Chapter 1:Uncommon Sense – Scientific Method and HumanReasoning
Doing Better But Feeling Worse
Psychology – broadly defined as the scientific study of people, the mind and behaviour Focus on
questions about feelings of well-being
Schwartz: Maximization scale: graduates with better jobs = grumpy maximizers, worse = happy satisfiers
The Scientific Method
Scientific Method – formal way of knowing that is exclusively reliant upon objective, empirical
investigation Rules, procedures, and techniques form a unified conceptual framework
Empiricism – school of philosophy in which knowledge is gained through experience, observation, and
Empirical – information gained objectively from observation or experimentation
Data – empirical evidence against which it is tested: measured and evaluated statistically
Empirical Data different from Anecdotal Evidence – impressions/opinions of one person not
Scientific Method minimizes Bias – unfair practices that wrongly discriminate against others
What is a Scientific Question?
Is – can be answered by facts or empirical data; independent of social, cultural, political, and
religious preference (Scientific Research)
Ought – call upon cultural values and ethical considerations; cannot be answered solely on the
basis of scientific evidence (NOT Scientific Research BUT it can be used to support Ought)
Theory – coherent set of propositions that are used as principles to describe, understand, and explain
psychological or behavioural phenomena.
Use scientific method to asses a theory
Influences all aspects of a study
From Theory to Testable Hypothesis
Testable Hypothesis – framed as a statement, often in the form of a prediction that is made prior to the
actual collection of data
= Priori – exists before experimentation or observation LESS prone to error or bias
Post Hoc – hypotheses formed after data are collected and analyzed MORE error and bias
Evaluating Evidence and Theory
Variable – characteristic that can take on different values or can vary across participants
Eg. Age, gender, education, attitude
Schwartz variables: maximizer/satisfier, satisfaction and salary
Variables have a range of values that are measured objectively only then can it be
Systematic Observation and Data Collection
Charles Darwin: his findings of natural selection and evolution were based on observation
Population – an entire collection of people, animals, plants of things all of which can be referred to as
units from which we may collect information
Sample – a group of units selected from the population
Sample size notation = n
Maximizes Generalizability – the extent to which findings that are derived from a sample can
be applied to a wider population
o Careful when applying sample to different setting or population Minimize Sample Bias – some members of population are less likely than others to be
included in the study
Evaluating Evidence and Theory
Statistics are computed on the sample, which provides estimates of the population.
All statistics are based on Probability – the likelihood that a given event will occur – and it is also used
Schwartz: quantitative measures for the three variables, between which the chance relationship is
evaluated and conclusions are made based on these assumptions
Reliability and Validity
Two important standards:
o Reliability – consistency in Replication – repeated with the same results
o Validity – extent to which study provides true measure of what’s meant to investigate
Third variable problem?
Confounds or Confounding Variables – unwanted sources of influence that can be
viewed as viable alternative explanations for the result of a study
Control variable – rule out confounds by measuring an unwanted source of
influence that could invalidate the conclusions of a study rule out the effect
o Schwartz: Personality test to rule out perfectionism of maximizers.
The Scientific Method: Observation & Thinking Formulate a Question Develop a Hypothesis
Conduct a Study Accept/Reject Hypothesis Interpret Hypothesis with Caution
Methods and Tools of Psychological Research
Experiment – a controlled investigation in which one or more variables are manipulated
Independent Variable – researchers systematically manipulate, change or select
Dependent Variable – observed effect, result or outcome that is measured in response to a systematic
change in the independent variable
True experiment is restricted to those independent variables, such as a placebo and an experimental
drug, that CAN BE RANDOMLY ASSIGNED.
Random Assignment – ensures that research participants are similar prior to the
manipulation of the independent variable differences in dependent variable is due to the
manipulation NOT confounds
Quasiexperiment – quasi – as if; examine effects of an independent variable that cannot be directly
manipulated or randomly assigned on dependent variable
Eg. Gender, race, age, SES, locale, diagnosis, personality traits
Selects participants who have a particular characteristic or those who have been exposed to specific
events (Eg. War, trauma) or those who might live in certain settings or situations (Eg. neighbourhood,
Control as many variables as possible for no confounds or if not possible they have special statistical
techniques to remove the effects of confounds.
