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Lecture 2

PSY100H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Goal Setting, Random Assignment, Intelligence Quotient

Course Code
Michael Inzlicht

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Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
Research Methods in Psychology
-How do psychologists form and test hypothesis about the human mind and human
behaviour and how can we be confident in the results?
Learning Objectives
-Use the PSYNup system
oOnline questionnaire: +1% bonus mark
60 minutes to complete
Complete by Friday, January 22nd
o4 study credits: 4% of your grade in the class
-Explain how psychologists use empirical reasoning and the scientific method to answer
questions about the mind and behaviour
-Generate testable hypotheses based on a theory and develop operational definitions for
your variables
-Describe the strengths and weaknesses of different types of research (e.g., experimental
vs. descriptive)
-Describe the difference between accuracy, validity, and reliability, and explain why each
is important
Empiricism & The Scientific Method
-The view that knowledge comes from sensory experience
-Empirical evidence refers to the data that has been collected (or the knowledge that has
been gained) by scientific method
-Contrast with some unscientific ways of reasoning or forming beliefs about the world
oBased on a feeling (gut feeling/intuition)
Not the right scientific way
oAuthority – anyone with status or expertise
Not a scientific way
oLogic – using logic to reason through something
Not a scientific way
oTheory: statements about the causal relation between two or more variables
Generate hypotheses from them

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Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
Never say we proved a hypothesis because a hypothesis is possible
since someone can re-do that experiment and generate a different
Scientific Theories
oIn the absence of determinism, orderly, systematic causes wouldn’t exist, and
theories would be useless
oOrderly, systematic causes exists for behavior
-Theories must be:
oTestable using currently available research techniques
oFalsifiable: it must be possible in principle to make an observation that would
show the proposition to be false, even if that observation has not been made
oGoal Setting Theory (ex. Locke & Latham, 1990)
According to this theory, there are five key principles that cam improve
the chances of succeeding with a goal (clarity, challenge, commitment,
feedback, complexity of the task)
A goal that is set clearly is to succeed more than one which is too
In a nutshell: setting specific and (reasonable) challenging goals is
motivating and leads to better performance
This theory can be used to generate testable hypotheses
Understanding Variables
-Sample Hypothesis: Individuals who are asked to achieve a clear, specific goal will
perform better than those who are given a vague, non-specific goal
-Independent Variable: type of goal (specific or vague)
oVariable being manipulated, in order to see its impact on the dependent variable
-Dependent Variable: performance
oVariable being measured, in order to see how it is affected by the independent
Dependent variable is dependent on the results of the independent variable
-Operational Definitions
oDefinitions of theoretical constructs that are stated in term of concrete, observable
Ex. How do we want to define “performance” within the context of our
Ex. What will our “specific” and “non-specific” goals be?
oSometimes variables are well defined and easily measured or manipulated
Constructs: Internal attributes or characteristics that cannot be directly
observed but are useful for describing and explaining behavior
oWhat type of performance are we interested in? How do we want to measure it?
Physical performance endurance, speed, weight, lifted, number of
reps/baskets/points/goals, etc.
Intellectual performance IQ test, general knowledge, test, math test, etc
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