APSY 2216 Lecture 4: Jan 27_Research Methods and Analyses_Thomson

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Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology
APSY 2216

RESEARCH QUESTIONS, HYPOTHESES, AND VARIABLES ● Hypothesis - a tentative guess, a prediction (in social research, a prediction about behavior) ○ Rather than asking a question (why, what, how), we formulate a tentative guess suggesting a possible outcome of our research ○ Should be based on literature or theory ○ Stated in the form of a declarative statement ○ Directional hypothesis - research specifies a particular direction for the outcome ■ Ex: As math scores increase, science scores will increase as well. ○ Non-directional hypothesis - the researcher makes no prediction in advance about the direction of the hypothesized relationship ■ Ex: There is a relationship between reading scores and math scores. ○ Hypothesis should be testable - you should be able to collect data to support or refute it ○ Hypothesis should be precise - clearly define the terms ○ Hypothesis should be rational - logically fitting what is already known about behavior ○ Hypothesis should be parsimonious - look for simplest possible explanation ● Construct - an idea or a concept ● Variables - a measureable attribute that can assume different values ○ Most research questions and hypotheses in social sciences concern behavioral characteristics that vary across individuals or across contexts (ex: academic performance, empathy, IQ) ○ Physical variables, psychological variables, demographic variables, socioeconomic variables ○ Variables need to be operationally defined in terms of the procedure that is used to measure it ■ Ex: How can we operationally define “science performance?” ● National or state standardized tests ● Classroom-based test (final exam, average across tests, etc.) ● Lab-based exercise ● Science-fair project ○ Contrast variables with constants - a factor that does not change within the framework of a particular study ■ Ex: testing academic achievement of three year olds in Head Start based on different curricula in classrooms → constants are that all children are three and attend Head Start ○ Continuous variables - can be measured in amounts ■ Vary along a continuum from less to more ■ Numbers indicated how much of the variables a given individual possesses ■ Examples: height, force, weight, etc. ■ Most psychological variables are continuous (language ability, aggression, etc.) ■ Continuous is more specific, pr
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