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Scientific Methods in Psych.docx

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PSY 101
Professor Berg

Scientific Methods in Psych Tuesday, February 4, 2014 3:24 PM The process of research • Step 1: Initial observation or question o Novel (new) idea o Original perspective o May stem from direct observation or from interest in phenomena with questions that remain open o A theory is organized set of concepts that explains a phenomenon • Helps to frame questions being asked • Often comprise claims about casual forces o Idea that all events- physical, behavioral, and mental- are determined by specific casual factors that are potentially knowable is called determinism • Most theories assume some determinism • We seek to answer questions, because we believe there may be a knowable answer • Step 2: Form a hypothesis o A hypothesis is a tentative and testable statement about the relationship between factors and outcomes (Ex. If students do not attend class, then they will perform worse than students who do attend class) o Research- providing empirical evidence- is necessary to verify the link between factors and outcomes proposed in the hypothesis • Step 3: Design the study o To test hypothesis, execute scientific method o Once data has been collected… • Step 4: Analyze the data and draw conclusions o Systematic practice for determining whether collected data will have an impact on the field o Very little room for creativity; study design determines the analyses necessary for sound interpretation of data • Step 5: Report the findings o If conclusions are worth sharing, then submission for peer review is warranted o Peer review process ensures verifiability • Step 6: Consider open questions o What are the implications of this research? o What are the limitations of this research? o What future research is necessary to answer remaining questions? o If the data does not support the hypothesis, then how must we rethink our theory? o If the data does not support the hypothesis, then how must we rethink our theory? • Step 7: Act on open questions o Like the 1st step, but this undertaking reflects what the scientific community has learned from recent conclusions o The process begins again with a new cycle… • Goal: o Draw conclusions with maximum objectivity Observer Biases • When experimenter motives and expectations distort evidence it is called observer bias o Expectations can lead observers to have different conclusions about an identical event (Ex. "In the eye of the beholder.") o Varying expectations can act to filter or constrain how events are interpreted • Observer bias is a challenge of objectivity o Can researchers ask nonbiased questions? o Can researchers objectively draw conclusions from their data analysis? • Minimizing bias o Researchers must take steps to limit the influence of bias on interpretations of what they observe o What steps can help limit observer bias? Operational Definitions • Standardization is the process by which researchers generate consistency by using uniform procedures o Helps to ensure that all participants experience comparable conditions o Uniformity should characterize participant treatment in a test, interview, or experiment, as well as scoring responses and data recording • Theories must be composed of concepts that have consistent meaning throughout • Observations- since they are subject to bias- must also be standardized o Strategy for standardizing the meaning of a concept is called operationalization o Within an experiment, a concept must be defined (the operational definition) in terms of specific operations or procedures that are used to measure it • In an experimental setting, a variable is any factor that varies in amount or kind o All variables in an experiment must be given operational definitions to minimize bias, reduce ambiguity, and increase objectivity o Experimental researchers are interested in establishing whether or not a cause- and-effect relationship exists between variables •Two types of variables that experimental researchers use to demonstrate a cause-and- effect relationship o Independent Variable (IV) • Manipulated factor • If researcher's claims about cause-and-effect are correct, then the IV functions as the "cause" part of the relationship • This is the thing that you purposely vary across conditions in order to investigate o Dependent Variable (DV) • Measured factor • If researcher's claim about cause and effect •If researcher's claim about cause-and-effect are correct, then the value of the DV will depend on the values of the IV o General experimental designs: Experimental Methods: Alternative Explanations •Researchers employ experimental methods in order to overcome casual ambiguity o Manipulate an IV to investigate an effect on a DV; one manipulation at a time o Must take steps to counter the possibility of having alternate explanations •A confounding variable is a stimulus that affects a participant's behavior, but is something other than what the experimenter purposefully manipulated as a part of the experiment o Makes it difficult for researcher to specify which factor uniquely produces the observed behavior o Increase the number of alternate explanations, decrease confidence in conclusions about hypothesis •Consider a smoking cessation study: o Would it generate an alternative explanation for our DV Posttest observations if one of our subjects decided to begin using a nicotine patch after the DV Pretest? • Non-intentional results may occur when an experimenter expects some behavior and subtly communicates it to the participant, thereby facilitating that behavior; these are called expectancy effects o Experimenter's expectations (acting as another manipulation) catalyze or encourage the observed behavior o …objectivity is lost •A placebo effect is a behavioral response- in the absence of experimental manipulation- that is influenced by what the participant expects to be the outcome o Can compromise results and make data difficult to interpret Experimental Methods: Control Procedures •Must anticipate possible confounds and strategize to eliminate their influence •Researchers use methods called control procedures in their attempt to hold constant all variables and conditions other than those which are intentionally varied (e.g. instructions, room temp, attire of researcher) •Only differences in experience of participant should be a function of the IV •Double-blind control is a technique specifically designed to remedy expectancy effects o Biased expectations of experimenters are eliminated by keeping all parties "blind" to the conditions •Placebo control is a technique specifically designed to remedy placebo effects o
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