Correlation – a statistic that is computed by a specific formula; this provides an index of how closely
related two variables are.
Statistic aka Correlation Coefficient r can range from .00 to + 1.00 and .00 to -1.00
o .00 or close to .00 = NO relationship
o +1.00 or -1.00 or close to either = Strong relationship
+ = Positive linear relationship
- = Negative linear relationship Descriptive Research – focus on distribution of variables, quantitative association of variables
Advantage: Correlational research allows quantitative comparison for variables that cannot be
Disadvantage: Correlation can only look at relations among variables at one point in time.
Cannot determine Causality – whether one causes the other or vise versa
Naturalistic Observation – type of descriptive research used to collect behavioural data in natural
environments as opposed to laboratory or other controlled settings
Eg. Animal and child-parent behaviour
NOT subjective; it is a systematic study of well-defined, measureable observations that can be
repeated by others.
Disadvantage: Lack of control of variables that could influence behaviour in natural environment
Survey – set of questions asking respondents about their activities, opinions, attitudes or preferences
Advantage: Inexpensive way to collect a lot of data quickly and form and test a hypothesis
Disadvantage: Limited by what people are capable of reporting accurately
Performance Based Measures
Performance Based Measures – Studies of data collected from standardized tests Eg. Intelligence tests
Runs on a Psychometric approach – test performance is scored and compared to a statistical
average derived from a normative or standardization sample taken from a wider population
o Eg. Intelligence, personality traits and aptitude
Wechler IQ test – IQ determined by test score compared to same age group
Advantage: Extensive reliability and validity studies that are performed in development of an instrument
Disadvantage: Psychometric measures often culturally biased; construction and selection of test items
Small-N and Single-Subject Designs
Single-Subject Designs (Small-N Design) – used to test the effectiveness of a particular intervention on
one person or a small set of very similar cases and to monitor client progress
Advantage: Researchers can improve their ability to monitor effectiveness
Disadvantage: Uncertainty whether findings from one case is applicable to others
Qualitative Research – used to study/understand phenomena in terms of meanings people attach to
Eg. Participant observation, intensive interview, focus group
Especially suited for exploring research questions
Advantage: preserving complexities and diversities of human behaviour
Culture and Psychological Science
Culture – rich and intricate melding of shared meanings, communal practices and rituals and collective
discourses and beliefs about human life that prevails in a given group or society
Memes – cultural “gene”; units through which group ways of life spread from one mind to another
Culture is generated by information-processing mechanisms situated in human minds and
sculpted by evolution.
Culture generates psychological differences among people, which enrich human life.
Studying culture: Problem of Generalizability - when a researcher uses a culturally homogeneous
sample, results cannot be generalized to a wider population of people
Cultural Psychology – studies how culture shapes our thinking and how our thinking shapes culture Cross-Cultural Psychology – field where they investigate the universality of psychological processes
across different cultures rather then how local cultural practices might shape psychological processes.
Science Versus Pseudoscience
Scientific method = Epistemology – way of knowing that is exclusively reliant upon objective, empirical
Techniques of epistemology must be Transparent – requires procedures, methods and data
analyses of any study to be presented clearly for the purposes of replication Reliability
o Transparency allows for Peer Review – the process by which other independent
reviewers evaluate the scientific merit of the work determines whether it will be
accepted for publication
Pseudoscience – beliefs that are dubious but fascinating claims that are touted as “scientifically proven”
and bolstered by public testimonials of believers who have experienced firsthand or who have claimed to
have witnessed the phenomenon; however, such evidence is NOT based on the principles of the scientific
Eg. Horoscopes, alien-abduction, extrasensory-perception, out-of-body experiences
Phrenology – defunct field of study in which bumps and fissures of skull determined character and
personality of a person; psychological attributes could be assessed
Lilienfeld: 10 (9?) commandments of distinguishing science from pseudoscience:
1. Tendency to invoke ad hoc hypotheses, which can be thought of as loopholes, as means of
immunizing claim from falsification
2. Absence of self-correction and accompanying intellectual stagnation
3. Emphasis on confirmation rather than refutation
4. Tendency to place burden of proof on skeptics, not proponents, of claims
5. Excessive reliance on anecdotal and testimonial evidence to substantiate claims
6. Evasion of scrutiny afforded by peer review
7. Absence of “connectivity” – failure to build on existing scientific knowledge
8. Use of impressive-sounding jargon whose primary propose is to lend claims as facade of
9. Absence of boundary conditions – failure to specify settings under which claims do not hold
Kahneman: study found that humans make consistent, systematic, deeply engrained and often insidious
mistakes of reasoning that reflect our poor grasp of logic and probability theory. There was strong
disbelief in the correct answers.
