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PSYCH 1X03 Study Guide - Final Guide: Social Facilitation, Representativeness Heuristic, Fundamental Attribution ErrorPremium

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PSYCH1X03– Introduction to
Psychology, Neuroscience and
Final Exam Study Guide
McMaster University – Fall 2015

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PSYCH 1X03 - Lecture 1 - Research Methods
The Scientific Method:
1. Construct a theory: a general set of ideas about the way that the world works.
2. Generate a hypothesis: a specific, testable prediction about the relationship between
3. Choose research method: determine the way in which the hypothesis will be tested.
4. Collect data: take measurements and observations of the results of the test.
5. Analyze data: understand the data by noticing trends and relationships between
6. Report findings: publish articles in scholarly journals.
7. Revise theories: incorporate new information into our understanding of the world.
Conducting an Experiment:
An experiment is a scientific tool used to measure the effect of the independent variable
on the dependent variable.
Independent variable: the variable that is manipulated by the experimenter.
Dependent variable: the variable that is observed by the experimenter.
An experiment should have an experimental group and a control group.
Experimental group: the group that receives the manipulation of the independent
Control group: the group that does not receive anything.
The dependent variable is observed in both groups and the groups should only
differ in the independent variable.
Within Subjects Design and Between Subjects Design:
Within subjects design: an experimental design where instead of having separate
experimental and control groups, the same subject is tested repeatedly while the
independent variable is manipulated.
Minimizes the effect of subject differences on the dependent variable.
Practise effect: the subject may experience improved performance over the
course of the experiment due to becoming more experienced. Results, in this
case, could just be from practise and not from the manipulation of the
independent variable.
Between subjects design: an experimental design where there is a separate
experimental group and control group.
Experiments of this design are subject to confounding variables (variables other
than the independent variable that have an effect on the results).
Individuals in both groups must be as similar as possible.
Selecting Subjects:

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Population: the general group that the experimenter wants to learn about.
Sample: selected members of the population that the experimenter uses to collect data.
The sample must accurately reflect the general population so that experimental results
can be generalized.
To reduce bias, a sample is chosen at random from the entire population and the
participants are randomly assigned to either the experimental or control group.
Subject Bias and Experimenter Bias:
Subject bias: when subjects intentionally or unintentionally influence the results of the
Placebo effect: an example of unintentional subject bias that occurs when an
individual exhibits a response to a treatment that has no related therapeutic
Blinding: a method used to reduce subject bias where the subjects do not know
whether they are part of the experimental group or the control group.
Experimenter bias: actions made by the experimenter intentionally or unintentionally to
promote the result they hope to achieve.
Double-blind studies: when both the experimenter and the subjects do not know which
group each participant belongs to.
Descriptive Statistics:
Descriptive statistics present an overall idea of the results of the experiment.
Histogram: a type of graph used to report the number of times groups of values appear
in a data set.
Frequency distribution: a type of graph used to illustrate the distribution of how
frequently values appear in a data set. The peak of the curve on this type of graph
represents the most common result.
Normal distribution: a distribution with a smooth, symmetrical, bell-shaped curve
containing a single peak.
Measures of central tendency: measures that identify a central value in a data set.
Mean: the average value of a data set. Can be found by dividing the sum of all
the numbers in a data set by the number of numbers.
Median: the centre value in a data set when the set is arranged numerically.
Mode: the value that appears most frequently in a data set. This is the only
measure of central tendency that can be used for non-numerical data sets.
Standard deviation: a measure of the average distance of each point from the mean.
Inferential Statistics:
Inferential statistics allow the experimenter to use results from the sample groups to
make inferences about the overall population.
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