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PSYC 439 (4)
Chapter 5

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Queen's University
PSYC 439
Ingrid Johnsrude

Chapter 5  There is less than total agreement about how ab beh ought to be studied and what are the facts of the field SCIENCE AND SCIENTIFIC METHODS  Science is the pursuit of systematized knowledge through observation  Comes from latin term “to know” refers to both a method and to a goal  Its always imp for scientific observations and explanations to be testable and reliable (replicable) Testability and Replicability st  A scientific approach requires 1 that propositions and ideas be states in a clear and precise way  Must be testable in the public arena  If the event cannot be reproduced scientists become wary of the legitimacy of the original observation The role of theory  A theory is a set of propositions meant to explain a class of phenomena  A primary goal of science is to advance theories to account for data often by proposing cause –effect relationships  A theory permits the generation of hypotheses ---expectations about what should occur if a theory is true ---to be testes in research  Theories are constructions put together by scientists. Ex: repression is a theoretical concept  A theoretical concept such as acquired fear is useful in accounting for the fact that some earlier experiences can have an effect on our current beh  Several advantages can be gained by using theoretical terms: ex: we may want to bridge temporal gaps with theoretical concepts or theoretical concepts can also summarize already observed relationships EX: PG 134  Earlier school of thought called operationism proposed that each concept take as its meaning a single observable and measurable operation. This way each theoretical concept would be nothing more than one particular measurable event  Theoretical concepts are better defined by sets of operations than by a single operation THE RESEARCH METHODS OF ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY  All empirical research entails the collection of observable data  Sometimes research remains at a purely descriptive level but often researcher observe several events and try to determine how they are associated or related  Ex: eating disorder much more common in women than men.  We want more than a description of relationships we want to understand the causes The case study  Study ppl one at a time and record detailed info about them  J.Brett Barkley is an ex  Prepare a case study by collecting historical and biographical info on a single indiv often including experiences in therapy  The role of the clinicians paradigm in determining the kinds of info actually collected and reported in a case study. Ex: case studies of psychoanalytically oriented clinicians contain more info about the clients early childhood and conflicts with parents than do reports made by beh practitioner  Case studies from practising clinicians may lack the degree of control and objectivity of research using other methods . the case study has been used to:  1) provide a detailed description of a rare or unusual phenomenon and of important often novel methods or procedures of interviewing, diagnosis and treatment  2) disconfirm allegedly universal aspects of a particular theoretical proposition  3) generate hypotheses that can be tested through controlled research Providing Detailed description  famous case history of multiple personally in 1954 –patient Eva White who assumed at various times tree very distinct personalities. Her real name was chris Sizemore and she was called “the three faces of Eve” case. Claimed to have 21 separate personalities  the case of Eve White, Eve black and Jane and eventually Evelyn –one of only few detailed accounts of a rare phenomenon multiple personality now known as dissocociative identity disorder  trichotillomania one of the DSM-IV-TR impulse control disorders. The irresistible urge to pull out ones hair is an understudies chronic condition that affects mainly adolescent girls and women  focus interviews on 7 women who had this condition. Analyzed using a procedure called the constant comparative method which consists of unitizing, categorizing and identifying themes.  Casati identified 10 major themes in the subjective experiences of the women with compulsive hair pulling. Six themes related to the negative emotions the women experiences (Embarrassment/shame, isolation, fear and guilt, anger/frustration, humiliation/pain and body image)  Three of the themes related to the issue of control (lack of control, self disclosure and lack of info from the medical community) and the last theme related to triggers or precipitants of the compulsive hair pulling.  Why is this study informative? Cuz in the past treatments have focused primarily on symptom reduction with limited effectiveness. This study identified themes in the subjective experiences of these ppl and demonstrated the impact of their concerns on emotional, social and psychological well being The case study as evidence  Case histories are especially useful when hey negate an assumed universal relationships or law  Case study fares less well as evidence in support of a particular theory or proposition. Case studies do not provide the means for ruling out alternative hypotheses Generating hypotheses  Through exposure to the life histories of a great number of patients, clinicians gain experience in understanding and interpreting them  Eventually they may notice similarities of circumstances and outcomes and formulation important hypotheses that could not have been uncovered in a more controlled investigation  Kanner; noticed that some kids showed same symptoms such as failure to develop language and extreme isolation from other ppl. He proposed a new diagnosis –infantile autism—which was confirmed and is now in DSM  Some case studies are so unique its impossible to generalize to other indiv including other ppl with the same disorder.  