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Psychology 2810
Doug Hazlewood

The Goals of Science and The Role of Theories W&M Ch1 Stanovich Chs 2,3,5,8 Part 1: The Goals of Science A. Classification of Goals: - Ultimate Goals: Understanding and Explaining - Intermediate Goals: Prediction and Control - Basic (immediate) Goals; we must achieve these goals before all other goals B. Types of Basic Goals: 1. Description (two levels): - Idiographic (describe unique attributes of “things” - objects, people, behaviour); - Nomothetic (describe what things have in common) 2. Identifying Concepts: Names we use to classify things that have common attributes - Concepts are generalizations (e.g., “mammal”) - Scientific concepts are not always the same as concepts we use in everyday life (e.g., “aggression”)  Scientific concepts must be clearly defined by a scientist in order to avoid confusion - Concepts are not real things (they’re “words” that we use to describe and represent things) i.e., you cannot physically see or touch a concept  “constructs” (“names” are constructions)  “hypothetical constructs” (concepts that can never be directly observed, e.g., intelligence, self-esteem) 3. Identify “regular relations” between concepts:  Identify correlations; - Facilitates “prediction” (intermediate goal) - If 2 things are correlated, than we can predict one from knowledge of the other. - Does not tell us anything about causes (see also Stanovich, Ch 5)  Identify causal relations; - Facilitates control (intermediate goal) - Need to conduct “experiments” Interlude: Is any “regular relation” a law? - A law describes a regular relation that’s highly general across people, contexts, and time. - Why psychology doesn’t have many “laws”: - It’s a relatively young science - The things we study in psychology are very complex - much more complex than things found in the natural and physical sciences - “Chemicals don’t blush, but people do” Part 2: The Development, Testing, and Evaluation of Theories A. Theory Development 1. Definition: A theory is a logically organized set of statements that describes, predicts, and explains regular relations between “concepts” [events, facts, variables, laws] Note: Definition too broad? - This is because some theories can be mainly “descriptive”, “predictive”, OR “explanat
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