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How to Think Straight About Psychology Notes.docx

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PSYC 180
Amir Raz

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How to Think Straight About Psychology Textbook Notes Chapter 1 Notes Freuds methods of investigation are unrepresentative of how modern psychs conduct their research today Psychology uses scientific methods to understand behaviour Science employs methods of systematic empiricism It aims for knowledge that is publicly verifiable Seeks problems that are empirically solvable and that yield testable theories Two things that justify psychology as an independent discipline Psychology studies the full range of human and nonhuman behaviour with the techniques of science Applications that derive from this knowledge are scientifically based Pseudoscientific belief anything goes in psych and there are no rational criteria for evaluating psych claims Psychology attempts to give the public two guarantees Conclusions about behaviour that it produces derive from scientific evidence Practical applications of psychology have been derived from and tested by scientific methods Systematic Empiricism Results of the observation reveal something about the underlying nature of the world Scientific observations are usually theory driven, they test different parts of the nature of the world Publicly Verifiable Knowledge Scientific knowledge does not exist until it has been submitted to the scientific community for criticism and empirical testing Replication other scientists must be able to repeat the same experiment and get the same results Ensures that a particular finding is not due to the errors and biases Peer review What makes a theory testable: must have specific implications for observable events in the natural world Chapter 2 Notes Scientists look for a solvable problem: testable theory falsifiable and has implications for actual events in the natural world Falsifiability criterion methods of evaluating new evidence relevant to a particular theory must always include the possibility that the data will falsify the theory (Karl Popper) The predictions drawn from the theory must be specific because in telling what should happen, it implies that certain things will not happen For a theory to be useful, the predictions drawn from it must be specific A theory in science is an interrelated set of concepts that is used to explain a body of data and to make predictions about the results of future experiments Layperson a person without professional or specialized knowledge in a particular subject Hypotheses are specific predictions that are derived from theories Usually, viable theories are the ones that have had many of their hypotheses confirmed The hypotheses are tested by a variety of techniques If the hypotheses are confirmed by the experiments, then the theory receives some degree of corroboration. If the hypotheses are falsified, then the theory must be altered, or discarded Laws relationships in science that have been confirmed so many times since it is doubtful that they will be overturned by future experimentation Falsifiability implies that the number of times a theory has been confirmed is not the critical element Confirmations are more or less impressive depending on the extent to which the prediction exposes itself to potential disconfirmation We must look at the quantity of the confirming evidence, but also at the quality of the confirming instances Progress occurs only when a theory does not predict everything but instead makes specific prediction that tell us, in advance, something specific about the world Good theories are those that make specific predictions, and such theories are highly falsifiable. The confirmation of a specific prediction provides more support for the theory. One implication of the falsifiability criterion is that all confirmations of theories are not equal. ESP the faculty of perceiving things by means other than the know senses (telepathy, clairvoyance) Parapsychology the study of mental phenomena that are excluded from or inexplicable by orthodox scientific psychology (hypnosis, telepathy) come from the general media Replication of a finding is critical to its acceptance as an established fact When cannot be duplicated in a lab, believer says to skeptic, that the negative vibes probably disrupted the psi powers unfalsifiable Confirmations are more or less impressive depending on the extent to which the prediction exposes itself to potential disconfirmation; so we must not only look at the quantity of the confirming evidence but also at the quality Falsified hypotheses provide information that scientists use to adjust their theories so that these theories accord more closely with the data Make mistakes publicly so that others can help them Humans have the instinct to deny that they are wrong and cling onto what they believed in the first place (common sense is unreliable) Truthiness quality of a thing feeling true without any evidence suggesting that it actually was Although objective scientists allow for great discoveries and are modest when proven wrong since they wish the greater good for science, progress is made in the field mostly due to fallible scientists that criticize and root out errors of their peers Scientific knowledge is inherently (existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute) tentative, and open to revision Knowledge is not impossible, it is only provisional (arranged or existing for the present, possibly to be changed later) Chapter 3 Notes Essentialism: only good scientific theories are those that give ultimate explanations of phenomena in terms of their underlying essences or their essential properties; Think that theories that give less than ultimate explanations are useless Science does not answer essentialist questions but advances by developing operational definitions of concepts Science does not attempt to answer ultimate questions about the universe; consider them unanswerable Science eliminates the errors that are part of our knowledge base Operationism: idea that concepts in scientific theories must in some way be grounded in, or linked to, observable events that can be measured A concept in science is defined by a set of operations and not just by a single behavioural event or task Force us to think carefully and empirically Presence of loose concepts (those for which the theorist cannot provide direct and indirect operational links) should be viewed with suspicion Parsimony: when two theories have the same explanatory power, the simpler theory is preferred The origin of something is irrelevant to its ability to carry out a particular process Reliability refers to the consistency of a measuring instrument whether you would arrive at the same measurement if you assessed the same concept multiple times If the measure of a concept yields similar numbers for multiple measurements of the same concept, the measuring device displays high reliability Test-retest reliability getting virtually the same reading time after time Interrater reliability same reading no matter who uses it Construct validity refers to whether a measuring instrument is measuring what is supposed to be measuring What we find relates to many other variables that we would expect a measure of our subject to relate to We want high
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