Canadian ex is a case of preferential bestiality (zoophilia) reported. A 54 yr old white male was serving a 5 yr prison sentence for cruelty to animals – a cruelty that had been exhibited in sexual activity with horses  Case study is excellent way of examining the beh of a single indiv in great detail and generating hypotheses that can later be evaluated by controlled research  Useful in clinical settings where focus is on one person. A case study may however not reveal principles characteristic of ppl in general and is unable to provide satisfactory evidence concerning cause effect relationships Epidemiological research  Epidemiology is the study of the frequency and distribution of a disordered in a population  Data re gathered about the rates of a disorder and its possible correlates in a large samples or population  Epediologioical research focuses on determining three features of a disorder:  1) prevalence- the proportion of a population that has the disorder at a given point or period fo time  2) incidence- the # of new cases of the disorder that occur in some period of time usually a year  3) risk factors- conditions or variables that if present increase the likelihood of developing the disorder  knowing this stuff is imp for planning health care facilities, services, etc  depression is twice as common in women than men. Thus gender is a risk factor and this knowledge led to a theory of depression that suggests its due to a style of coping with stress that is more common in women than men The correlational method  correlational method - establishes whether there is a relationship between or among two or more variables  it is often employed in epidemiological research  in correlatioanl research the variables being studied are measured as they exits in nature  this feature distinguishes the method from experimental research in which variables are actually manipulated and controlled by the researcher  ex: national study of Canadian preschoolers showed that behaviour problems were higher among kids from less affluent neighbourhoods Measuring correlation st  1 thing in determining a correlation is to obtain parts of observations of the variables in question. Ex: height and weight  Then the strength of the relationship between the two sets of observations can be calculated to determine the correlation coefficient denoted by the symbol r. the statistic may take any value between –1.00 and +1.00 and it measures both the magnitude and the direction of a relationship  The higher the absolute value of r, the larger or stronger the relationship between the two variables.  An r of either +1.00 or –1.00 indicates the highest possible or perfect relationship whereas an r of 0.00 indicates that the variables are unrelated  If the sign of r is positive the two variables are said to be positively related –as the values for variable x increase those for variable y also tend to increase. Ex: correlation between height and weight is +.88 this would indicate a very strong positive relationships as height increased so does weight  When the sign of r is negative, variables are said to be negatively related as scores on one variable increase those for the other tend to decrease. Ex: # of hours spent watching t.v is negatively correlated with grade point average  Scatter diagrams of positive and negative correlations  In perfect relationships all points fall on a straight line  The values tend to scatter increasingly and become dispersed as the correlation becomes lower  When the correlation reaches 0.00 knowledge of a persons score on one variable tells us nothing about his or her score on the other Statistical significance  The magnitude of a correlation coefficient tells us the strength of a relationship between two variables  Statistical significance refers to the likelihood that the results of an investigation are due to chance  A statistical significance correlation is one that is not likely to have occurred by chance  A correlation is considered statistically significant if the likelihood or probability that it is a chance finding is 5 or less in 100. this level of significance is called the .05 level, commonly written as p =0.5 (p stands for probability)  In general as the size of the correlation coefficient increases the result is more and more likely to be statistically significant  Whether a correlation attains statistical significance depends on the # of observations made.  The greater the # of observations the smaller r (the correlation) needs to be to reach statistical significance Applications to psychopathology  Whenever we compare ppl given one diagnosis with those given another or with ppl without a psychological diagnosis the study is correlational  When the correlational method is used in research on psychopathology one of the variables is typically diagnosis  To calculate a correlation between this variable and another one diagnosis is quantifies so that having an anxiety disorder is designated by a score of 1 and not having one is score of 2  The diagnosis variable can then be correlated with another variable such as the amount of stress that has been recently experiences  Variables such as having anxiety disorder or not are called classificatory variables  other ex are age, sex, social class and body build. These variables are naturally occurring patterns and are not manipulated  most research on the causes of psychopathology is corrleational problems of causality  correlatioanl method has a drawback: it does not allow determination of cause-effect relationships  a sizeable correlation between 2 variable tells us only that they are related or tend to co vary with each other but we do not really know which is cause and which is effect or if either variable is actually the cause of the other  The directionability problem ---ex: a correlation has been found between the diagnosis of shizto and social class: lower class ppl are more frequently diagnosed as having schitzo  It may be that the disorganized beh patterns of ppl with shitzo cause them to perform poorly on their educational and occupational endeavours and thus to become impoverished.  The directionality problem ---correlation dies not imply causation  Determining whether two variables correlate may serve to disconfirm certain causal hypotheses: that is causation does not imply correlation  one way of overcoming the directionality problem is based on the idea that causes must precede effects  hypothesised causes of psychopathology would use a longitudinal design in which the hypothesized causes are studied before a disorder has developed.  In this way the hypothesized causes could be measured before the effect  Ex: such a method would be prohibitively expensive for only about 1 indiv in 100 eventually develops schitzo  The high risk method overcomes this problem. With this approach only indiv with greater than average risk of developing schtiz in adulthood wou
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