Cognitive Illusions – occur when our thinking deceives us because of curious blind spots or mental
tunnels in our minds
Heuristic Biases – the human mind is “probability blind” meaning that we are naturally endowed to
favour subjective impressions and personal anecdotes over cold, hard statistics.
Biases for the subjective over the objective are mental shortcuts that distort logical reasoning
Complex or incomplete information causes reliance on simplifying heuristics or rules of thumb
“False positives are usually harmless whereas false negatives may take you out of the gene
Confirmatory Bias – natural tendency of human mind to actively seek out and assign more weight to any
kind of evidence that favours existing beliefs, expectations, or a hypothesis Nickerson: Contaminates scientific research: attention to favoured hypothesis, preferential
treatment of that which supports existing beliefs “cherry picking”, overweighting positive
confirmatory instances all leads to Overgeneralization or Selective observation
Popper: Doctrine of falsification – scientists should aim to falsify their theories rather than confirm
them there could be many explanations for the evidence found
Black Swan Theory: you only need one black swan to disprove all swans are white if theories
stand the test of disproof, they earn scientific acceptance.
Falsification = Self-Correcting – information accumulates with new advances and discoveries
Pseudoscience is neither self-correcting nor cumulative but it is stagnant and shows little or no
progress in accumulation of knowledge.
Bloom and Weisberg: people resist certain scientific findings because many seem unnatural and
unintuitive. Dualism: mind is nonphysical substance that’s fundamentally different from physical
Children naturally believe that certain aspects of psychology such as morality, love and play
are part of the interior life of the soul. Solidified by culture.
Religion = dualism and not against science. Chapter 2: The Foundations of Psychological Research
Experimental – researcher able to exercise control over variables that are assumed to be the causal
agents producing predicted effect
Nonexperimental – actions and events carefully measured and catalogued, but independent variable
cannot be directly manipulated
Eg. naturalistic observation, quasiexperiment, correlational, survey, & single-subject or small-
The Goals of Science
Paul Ekman: Conducted Nonexperimental study showing people from developed and underdeveloped
countries photographs of facial expressions; everyone interpreted it the same. Thus, facial expressions of
emotions are not socially or culturally learned, rather they are universal products of evolution.
Goal of research is to provide scientific understanding which includes: description and explanation
Conceptual Definition – provides the meaning, often rather broad in scope, of an abstract term, such as
intelligence, anxiety or emotion.
Eg. Emotion – a rapid and coordinated response system that evolved to enable humans to react
quickly and effectively to events that affect their welfare “communication”
Operational Definition – Indicates how concept is coded, measured, or quantified
Eg. Gender: female = 1, male = 2
It’s among several possible objective and measurable indicators of a concept
FACS Facial Action Coding System – provides the operational definition of various facial expressions of
emotions. It defines specific combinations of facial muscle movements that are universally and discretely
generated when certain emotions are elicited. predictive relationship for replication and more studies
Ekman found 7 discrete emotional expressions that humans in different cultures recognize: happiness,
sadness, fear, anger, surprise, disgust, contempt
Explanation – prediction as well as establishing cause and effect
Cook & Campbell: Causality needs 3 kinds of evidence:
1. Temporal Precedence – establishes that the cause precedes effect
i. Eg. smoking first then lung cancer
2. Covariation of the Cause and Effect – when cause is present, effect occurs; when cause
absent, effect doesn’t
i. Eg. People who smoke must be the ones getting lung cancer
3. Alternative explanation – must show there is nothing other than a causal variable
responsible for effect
i. Eg. If social class affected the contraction of lung cancer
Impossible to have this kind of evidence or to control all Confounding/Third Variables.
