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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Research Methods Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 .docx

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McMaster University
Joe Kim

Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 Chapter 2: Research Methods in Psychology Introduction  The field of psychology is firmly based on the use of the scientific method and empirical accuracy in the formulation of theories  Scientific Method: Formal way of asking and answering questions about human behavior to get the most accurate, objective information possible and sidestep the inaccuracy of our common sense beliefs and assumptions o Allows for the levels of analysis approach to come into fruition and helps to avoid letting our presumptions of background knowledge preclude current research  Levels of Analysis Approach: Different questions based on different levels of analysis may be asked about the same subject matter and different answers may be formulated, but it is always important to consider multiple levels of analysis in order to get the most accurate, well rounded theories  Operational Definition – set of rules that are designed to minimize the chances of being misled by stories that sound good but are unsupported by facts  Construct: A theoretical idea that is useful for describing a concept in a general way, but difficult to measure in practice Section 1: The Scientific Approach to Psychology Basic Rules of Scientific Inquiry 1. Parsimony: Choosing the simplest theory with the most explanatory power o When presented with two otherwise equally good explanations for some phenomenon, scientists tend to prefer the simpler of the two o Number of assumptions determines complexity or simplicity of an explanation o Parsimony is applied to the situation of competing explanations that do an equally good job of accounting for the known facts 2. Natural Order: Attributing the same cause and effects to the same causes and effects o Eg/ Humans – smiling is a behavior that reflects happiness for people all over the world, same root mechanism that causes someone to smile for one thing to another thing 3. Generalizability: Ensuring the causes and effects observed in scientific practice are applicable in all situations involving the same causes o Eg/ Be careful not to only white, middle class and generalize results for entire population 4. Conservatism: Skepticism towards new theories until new evidence is undeniable o Comparison – person drives the same car until it is no longer operable, then buys the best new car available vs. buying a new car every time a new model is introduced  Empiricism - Empirical Adequacy o Proper scientific research also requires that claims and theories are based on observable, testable phenomena, not merely reasonable claims, opinions or assumptions Section 2: The Scientific Approach to Psychology II Inductive and Deductive Reasoning in Science  Inductive Reasoning o Allows us to build theories based on various incidents of observed phenomena converging on a hypothesis or set of hypotheses o Used to move from a collection of specific observations (facts) to a theory that allows us to describe how these observations are related  Deductive Reasoning o Allows us to make predictions about certain phenomena based on the testable claims of a particular theory o Used to test our theory by making specific predictions about situations or events that we have not yet observed directly  A good theory must be able to encompass all known facts, not just some of them Textbook Notes Psych 1X03  Theory vs. Idea; theory must be able to generate testable predictions Target Study: Stereotypes – do stereotypes influence women’s math performance?  Stereotype Threat – when others expect you to perform poorly, the apprehension in response to the negative expectations may cause you to perform poorly and confirm their beliefs  Page 54 The Process of Scientific Investigation  Scientific Method involves 7 vital steps that must be followed rigorously in order to construct empirically accurate theories or deduce claims based on pre-existing theories 1. Generate of Adopt a Theory o Being by studying the existing collection of information about the world o Theory: A general set of ideas abut the way the world works 2. Generate a Testable Hypothesis o Create hypotheses o Hypotheses: Set of testable predictions generated by a theory using deductive reasoning; makes specific predictions about the relationship between variables involved in the theory 3. Choose a Research Method 4. Collect Data 5. Analyze Data o A researcher uses statistical tools to analyze those data to reveal patterns and determine whether the hypothesis has been supported or not o If statistically significant – then findings support hypothesis 6. Report Findings o Often in journals o Normally do not publish individual score obtained by each subject 7. Revise Theories Testing our Hypotheses: Reliability and Validity Section 3: Research Design: Case Studies, Correlations and Experiments Case Studies  Involve meticulous, long term study of an individual, but are not necessarily generalizable to populations  Typically a detailed examination of one particular individual  Important starting points for much research and active replication and further research can help establish theories formulated  In areas where there may be no existing bodies of evidence to examine or theories to test and modify, case studies can provide some initial “facts” to