1 Grant Clay
AP Psychology Outline
Chapter 2: The Research in Psychology
Red – Definition
Blue - Important Points
Green - Important People & Contributions
1. Scientific Approach to Behavior
a. The Scientific Approach assumes that events are governed by laws.
b. Psychologists assume Behavior is governed by laws. (Like the Earth is governed by the law of
c. 3 Goals of Scientific Enterprise
i. Measurement & Description – Develop Measurement techniques that describe behavior
clearly and precisely.
ii. Understanding & Prediction – Make and Test predictions called Hypothesis.
1. Hypothesis – Statements about the relationship between two or more variables.
2. Variables – Any measurable characteristics or behaviors that are controlled or
observed in a study.
iii. Application & Control – Apply research findings to help practical problems.
1. Theory – The system of related ideas used to explain a set of observations. Must
be testable. Based upon experiments and evidence. Is always subject to
2. Steps in a Scientific Investigation
a. Step 1: Formulate a Testable Hypothesis
b. Scientific Hypothesis must be formulated precisely, and variables under study must be clearly
c. Operational Definition – Describes the action or operation used to measure or control a variable.
d. Step 2: Select Research Method & Define Study
e. Put Hypothesis in an Empirical Test
f. Empirical – Knowledge should be acquired through Observation.
g. Research Method.
h. Define the Study by collecting Participants/Subjects.
i. Participants/Subjects – Persons or Animals whose behavior is observed in a study.
j. Step 3: Collect the Data
k. Data Collection Techniques – Procedures for Making Empirical Observation and Measurements.
l. Examples include (Direct Observation, Questionnaire, Interview, Psychological Test,
Physiological Recording, or Examination of Archival Records.)
m. Step 4: Analyze the Data & Conclusion
n. Use Statistics to analyze data and find if Hypothesis is supported.
o. Conclude upon the Findings.
p. Step 5: Report the Findings
q. Give the findings to the public so it can be tested. Such as a journal.
r. Journal – Periodical that publishes scholarly material, in a narrow field.
3. Advantages of Scientific Approach
a. Clarity and Precision
b. Small amount of Error
4. Experimental Research a. Experiment – Research Method where a variable is manipulated and changes to the second
variable is observed.
i. Independent & Dependent Variables
1. Independent Variable – Variable that is controlled by the Experimenter to see its
impact on the other Variable.
2. Dependent Variable – Variable that is affected by the Independent (Controlled)
5. Experimental & Control Groups
a. Experimental Group – Subjects who receive special treatment in regard to the Independent
b. Control Group – Similar Subjects who do not receive special treatment given to experimental
c. The Differences between the two Groups are the findings.
6. Extraneous Variables
a. Extraneous Variables – Any variables other than the Independent variable that seems likely to
influence the Dependent variable in a study.
b. Confounding of Variables – When two Variables are linked together in a way that makes it harder
to sort their specific effects. Causes great harm to Experiments.
c. Random Assignment – Occurs when all subjects have an equal chance of being assigned to any
group in the study.
7. Variations in Designing Experiments
a. There can be numerous Independent or Dependent Variables.
b. It is sometimes smarter to use only 1 group of students, who serve as their own Control Group.
c. Interaction – Effect of one variable depends on the Effect of another.
8. Advantages & Disadvantages of Experimental Research
a. Experiments are often artificial, and the decisions based practically might be different of the
b. Ethical concerns prohibit some experiments.
c. Some manipulations of variables are nearly impossible.
9. Descriptive/Correlational Research
a. Used when Psychologists cannot control the variables they want to study.
b. Includes Naturalistic Observation, Case Studies, and Surveys.
c. Method permits investigators to only describe patterns of behavior and discover links or
associations between variables.
10. Naturalistic Observation
a. Naturalistic Observation – A researcher engages in careful Observation of behavior without
directly intervening with the sub