Psychological Discovery 2
Institutional review boards. Committee in charge with evaluating research
projects in which human subjects are used.
Deception. Lying to the subjects concerning the true nature of a
study (it might affect their performance).
Debriefing. Providing info about the true purpose of a study as
soon after the completion of data collection as
Operational definition. Definition of a variable in terms of the activities a
researcher uses to measure/manipulate it.
Correlation coefficient. Degree of relationship between two sets of scores.
Positive correlation. Direct relationship between two variables in which
an increase one is related to an increase in the other
and vice versa.
Negative correlation. Inverse relationship between two variables in which
an increase in one is related to a decrease in the
other and vice versa.
General principles of the APA code of ethics
Beneficence and safety:
o Obligation to maximise possible benefits and minimise possible harms.
Integrity and research merit:
o Commitment to the pursuit and protection of truth.
o Commitment to research methods designed to contribute to knowledge.
o Valuable reason for conducting the research.
o Issue of who ought to be benefit from the research and who will bear
Respect for persons, and consent:
o Respect for the inherent dignity and rights of persons.
o Commitment not to use a person as only a means to an end.
o Obtain consent to participate in research.
Participation should be voluntary and informed:
o Participants should be aware of the risks associated with a study.
o Provide consent to participate.
o Be allowed to end their participation whenever they choose.
o Any info that might influence someone’s willingness to take part in a
study must be disclosed in advance.
Participants should not be exposed to harmful or dangerous procedures:
o Mild discomfort is permitted, as long as no lasting damage is expected
and participants are fully aware of the potential discomfort.
Deception: o Permitted only when necessary to maintain the integrity of a study and
when no other alternative exists.
If used, participants must be formally debriefed about it in
order to clear up any misunderstandings.
Participants should have an expectation of confidentiality:
o Identity and personal info obtained should never be divulged to others
without first obtaining consent from the individual.
All proposals for research involving human (or animal) participants must
abide by the relevant ethical guidelines/codes and be reviewed and approved
by the institutional ethics committee.
o All results must be reported fully and accurately.
Defining and measuring variables
Variable – any characteristic/condition that can have more than one value, or
that can vary across organisms, situations or environments e.g. age,
Discrete – usually consist of whole number units/categories and are made up
of chunksthat are distinct and detached from one another.
Continuous – fall along a continuum and allow for fractional amounts.
Empirical study involves observing, manipulating and measuring variables in
various conditions and other varying degrees of control.
o Need to be precisely defined (i.e. operationally).
The nature of the variables of interests plays an important role in research
Types of variables:
o Vary depending on:
Research topic and hypothesis.
Research strategy and design.
Manipulate the values/levels of one or more variables and measure the
effect(s) on one or more other variables.
o Manipulation – IV.
Variables that the researcher directly manipulates e.g. altering
the anti-depressant drug dosage given to participants.
Quasi-IV – variables that the researcher indirectly manipulates
(for practical/ethical reasons these cannot be directly
manipulated but since there are pre-existing levels the
researcher can utilise them). E.g. sex (male versus female).
Can be called subject variables because they are
characteristics that come with the participants.
o Outcome – DV.
Variables that the researcher observes to examine changes in.
Observes how manipulations affect these variables.
The effect of the manipulation.
What is being measured.
IV versus DV: o Any variable can be IV in one study, and DV in another.
o Depends on what one does with it in a given study (research topic and
Relating IVs and DVs to hypotheses:
o Hypotheses – brief, tentative statements about what the researcher
expects to find.
i.e. statements that describe or explain relationships between
Should specify the IV and how it will be manipulated, the DV,
and a prediction about how the DV is expected to change with
manipulation of the IV.
o Variables that cause change across treatment groups/affect specific
participants and therefore affect the DV.
o Need to control for the effect of all but the one of IV interest.
Participant/subject variables – characteristics that come with
the partiicpants which you do not want to influence your
findings e.g. handedness.
Situational/environmental variables – characteristics of the
situation/environment which are specific to the research context
e.g. time of day, temperature.
Experimenter variables – characterisics of the experimenter