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York University
PSYC 2130
Krista Phillips

CHAPTER 3 PSYCHOLOGY'S EMPHASIS ON METHOD psychologists do not often seem to provide firm answers, they often offer methods for generating research aimed at these questions for a researcher the goal is to improve on the tentative answers (hypotheses) constantly being developed, rather than settle anything once and for all psychologist's are sensitive and sometimes even self-conscious about research methodology, about the way they use statistics, and even about the basic procedures they use to draw a theoretical inferences from empirical data one might even say that psychologists suffer from physics envy SCIENTIFIC EDUCATIONAND TECHNICALTRAINING some people think that psychology is not really scientific because it has so few hard facts, and even the knowledge it has gathered seems always open to question however, real science is the seeking of new knowledge, not the cataloguing of facts already known for certain technical training conveys what is already known about a subject, so that knowledge can be applied scientific education, teaches not only what is known, but also how to find what is not yet known medical education technical rather than scientific- it focuses on what is known and how to use it physicians in training do an astonishing amount of sheer memorization and the last step in medical education is an internship in which the future doctor show what she can apply what she has been taught, with actual patients scientists in training do much less memorization, instead they are taught to question what is already known and how to find out more the last step in scientific education, including psychology, is the dissertation technical training teaches one to use what is already known; scientific training teaches one to explore the unknown in science, the exploration of the unknown is called research RELIABILITY reliable data are measurements that reflect what you are trying to assess and are not affected by anything else the cumulative effect of extraneous influence is called measurement error (or error variance), and the less there is of such error, the more reliable the measurement is when trying to measure a stable attribute of personality- a trait rather than a state- the question of reliability reduces to this: Can you get the same result more than once? Amethod or instrument that repeatedly provides the same comparative information is reliable; one that does not is not reliable every measurement includes a certain amount of error in psychology at least four things can undermine reliability first is low precision- measurement should be taken as exactly as possible, as carefully as possible; it is important that great care be taken in recording data second, the state of the participant' in the study might vary for reasons that have nothing to do with the study itself the problem is that they may have behaved or performed differently, and therefor have given different results for the research had they been feeling differently or more rested a third is the state of the experimenter variation due to the experimenter is almost as inevitable as variation due to the participants; experimenters try to treat all participants the same but, being human, will fail to some extent participants may respond differently to the experimenter depending on whether the experimenter is male or female it is difficult to control all these factors B.F skinner got around this problem by having his subjects (rats and pigeons) studied only in theenvironment of mechanically controlled enclosure, the Skinner box finally, the environment in which the study is done minor variations in the environment are constant and inevitable; factors vary constantly during a research project and provide another potential source of data unreliability At least four things can be done to enhance the reliability first care with research procedure- double check all measurements, have someone proofread data entry sheets and makes sure the procedures for scoring are understood by everyone a second way is to use constant, scripted procedure for all participants a third way is to measure something that is important, rather than something that is trivial experimental procedures that engage participants will yield better data than those that fail to involve them the fourth and most useful way is aggregation or averaging:take as many measurements as you can and average them SPEARMAN BROWN FORMULA the principle is simple: random errors tend to cancel one another out the more error filled your measurements are, the more measurements you need the principle of aggregation is particularly important if your goal is to predict behaviour VALIDITY validity is the degree to which a measurement actually reflects what one thinks or hopes it does for a measure to be valid, it must be reliable but a reliable measure is not necessarily valid reliability is a necessary but not sufficient condition for validity if the measurement matches the ultimate, true reality, it is valid Lee Cronbach and Paul Meehl (1955) proposed that attributes like intelligence or sociability are best considered to be constructs a construct is something that cannot be d
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