Basic research – addresses questions about nature of abstract or concrete mechanisms and processes
psychological process and ideas, such as emotion, intelligence, reasoning and social behaviour.
Applied research – addresses questions that are thought to be immediate relevance in solving practical
problems, such as what TV ads cause drug use, what is the most effective math teaching method.
Program Evaluation – studies the effects on behaviour of large scale policy changes and as
well social reforms and innovations occurring in government, schools, courts, prisons,
businesses, health care, housing, etc.
Basic and applied research is on a continuum, & research is sometimes the combined efforts of both.
Sources of Research Ideas Starting With Observation
Observation was the driving force of many findings including Darwin’s natural selection and his finding
that all mammals regularly display emotion in their face.
Strack: showed how two simple positions of holding a pen either gently between the teeth or tightly
between the lips induced facial expressions of smiling and frowning.
Serendipity Effect – observation prepared with an open mind increases the chances of accidentally
discovering something fortunate.
Eg. Isaac Newton’s universal law of gravity discovered by the apple falling on his head.
Starting With Theory
Autonomic System – regulated bodily reactions to stress: such as perspiration, rapid heartbeat,
muscular tension and dryness of mouth
James-Lange Theory – addresses the chicken-and-egg question by stating that physiological changes
come first, followed by experience of emotional feelings.
Cannon-Bard Theory – emotions come first, followed by bodily changes
Embodiment Theory of Emotion: when we perceive and think about emotions, we experience or re-
experience in ourselves those subtle physical and mental changes of the relevant emotions. This re-
experiencing involves perceptual, somatic, and motoric re-experiencing of relevant emotion; dynamic
interplay of specific bodily states and their associated emotions.
A. when people adopt emotion-specific postures they report experiencing associated emotions
B. when people make facial expressions or gestures, their perceptions and impressions are
C. inhibiting people’s motor movements can interfere with experience of emotion
Journals – constitute scientific literature of various empirical peer-reviewed studies
Primary Sources – the first-hand empirical report published in a peer-reviewed journal
Peer-reviewed publications have 2 categories:
o Empirical Articles – report particular study and is written in certain format divided
into sections with abstract, intro, method, result, and discussion
o Review Articles – examines several studies of particular phenomenon; evaluates
methodology used across different studies, examines degree to which findings are
robust across various conditions, settings, and procedures, and comments on extent to
which empirical findings allow for general theoretical conclusions.
Secondary Sources – second-hand media accounts of scientific work
Popular Science – written by eminent scientists who aim to explain science for general
Science Journalism – focus on recent developments in science that are judged newsworthy
Popular Science and Science Journalism can often “oversell” and abandon the scientific
approach BUT they can be used as inspiration for further scientific investigation.
Abel & Kruger: smile intensity in photographs predicted longevity (they focused on baseball players but
controlled for other factors) Correct prediction
Searching the Literature
Internet provides a wide basis for research Online Serendipity
Google Scholar (FREE), PsycINFO & PsycLIT – specialized, noncommercial search engines sponsored by
the American Psychological Association to serve as databases for citations and abstracts of the world’s
literature in psychology and related fields, Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) – articles from
psychology and related fields, such as sociology and criminology.
These websites are not free and are Proprietary – open only to subscribers. Let the Searcher Beware!
Kirk “Never use information that cannot be verified by other independent sources”
Many argue that the Internet limits scientific validity and reliability and instead focuses on popularity
Deductive Research – starting with a psychological theory and testing some of its implications with
data; used by experimental studies
Inductive Research – develop a connection between psychological theory by first systematically
collecting observations, measurements or data and then developing a theory that explains the patterns in
the data; used by nonexperimental studies
Two of the most important elements of all scientific research strategies are DATA & THEORY.
Data – empirical observations that allow for evaluating a theory
Theory – a set of propositions that explains a variety of occurrences while performing 3 major
functions: organization, explanation and prediction.
Good example: Naturalistic Observation in both types of research.
Qualitative Research – emphasis is on the understanding context W5H. It yields data regarding
meanings, concepts, definition, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and descriptions of events or actions.
Eg. Ethnography – study of people that must be detailed allowing for consistent or reliable
cataloging of data and the orderly classification and analysis of that information.
