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The Scientific Method

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PSYC 100

The Scientific Method Scientific Method- learning about the world through collecting observations, proposing explanations for the observations, developing theories to explain them, and using the theories to make predictions -Formulate hypothesis -> Design a study -> Collect Data -> Analyze data and obtain results -> Draw conclusions from the results and use them to develop a new hypothesis; share your findings with others Hypothesis-testable prediction about process that can be observed and measured -testable ones must be confirmed or rejected The Scientific Method Confirm and strengthen Revise original original theory Theory theory Generate another, new hypothesis Discard or modify Hypothesis original hypothesis Test hypothesis Confirm hypothesis Reject hypothesis Pseudoscience- ideas that are presented as science but don’t actually utilize basic principles of scientific thinking or procedure Theory- an explanation for a broad range of observations that also generates new hypotheses and integrates numerous findings into a coherent whole -must be falsifiable Bipsychosocial Model-explains behavior as a product of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors -biological influences: brain structures, chemicals, hormones, and drug effects -psychological influences: behavior, perception, thought, and experience -sociocultural influences: ethnicities, groups, families, interpersonal relationships Scientific Literacy-ability to understand, analyze, and apply scientific information -Knowledge Gathering: What do we know about this? -Application: Why is this relevant? -Scientific Explanation: How can science explain it? -Critical Thinking: Can we critically evaluate the evidence? -Massing-breaking one large pile of work into smaller groups and working through each separately -Spacing- leaving work in one large pile and working through one by one -Nate Kornell discover spacing is better Critical Thinking-exercising curiosity and skepticism when evaluating the claims of others and with our own assumptions and beliefs -be respectful of other’s opinions -skills and habits to be a better critical thinker: 1. be curious 2. Examine the nature and source of the evidence 3. Examine assumptions and biases 4. Avoid overly emotional thinking 5. Tolerate ambiguity 6. Consider alternative viewpoints and alternative interpretations of the evidence Principle of Parsimony- simplest of all competing explanations of a phenomenon should be accepted Patterns on reports about alien abduction: -typically spike after the release of a science fiction movie featuring space aliens, with details from the movie -people who report are prone to fantasizing and having false memoires -people who report are likely to experience sleep paralysis (waking up and becoming aware of being unable to move) and hallucinations while in the paralyzed state Principles of Scientific Research Objectivity- certain facts about the world can be observed and tested independently Subjective- knowledge of an event is shaped by prior beliefs, expectations, experiences, and mood Quality scientific research criteria: 1. Based on measurements that are objective, valid, and reliable 2. Can be generalized 3. Uses techniques that reduce bias 4. Made public 5. Can be replicated Objective Measurements-foundation of scientific methodology -measure of an entity or behavior that, within an allowed margin of error, is consistent across instruments and observers Variable- the object, concept, or event being measured Self-Reporting- a method where responses are provided directly by the people who are being studied Surveys/Questionnaires-quick and often convenient way of gathering large quantities of self- report data -standardized set of questions -Con: -poor control -participants may not answer honestly -written response may not be truly represent the actual behavior Operational Definitions- statements that describe the procedures or operations and specific measures that are used to record observations Reliability- measurement that provides consistent and stable answers across multiple observations and points in time Validity- to a degree where an instrument or procedure actually measures what it claims to measure Generalizability- to a degree where one set of results can be applied to other situations, individuals, or events Population- group that researchers want to generalize about Sample-a select group of population members -results can be generalized to the whole population Random Sample- every individual of a population has an equal chance of being included Convenience Samples- samples of individuals who are the most readily available Generalizability can be influence by location: -Laboratory Research-any study conducted in an environment controlled by the researcher -most preferred so they can see how specific conditions manipulate behavior, but artificial nature might can interfere with normal behavior -Naturalistic Research- located where the behavior would typically occur Ecological Validity- degree to which the results of a laboratory study can be applied to or repeated in the natural environment Hawthorne Effect- behavior changes as a result of being observed Researcher Bias- biases on the part of those who are conducting the experiments Subject Bias- biases created by participants of studies who are aware that their behavior is under construction Demand Characteristic-inadvertent cues given off by the experimenter or the experimental context provides information about how participants are expected to behave -responding can be based on Social Desirability or Socially Desirable Responding- where research participants respond in ways that increase the chances that they will be viewed favorably, common in self-reporting -may be a problem in laboratory studies, where participants often try to figure out the purpose of the experiment Placebo Effect-a measurable and experienced improvement in health or behavior that cannot be attributable to a medication or treatment -ex. Some people feel better when given candy instead of medicine but they believe that the candy is medicine -placebo or pill triggers the part of the brain involved with human pain Reducing Bias: -Anonymity- each individual’s responses are recorded without personal information that could link a particular individual to specific results -Confidentiality- results will be seen only by the researcher -reducing anxiety by providing volunteers with full information about the study and reassurance about their health -Single-Blind Study- the participants do not know the true purpose of the study or else don’t know which type of treatment they are receiving -Double-Blind Study- where neither the participant nor the experimenter knows the exact treatment of any individual, an assistant must be used for observations Sharing Results -an important aspect of scientific research is to make results public -helps the scientific method -made possible by scholarly publications -Academic Journals-soft bound periodicals with a number of articles by different authors -it represents primary research or reviews of multiple studies on one topic -scientists with finished research may write a detailed description of the theory, hypothesis measures, and results -not found in bookstores but in libraries Peer Review-a process in which papers submitted for publication in scholarly journals are read and critiqued by experts in the specific field of study
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