PSYC 1010 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Operational Definition, Online Interview
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September 7, 2018
Effects of Alcohol on Memory
“Common sense” sayings
● Everything we know about human behaviour is derived from research
● Based on empirical data (direct observation)
○ Commonality or theme
● Why are people aggressive?
● Start with theory (a coherent network of explanatory ideas
○ Frustration causes aggression
○ Theories exist everywhere
○ This theory is abstract, vague; what is frustration?
● Next, come up with something testable
● Hypothesis (specific predictions derived from the theory)
○ Before you come up with a hypothesis, you have to come up with what is
called “an operational definition”
■ You have to define your terms very specifically, so if a future
researcher wants to replicate your study, they will know exactly what
○ Operationalize frustration: define and measure aggression.
○ Give the frustrated person something to hit, then you have to define “hit”
○ Number of hits, possibly the strength at which they hit it, are measured to
determine how aggressive they are.
○ Hypothesis: frustrated persons would be more aggressive than the control
● Then you have the results: frustrated group is more aggressive; is this theory true?
● In order for this theory to be true, you must test every possible group
● We can never prove a theory to be true. You can only find evidence supporting your
● Never throw out a theory on the basis of one study
○ Ask, could there be a flaw in my study?
○ If you think you have a flaw, redesign your study
● Then, conduct research
● If results support hypothesis, then confidence in the theory increases
● If findings do not support hypothesis, then confidence in your theory decreases
○ Often, the theory is revised and refined
○ If the theory is proven wrong time and time, possibly discard the theory
● Each study should be considered as one piece of a puzzle
● Operational Definition just means be very specific in your definitions.
● The different methods of research
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