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Chapter 2

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PSYC 100
Jens Pruessner

Chapter 2 Research Methodology What is scientific inquiry? • Bias: prejudice that may lead to some sort of error because the data are skewed. The scientific method depends on theories, hypotheses, and research • Theory – an example of a theory is the theory of evolution and natural selection, selection of favourable traits of a species that helps them adapt better to the environment. If everything you hypothesized was true, you might want to move on to a next theory or refine it, if your hypothesis is bad, then you have to look at a whole new theory. The research is never finished, there’s always something to be done and researched. Research leads to more research. HOMER: hypothesize, operationalize, measure, evaluate, and revise/report Difference between hypothesis and theory: Theory is something that’s vague, has multiple variables and general. And ideally both theory and hypothesis are true. The hypothesis is a more specific statement and is the one being tested. Theory  hypothesis, making big step in operationalization Testing driving ability: driving simulation, but would that test directly the theory that drinking alcohol impairs driving ability. Driving simulator is only a part of what you experience in actual driving and that affects your hypothesis. Your hypothesis would have to be drinking alcohol impairs your ability to drive in a driving simulator. In a driving simulation test you can test reaction time, speed, and the number of accidents. Test coordination and motor control by testing subjects on a closed course. Coordination and motor control by tests other than driving (like the police tests of having to walk in a straight line, touching your nose with your eyes closed, alphabet backwards). Theories should generate hypotheses. Good theory produces a lot of good testable hypotheses. Freud was very influential, but his theories were much more vague and less testable. Dream theory: when you dream about something, is a way of your subconscious of getting what it can’t get in reality. But this theory isn’t exactly very testable. Unexpected findings can be valuable. Serendipity: by chance Research findings of cats responding differently to growing up in vertical lines and then being exposed to horizontal lines and not having any balance are an example of chance findings that are unexpected. Unexpected findings are the most well- known and create new paradimes that no one was aware of before. 2.2 Variable: is measurable; can and should take many values between the subjects of your study. Has to create variance between your subjects; quantification (can give a number to the measurement); qualification (description). Maybe certain areas in psychology where quantification may fall short Developmental designs are important. Longitudinal designs: following sample/subjects and repeatedly assess them over time. Cross-sectional: one time assessment of subjects at one time point only and try to analyze data from there An observer bias: Observer is making a systematic mistake in the behaviour he/she is observing. Intentional and unintentional bias; Can change the results; reporting violence in a culture that is in fact just performing a ritual and this bias is caused by your background and ignorance about that culture. Cohort effect: unidentified variables may be involved – assume you are interested in finding out how a certain motor ability of subjects changes with age, recruit subjects that are of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 years old and you have 50 subjects in each sample. And you see that the people above 50 have poorer motor skills. Prone to cohort effect – where if a war happened the people happened to be in and affect their skills. Also, eyesight decreases with age, and maybe the test involves vision. People over 50 didn’t necessarily have technology. People over 50 more exposed to more gross motor work and not fine motor work. Older people have not had access to computers, and video games which gives rise to really fine motor skills and gives you a lot of motor training as opposed to people who did not grow up with those technologies. Expectancy bias experiment with the rats: conclusion that the students gave off subtle cues that affected the rat’s behaviour. A subtle cue can include impatience, or aggression, spatial cues, verbal (emotionally friendly or unfriendly tone). Clever Hans: the horse that “could do math”; the trainer wasn’t the one affecting the horse’s behaviour. Because the horse can’t do math. The person giving the horse the question was reacting and the horse could read the person’s reaction and the horse would know when to stop. The solution is to give a question to someone who doesn’t know the answer, so that the person can’t give off cues and the horse is completely on his own and the horse got the wrong answers. This is a powerful example of the observer bias. Idea that water would retain the molecular structure of even the most diluted of solutions Research comments: dilution was so great, was the same that you can throw car keys in a river and then take the water from the river and still start the car. When to believe the unbelievable. Nature themselves found out that it was a hoax because one of the experimenters already knew the outcome of the experiment and that was enough to skew the data and show that the water has the memory of the molecule dissolved in it. Safeguards against biases Placebo-controlled studies – give something to the group that doesn’t have any active ingredients that can affect the subjects to see how much of the effect is due to expectation within the experiment (experiment expectancy). Can only trick your body for so long before, say, your neurons succumb to the disease. If your product is just as effective as the placebo, then it’s not good enough to be placed on the market. Your product has to have better effects than the placebo – want something that has placebo plus an added value. Randomized study – randomly select from the population, however this is often not accomplished, we get a convenient sample where the people “selected” are really, in fact, volunteers, and they participate because they are motivated by incentives given by the people conducting the research (like monetary rewards). Psychological studies happen with psychology students in the university and are really volunteers. Not based on population samples, but on individuals. (Double) blind studies – A study is blind when the subject doesn’t know whether they are in the active or the control group. Double blind study is when the experimenter doesn’t even know whether the pill they are giving are the control or the placebo. Bring in a third person who is not evaluating the results. Cross-over study – if you have the pill example, then after a given time, you would switch what you’re giving your subjects from the active ingredient to the placebo to see whether it actually works. Correlational studies examine how variable are related. Don’t have any intervention on the part of the observer – naturally-causing You can’t know the cause of the problem though. Directionality problem Sleep and stress are correlated but you don’t know which causes which. Variable problem Self-esteem and doing well in school Eating ice cream and murder What is wrong with everything is that they’re all correlated but what causes the murder (summer heat – it’s a third variable, under summer heat, people tend to be more violent) Ethical reasons for using correlational designs Making predictions Independent and dependent variables * Test whether nicotine affects he verbal aspect of the IQ test. Able to control the consumption of nicotine Take an IQ test; you have performance in terms of generation/reaction time etc…and you see whether the results are different. Independent variable: nicotine Dependent variable: effect of nicotine on the verbal portion of the IQ test – reaction times 2.3 Lying is stressful and when you tell a lie, your sympathetic nervous syst
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