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Chapter_5_-_Research_Methods_in_the_Study_of_Abnormal_Behavior (1).doc

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Konstantine Zakzanis

Chapter 5 Research Methods in the Study of Abnormal Behavior Science and Scientific Methods science the pursuit of systematized knowledge through reliable observation Testability and Replicability st - a scientific approach requires 1 that propositions and ideas be stated in a clear and precise way - statements, theories, and assertions, regardless of how plausible they may seem, must be testable in the public arena and subject to disproof - closely related to testability is the requirement that each observation that contributes to a scientific body of knowledge be replicable or reliable - whatever is observed must be replicable; that is, it must occur under prescribed circumstances not once, but repeatedly - if the event cannot be reproduced, scientists become wary of the legitimacy of the original observation The Role of Theory theory a formally stated and coherent set of propositions that purport to explain a range of phenomena, order them in a logical way, and suggest what additional information might be gleaned under certain conditions I.O.W. a theory is a set of propositions meant to explain a class of phenomena - a primary goal of science is to advance theories to account for data, often by proposing cause-effect relationships - a theory permits the generation of hypotheses to be tested in research hypothesis the specific prediction about the outcome of an experiment; it is based on the assumption that the theory in question is accurate I.O.W. hypotheses are expectations about what should occur if a theory is true - the generation of a theory is perhaps the most challenging part of the scientific enterprise - theories are constructions put together by scientists; in formulating a theory, scientists must often make use of theoretical concepts, unobservable states or processes that are inferred from observable data - a theoretical concept, such as acquired fear, is useful in accounting for the fact that some earlier experience can have an effect on current behavior - theoretical concepts can be linked to several different measurements, each of which taps a different facet of the concept - theoretical concepts are better defined by sets of operations that by a single operation The Research Methods of Abnormal Psychology - all empirical research entails the collection of observable data - there are many research methods in the study of abnormal behavior; the methods vary in the degree to which they permit the collection of adequate descriptive data and the extent to which they allow researchers to infer causal relationships The Case Study case study the collection of historical or biographical information on a single individual, often including experiences in therapy - a comprehensive case study would cover 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 from practicing clinicians may lack the degree of control and objectivity of research using other methods, but these descriptive accounts have played an important role in the study of abnormal behavior - case studies have been used to: 1. provide a detailed description of a rare or unusual phenomenon and of important, often novel, methods or procedures of interviewing, diagnosis, and treatment 2. disconfirm allegedly universal aspects of a particular theoretical proposition 3. generate hypotheses that can be tested through controlled research Providing Detailed Description - because it deals with a single individual, the case study can include much more detail than is typically included with other research methods - Eve White assumed at various times 3 very distinct personalities; she subsequently claimed to have had 21 separate personalities - the constant comparative method, which 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) The Case Study as Evidence - case histories are especially useful when they negate (prove something is false) an assumed universal relationship or law - the case study fares less well as evidence in support of a particular theory or proposition - case studies do not provide the means for ruling out alternative hypotheses Generating Hypotheses - through exposure to the life histories of a great number of patients, clinicians gain experience in understanding and interpreting them - eventually they may notice similarities of circumstances and outcomes and formulate important hypotheses that could not have been uncovered in a more controlled investigation - to sum up, the case study is an excellent way of examining the behavior of a single individual in great detail and of generating hypotheses that can later be evaluated by controlled research - it is useful in clinical settings, where the focus is on just 1 person - but when general, universal laws are sought to explain phenomena, the case study is of limited use - a case study may not reveal principles characteristic of people in general and is unable to provide satisfactory evidence concerning cause-effect relationships Epidemiological Research epidemiology the study of the frequency and distribution of illness in a population - in epidemiological research, data are gathered about the rates of a disorder and its possible correlates in a large sample or population - this information can then be used to give a general picture of a disorder, how many people it affects,whether it is more common 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: 1. prevalence the % (proportion) of a population that has the disorder at a given point or period of time 2. incidence the rate at which new cases of the disorder occur in a given place at a given time (usually a year) 3. risk factor a condition or variable that, if present, increases the likelihood of developing the disorder - knowing the prevalence and incidence rates of various mental disorders and the risk factors associated with these disorders is important for planning health care facilities and services for allocating provincial and federal grants for the study of disorders - knowledge about risk factors can give clues to the causes of disorders - depression is about twice as common in women as in men; thus, gender is a risk factor for depression - the results of epidemiological research may provide hypotheses that can be more thoroughly investigated using other research methods Canadian Perspective 5.1 Early Risk Factors and Psychological Disorders in a Canadian Setting: The Role of Abuse - risk factors that are related to mental disorders are: the experience of severe physical or sexual abuse as a child, a history of parental mental disorder, and failure to graduate from high school - people with 2 or more disorders are especially disadvantaged, relative to both the healthy group and the
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