CHAPTER 1: Thinking Critically With Psychological Science
The NEED for Pyschological Science:
- Psychological books encourage us toward “intuition”
- Hindsight bias and judgmental overconfidence are two reasons why we cannot
rely solely on intuition and common sense.
Did we Know it All Along? Hindsight Bias
- Hindsight bias = finding that something has happened makes it seem inevitable.
o “I knew it all along” phenonmenon
- Good ideas are like good inventions – once created, they seem obvious.
- We humans tend to be overconfident
- Ochsa ▯ CHAOS
- Ohio state University, Philip Tetlock – has collected more than 27000 expert
predictions of world events, such as the future of South Africa or whether
Quebec would separate from Canada.
THE SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE
- What are the three main components?
- 1. CURIOSITY (a passion to explore and understand without misleading or being
o Moses ▯ put it to the test. (can some people demonstrate ESP?)
o Empirical approach
2. SKEPTICISM - James Randi, magician, skeptical of psychics
3. HUMILITY (an awareness of our own vulnerability to error and an openness to
surprises and new perspectives)
h t u r t a d -
- Rodney Stark – sociologist, said that the scientific revolution was led by
deeply religious people acting on the idea that in order to love and honor God –
it is necessary to fully appreciate the wonders of his handiwork.
- critical thinking – examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates
evidence, and assesses conclusions.
HOW DO PSYCHOLOGISTS ASK AND ANSWERS QUESTIONS?
➔ The scientific method
o Puts everything to the test.
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
- THEORY = explains through an integrated set of principles that organizes
observations and predicts behaviors or events.
- Hypotheses = testable predictions
o A good theory will always have these
- The urge to see what we expect is a pressing temptation
- Us Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, preconceived expectations that
Iraq had weapson of mass destruction led intelligence analysts to wrongly
interpret ambiguous observations as confirming that theory. - Operational definitions = a statenment of the procedures used to define
research variables. For example, human intelligence may be operationally
defined as what an intelligence test measures.
- Replication = repeating the essence of a research study, usually with different
participants in different situations, to see whether the basic findings extends to
other participants and circumstances.
- Theory will be useful if it
- 1. Effectively organizes a range of self reports and observations
- 2. Implies clear predictions that anyone can use to check the theory or to
deprive practical applications.
- We can test our hypotheses and refine our theories by using descriptive
methods (which describe behaviors, often use case studies, surveys, or
- Correlational methods – which associate different factors
- Experimental methods – which manipulate factors to discover their effects.
DESCRIPTION: - The case study
o Examines one individual in depth in hopes of revealing things true of us
o Ex. Jean Piaget
o Intensive case studies can provide a lot of information, but individual
cases may mislead us if the individual study is being atypical.
- The Survey
o Looks at many cases in less depth.
o Asks people to report their behavior or opinions
- even a subtle change in wording has an intense effect
- “government censorship” vs “limiting what is on tv”
- The best basis for generalizing is from a representative sample of cases.
- Population ▯ the whole group you want to study and describe
- Random sample ▯ in which every person in the entire group has an equal
chance of participation
- Range from watching chimpanzee societies in the jungle, to unobtrusively
videotaping )and later systematically analyzing) parent-child interactions in
different cultures, to recording racial differences in students’ self-seating
patterns in the lunchroom at school.
- Does not explain behavior - Describes behavior