work with  Can serve to support (or not support) existing theoretical positions Correlation Studies  Simple Correlation: A measure of the direction and strength of the relationship between two variables  Direction – indicated by positive or negative o Positive – as one variable increases, the other also increases o Negative – as one variable decreases, the other increases o Zero – no relationship  Strength – distance from zero in either direction  Correlation Coefficient o Ranges from -1.00 to +1.00 o +1.00 – perfect positive correlation o – 1.00 – perfect negative correlation  Seeks to point out relationships between two or more variables by examining the direction (+ or -) and strength (distance from zero in either direction) of observed relationships Textbook Notes Psych 1X03  Correlational data can help us make accurate predictions but they do not indicate cause and effects; two variables may be strongly related but other unknown variables may actually be contributing to the observed reaction  Correlation does not mean causation  Can only occur between two variables  Represented graphically using a scatter plot o Line of Best Fit: Straight line which comes as close as possible to all the points on the graph and shows any positive or negative trends in the data Section 4: Experiments  Experiments: The procedure of choice used to systematically study a problem in psychology o Researcher manipulates one variable and measures the changes that occur in the second variable Independent and Dependent Variables  Variable: Anything that is free to take on different values o Binary Variables – only 2 possible values  Constant: Only one possible value  Independent Variable (IV): The variable that the researcher will explicitly manipulate o IV vs. Different levels (Eg/ Room Temperature vs. 20° and 10°)  Dependent Variable (DV): Measured by the researchers to see if their manipulation of the IV had any effect  Extraneous Variable (EV)/Confounding Variable: Variables that the researcher did not manipulate or measure but could still affect the outcome of the experiment o Want to minimize and eliminate o Turn into a constant (Eg/ All females instead of males and females) – but every EV we turn into a constant has the potential to limit the scope of results o Equate groups rather than eliminating (Eg/same number of males as females in both groups) Experimental and Control Groups  Control Group: Group that receives a “zero level” of the IV; reflects the “normal” state of affairs; used to compare the experimental group to  Experimental Group: Group that has had the IV manipulated in some way; compared to the Control Group to determine whether the manipulation had an effect Advantages and Disadvantages of Experimental Research Research Technique Advantages Disadvantages Case Study  Lots of in-depth information  Not generalizable to the population  Can be helpful to provide direct evidence  Can be subjective if researcher expects of a theory particularly when studying to find support for a specific theory an unusual phenomena Direct Observation  If done in natural environment there is  Observers cannot avoid being noticed or reduced artificiality compared to being intrusive which could bias research lab setting response of phenomena under study  Can allow for long periods of data  Difficult to explain rationale of behaviors collection rather than a snapshot observed observation or measure of behavior  Observers may be biased or have  Useful technique when little is known subjective interpretations of what is about subject of phenomenon of interest observed Experiment  Researcher has strict control over  Setting can be artificial and results may manipulation of variables and setting not translate to those found in natural  Allows for high accuracy in drawing settings conclusions of cause and effect  Due to ethical and moral constraints relationships many experiments cannot be conducted in this environment Interviews  Often conducted one-on-one which  Interviewee may not be comfortable Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 allows interviewer to ask follow up answering some questions or may be questions for clarification and asses the either unintentionally or intentionally honesty of the interviewee dishonest due to social desirability bias,  Can gather information on behaviors memory lapses that may otherwise be difficult to observe Questionnaire  Can gather information on behavior that  Difficult to asses truthfulness of self- might otherwise be difficult to measure report data due to social desirability or observe bias, memory lapses, wishful thinking,  Usually relatively simple to collect data response set from large samples  Participant may not finish al questions,  Allows for collection of self-report or rendering data inadmissible and difficult, if not impossible, to draw observations by someone other than the researcher conclusions Section 5: Coming to Conclusions  Sample: Groups of individuals selected for scientific study and are used as a representation of the larger population to church they belong  Sample Selection – to ensure sample are accurate representations and data collected is generalizable to the population: o Participants must be selected randomly – all must have equal opportunity o Participants must be randomly assigned to control and experimental groups  Descriptive Statistics – are used to organize and summarize data o Measures of Central Tendency – mean, median mode Section 6: Inferential Statisti
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