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Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Research

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PSYC 1001
Vessela Stamenova

Chapter 2 – The Research Enterprise Science uses logic: Rationalism  Using reason (logic) to derive new knowledge from old knowledge Empiricism  “I won’t believe it till I see it with my own eyes!”  Gaining knowledge through observation (or experience)  The only way to know something is to experience it through our senses  Naïve vs. Sophisticated empiricism  Naïve – strictly believing that unless you observe something, it doesn’t exist; takes things literally  Sophisticated – using indirect info that is observable; i.e. can see a virus through a microscope; can’t see gravity, but study effects gravity has on objects  To provide the initial facts on which theories might rest  To test the predictions from theories by seeing if they are accurate Rationalism  To derive theories from existing observations  To derive predictions from theories to test empirically Scientific Attitude  Curiosity o What do you mean? (Clarity) o How do you know? (Evidence)  Receive answers with a healthy dose of doubt  Examine our own assumptions and challenge our preconceptions – search to be proven wrong o Principle of Falsifiability – every theory is at least partially wrong The Scientific Method  An approach to acquiring knowledge that involves formulating specific questions and then systematically finding answers.  Steps: 1. Observe behavior or other phenomena. 2. Form a hypothesis. 3. Use your hypothesis to generate a testable prediction. 4. Evaluate the prediction by making systematic and planned observations. 5. Use the observations to support refute or refine the original hypothesis. 1. Observe behaviour/other phenomena  Observe the world around you – What interests you?  Induction (inductive reasoning) o Using a small set of specific observations as the basis for forming a general statement about a larger set of possible observations (seeing two friends studying differently and one fails, one passes – one study method is better)  INductive reasoning involves INcreasing from a few examples to many  DEductive reasoning involves DEcreasing from many examples to few Deductive Reasoning  All humans are mortal  David is a human  Therefore, David is mortal 2. Form a Hypothesis  Hypothesis: a statement that describes or explains a relationship between or among variables.  A tentative answer, not a final answer (i.e. Studying more frequently leads to better learning than less frequently)  Can have one theory, but a limitless amount of hypotheses 3. Use your hypothesis to generate a testable prediction  Prediction 1: A group that studies for 5 days 1-hour per session will learn better than a group that studies during a single 5-hour session.  Prediction 2: The rate of forgetting will be higher among participants who were in the 5-hour session than the five 1-hr sessions. 4. Evaluate the prediction by making systematic and planned observations  Perform experiment; Data collection/research phase – measure variables  Variables o Characteristics that change or have different values for different individuals o Any measurable conditions, events, characteristics, or behaviours that are controlled or observed in a study 5. Use the observations to support, refute, or refine the original hypothesis  Do the data support your hypothesis? – Run more experiments  Do they refute it? – Modify something  Does the hypothesis need revision? Science is Empirical  Answers are obtained by making observations  Scientific method involves structured or systematic observations → The structure of the observations is determined by the hypothesis → The observations will either support or refute the hypothesis → Self-report (participants tell you themselves) vs. measurement (you administer a test)  If something is not observable, it is not studied, i.e. existence of God Science is Public  Scientific Journals: a periodical that publishes technical and scholarly material, usually in a narrowly defined area of inquiry  Scientific report (article) o Intro o Methods o Results o Discussion  Peer review – others review; best answer to questions, does everything make sense?  Replication (repeat same study and have same findings as another study) o Only public observations are verifiable Science is Objective  Researcher’s biases and beliefs should not influence the study → Blind research – participants are unaware of study/condition they’re in Theory  A system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations (behaviour/events), must be testable  The Muller-Lyer Illusion o Observation: People perceive the left arrow as longer o We know: The eyes are fooled o My theory: The hands are fooled as well Operational Definition  A clear statement of the procedures (operations) used to define research variable o Describe what will be measured o Describe what procedure will be used o How will you analyze your results Research Methods  Experimentation o Independent (manipulate) and Dependent (measure) Variable o Methods of protection  Descriptive o No variables o Case Study, Survey, Naturalistic Observation o Highlights and Limitations The Experiment  A research method in which the investigator manipulates a variable under carefully controlled conditions and observes whether any changes occur in a second variable as a result (Watching television causes weight gain – Make people watch TV and observe the effects on weight.) Experimentation Approaches  A means of determining the cause of events o Manipulate factors to determine their effect o Watching more television causes obesity.  What else could cause obesity?  Must control for these other options…  You can know that, within reason, the effect is due to the manipulation, and not other factors – you can infer A CAUSES B Variables of Interest  Independent variable (IV) o The variable you manipulate o Hours watching TV (1 or 4)  Dependent variable (DV) o The variable your measure o Children’s weight gain  Controlled variables o Caloric intake, physical activity Experimental vs. Control Group  Experimental (1 hour/4 hours of TV) and Control (no TV) groups must be alike (placebo)  Randomization – randomly assign people into the groups (external variables will be distributed among other groups) Other Variables  Extraneous Variable: any variable other than the independent variable that may influence the dependent variable  Confounding Variable: when two variables are linked together in a way that makes it difficult to sort out their specific effects Descriptive Approaches  Naturalistic Observation  Case Studies  Surveys  These methods describe behavior - they cannot explain it Naturalistic Observation  Observe and record behavior as it naturally occurs, i.e. watching animals or humans o No attempt to control the situation  Less intrusive than other methods o Research has less of an effect on the behaviour of those observed o BUT can never completely neutralize the impact of being observed Case Study  Observation technique in which one person is studied in depth in the hope of revealing universal principles (e.g. Paul Broca)  Limitations: o One subject is not always generalizable to the population o Atypical subjects can lead us astray o A very rich approach but needs to be supplemented with other methods Survey  Technique for learning the attitudes or behaviors of people through questionnaires and interviews  Self – reported  Asks a representative, random sample of the population  Often multiple-choice questions or scales  Quick to administer and analyze  Limitations: o Only helpful if the right questions are asked – Potential responses are limited to options provided o Wording effect – Subtle wording
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