First Test Text Readings Notes from Chapters 1,2,12 and appendix B

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16 Oct 2011

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Chapter 2: The Research Enterprise in Psychology
Scientific Enterprise Goals
1. Measurement and description: Develop measurement techniques that make it
possible to describe behaviour clearly and precisely
2. Understanding and prediction: Hypothesis, understand events when they can explain
the reason for the occurrence of the events
3. Application and controle: scientists hope that the information gathered will be of
some practical value
Theory: A system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations
Theory Construction:
Theory hosts testable hypothesis
If the evidence supports hypothesis confidence goes up
If the evidence doesn’t support hypothesis confidence declines
Operational definition: describes the actions or operation that will be used to measure
or control a variable. Establish precisely what is meant by each variable in the context of
a study.
Participants/subjects: persons/animals whose behaviour is systematically observed in
a study
Data collection techniques: procedures for making empirical observations and
Journal: a periodical that publishes technical and scholarly material, usually in a
narrowly defined area of inquiry
Scientific Approach: 2 main advantages
1. Clarity and precision
2. Relative intolerance of error
Research Methods: consist of various approaches to the observation, measurement,
manipulation, and control of variables in empirical studies (general strategies for
conducting studies)
The Experiment: A research method in which the investigator manipulates a variable
under carefully controlled conditions and observes whether any changes occur in a
second variable as a result
Independent Variable: Experimenter controls/ manipulates
Dependent Variable: Depends on independent
Experimental group/ control group: 2 groups of subjects
Experimental group: Special treatment in regard to independent variable
Control group: Do no receive special treatment given to experimental group
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Extraneous variables: any variables other than the independent variable that seem
likely to influence the dependent variable
Confounding of variables: 2 variables are linked together in a way that makes it
different to sort out their specific effects
Random Assignment: subjects occur when all subjects have an equal chance of being
assigned to any group or condition in the study
Naturalistic Observation: Researcher engages in careful observation of behaviour
without intervening directly with subjects
Case Study: In depth investigation of an individual subject
When a case study is conducted on a suicide victim the study is called “Psychological
Survey: Questionnaires or interviews to gather info about specific aspects of
participants’ behaviour
Descriptive/ Correlation Research
Can explore questions that could not be examined with experimental procedures
Broadens the scope of phenomena that psychologists are able to study
Investigators cannot control events to isolate cause and effect
Statistics: use of mathematics to organize and summarize data
2 types of Statistics:
1. Descriptive: Used to organize and summarize data
2. Inferential: Used to interpret data and draw conclusion
Descriptive Statistics: Central Tendencies
Median: Score that falls exactly in the centre of a distribution of scores
Mean: The arithmetic average of the scores, divided by the total number of scores
Mode: Most frequent score in the distribution
Variability: How much the scores in a data set vary from each other and from the mean
Standard Deviation: Index of the amount of variability in a set of data
Correlation: Exists when 2 variables are related to each other
Correlation coefficient: Numerical index of the degree of relationship between 2
1. Direction (Positive or Negative)
2. How strongly 2 are related
Positive Correlation: 2 variables co-vary in the same direction
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Negative Correlation: 2 variables co-vary in opposite direction
Size of co-efficient indicates the strength of an association between 2 variables
Inferential Statistics
Statistically Significant: Statistical research results are not likely to be due to chance.
Exists when probability that the observed findings are due to chance is very low
Evaluating Research
Replication: The repetition of a study to see whether the earlier results are duplicated
Sampling Bias
Sample: Collection of subjects selected for observation in an empirical study
Population: Much larger collection of animals/people that researchers want to
generalize about
Sampling Bias: Exists when a sample is not representative of the population which it
was drawn
Placebo Effects: When participants’ expectations lead them to experience some
change even though they receive empty, fake or ineffectual treatment
Self-report Data: Subjects verbal accounts of their behaviour
1. Social Desirability Bias: Tendency to give socially approved answers to questions
about oneself
2. Response set: Tendency to respond to questions in a particular way that is
unrelated to the content of the questions
Experimenter Bias: Occurs when a researcher’s expectations or preferences about the
outcome of a study influence the results obtained
Double-blind Procedures: Research strategy which neither subjects nor
experimenters know which subjects are in the experimental or control group
Internet-mediated Research: Refers to studies in which data collection is done using
the web
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