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Chapter 2

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PSY 105
Kristin Vickers

Chapter 2: Psychology as a Science (09/13/13) What is a Science? -The chaos theory states that anything can happen at anytime… -There are 2 core beliefs in science: 1. The universe operates according to natural laws 2. Such laws are discoverable & testable -The scientific method uses logical reasoning derived from philosophy: -Sir Francis Bacon=emphasized avoiding biases; argued that people look selectively to confirm their beliefs & are thus subjective. -Karl Popper: stressed that a good & sound theory must be falsifiable/be able to be proven false. Theories has to be set up as either/or proposition, there has to be a binary aspect, ie. Either right or wrong. Eg. Ryerson students are better or nicer than UofT students (falsifiable) *Freud says that if you ask a patient if they are thinking about sex and they say yes, then it is true but if they say no, that means they also thought about it just by listening to the question. There was no falsifiability in his theory b/c he was right in both cases. -Steps in the scientific method (see fig 2-1 pg.32) -Operational definitions: an operational defn is how we (the researcher) decide to measure our variables in order to express hypothesis in a clear, specific & concrete manner. There are usually many ways to measure a variable, eg. aggression, depression, sense of humour. When you do research, you have to decide how you’re going to measure the variables. -Choose participants: 1) Population—the entire group of interest. 2) Sample—a portion of the popn that is selected for the study. 3) Random selection—randomly choosing a sample from a popn; in an ideal world, random selection is the best way to choose a sample but is rarely used in psychology. 4) Sampling bias—choosing a sample that doesn’t represent your popn, eg. offering compensation for people’s time to volunteer in the study is a recruitment strategy to get a volunteer sample is subject to sampling bias b/c ppl w/ financial need might be more likely to volunteer, people w/ unpleasant experience in class, people who are interested. These factors are subject to sampling bias which will yield to different results than you would normally get if a random selection was done. *No matter what method of choosing participants, you can never completely get rid of sampling bias. -There are 2 basic types of research: 1. Descriptive research=used to observe & describe behaviour & to determine the existence of a relationship b/w variables. Nothing is manipulated and it doesn’t enable you to deduce causality, eg. the more classes one has to take the less rewarding there classes are; this doesn’t show a cause instead it merely describes the relationship. a. Case studies-an intensive study of 1 or 2 people, eg. conjoined twins who thrived into adulthood. Advantages include: the only method you can use if the type of behaviour you’re looking at is rare. Disadvantages incl: cannot generalize results to fit the whole popn. b. Naturalistic observation-systematic method of people watching. You get more of a sense of reality w/ this method than merely reading reports, eg. people on the ttc would report that they would offer their seat to someone who needs it but if you observe the same ppl personally, there is a huge discrepancy in the numbers b/w those who said yes and those who actually did it. Advantages incl: can study things that are too unethical for an experiment or that people might lie about. Disadvantages incl: can’t determine causality & presence of the Hawthorne effect (if people know they are being watch they tend to change their behaviour for the better). c. Surveys-asks people directly about their behaviours; in topics like drug use/sexual activity, you can still use a survey but you have to be careful that the participants are not threatened to have their identity revealed. Surveys just present associations of things at one pt in time that are not necessarily causally related, such that there may be other/confounding factors, eg. extreme heat aggravate aggression which results in correlation seen b/w ice cream & crime rates. Advantages incl: data collection is quick. Disadvantages incl: sometimes people don’t tell the truth & can’t determine cause & effect. *All descriptive research methods don’t determine causality. 2. Experimental=used to demonstrate causal relationship b/w variables. Experiments examine how one variable causes another variable to change. You can bring people in laboratory settings, have them do something to get causality but the results may not reflect real life thus you can’t generalize. Advantages include: can establish causality. Disadvantages incl: might not be generalizable to real world situations (outside of lab). There are 2 kinds of important variables in a study: 1) independent variable (IV)—one you can manipulated & what the researcher changes to see what happens. A punitive cause, eg. is egg important in cookies? You can do a study involving cookies w/ eggs & cookies w/o eggs. What is the cause? 2) Dependent
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