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PSYB32 Chapter 5

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Konstantine Zakzanis

Chapter 5 Research Methods In The Study of Abnormal Behaviour May 20, 2008 Science and Scientific Methods Testability and Replicability • Propositions and ideas must be stated in a clear and precise way so they can be tested • A hypothesis must be willing to systematic testing that could show it to be false • Whatever is observed must be replicated • If it cannot be reproduced, then scientist become wary of the legitimacy of the original observation The role of Theory • Theory: a set of propositions meant to explain a class of phenomena o It permits the generation of hypothesis, expectations about what should occur if a theory is true o They are constructions put together by scientists o Use ethical concepts, unobservable states or processes that are inferred from observable data • Theoretical concepts can also summarize already observed relationships • Operationalism: proposed that each concept take as its meaning a single observable and measureable operation. In this way, each theoretical concept would be nothing more than one particular measurable event • Theoretical concepts are better defined by sets of operations than by a single operation The Research Methods of Abnormal Psychology • Often researchers observe several events and try to determine how often they are associated or related • Researchers want to know what the symptoms are and its relation to others found data and the reason for it (eating disorder, found more in females, why?) • Commonly used research methods in abnormal behaviour: case study, epidemiological research, the correlation method, and various types of experiments The case study • Studying a patient one at a time and in detail • Covers family history and background, medical history, educational background, jobs held, marital history, development, adjustment, personality, life course and current situation • May lack degree of control and objectivity of research • Provides detail description of rare or unusual phenomenon and of important methods or procedures, diagnoses and treatment • It can disconfirm uniformal aspects • It can generate hypnoses that can be tested through controlled research • Constant comparative method: 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 • Case studies are useful when they invalidate universal relationships or laws • The data yielded by the case study do not allow us to determine the true cause of the change • Case studies play a role in generating hypothesis (but not confirming them) • Some cases are so unique that it is impossible to generalize to other individuals • It is ideal for studying individualistic context • But it is unable to provide satisfactory evidence concerning cause-effect relationships Epidemiological Research • Epidemiology: study of the frequency and distribution of a disorder in a population • Can be used to give a general picture of a disorder • It focuses on determining 3 features of a disorder o Prevalence: the proportion of a population that has the disorder at a given point or period in time o Incidence: the number of new cases of the disorder that occur in some period, usually a year o Risk factor: conditions or variables that, if present, increase the likelihood of developing the disorder • The result of epidemiological research may provide hypotheses that can be more thoroughly investigated using other research methods Early risk factors and the psychological disorders in a Canadian setting: the role of abuse • Parental mental disorder and severe abuse are the strongest risk factors The Correlational Method • Correlational method: establishes whether there is a relationship between or among two or more variables, and it is often employed in epidemiological research • Variables being studies are measured as they exist in nature • It then addresses a question, are variable X and variable Y associated in some way so that they vary together (co-relate) • First step is to obtain pairs of observations of variables (height, weight, gender etc) • Then the strength of the relationship between the two sets of observation is used to determine the correlation coefficient (symbol r, lies between -1 and +1) o Positively related or negatively related • Plotting it on a graph helps make it clear • If the correlation is 0, it tells us nothing about the score • Statistical significance: the likelihood that the
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