PSYB01 Psychological Research Lab
Lecture 2 Research Methods – Ethics
“Provides an objective set of rules for gathering, evaluating, and reporting information”.
-Researchers create systematic observation and study to refute what we think is true.
-> Seeks to falsify what we think is true.
-Theory -> Structural framework based on the empirical evidences
->Explain the current data
-Scientists design a study to testify and question a part of the theory
->either ending up falsifying the theory or verifying/strengthening the theory
-Psychology interested in population
-> variability(the range of potential values for any measurable physical or mental features)
Skepticism and Empiricism
-Intuition and authority legitimate sources of ideas
-Need for skepticism
-Ideas must be evaluated based on careful logic and results from scientific investigations
-More you know about scientific method, the more skeptical you will be of research results
-E.g., Study on new antidepressant applied to cure clinical depression (Concerns with variability)
- Control group (No antidepressant tested, used to compare with the experimental group)
Experimental group (New antidepressant tested)
>Impact on the results
- Does the dropouts of people with minor or major symptoms affect the result?
>Skepticism on the results
- Does it mean all people gets well due to the drug or other alternative reasons? Fundamental Characteristic of Scientific Method
Empiricism – Knowledge based on systemic observations
Conclusions about the nature of the world based on collection and evaluation of data that is
evaluated in a systemic way
Scientific method provides many rules for collection and evaluation of data
Goals of Science
1. Description of Behaviour -> careful observation
2. Prediction of Behaviour -> systemic regularities in relation of two events
3. Determine the Causes of Behaviour -> requires three types of evidence and CAUTION
4. Understand or Explain Behaviour -> why does behaviour occur; explanation of relationships
-E.g., Study of violent game on aggressive behaviours
-> Contradictory in the study
(Violent games causes aggressive behaviours VS No effect on aggressive behaviours)
-How was the study done?
-How is violent defined?
-What type of violent game is considered?
-How is the experiment conducted?
-What population is surveyed in the study?
-> Third variables that could affect the study
-Issue of sampling (exposure to violence; how much violence was involved? How long did
the participants spend on violence?)
-Who funds the research
-Individual’s surrounding/environment Causality
Inferences of cause and effect require:
1. Temporal precedence: causal variable should precede the effect
-How is this tested in an experiment?
->Manipulate Independent variable; observe effect on Dependent variable
2. Covariation: when cause present, effect occurs; when cause not present, effect does not
-Demonstrated in experiment when subjects in experimental condition show effect and
those in control do not
3. Elimination of Plausible Alternative Explanations – Nothing other than causal variable could
be responsible for observed effect. No other plausible explanation.
-Is there a third variable responsible (alternate explanations)?
Explanation of Behaviour
-Description, prediction, causality, and explanation all closely related
->Explanation may be deemed inaccurate when new causes found
-Ambiguity in science
->Leads to new questions
->Continual discarding and revision of explanations of behaviour as new evidence gathered
Basic VS Applied Research
-Attempts to answer fundamental questions about the nature of behaviour (theoretical issues)
-Issue of ecological validity
-Practical problems and potential solutions Basic or Applied?
-Scientific progress dependent on a synergy between basic and applied research
Overview of Scientific Experimental Design
1. Posing an appropriate research question