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PSYC 1000
Anne Bergen

Chapter 2 Scientific Principles in Psychology Gathering Evidence: steps in the scientific process • First step: scientists observe something noteworthy and ask a question about it • Second step: develop a Hypothesis – tentative explanation or prediction about some phenomenon o To form a hypothesis scientists gather clues and logically analyze them • Third step: test the hypothesis by gathering evidence • Fourth step: analyze the data • Fifth step : further research and theory building o Theory – a set of formal statements that explains how and why certain events are related to one another • Sixth step: new hypothesis derived from theory Two approaches to understanding behaviour Hindsight understanding • Hindsight (after the fact) reasoning. • Taking information from past experiences • Problem is that past events can be contradictory Understanding through prediction, control and theory building • If we predict then we can control • Theory development is t he strongest test of scientific understanding beause good theories generate an integrated network of predictions. A good theory has several important characteristics: o Incorporates existing facts and observations and organizes in meaningful ways o It is testable- can generate new hypotheses o Uses new research o It conforms to the law of parsimony: if two theories can explain and predict the same phenomena equally well, the simpler theory is the preferred one. • Prediction can be used as a way of understanding Defining and measuring variables • A variable – is any characteristic that can differ. Example gender, race, age, school grades, typing speed • an operational definition - defines a variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce of measure it. In essence, operations definitions translate an abstract term into something observable and measureable o to define a concept operationally we must be able to measure it. Measuring techniques • self report measures : ask people to report their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences or behaviours o gathered by interviews, questionnaires or psychological tests o accuracy depends on the willingness to respond honestly o interview answers can be influenced by the interviewers behaviour • Reports by others: ask friends, parents, teachers, roommates etc • Physiological measures: ways to finding out information by looking “inside” a person. Scientists measure physiological functioning • Behavioural observations: observe peoples visible behaviour in either real-life or laboratory setting. o But some people behave differently when they know they are being watched Methods of Research • Descriptive Methods – recording observations or surveys • Correlational methods – involve measuring the strength of an association between two or more events • Experimental Methods – involves manipulations to establish cause and effect relationships between two or more events Descriptive Research: recording events • Seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave, particularly in natural settings • Case studies: in depth analysis of an individual, group, or event. Can collect many new and in-depth ideas and information, may challenge the validity of existing theories etc, o Poor determinant of cause effect relations o Not always able to generalize findings, they usually can only be applied in specific settings. o Lack of objectivity • Naturalistic observations : researcher observes behaviour as is occurs in a natural setting • Survey Research: information about a topic is obtained by administering questionnaires or interviews to many people about their attitudes, opinions and behaviour. o Two key concepts of survey research are:  Population: consists of all the individuals about whom we are interested in drawing a conclusion  Sample: a subset of individual drawn from the larger population of interest since it is impossible to study everyone. Preferably a representative sample – on that reflects the important characteristics of the population with accuracy • Random sampling – every member of the population has an equal probability of being chosen to participate in the survey Correlation Research: Measuring Associations between Events • Associations between naturally occurring events or variable is known as correlation • Correlation research has three components: o The researcher measures one variable (X) such as monetary wealth o The researcher measures a second variable (Y) such as happiness o The researcher determines statistically whether X and Y are related • Correlation research involves measuring variables not manipulating them • Naturalistic observation and surveys are often used • Main problem with correlation research is that is does not demonstrate causation A Correlation Study • Landmark study of parenting styles, • Warmer parenting (X) was examined to determine if children were better adjusted (X) o Does X cause Y or does Y cause X? Bi-directional (two-way) causality problem  There may not be no causal relation between X and Y The Correlation Coefficient • Correlation Coefficient – is a statistic that indicates the direction and strength of the association between two variables. Either positively or negatively
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