Psychological Research

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
Psychology & Brain Sciences

Chapter #2: Psychological Research Module #4: The Scientific Method  Used to systematically acquire knowledge and understanding about behavior and other phenomena of interest  1) identifying questions 2) formulating an explanation 3) carrying out research 4) communicate findings  Theories are broad explanations and predictions concerning phenomena of interest  Diffusion of responsibility – the more bystanders present the less chance of any of them helping  Hypothesis is a prediction stemming from a theory  Where do hypotheses come from? – o Dissatisfaction with other’s theories o New question about research o Personal observation and curiosity  Operational definition is the translation of a hypothesis into specific and testable procedures Limits of common sense: 1. Overconfidence: people tend to be more confidant than correct – we think we know more than we really do know 2. Hindsight Bias: after you know the outcome of an event, you tend to believe that you would have predicted it Module #5: Conduction Psychological Research Descriptive  What is the nature of the phenomenon? Correlational  From knowing X, can we predict Y? Experimental  Is variable X a cause of variable Y? Descriptive When to use it?  What is the nature of the behavior? 1. Case Study  Examine one person in depth to understand human nature in general  Limits: atypicality/limited generalizability 2. Observational Research  Researcher observes people and systematically records measurements of their behavior  Two types: o Unobtrusive/Naturalistic – no interaction o Participant – interaction is necessary  Limits: lack of generalizability/some behaviors are difficult to observe 3. Survey Research  Using questionnaires to ask lots of people to report their behavior  Can sample a selection of population to reflect whole population trend  Limits: o Unrepresentative sample:
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