™ Theoretical concepts can also summarize already observed relationships
๎‚™ Operationalism: proposed that each concept take as its meaning a single observable and measureable
๎‚™ Theoretical concepts are better defined by sets of operations or effects, rather than by a single operation
The Research Methods of Abnormal Psychology
๎‚™ Often researchers observe several events and try to determine how often they are associated or related
๎‚™ Researchers want to know what the symptoms are, and their relation to other found data, and the reason for it
(ie. eating disorders are more common in females, but why?)
๎‚™ Commonly used research methods in abnormal behaviour: case studies, epidemiological research, the
correlation method, and various types of experiments
The case study
๎‚™ Studying a patient one at a time and in detail
๎‚™ A comprehensive case study covers family history and background, medical history, educational background,
jobs held, marital history, and details concerning development, adjustment, personality, life course, and
current situation
๎‚™ Case studies may lack the degree of control and objectivity of other forms of research
๎‚™ The case study has been used to:
ยพ Provide a detailed description of rare or unusual phenomenon, and of important methods or procedures of
interviewing, diagnoses and treatment
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ยพ Disconfirm allegedly uniformal aspects of particular theoretical proposition
ยพ Generate hypnoses that can be tested through controlled research
๎‚™ Constant comparative method: consists of the identification of relevant units of information (unitizing),
placing the units into categories that emerge from the data (categorizing), and providing organizational
themes for the information (identifying themes)
๎‚™ Case studies are especially useful when they negate an assumed universal relationship or law
๎‚™ The data yielded by the case study do not allow us to determine the true cause of the change
๎‚™ Case studies play a role in generating hypothesis (but not confirming them)
๎‚™ Some cases are so unique that it is impossible to generalize to other individuals
๎‚™ Case studies are ideal for studying in an individualistic context
๎‚™ They are unable to provide satisfactory evidence concerning cause-effect relationships
Epidemiological Research
๎‚™ Epidemiology is the study of the frequency and distribution of a disorder in a population
๎‚™ It can be used to give a general picture of a disorder๎€๎€ƒZKR๎€ƒPDQ\๎€ƒSHRSOH๎€ƒLW๎€ƒDIIHFWV๎€๎€ƒZKHWKHU๎€ƒLWยถV๎€ƒPRUH๎€ƒFRPPRQ๎€ƒ
in men than in women, and whether its occurrence also varies according to social and cultural factors
๎‚™ Epidemiological research focuses on determining 3 features of a disorder:
ยพ 1) Prevalence: the proportion of a population that has the disorder at a given point or period in time
ยพ 2) Incidence: the number of new cases of the disorder that occur in some period, usually a year
ยพ 3) Risk factors: conditions or variables that, if present, increase the likelihood of developing the disorder
๎‚™ The results of epidemiological research may provide hypotheses that can be more thoroughly investigated
using other research methods
Canadian Perspectives 5.1 ยฑ Early Risk Factors and Psychological Disorders in a Canadian Setting: The Role
of Abuse
๎‚™ One study found that parental mental disorder and severe abuse as a child are the biggest risk factors for
getting a mental disease
๎‚™ Another study found that interpersonal traumas (being molested, raped, mugged, or kidnapped; being
physically attacked; suffering from parental aggression) were the most consistent predictors of disorders after
parental psychopathologies
๎‚™ $PRQJ๎€ƒ2QWDULRยถV๎€ƒ$ERULJLQDO๎€ƒFRPPXQLW\๎€๎€ƒ 14% of boys and 28% of girls in the current generation (aged 12-
17) reported some form of sexual abuse; these rates are higher than non-Aboriginal children
๎‚™ The results of the major epidemiological study conducted in Ontario suggest that severe physical and sexual
abuse and even spanking and slapping are risk factors for the onset and/or persistence of adult psychiatric
The Correlational Method
๎‚™ The Correlational method establishes whether there is a relationship between or among two or more
YDULDEOHV๎€ž๎€ƒLWยถs often employed in epidemiological research
๎‚™ In the correlational method, variables being studied are measured as they exist in nature
๎‚™ Correlational studies address D๎€ƒ TXHVWLRQ๎€๎€ƒ ยณare variable X and Y associated in some way so that they vary
together (co-relate)
๎‚™ The first step is to obtain pairs of observations of variables (ie. Height and weight)
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