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PSY240 Lecture 2

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M.Mc Kay

PSY240 Lecture 2 May 16: Research in Abnormal Psychology (Chapters 3 & 4) The Scientific Method: steps designed to obtain and evaluate information in systematic way Conducting scientific research involves 1. Defining a problem (what is it that we want to look at/what we hope to shed some light on?) 2. Specifying a testable hypothesis (prediction of what we think is going to happen) 3. Choosing an implementing a research method (design of a study depends on what hypothesis you're testing + nature of problem you are looking at) 4. Analyzing data, drawing appropriate conclusions, and communicating the findings in report Some definitions Hypothesis: testable prediction, framed or tested in 2 ways: o As predicted there is a relationship/effect o Null hypothesis as if your prediction there is NO relationship or effect Patients w/ Panic Disorder (PD) have higher levels of personality characteristic of neuroticism o H1 association between PD and neuroticism o H0 NO relationship between PD and neuroticism Could be due to poor design, other variables, results not analyzed in not appropriate way. Often when we find null hypothesis, it could be due to things like design, analysis, and other contributing factors. When this happens, researchers either modify or drop primary hypothesis. Variable: factor or characteristic that can vary within or between individuals Dependent variable: the factor being predicted/outcome being measured as result of the manipulation Independent variable: the variable being manipulated and believed to affect the DV Operationalization: the way in which the researcher measures/manipulates variables in study Various types of studies in abnormal psych Case studies Detailed histories of individuals who have suffered some form of psychological disorder Case studies have been used for centuries as way of trying to understand experiences of single individuals and to make more general inferences about sources of psychopathology Case studies are valuable in that they: 1. Provide rich and unique detail about an individual 2. Are sometimes the only way to study rare problems 3. Are great for generating ideas/hypothesis Case studies are limited insofar as: 1. Findings are not very generalizable since they are based on one person - Generalizability is the ability to apply what was learned to other individuals/groups 2. Observations and conclusions drawn lack objectivity - People telling stories may be biased, and therapists listening may filter them through their own beliefs/assumptions 3. They are hard to replicate (repeat the conclusion). - Replication is key factor of scientific method. Correlation and correlational findings: Correlation addresses the strength of the relationship/association between variables Documenting relationships does noting to address question of causation Correlation does not equal to causation Such knowledge however, allows you to make predictions E.g. people with depression wear blue shirts often o Does wearing blue actually make you feel blue? o Do people who feel down reflect how they feel by wearing blue clothing? o Or was there a sale on blue shirts THIS IS THE THIRD VARIABLE PROBLEM Correlational coefficient: statistic reflecting strength of association between variables ranging from +1.00 (a perfect positive correlation), through 0.0 (complete absence of relationship), -1.00 (a perfect negative correlation) 13 Statistical significance: threshold at which we conclude, within certain parameters, that there is a real relationship between variables that cannot be attributed simply to chance So what does p = 0.5 mean?! Correlational studies Continuous variable: two or more variables that are measured and correlation between them is examined Group comparison study: two or more groups are compared on the variables of interest Cross-sectional: participants assessed at one point in time Longitudinal: participants assessed on two or more occasions over times Important considerations for correlational studies Representativeness: you are drawing inferences/conclusions about certain population of individuals based on a sample from that population. To what extend does your sample (in characteristics + proportions) reflect the larger population? The extent to which the sample falls short in this regard is the extent to which it is biased. o E.g. using undergraduates for psychological studies impacts on generalizability of findings of study on population due to age, extent to which sample is biased, segment. Selection of comparison group: insofar as is possible, the comparison group should be matched to the group of interest in every regard other than on the variable of interest Evaluating correlational studies Advantage: reflect real world problems by capturing the many variables at play in a real world setting. Therefore, there tends to be relatively good external validity, the extent to which the results can be generalized to real life Disadvantages: cause vs. consequence challenge (including third variable problem). Findings are highly dependent on timing of observation, report, or measurement Epidemiological studies!!! IMPORTANT FOR MIDTERM You need to know the epidemiological information of specific disorders for the midterm because: if certain disorders have increased in prevalence rates, if what you're look at is common or rare (important because there may or not be treatment guidelines. Prevalence rates Incidence rate Risk factors (e.g. (for depression, female is considered a risk factor because females more susceptible to depression) The limitations of epidemiological studies are similar to those of correlational studies Experimental studies Experimental studies involve control and manipulation of the independent variable At the most basic level involves an experimental group or condition (e.g., group receiving a treatment) and a control group/condition (e.g., group not receiving a treatment) Internal validity: the degree to which we can hold constant all variables between the experimental + control group except for the (independent) variable of interest Allows for making cause and effect statements Classical experimental design (CHECK PDF FILE) 14 Random assignment: each participant has an equal chance of being assigned to the experimental or control condition. We do random assignment to avoid demand characteristics (which are a threat to internal validity). Demand characteristics: the unwanted effect of a participant trying to guess what the hypothesis might be or try to meet some perceived expectation a threat to internal validity. Most often this is addressed through double blind. Types of experimental studies used in abnormal psych: 1. Human laboratory (analogue) study 2. Animal study 3. Therapy outcome study Evaluating human laboratory studies Advantages: - Researcher has more control over variables (e.g. there are scripts, what participants do before they see researcher, control over when samples are taken, etc.) - Participants can be randomly assigned to groups - Appropriate control groups can be created to rule out alternative explanations of important findings Disadvantages: - Results may not generalize to outside the laboratory - There are ethical limitations Evaluating therapy outcome studies Advantages: - They provide help to people in distress as research is generated, by providing information about effectiveness/ineffectiveness of treatments Disadvantages: - It is difficult to tell which aspect of therapy led to reduction in the psychopathology even when researchers try to reduce demand effects - Raises questions about appropriate control groups - Ethical considerations - Patients nee
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