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Research Methods.docx

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York University
PSYC 2510
Richard N Lalonde

Lecture #2 - PSYC 2510 Research Methods • Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes • Assumption: events are governed by some lawful order Scientific approach: Searching for order • Goals: 1. Measurement and description 2. Explanation/Understanding 3. Prediction 4. Application and control Stages in the Research Process 1. Initial observations & review of literature 2. Research question – hypothesis (theory) 3. Design study 4. Collect & analyze data 5. Evaluate the hypothesis / theory Principle of Falsifiability • A theory must make predictions that are specific enough to expose the theory to the possibility of disconfirmation • The theory should predict not only what will happen, but also what will not happen The Scientific Method: Terminology • Operational definitions ‐‐ clarifies precisely what is meant by each variable • Participants or subjects ‐‐ organisms whose beh. is systematically observed • Statistics ‐‐ used to analyze data and decide whether hypotheses are supported • Findings shared through reports at scientific meetings and in scientific journals HOMER an acronym for scientific method  Hypothesize (dev. Ideas/ theory)  Operationalize - translate concepts into testable & measurable ones  Measure - examine ideas in a research design  Evaluate - statistics  Replicate/revise/report Scientific Methods • procedures for gathering & interpreting evidence in ways that limit sources of error and yield dependable conclusions • Two frequent types of methods – EXPERIMENTAL METHODS • Q. Does variable X have a causal effect on variable Y? – CORRELATIONAL METHODS • Q. Is there an association between variable X and variable Y? Experimental Methods Two features of experiments – 1. Manipulation • Independent variable – 2. Control • Extraneous variables Example exp. ‐effects of beer on memory – Hypothesis – people who drink too much beer will suffer impairment in memory • Independent variable (I.V.) – manipulated by experimenter (amount of beer) • Dependent variable (D.V.) (variable measured) – by researcher to gauge effects of I.V. (# items recalled on memory test) • Extraneous variables – factors that put into question the causal relationship between the I.V. and the D.V. by providing alternative explanations for observed changes in D.V. – e.g., beer experience, weight Example Experiment • I.V. – 3 levels or conditions that vary amount of alcohol: between- subjects design • 8 beer cond. (10 Ss) • 2 beer cond. (10 Ss) • 0 beer cond. (10 Ss) – Control cond. ‐‐ no exposure to IV • D.V: # of words recalled from a list of 25 words • Results (average scores on DV) – 8 beer cond. M = 5 – 2 beer cond. M = 12 – 0 beer cond. M = 20 • Conclusion? – increase in alcohol consumption causes impairment in memory Example Experiment • BUT ,WHAT IF … – 0 beer cond. has 10 female Ss (M = 20) – 8 beer cond. has 10 male Ss (M = 5) • Does the difference between 2 conditions reflect the effect of alcohol (I.V.) or of gender (extraneous variable)? – Gender is an extraneous (or confounding) var. that provides an alternative explanation for results
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