Quantitative Research – also in naturalistic observation
Wilson & Kniffin: conducted a study showing photographs to people and rated on physical
attractiveness. Evolutionary interpretation was that attractiveness is largely determined by
non-physical features such as trustworthiness and respect, as knowing these qualities of a
person is vital for adaptation, fitness and reproduction.
o Eg. Abraham Lincoln was thought to be “ugly” but after his history, character,
accomplishments, he is most admired and beautiful.
Hypothesis – a specific testable statement that can be evaluated by empirical observations or data –
created from a theory.
Generalization – a broad statement that cannot be directly tested but rather needs to be translated into
one or more hypotheses.
Only Hypotheses are testable because it proposes a specific relationship between two or more variables
that must be measureable.
Deductive research, researchers develop ways to test hypotheses and accumulate data.
Direction of Association – when hypothesize one variable increases as another increase or decreases as
another decreases, direction of association is POSITIVE. BUT when it’s opposite, the direction of
association is NEGATIVE OR INVERSE. BUT when the independent variable is categorical affecting the
values of the dependent variable, direction of association DOES NOT APPLY.
Correlational Coefficient (r) – the strength of a relationship between two variables in a
statistical measure. -1.00 <0.00<1.00 0 = no relationship 1/-1 = strong relationship with a
positive/negative linear relationship.
The Research Circle
Research Circle – the process of conducting research designed to test explanations for psychological
phenomena involves a dynamic interplay of moving from theory to data and then back to theory.
Deductive: THEORY HYPOTHESES DATA Inductive: DATA EMPIRICAL GENERALIZATION – a statement that describes patterns found in the
data from with a theory is formulated THEORY
Substance of Psychological Research
Facial Expression and Emotion
Strack: devised their experiment as a test of the Facial Feedback Hypothesis – originates from James-
Lange Theory of Emotion & embodiment theory of emotion. The idea is that facial movements by
themselves can re-enact particular emotional feelings and that these emotional feelings can be created by
simple “tricking” a person into making specific facial contractions. Hypothesized that participants that
were led to smile with the pencil between their teeth thought the cartoons were funnier than those led to
frown with the pencil between their lips.
Creating Independent and Dependent Variables
Independent Variable – what’s manipulated
Levels – conditions of Independent Variable there must be 2 or more because you want
to compare levels of an independent variable to the dependent variable
o Eg. 2 levels were the way they were holding a pencil
o Eg. The third level is the control group, where the pencil was held by their nondominant
hand, meaning no facial muscle contractions were induced.
o Control Group – group that doesn’t receive treatment or manipulation
o Random Assignment – ensured each participant had an equal chance of being selected
to the 3 conditions.
Dependent Variable – observed effect, result or outcome that is measured in response to a change in the
Eg. Humour ratings in response to the facial muscle contractions induced
Control Variable – a potential source of influence on the dependent variable that a researcher must hold
constant or statistically removed from diff groups
Aim to rule out any confounds present
Eg. Strack kept the cover story, testing setting and testing stimuli (cartoons) constant
Sometimes confounds may influence both the independent and dependent variable
o Eg. Strack saw that cognitive interpretations could affect it, but hoped the cover story
would control this variable.
o Eg. degree of difficultly holding the pen, was rated, so that it doesn’t affect the outcome
Evaluating with Statistics
If data obtained is highly unlikely to be due to chance the hypothesis is accepted because there is a
relationship between the two variables
Probability (p)-Values – statistical probabilities set at levels of significance
Acceptable p-values are .05 or less unlikely due to chance
Statistical Significance – result that is unlikely to have occurred by chance alone
Eg. Mean funniness ratings on a scale of 0-9 were: Smile = 5.14, Non-dominant hand = 4.77, Frown = 4.32
& the findings were statistically significant.
+ level of difficultly was not a confound because those who were led to smile also found it
difficult to do so.
How to Read Scientific Literature
Skepticism – an important characteristic of scientific thinking for the critical analysis of theories and
Reliability and Validity is important
All claims must stand the test of Falsification – scientific understanding advances only when new
empirical evidence refutes of falsifies prior knowledge, rendering it obsolete or wrong.
Robust - extent to which findings of study are reproducible or replicable given different conditions, settings and samples
What Does It All Mean?
