Lecture 2 - Sept 20.12
Getting Initial Ideas
Look around you!
– Direct observation
• Question what you usually take for granted
– Stories in newspapers, magazines, websites
*direct observation – things you see in environment, things other people do, or what you
-things that seem to be pretty ordinary – look at these kind of things more carefully
Ex. People who cover up their pin number, some don't cover, some don't care – things we take
for granted- make this a research question if we wanted to
-blogs are good to get ideas because you might start wondering about what these people blog
and wonder about
-anything that makes you wonder you can turn that into a research idea
• Does this really happen? (is it true?)
• Could I research this – what question might it translate into?
• Under what conditions might this hold or not hold?
• Ex: Absence makes the heart grow fonder; out of sight, out of mind
-common sayings; you can test certain ones
Ex. what goes around comes around – hard to test
Find something you can turn into a research question
-cartoons are another way of getting initial ideas
-most common way that people get research ideas is by extending previous research
Are there additional variables I could add, or different conditions
Narrowing it Down
Be specific about what you want to research!
Once you found your initial idea, you need to narrow it down
– I want to study love
– I want to find out if talent is inherited - too general , specify what kind of talent and
what kind of inherit you're looking at
– Why do so many people think Obama is Muslim? -
– I’m interested in the development of love relationships that start online - looking it at
with a specific domain – I’d like to know if the ability to match pitch is mostly genetic or mostly learned - if
somebody produces a note, you can reproduce it with your voice
– I’m interested in why people are less likely to question information that is consistent
with their beliefs
Don’t ramble on and on – narrow it to one or 2 sentences
Use sentence stems or fill-in-the-blanks
-I’m interested in the relationship between ____ and ___.
-I’d like to investigate the effect of ____ on ____.
-I want to see if ____ has the same effect on ____ under these conditions:_____.
-Is the influence of ____ on ____ the same for women as for men?
try to isolate it to two or more variables
Searching the Literature
Why is this necessary?
– History of research in the area
– Establish case for project / build rationale
– Make sure it hasn’t already been done
– Can be a source of ideas in itself
Best ways to start
– Library web page
– Google scholar (still need to look up article)
– Refer to texts
– Use keywords in references to access more articles on same
What Exactly is "the literature"?
Scholarly books and papers that describe theory or report on research findings
Book chapters or entire books
Papers presented at conferences
What are journal articles?
Scholarly papers published in academic journals
Submitted to journal by researcher / author
Accepted or rejected by journal editor Parts of a journal article
Short summary of contents of article
Sets up problem
Discusses shortcomings in present understanding of problem, describes how study will try to
overcome some of them
Describes in exact detail how study was conducted
– Must allow for replication
Details the outcome of study, reports statistical analyses of the data
Restates the results, relates them to the original goals
Practical and theoretical implications
List of sources
Reading empirical articles
If the abstract is too complex, the paper will be too.
Skim article to see how it is set up
Read discussion section first
Take brief notes
Skip sections you don’t understand and reread later
Developing a Hypothesis
A good hypothesis is:
About a specific relationship (there must be a comparison or contrast)
About a particular population
Why do we need ethical guidelines?
Guide balance btw desire for knowledge and responsibility to protect
Helps protect reputation of psychology as a science
Helps ensure participants keep participating
Because we don’t want to harm people intentionally Past ethical violations
– Tuskegee Syphilis Study