PSY100H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Radical Environmentalism, Scientific Method, Baby Steps

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LECTURE 2 - RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2012
introspection was not considered to be necessary
Psychologists decided that they did not need to ask people to describe things that could not be ob-
served
they decided to focus on just those things that they could actually directly observe; directly measure
they only focused on people’s overt behaviours - what they could see
a lot of them believed that the mental processes did not really happen. They were just verbal labels giv-
en to things that didn’t really exist or were unimportant
Watson was a radical environmentalist
the whole nature vs. nurture debate (another topic from Chapter 1):
-Behaviourists slanted solely on the the nurture side of things
they believed that environment was everything; it made you who you are and completely influ-
enced your behaviour
to Watson genes were nothing, it was was all your environment that made you who you are
Skinner (another name that will be coming up often) believed that these mental states did not exist
they were just mental labels that we gave these bodily processes
he is known for token economies i.e. reward behaviour
you get some sort of token for good behaviour and that encourages people to do well
often used in prisons or institutions
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Trouble for behaviours (video):
chimpanzees using water as a tool to extract food from a narrow tube they cannot reach into
the problem from behaviourists is that they were learning w/out a reward/punishment system
they were learning through insight: all of a sudden they knew the solution to the problem and they
went and solved the problem
for Behaviourists this meant that maybe they should be paying attention to what was going on; that per-
haps it meant something that needed to be studied
The Cognitive Revolution took place around the 1970s
the whole idea was that mental function was really important for understanding behaviour
one could not understand behaviour by focusing solely on the environment - focus on the internal
realm was needed as well
it had an impact on all the schools and areas of psychology
psychology then vs. now
it has legitimately established itself
has come a long way in the past hundred years
it has exploded exponentially
Four ways of knowing about the world
observation is the heart of any scientific method
What is science?
science isn’t defined by what is being studied it’s defined by how it’s being studied
the method that you’re using to investigate whatever topic it is you’re investigating
Four cannons of science / fundamental principle / science does not really exist without these things:
1. Determinism :
the idea that the universe isn’t random
that things can be predicted
there are orderly systematic causes
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without it theories don’t make any sense
theories do not work when things are happening at random
we need things to be systematic and orderly in order for any theory to serve its purpose
-theories: statement about the causal relation between two or more variables
-variable : something that varies; that can differ from organism to organism
2. Empiricism: the best way to figure this out is by observations
we all know that the best way for us to know something is for us to go and see it first hand
to get it “from the horse’s mouth”
3. Parsimony: aka “Occam’s razor”
if we have two competing theories the one that we should chose is the one that is simplest; the one that
makes the fewest assumptions
4. testability: in order to be a scientific theory it has to be able to be testable, confirmable, and support-
able
- falsifiability: it must be possible(in principle, even if it hasn’t been done) to disprove a theory.
-An unfalsifiable is something no one can ever prove is false
- operational definitions: we need to be able to measure these variable constructs
it means we must figure out a way to measure something that would otherwise we
would not be able to do
a lot of times (especially in psychology) we are dealing with things that cannot be mea-
sured
e.g. hunger - we cannot just look at a person and figure out that s/he is hungry so in or-
der to do that we may use time. Time is measurable/ concrete so you can operationally
define hunger as the amount of time it has been since you last ate something.
a lot of the things that psychologists are interested in are these internal constructs that can’t be mea-
sured
constructs are any internal characteristics that cannot be directly observed e.g. imagination, anxiety, ex-
troversion - internal attributes that can’t be measured but are still very important to explain behaviour
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