PSYB01 Lecture 2: PY
How you come up with research ideas:
Observations/insights that you get that helps you start research projects
How previous research plays into getting the research project started
What makes a good/bad hypothesis – to get started w/ project
How to get initial idea:
o By things around them, direct observation, things that you see in enviro, things that
you see others doing, things that you wonder about
Ex) 3 dogs, diff sizes, big greyhound, smallest = Chihuahua and one in middle;
one has to be alpha dog; you would think it’s the largest dog; but it didn’t work
out that way; may re-negotiate roles at various times in their relationship; small
dog acquired most recently but seems that he is the alpha male b/c he starts
growling when other dog wants to get up on the bed and started looking at
position at top of pack; the Chihuahua has gotten status b/c the other dogs have
A lot of psychologists study animal behavior
What sorts of behavior do animals engage in? if they’re pack animals and
there’s an alpha animal
What sorts of beh to establish themselves at the top of the pack?
o Question things that you seem to take for granted; mundane things; look at this stuff
esp when it comes to human social behavior
ex) in store, use debit card; ppl do diff things when typing in pins
position body; cover w/ hand; some don’t care; diff behaviors
take for granted; but there may be some interesting research here
so, under what conditions do ppl cover up their pin #? Who’s standing
next to them? Distance? Do they do it even if no one there? Is there a
difference btn ppl who cover and ppl who don’t; why do they do it? Do
ppl who cover, do they change pin more often? Etc;
o looking at newspaper, magazines, websites
most of the stuff, ppl haven’t done extensive research on
ex) Tuxedo Stan = cat that’s running for mayor in Halifax; spay/neuter platform;
very popular; more ppl know of this cat than of the other candidates for mayor
why do internet cats become so much more popular and more quickly
than dogs? Etc;
Ex) things about ppl’s lives; that they wonder about and you wonder about it
Robert the doll: cursed – anybody w/ contact with doll, something bad
happened to them; belonged to Gene; thought his ghost inside the doll
If something bad, would blame it on Robert; but some ppl say that it’s
actually true that Robert is cursed
1 PSYB01 Lecture 2: PY
Where did the superstition come from? How was it maintained? How
do they pass it from one person to next? Does the doll actually bring
o Anything that makes you wonder can be good initial idea
o Common sayings:
Ex) 2’s company, 3’s a crowd; ppl say these things but are they actually true
Research done in social psych based on this saying
3 roomates in dorm vs. 2 roomates
2 will pair off against the one person unstable dynamic
Was it b/c the space too small? So added 4 person, and everything
settled down again
Under what conditions does it hold?
o Roommate situation, this definitely holds; BUT that’s not the
case when talking about management of company, member of
sports team etc;
Ex) barking dogs seldom bite; verbally aggressive ppl don’t actually carry out
Can be tested
Is the saying actually true? And could you actually test this?
Some sayings you wouldn’t be able to test
Ex) What goes around comes around. Do something bad to someone
and it comes back to you.
o At what point does it end? And how would you know that? And
how could you establish that the bad thing that happened to
the person is actually due to what they did earlier?
Ex) Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Flip side: Out of sight, out of mind.
Can be tested and translate it into research question but may want to
be more specific: physical separation makes ppl more affectionate
towards each other
Under what conditions does it hold or not hold? Couples married vs.
dating; time of separation (long time, vs. few days)
Military couples; dual-city couples there’s research on this but can do
Graphjam.com = pie graphs of anything, totally obvious
Looking in the fridge: look for food vs. the amount of time spent thinking
Research question: how often does the person come out with food whenever
they go to the fridge? How much time do ppl spend looking in the fridge, how
much of the time looking for food, how much time spent thinking?
2 PSYB01 Lecture 2: PY
Neurological patterns; put electrodes on head; brain activity would change
o Studying previous research:
Psych is cumulative field; not much research starts from scratch
Can extend research, tweak the research or with new pop’n; can look at diff
Question: what are the questions left unanswered in a particular study?
ScienceDaily = website that summarizes studies; see what’s new in certain
areas; they cover all areas and summarize
Kangaroo care: skin-to-skin contact with baby, esp positive for
premature babies development; can have extension to this – if 2
caregiver is a man, would that have the same effect? If 2 caregiver is a
female, but not the breast-feeding female, does it have same effects?
So, questions left unanswered, can extend research.
Once you have idea, you have to narrow it down.
o go from broad idea, to something specific
o ex) Want to study love much too broad
better question: ‘look at how love relationships start online’
o ex) Want to see if talent is inherited what talent will you study? Specify what type of
inheritance you’re looking at
better question: ‘look at if the ability to match pitch is mostly genetic or mostly
o ex) Want to see why many ppl in US think that Obama is muslim/born somewhere else
(called birthers if they believe that)
better question: ‘interested in knowing why ppl are less likely to question
information that is consistent with their beliefs’
then have to narrow it down further and you want to isolate it to a relationship between 2 or
o narrow it down to 1-2 sentences
o Sentence Guid