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Chapter 2

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYCH 1X03
Professor
Christopher Teeter
Semester
Fall

Description
Bold = key term, underline = term not on key terms list Introduction • Scientific Method: the formal methods, primarily the set of techniques and concepts, used to examine and answer questions of a scientific nature • Ob-ob Mouse: a mouse that is the result of a genetic mutation associated with extreme obesity in the mouse • Eat food than normal mice • Genetic mutation causes body to convert all food into fat – very little energy for bodily functions – causes mouse to eat more food • Eat so much because they are fat • Operational Definition: describes actions or operations that will be made to objectively measure or control a variable a) They are essential to psychological research b) Always open to argument • Variable: a feature or characteristic that is free to take on at least 2 values • Construct: theoretical idea that is quite useful for describing a concept in a general way, but difficult to measure in practice • Ex. intelligence • Levels of Analysis: different perspectives that emphasize different aspects of a research question • Paradigms: a set of assumptions and ideas about what kinds of research questions can be asked and how they can be answered Section 1: The Scientific Approach to Psychology • Newton’s 4 basic principles of the scientific method: 1. Parsimony – when presented with 2 EQUALLY GOOD explanations for a phenomenon, pick the simpler of the 2  ‘simple’ or ‘complex’ is based on the number of assumptions it makes – one explanation may account for all known facts using fewer assumptions  Only used when 2 explanations are equal 2. Natural Order – as far as possible, attribute SAME EFFECTS to same causes/mechanisms  Ex. dropping a dish and moon orbiting earth both are a result of gravity  In psychology – same behaviour is a result of same mechanism of people all around the world º Ex. smiling produced by same root mechanism º Smiling is a result of happiness in humans but in other species, showing teeth does not mean happy  Only applied when comparing same effects 3. Generalizability – same causes that produce effects in labs also produce those effects in everyday life where scientist has no control 4. Conservatism – scientists support current explanation until new facts accumulate that the current explanation can’t deal with  Will not abandon ideas until new evidence forces them to a different explanation • Empiricism: knowledge should be gained by on actual observation of the world not on rational perspectives that use logic and reason alone • Logic and reason are of little use without observational empirical data Section 2: The Scientific Approach to Psychology II • Theory: a set of statements or principles that try to relate and explain a set of observations/a general set of ideas about the way the world works • Scientific theory – generates TESTABLE predictions • ex. theory about what happens to people when they die is not really a theory because you can’t have people die, record what they are feeling/what happens after and then come back and present these results • Inductive Reasoning – used to move from a collection of facts to a theory that allows us to describe how they are related • Ex. Facts: cows, cats, ad dogs all have 4 legs –––> Theory: all 4-legged animals are warm-blooded • Deductive Reasoning – used to test theory by making specific predictions about situations/events not yet observed directly • Ex. if all 4-legged animals are warm-blooded than elephants should be too • Stereotype threat – in a social situation where others expect you to do badly, apprehension you feel in response to the negative expectations may cause you to perform poorly and confirm their belief • Steps of Scientific Method: 1. Generate/ adopt a theory – studying existing information and construct a theory of their own or adopt one that someone else has already formed and begin deductive predictions 2. Generate a hypothesis – the testable predictions formed by a theory using deductive reasoning  Hypothesis: specific predictions about the relationship between variables involved in the theory 3. Choose a research method – choose one appropriate to test the hypothesis so you can collect data 4. Collect data – collecting data using one or more techniques 5. Analyze data – use statistical tools to analyze data to reveal patterns and determine if hypothesis has been proven or not  Statistically Significant: probability that findings are observed due to chance is very low – p-value less than 0.05 means hypothesis is supported 6. Report Findings – scientists and whole scientific community review findings to revise existing theories and define current understanding of the world  Findings often reported in a journal 7. Revise theories – theories must be revised to account for new information • Reliability: ability of any test to give same output when same input is entered • If a test is not reliable, a new test is required • Ex. scale show same reading each time you step on it in short amount of time • Construct Validity: ability of a test to measure what we intend to measure • Ex. scale shows weight each time you step on it, not your IQ Section 3: Research Design: Case Studies, Correlations and Experiments • Case Study: an in-depth investigation of an individual person or small group of people, often over an extended period of time • Useful when there are not existing bodies of evidence to examine/theories to test and modify – provide with some initial ‘facts’ • Correlational Studies – investigating by looking at existing relationships between pairs of variables – don’t manipulate anything, just observe and record • Simple Correlation – a measure of the direction (pos./neg.) and strength(strong/weak) between 2 variables • Positive Correlation – as the value of one variable increases, the other increases  Ex. the older someone is, the more money they have • Negative Correlation – as the values of one variable increases, the other decreases  Ex. the older someone is, the less money they make • Zero Correlation – no relationship  Ex. age and income are unrelated • Correlation Coefficient: number that describes degree of relationship between 2 variables  -1.00 = perfect neg. correlation (neg. slope, straight line)  +1.00 = perfect pos. correlation (pos. slope, straight line)  = unrelated (horizontal line)  Real-life examples never have perfect correlation  Strength of correlation determined by number (stronger is closer to 1.00, weaker is closer to 0) and direction(slope) is determined by sign (+/-) ≠ • **Correlation cause and effect relationship (causation) ** Section 4: Experiments • Experiment: scientific tool used to measure the effect of one variable on another; procedure of choice used to systematically study a problem • Binary Variables: variable that have only 2 possible values (i.e. on/off, alive/dead, male/female) • Constant: a feature/quality that takes the same value across all situations • Independent Variable (IV): the variable the researcher manipulates – can be more than 1 IV • Dependant Variable (DV): measured by researcher to see if manipulation of IV has any effect • Extraneous Variables (EVs)/Confounding Variables: variables that researcher did not manipulate or measure but can still affect results • Control Group: group designed to serve as accurate comparison in an experiment – receive a ‘zero level’ of the IV • Experimental Group: the group that receives manipulated IV in an experiment • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) – allows scientists to temporarily ‘turn off’ areas of the brain while causing no permanent damage • can use healthy participants to do studies on functioning with brain defects (i.e. speech problems) – don’t need to find people that actually have it Comparison of Data Collection Techniques Research Advantages Disadvantages technique - Lots of in-depth information - Not generalizable to the population - Can be helpful to provide direct - Can be subjective if researcher Case Study evidence of a theory particularly expects to find support for a specific when studying an unusual theory phenomenon - If done in a natural environment - Often observers cannot avoid being there is reduced artificiali
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