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The Research Enterprise in Psychology

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PSYC 2510
Agnieszka Kopinska

THE RESEARCH ENTERPRISE IN PSYCHOLOGY  Psychology is empirical  We seek to better understand human behavior by posing research questions  Many ways of knowing a piece of information  Authority – accepting the validity of a claim because an expert or someone in authority is the source of the information  Authorities can be wrong  use of reason – using logic to determine the truth of a statement  depends on the truth value of the premises  e.g. all students love psychology. Students do well in subjects they love. All students will do well in psychology.  Experience  Valuable but limited  Possibility of biased interpretations SCIENCE AS A WAY OF KNOWING  researchers are humans; they can be influenced by outside sources (authority, experience, reason, etc.)  research methods are used to promote objectivity/validity of findings  Assumes statistical determinism – events can be predicted with a probability greater than chance  clarity and precision  specification of exactly what they are taking about in a hypothesis  system of logic for drawing conclusions  relative intolerance of error (produces public knowledge)  scrutinized with a critical eye – wrong until proven right  theories can be disproven – research must be sufficiently detailed to be replicated by other research  theories evolve and are revised based on new data GOALS OF THE SCIENTIFIC ENTERPRISE  Measurement and description  Develop measurement techniques  Describe the behavior clearly and precisely  Understanding and prediction  Understanding comes from explanation  Create hypothesis  Application and control  Design scientific examination of hypothesis  test a theory  hypotheses are derived by breaking up theories into testable parts Important Terms  Hypothesis – a educated guess about the relationship between two or more variables that is then tested empirically  Variables – any measureable conditions, events, characteristics, or behaviors that are controlled or observed in a study  Theory – a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations STEPS IN A SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION  formulate a testable hypothesis  must be formulated precisely  variables must have an operational definition – description of the actions or operations that will be used to measure or control a variable  e.g Hypothesis: Teenage girls have lower self-esteem than younger girls. Testable Hypothesis: Girls aged 10 to 13 will obtain lower scores on the Rosenburg self-esteem scale than girls aged 14 to 18  select the research method and design the study  various methods – experiments, case studies, naturalistic observation, surveys, etc.  important to choose the method that is best suited to the question you want to answer  includes participants/subjects – the persons or animals whose behavior is systematically observed in a study  collect the data  variety of data collection techniques – direct observation, questionnaires, interviews psychological tests, physiological recording, examination of archival records  analyze the data and interpret the data  data converted into numbers/create statistics  questions answered:  what does this mean?  What other factors have we overlooked that could have explained these findings?  What are the limitations of our study?  Can these findings be generalized in the real world or other circumstances?  What are the implications for future research?  report the findings  publishing findings allows other experts to evaluate and critique new findings  dissemination of findings SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH METHODS Experimental Research  manipulation of the independent variable under controlled conditions and observes any changes in a second variable as a result of the manipulation  how does the independent variable impact the dependent variable?  Goal is to determine cause-and-effect relationships e.g. A researcher hypothesizes that watching TV for long periods of time can decrease optimism about one’s future Condition 1: no TV for 5 days Condition 2: watching 2 hrs. per day Condition 3: 4 hours per day  The TV groups (2 or 4 hrs.) were experimental groups  Participants subjected to the experimental manipulation  “No TV group” was the control group  theoretically display the same characteristics as the experimental group  not subjected to experimental manipulation  we assume the experimental vs. control groups are alike except for experimental manipulation  extraneous variable – any controlled factor that is not of interest to the researcher but could affect the results  e.g. the level of physical activity of participants  confounding variable – any extraneous variable that covaries with the independent variable and could provide an alternative explanation of the results  covariance – a measure of how much two variables change together.  e.g. depressive symptomology in the 3 group (4 hrs. of TV)  Random assignment – any participant can be assigned to any of the experimental conditions  “evens out” individual differences and potential extraneous variables  repeated-measures design (within-subjects design) – the same participants can be in both conditions (serve as their own control group) Descriptive/Correlational Research  No experimental ma
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