Notes From Reading
C HAPTER2: THE R ESEARCH ENTERPRISEIN PSYCHOLOGY
I. Looking for Laws: The Scientific Approach to Behavior
A. Goals of The Scientific Enterprise
Scientific Enterprise assumes that events are governed by some lawful order.
1. Measurement and Description – Develop measurement techniques that make
it possible to describe behavior clearly and precisely
2. Understanding and Prediction – explain reasons for an occurrence
a. Hypothesis – tentative statement about relationship between 2 or more
b. Variables – any measurable conditions, events, characteristics, or
behaviors that are controlled or observed in a study.
3. Application and Control – Practical Problems and how to control them
4. Theory – a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations.
a. Must be testable
B. Steps in a Scientific Investigation
Scientific Investigation are systematic – follow an orderly pattern
1. Step 1: Formulate a Testable Hypothesis
a. Hypothesis expressed as a prediction
b. Operational Definition: describes actions or operations that will be used
to measure or control a variable (IV, DV, CV).
2. Step 2: Select the Research Method and Design the Study (i.e. How to put the
hypothesis through an Empirical Test).
a. Subjects/Participants – persons or animals whose behavior is
systematically observed in a study.
3. Step 3: Collect the Data
a. Data Collection Techniques: procedures for making empirical
observations and measurements i.e. direct observation, questionnaires,
4. Step 4: Analyze the Data and Draw Conclusions
a. Researchers use statistics to analyze their data and decide whether their
hypothesis has been supported.
5. Step 5: Repeat the Findings: Share findings with other scientists and general
a. Done through journals – periodicals that publish technical and scholarly
material, usually in a narrowly defined area of inquiry.
b. Allows others to evaluate and critique new findings. Discloses flaws.
C. Advantages of the Scientific Approach
1. Clarity and Precision – enhance communication about important ideas
2. Intolerance for Error
3. Research Methods – Differing approaches to observation, measurement,
manipulation, and control of variables in empirical studies.
II. Looking for Causes: Experimental Research
A. Independent and Dependant Variables
1. 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. i.e. Cause and Effect Relationships
2. How “x” affects “y” Oct/5/2003 CHANAPS
Notes From Reading
C HAPTER2: THE R ESEARCHE NTERPRISEIN PSYCHOLOGY
a. Independent variable (x) – condition or event that an experimenter varies
in order to see its impact on another variable
b. Dependant variable (y) – thought to be affected by manipulation of the
B. Experiment And Control Groups
1. Experimental group – subjects who receive some special treatment in regard
2. Control group – similar subjects who don’t receive special treatment given to
C. Extraneous Variables
1. Extraneous Variables are any variables other than the IV that seem to
influence the DV in a specific study.
2. Confounding of Variables – when 2 or more variables are linked together in a
way that makes it difficult to sort out their specific effects.
3. Random Assignment – when all subjects have an equal chance of being
assigned to any group or conditions in the study.
D. Variations in Designing Experiments
1. It may be advantageous to use the same group as the experiment and control
group. In this case, the IV is evaluated using an “experimental condition” and a
a. Typing with and without music
2. It is possible to manipulate more than one IV in a single experiment.
a. Temp and Music while typing
b. Used to find how the effect of one variable depends on the other.
3. It is possible to use more than one DV in an experiment
a. Typing: speed and performance.
E. Advantages and Disadvantages of Experimental Research
1. Advantage – allows researchers to draw conclusions about cause and effect
relationships between variables
a. Experiments are artificial
b. Do not allow one to explore certain research questions, due to ethical
c. Manipulation of variables may be difficult or impossible. In this case,
turn to correlational/descriptive research methods
III. Looking for Links: Descriptive/Correlational Research
Descriptive/Correlational Methods are used when one cannot exert experimental
control over the variables they want to study. Permit investigators to only describe
patterns of behavior and discover links or associations between variables.
A. Naturalistic Observation
1. Naturalistic Observation – researcher engages in careful observation of
behavior without intervening directly with the subjects.
2. Behavior is allowed to unfold naturally without interference in its natural
3. Advantage - Allows researchers to study behavior under conditions that are
less artificial than in experiments Oct/5/2003 CHANAPS
Notes From Reading
C HAPTER 2: THER ESEARCH