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Chapter 3

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Judith Shedden

Psych 2B03: Theories of Personality Personality Psychology As Science: Research Methods Psychology’s Emphasis on Method - Methods for generating research aimed at these questions - Goal is to improve on the tentative answers (hypotheses) - Everything is open to question, no facts are presented without description of the experiment and the persuasiveness of the results Scientific Education and Technical Training - Technical training: what’s already known about subject and its application - Scientific education: what is known and how to find what’s not yet known - Research: exploration of unknown Quality of Data - Reliability: measurements that reflect what you are trying to assess and are not affected by anything else  Measurement error: cumulative effect of extraneous influences  The less measurement errors there are, the more reliable the measurement is  Influences considered extraneous depend on what is being measured, be it state (temporary) or trait  When trying to measure stable attribute of personality (trait): can you get the same result more than once  Every measurement includes a certain amount of error due to:  Low precision  State of the participant in the study might vary for reasons that have nothing to do with the study itself  State of the experimenter  Environment in which the study is done  Techniques to improve reliability:  Care with research procedure  Standardized research protocol  Measure something important  Aggregation: averaging  Spearman-Brown formula in psychometrics: random errors tend to cancel one another out. More error filled your measurements are, the more measurements you need  Principle of aggregation is important to predicting behaviour - Validity: degree to which a measurement actually reflects what one thinks or hopes it does  For a measure to be valid, it must be reliable. But a reliable measure is not necessarily valid  Concept seems to invoke a notion of ultimate truth  Construct: something that cannot be directly seen or touched, but affects and helps explain different things that are visible  Personality construct: ideas about how behaviours hang together and are affected by particular attributes of personality  Construct validation: testing of theory behind a construct - Generalizability: to what else do the measurements or results generalize  Generalizability over participants: whether your findings apply to everybody else or just this one person  Gender bias: because men are less likely to volunteer than women, the men in studies are unusual  Shows versus no-shows: depend on the attributes of the participants who appear  Cohort effects: research results may be historically limited. Tendency of a group of people living at a particular time to be different in some way from those who live earlier or later.  Ethnic and cultural diversity: research based on limited subset of the modern population  The burden of proof:  Resist making facile and simplistic generalizations about members of other cultures  Propose just how and why a particular result or theory might not apply to another culture Research Design - Case method: closely studying a particular event or person of interest in order to find out as much as possible  Self studies  Feels as if it does justice to the topic  Describes the whole phenomenon and not just isolated variables  Well-chosen case study can be a source of ideas  Sometimes the method is absolutely necessary  It is not controlled - An Experimental and a Correlational Study: one a specific case has suggested an idea it needs to be checked out  Experimental:  Critical to be sure that nothing beyond chance affects whether a participant is assigned to one condition or the other  Control factor  Control group and experimental group  Statistical test: t-test to see if the difference between the means is larger than one would expect from chance variation alone  Correlational:  Factor being tested is already present  Scatter plot: represents individual participant’s pair of scores  Negatively correlated: line drawn through these points leans left to right in a downward direction  Correlational coefficient: reflects how strong a trend is  Statistical significance checks whether correlation is large enough, given the number of participants in the study, to conclude that it would be highly unlikely if the real correlation, in the population, were zero - Comparing the Experimental and Correlational Methods:  Both methods attempt to assess the relationship between two variables  Statistics used in the two studies are interchangeable  Experimental method, the variable is manipulated, whereas correlational method, the variable is measured as it already exists  Exp
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