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Chapter 2

PSY105 Chapter 2 detailed notes

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Ryerson University
PSY 105
Kristin Vickers

Chapter 2: Psychology as a Science LO1 What is a Science? List two core beliefs of science, and describe the steps in the scientific method Scientific Principles: Two Core beliefs of science • The universe operates according to certain natural laws o Believes that things happen in and around us in some kind of orderly fashion that can be describe using rules or laws • Such laws are discoverable and testable o If we observe the natural world we can figure out the laws governing those events, we can then experiment to see whether those predictions are true The Scientific Method • The scientific method uses logical reasoning derived from philosophy: o Sir Francis Bacon emphasized avoiding biases  Biases – personal beliefs or conventional wisdom that a particular thinker mistakenly accepts as broad, basic truths  To avoid biases science and philosophy should use controlled direct observations to generate board conclusions  Search for natural laws by making empirical observations of mental processes and behaviours; which then are developed into theories  Empirical – able to be tested in objective ways  Theories – ideas about law that govern phenomena o Karl Popper stressed that a good theory must be able to be proven false: it must be falsiable  Hypothesis – a general statement about the way variables relate that is objectively falsifiable  When proven false, scientist will then have to generate a new hypotheses for further testing; repetition of this process will make theories more accurate about human thoughts and behaviours The Steps in the Scientific Method • Make observations – watch what child viewers do after watching a violence show • Develop hypotheses – generate hypotheses about what led to the behaviour we observed • Test hypotheses – use several types of research studies to test it • Build a theory LO2 How do Psychologists Conduct Research? List steps in the research process and key characteristics of descriptive and experimental psychological research methods State a Hypotheses • Generate a prediction; this is your research hypothesis • Hypotheses contain variables • Variables – condition, event or situation that is studied in an experiment • Independent variable – condition or event that is thought to be a factor in changing another condition or event o To set loose to see what changes it will cause • Dependent variable – condition or event that you expect to change as a result of variations in the independent variable o People who scores on this variable will depends on the exposure to the independent variable • Ex: drinking energy drinks will help you read more pages o IV is the amount of energy drinks consumed o DV is the pages read Operational Definitions • Operationalize – to develop a working definition of a variable that allows you to test it • An operational definition is how we (the researcher) decide to measure our variables o There are usually many ways to measure a variable (e.g. aggression, depression) o When you do research, you have to decide how you are going to measure the variables • Operationally define the following item: o Sense of humor o Hint: to operationally define the variable, you have to figure out how will you measure it. There is no one right answer. There are Lots of ways to measure these items Choose Participants • Population – the entire group of interest to researchers • Sample – a portion of any population that is selected for the study, used to stand in for an entire group of people • Random selection – randomly choosing a sample from a population o Avoid selecting a group that will likely prove your hypotheses • Sampling bias – choosing a sample that does not represent your population Pick a Research Method: Two Basic Types of Research • Descriptive Research Methods – studies that allow researchers to demonstrate a relationship between the variables of interest, without specifying a causal relationship o Research method used to observe and describe experiments, which allow researchers to explain the cause of behaviour o Used to determine the existence of a relationship between the variables o Advantage: good for developing early ideas, more reflective of actual behaviour than other methods, easier to collect data o Cons: little or no control over variables, researcher and participant biases, cannot explain cause and effect • Experimental o To demonstrate a cause and effect relationship between the variables o Purpose: identify cause and effect o Advantage: allows researchers precise control over variables and to identify cause and effect o Dis: ethical concerns, practical limits, artificiality of lab conditions, confounding variable, biases Descriptive Research: Case Study Method • Case study – study focusing on a single person • An intensive study of 1 or 2 people • Advantages o Only method you can use if the type of behaviour you are looking at is rare • Disadvantages o Cannot generalize results to all people and other situations o Can be greatly affected by researcher bias Descriptive Research: Naturalistic Observation • Naturalistic observation – a study in which researchers directly observe people in a study behaving as they normally do • Systematic people watching • Advantages o Can study things that are too unethical for an experiment or that people might lie about • Disadvantages o Researcher bias; can only notice what they expect to see o With an observer or camera presence, can change the behaviour of participants o Landsberger conducted a study at a factory with workers  Productivity changes when changes occur in workplace; they worked better because they were being observed o Cannot determine cause and effect o Hawthorne effect – people who are being observe in studies or at their workplace will improve or change some of their behaviour simply because they are being watched or studied, not in response to an experimental manipulation Descriptive Research: Surveys • Survey – study in which researchers give participants a questionnaire or interview them • Ask people directly about their behaviours • Advantages o Data collections is quick o Can collect data that can’t be collected with case study or naturalistic observations o Can measure how strong the relationships is between the two variables on interest • Disadvantages o Sometimes people don’t tell the truth, answers what society think its right rather than what reflects their real attitude; this is called participants bias o Cannot determine cause and effect o Can’t tell the direction of the relationship between the two variables Experiment • Experiment – controlled observation in which researchers manipulate the presence or amount of the independent variable to see what effect it has on the dependent variable • we can set up our study so that the experimental group either watched a little or a lot of more or less violent hockey; this is called the interaction bias • researchers may use random assignment to make sure that everyone in their sample has an equal chance of being in either group • Examines how one variable CAUSES another variable to change • Advantages: Can establish cause and effect • Disadvantages: Might not be generalizable to real world situation (outside of lab) • experiment plays a huge role in studying human behaviour • I
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