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Chapter 3

personalityChapter 3.docx

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McMaster University
Richard B Day

Chapter 3 Personality: psychology as a science Psychology’s emphasis on method  Psychologist’s seem more interested in the research process itself than in the answers their research is supposed to be seeking  Psychologists are sensitive and sometimes even self-conscious about research methodology, the way they use stats, and even about the basic procedures they use to draw theoretical inferences from empirical data Scientific education and technical training  Real science is the seeking of new knowledge, not the cataloguing of facts already known: this is the fundamental difference between scientific education and technical training  Technical training conveys what us already known about a subject so the knowledge can be applied  Scientific education teaches not only what is known but also how to find out what is not yet known  Research: exploration of the unknown Quality of data Reliability  Reliable data are measurements that reflect what you are trying to assess and are not affected by anything else  Measurement error: cumulative effect of extraneous influences, the leff of the error the more reliable the measurement  A method or an instrument that repeatedly provides the same comparative information is reliable; one that does not is unreliable  Something that can and should be assessed with any scientific measurement  Every measurement includes some error  State of the participants may vary  State of the experimenter may vary  Environment in which the study is done may cause changes in reliability  4 things can be done to enhance reliability: o Be careful, double check all measurements o Use a constant scripted procedure for all participants o Measure something that is important, rather than something that is trivial o Aggregation: averaging  Spearmen-Brown formula in psychometrics; quantifies exactly how it works  The more error-filled your measurements are, the more of them you need Validity  Degree to which a measurement actually reflects what one thinks or hopes it does  The concept of validity is slippery for a couple reasons: o For a measure to be valid it must be reliable; but a reliable measure is not necessarily valid o The concept seems to invoke a notion of ultimate truth; if the measurement matches ultimate true reality: it is valid  Lee Cronbach and Paul Meehl (1955) proposed that attributes like intelligence and sociability are constructs o Construct: something that cannot be directly seen or touched but which affects and helps to explain many different things that are visible (ex. Gravity) o Personality constructs cannot be directly seen and are known only through their effects o Construct validation: the process of testing the theory behind a construct  Gathering many different measurements as you can of the construct; the measurements hang together begin to validate each other as measurements of the construct and at the same time validate the construct as relevant to each of the measurements Generalizability  When looked at closely, the distinction between reliability and validity is also rather fuzzy: single broader concept is generalizability  To what else does the measurement or the result generalize? Is the result you get with one test equivalent or generalizable to the result you would get using a different test? Generalizability over participants  If findings apply to a case study of a single individual or many individuals Gender bias  Until the 1960s only men were used in psychological research  Now more women then men participate in experiments Shows versus no-shows  The results of psychological research depend on the people who show up at the lab o Most people who sign up don’t show up Cohort effects  Research results may be historically limited  Cohort effect: the tendency of a group of people living at a particular time to be different in some way from those who live earlier or later  Psychologists worry about cohorts more often than they do anything about them because necessary research is expensive Ethnic and cultural diversity  Receiving increased attention concerns the fact that most modern empirical research in psychology is based on a limited subset of the modern population- specifically white, middle-class college students The burden of proof  Getting the facts straight about members of our own culture in our own time seems to be difficult enough, so we should resist making facile and simplistic generalization about members of other cultures; including jumping to conclusions on why they might be different  It is one thing to worry that the results or theories might not generalize, and quite another to propose just how and why a particular result or theory might not apply to another culture Research design  Data gather that follows a plan  Three basic types: case, experimental, and correlational Case method  Closely studying a particular event or person in order to find out as much as possible  Several advantages o Does justice to the topic o Source of ideas o The method is necessary  Disadvantage: not controlled; each case contains numerous facts and variables An experimental and a correlational study  Experimental way to examine the relationship between anxiety and test performance would be to get a group of research participants and randomly divide them into 2 groups  The correlational way to examine would be t
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