1. Consider The Source – where an empirical report is published because a credible source requires peer
2. Look to see if goals are clearly defined and articulated. Then consider whether methods and design are
sufficient enough to achieve its goals.
3. Whether you would classify a study as experimental or nonexperimental
To test a casual relationship, it requires an experiment
4. Correlation does not imply causation
5. Good research has a clear connection to previous studies; it’s connected either by building on it or
6. It must be empirical NOT anecdotal evidence.
7. Look at who funded research
Federal and private agencies often have critically evaluated research, any company bias means
that the research isn’t sound.
Abstract – summarizes major points of the study
It should contain the problem, procedures, results, conclusions, implications of the study
Introduction – Identifies problem to be investigated and why it’s important
Hypothesis derives from theory and is presented as an priori prediction and must be testable
Method – details of operations and procedures that the researcher used in the study
It must have enough detail for another to replicate it, and must be able to understand what the
participant was instructed to do in the study.
How were participants recruited and how were the samples formed?
Look for sample bias and see how representative is the sample, since it affects generalizability
Must clearly define independent and dependent variables
Must clearly explain the experimental task
Demand Characteristics – cues available that tip off participants to hypothesis and influence
how participants respond to study stimuli – must be limited
Informed Consent is very important
Results – major statistical findings of a study
Descriptive Stats – summarizes data, usually in form of averages and standard deviation
Inferential Stats – In form of tests of significance tell probability of whether observed
differences found in study were produced by random factors or chance
o Effect Size – strength of predicted relation between IV and DV
Discussion – major findings of study restated typically only in a narrative form and the theoretical
meaning of results is discussed
Do the findings support the theory? Are they cautious in the scientific method? Are confounds
Are the limitations of the study discussed?
o Ecological Validity – extent to which study approximates actual real-life phenomenon
o External Validity – generalizability Literature Review
A sound literature review created and evaluates a body of knowledge that is drawn from a
synthesis of empirical findings across independent studies.
Critical reading is important:
1. How were empirical studies selected for review?
i. Some reviewers may have a bias, even unknowingly, and two may come up with different
2. Most traditional reviews lack objective benchmark to evaluate strength of different empirical
findings gleaned across various studies.
i. How does one weigh importance of one empirical finding over the other?
3. Reviews are limited by Publication Bias – reviews are based on studies that have been
i. Reviews are based on empirical evidence in peer-reviews but those that aren’t replicated
or have negative findings are ignored.
1. Problem with drug trials drug that have no effect are ignored.
ii. Meta Analysis - statistical tool that provide objective metric to weigh strength of results
from individual studies; it provides an effect size for comparison and average calculations
help with generalizability. Chapter 3: Ethics in Behavioural Research
Milgram: Obedience Experiment also surveyed Yale undergrads whose mean maximum shock level
was 9.35. Actual average of shock administered by participants was 24.53.
Basis for research ethics
Code of Conduct, American Psychological Association – 83 standards adopted in 2002 to guide
psychologists clinical and research practices.
Nuremberg War Crime Trials – 1946 exposed horrific medical experiment conducted by Nazi doctors
and others in the name of “science”
Tuskegee Syphilis Study – 1970s Americans learnt they funded researchers who collected data from
399 African-American men to learn about the natural cause of the illness; participants were not informed
of their illness and were denied treatment until 1972 even though a cure, Penicillin was developed in
Belmont Report – created by National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical
and Behavioural Research; it has 3 ethical principals for the protection of human subjects:
1. Respects For Persons – treating persons as autonomous agents and protecting those with
2. Beneficence – minimizing harm, maximizing benefit
3. Justice – distributing benefits and risks of research fairly
Federal Policy for Protection of Human Subjects – specific regulations based on the Belmont Report
principles that were adopted in 1991 by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and
Institutional Review Board (IRB) – federal regulations require that every institution that seeks federal
funding for biomedical research on human subjects have this board to review research proposals
Office For Protection from Research Risks – monitors IRBs with the exception of drug research
APA’s Ethics Code
151 ethical standards
15 directly related to research and publication
APA Ethics Committee investigated violations
5 General Principles; consistent with Belmont Report’s 3 principles
A. Beneficence and Nonmaleficence – has to be positive outcome for doing research
(knowledge gained) and no or minimal harm done to participants
B. Fidelity and Responsibility – establish relations of trust with those whom they work,
aware of responsibilities for their behaviour and manage conflicts that could lead to
exploitation or harm.
