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Abnormal Psychology 5.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Konstantine Zakzanis

Abnormal Psychology Chapter 5 Research Methods - Science is the pursuit of systemized knowledge through observation. - Refers to both to a method and to a goal - Always important for scientific observations and explanations to be testable and reliable Testability and Replicability - Propositions and ideas be stated in a clear and precise way then can be exposed to systematic probes and tests - Statements, theories, and assertions must be testable in the public arena and subject to disproof - Also the requirement that each observation that contributes to a scientific body of knowledge be replicable or reliable o Must occur under prescribed circumstances not once, but repeatedly o If it cannot be reproduced, scientists become wary of the legitimacy of the original observation The Role of Theory - A theory is a set of propositions meant to explain a class of phenomena - Goal of science is to advance theories to account for data, often by proposing cause effect relationships - Allows the adequacy of theories to be evaluated can also guide research by suggesting that certain additional data be collected - Theories permit the generation of a hypothesis expectations about what should occur if the theory is true to be tested in research - The generation of the theory is the most challenging part of the scientific enterprise formulates a theory by considering data that have been previously collected and then deciding that a given way of thinking about the data is the most economical and useful - Theories are constructions put together by the scientist must make use of theoretical concepts: unobservable states or processes that are inferred from observable data o Ex. An analyst may infer the presence of a repressed conflict from a clients continual avoidance of discussing his or her relationship with authority figures - We want to bridge gaps between theoretical concepts: o If a child has a particularly frightening experience and his or her behavior changes we need to explain how the earlier event exerted the influence over the subsequent behavior - Operationism proposed that each concept take as its meaning a single observable and measurable operation each concept would be nothing more but a observable and measurable event o Ex. Anxiety woud be defined as nothing more but scoring 50 on a particular anxiety questionnaire o Deprived theoretical concepts of their greatest advantage o Ex. If learning is defined strictly as how often a mouse presses a bar, then other behavior, such as a child performing arithmetic problems would not be called learning and attempts to relate the two would be discouraged - Theoretical concepts are better defined as set of operations rather then a single operation The Research Methods - In abnormal psych there are a large descriptive literature concerning the typical symptoms of people who have been diagnosed as having disorders - These symptoms can be related to other characteristics such as gender or social class o Ex. Eating disorders are found more comman in women in men but we want to know the causes of the relationships we observe why are they more common in women then men ? The Case Study - Clinicians prepare a case study by collecting the historical and biographical information on a single individual, often experiances during therapy sessions - A case study would include: family history and background, medical history, educational background, jobs held, marital history, and details concerning development, adjustment, personality, life course and current situation - 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 Providing Detail Description - Deals with a single individual and can include much more detail then is typically included in other research methods - Ex. Case of Eve White, assumed three different personalities and there description of the case required an entire book - In addition to illustrating the disorder also provides valuable detail about the interview procedure they followed and how the treatment progressed in this specific case - The validity of the information gathered in a case study is sometimes questionable the real Eve, named Chris Sizemore, wrote a book claiming that she had 21 separate and distinct strangers inhabiting her body, 9 of them existed before Eve Black - Value in combining series of cases of an unusual phenomenon using a sophisticated and reliable data analytic strategy o Suggests that symptoms of depression and anxiety may be pervasive among youth with trichotillomania and likely impact functional impairment o Conducted focus interviews with 7 women that met the criteria for tricho identified 10 major themes in the subjective experiences of the women with compulsive hair pulling o 6 themes relate to negative emotion, 3 themes relate to issue with control and the last theme relates to triggers or precipants of the hair pulling o The cases investigated identified themes in the subjective experiances of compulsive hair pullers that practitioners should address when assessing and treating women with tricho The Case Study as Evidence - Useful when they negate an assumed universal relationship or law - The proposition that episodes of depression are always preceded by an increase in life stress finding a single case where this is not true would negate the theory or at least force it to be changed to assert that only some episodes of depression are triggered by stress - The case study fares less well as evidence to support a particular theory or propositiono Ex. A clinician develops a new treatment for depression, tries it out on a client and after 10 weeks the depression lifts cannot conclude that the therapy worked because other factors may have caused the change o Several plausible hypotheses could account for the clinical improvement do not allow us to determine the true cause of the change Generating Hypotheses - Clinicians gain experience in understanding and interpreting them through case studies - Ex. Notice that some children show similar symptoms, including failure to develop language and extreme isolation from other people o Proposed a new diagnosis infantile autism - Some cases are so unique and seem impossible to generalize to other people man having sexual attraction with a horse o Known as zoophilia extremely rare - Case study is excellent in examining the behaviour of a single individual in great detail and of generating hypothese that can later evaluated by controlled research - A case study may not reveal principle characteristics of people in general and is unable to provide satisfactory evidence concerning cause-effect relationships Epidemiological Research - Is the study of the frequency and distribution of a disorder in a population - Can be used to give information on the general picture of the disorder, how many people it affects, whether it is more comman in males or females and wh
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