PSY 150A1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Empiricism, Phineas Gage, Schizophrenia

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Psych 150: Structure of Mind and Behavior - Lecture 8: Science, Theory and Methods of
Tuesday 10/7/14
What is Science?
Science is NOT defined by any particular subject matter, tool or apparatus
Science IS a way of asking questions and finding answers
Science IS a way of thinking about the world which is governed by certain
characteristics or principles
Characteristics of Science
Systematic Empiricism
Contrast with “casual observation”
Clever Hans example (1907, Berlin)
Public Knowledge
■ Replication
Unbiased, objective
Testable problems
AKA “falsifiable”
Set of Attitudes
■ Skepticism
■ Curiosity
● Theory
Definition: An explanation that organizes observations
The role of theory in research processes: guides it
Characteristics of a good theory
Testable (Falsifiable) & generates new predictions
Organizes known facts
Supported by the findings of new research
■ Parsimonious
The difference between a theory and a hypothesis
Theory is an explanation about why things happen the way they do (i.e.
Schizophrenia is genetically determined.)
Hypothesis is a prediction based on that explanation (i.e. There will be a
greater incidence of schizophrenia between identical twins than between
fraternal twins.)
Introduction to Scientific Method
The Bystander Effect (Darley & Latane, 1968)
People stand by and watch a traumatizing scene instead of helping.
Theory: When people know (or think) that others are present in a
situation, they allow their sense of responsibility for action to diffuse
among those present
Hypothesis: Increasing the number of bystanders will suppress helping in
a laboratory emergency
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