C. Integrity – promote accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in science, teaching, and practice
of psychology; do not steal, cheat, or engage in fraud, subterfuge or intentional
misrepresentation of fact.
D. Justice – fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the
contributions of psychology and to equal quality; exercise reasonable judgment and take
precautions to ensure that their potential biases, boundaries of competence, and
limitations of expertise do not lead or condone unjust practices
E. Respect For People’s Rights and Dignity – respect the dignity and worth of all people
and their rights to individual privacy, confidentiality and self-determination. They must
eliminate the effect on their work of biases.
4 Central Ethical Research Principles: Achieving Valid Results (Principle B Fidelity and Responsibility) – pursuit of objective
knowledge must be the goal; cannot justify resources required for study unless something is
learned about human behaviour.
o Milgram: objectively studied obedience and suggestibility but he was criticized for
generalizability because the research lab doesn't apply to conditions in the real world,
but it was replicated in many settings with much evidence.
Eg. Nazi soldiers in Germany, and how their actions were carried out
Maintain Professional Integrity (Principle C Integrity) – method of study must be detailed in
order to assess validity; publication plays vital role in maintaining honesty and openness
o Dispute about who discovered the AIDS virus
Protect Research Subjects (Principle A Beneficence and Nonmaleficence) –
o Avoid Harming Research Participants
Milgram: Potential harm to participants because it alters self-image or ability to
trust adult authorities in the future shown in most deceptive experiments, but
evidence suggested that it did not psychologically affect them.
Debriefing – a researcher’s informing subjects after an experiment about the
experiment’s purposes and methods and evaluating subjects’ personal reactions
to the experiment.
Zimbardo’s Prison Simulation Study – a simulated prison was created and
volunteers were assigned the role of guards and prisoners. Reactions to playing
these roles were so extreme (guards becoming sadistic, prisoners were harmed),
that the experiment was terminated after 6 days.
No negative affects were found & they gained greater insight
Harm is often unpredictable and unknown, do they really consent? Is it worth it?
o Obtain Informed Consent
To be informed, consent must be given by persons who are competent to
consent, have consented voluntarily, are fully informed about the research and
have comprehended what they have been told.
Problems: never able to fully disclose all information (especially in deceptive
experiments) but debriefing helps & the consent form must be easy to read and
Laud Humphreys: study of the social background of men who engage in
homosexual behaviour in public facilities. He acted as a “lookout or watch
queen” and had sex with them and visited them one year later at their home in
disguise; he concluded that they were mostly married, suburban men whose
families were unaware of their practices.
Tearoom Trade - his book that raised ethical questions about his covert
observation and subsequent interviewing of men engaging in homosexual
acts in public bathrooms
Protocols for children participants, prisoners, pregnant women, etc.
o Avoid Deception in Research, Except in Limited Circumstances
Deception occurs when subjects are misled about research procedures to
determine how they would react to treatment if they were not research subjects.
Marshall & Zimbardo: injected student with adrenaline and put them with one
who acted silly to study physiological basis of emotion.
Piliavin: faked seizures on trains to study helpfulness
Arson & Mills: had an all women’s college read embarrassing words (sexual) to
study severe initiation. They were told they would talk about sex and behaviorally analyzed during debriefing. No harm occurred, in their deception
Baumrind: Deception is still unethical
Review boards decide whether an experiment is ethical.
o Maintain Privacy and Confidentiality
Confidentiality should be realistic because laws allow research records to be
subpoenaed and may require reporting things including abuse, life-threatening
situations, also confidentiality does not apply in public places and information
available in public records.
Certificate of Confidentiality – the National Institute of Health can issue this to
protect researchers from being legally required to disclose confidential
Used for high-risk investigations
But certain things such as abuse, neglect must be reported.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) - Final Privacy
Rule includes oral, written and electronic information that relates to the past,
present or future physical or mental health of an individual. Must have valid
authorization for use or disclosure of protected health information.