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David Naussbaum

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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 -scientistists: >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 authority) >are very skeptical about what they see and hear -scientific skepticism: ideas must be evaluated on the basis of ‘careful logic’ & results from ‘scientific investigation’ -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 world—develop theories, argue that existing data supports their theories & conduct research that can increase our confidence that the theories are correct + open exchange and competition among ideas: science flourishes when there is an open system for the exchange of ideas > research can be conducted to test any idea that is advanced (supporters of the idea and those who disagree w/ the idea can report their research findings which can be evaluated by others) -some ideas may prove to be false (research fails to provide support) >good scientific ideas are testable >falsifiability: ideas can be supported or they can be falsified by data + peer review of research: very important in making sure that only the best research is published must be reviewed by other scientists who have the expertise to carefully evaluate research & recommend whether the research should be published Integrating Intuition, Skepticism, and Authority -advantage of scientific approach: provides an objective set of rules for gathering, evaluating, and reporting information -in science, ideas must be evaluated on the basis of available evidence that can be used to support or refute the ideas -there are many “pseudoscientists” using scientific terms to substantiate their claims >may range from astrologers to marketers asking you to purchase products to enhance your memory or sex drive *pseudoscientists: A collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method Some Characteristics of Pseudoscience -a general rule is to be highly skeptical when scientific assertions are made that are supported by only vague or improbable evidence Goals of Science -scientific research has 4 main goals: (1) to describe behaviour (2)to predict behaviour (3)to determine the causes of behaviour (4)to understand or explain behaviour Description of Behaviour -scientists begin w/ careful observation bc the first goal of science is to describe events -researchers are often interested in describing the ways in which events are systematically (consistent) related to one another Prediction of Behaviour -once it has been observed w. some regularity that two events are systematically related to one anothe
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