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Chapter 2

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Simon Fraser University
PSYC 100
A.George Alder

Sep.20.12 8:29 AM Chapter Two • Diffusion of Responsibility ; A psychological state in which each person feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening • Hypothesis; A specific prediction about some phenomenon that often takes the form of an “If-Then” statement • Theory ; Broader than a hypothesis, a theory will typically specify lawful relationships between certain behaviours and their causes. The scientific process proceeds through several steps: • (1) asking questionsbased onsome type ofobservation o identifying a question of interest based off some sort of personal experience or observation • (2) gatheringinformation and formulatinga testablehypothesis o determine whether any studies, theories, and other information that might help answer their question already exists • (3) conductingresearchto testthe hypothesis o test the hypothesis by conducting research • (4) analyzing thedata, drawing tentative conclusions,andreporting one's findingsto the scientific community o researchers analyze the information o They collect, draw tentative conclusions, and report their findings to the scientific community • (5) building a body of knowledgeby asking furtherquestions, conducting moreresearch, and developing and testingtheories. o Ask further questions, formulate new hypotheses, and test those hypotheses by conducting more research, then proceed to build theories. In everyday life, we typically use hindsight to explain behaviour. • Can provide valuable insights and is often the foundation on which further scientific inquiry is built • Hindsight is flawed because there may be many possible explanations for a behaviour and no way to ascertain which one is correct • Psychologists prefer to test their understanding through prediction, control, and theory building. A good theory organizes known facts, gives rise to additional hypotheses that are testable, is supported by the findings of new research, and is parsimonious. • It incorporates existing facts and observations withinasinglebroadframework Organizes information in a meaningful way • It is testable, generating a newhypothesis andit’s accuracy canbeevaluated by gathering new evidence. • Law of parsimony o If two theories can explain and predict the same phenomena equally well, the simpler theory is the preferred one No matter how good a theory is, it is always possible that future observations will contradict it or that it will be replace with an ‘updated’ theory that proves more accurate in relation to setting and time frame. • An operational definition defines a concept or variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or measure it. • To measure behaviour , psychologists obtain peoples' self-reports and reports from others who know the participants, directly observe behaviour using unobtrusive measures, analyze archival data, administer psychological tests, and record physiological responses. The goal of descriptive research is to identify how organisms behave, particularly in natural settings. Self Reports & Others Self-Reportmeasuresask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, or behaviour. • Interviews and Questionnaires o Accuracy hinges on people’s ability and willingness to respond honestly, especially when asked about sensitive topics (e.g. sexual habits, drug use) o Social Desirabil ity Bias; the tendency to respond in a socially acceptable manner rather than according to how one truly feels or behaves § Can be countered by wording questions so that social desirability is not relevant or by guaranteeing the respondent’s anonymity • Measures of Overt Behaviour o Reaction Time; how rapidly they respond to stimulus o Coding Systems to record different categories of behaviour § Observers must be trained to use coding systems properly so that their measurements will be reliable (consistent in observations) § Verbal/Physical Assertion/ Physical Aggression o Unobtrusive Measures; recording behaviour in a way that keeps participants unaware that certain responses are being measured § Humans and other animals maybehavedifferently whenthey knowthey arebeing observed o Archival Measures; records or documents that already exist • Psychological tests o Personality tests; assess personal traits, often contain questions that ask how a person typically feels or behaves § Specialized self reports and/or present ambiguous stimuli that reveal different personality traits depending on how the person interprets them o Intelligence tests may ask people to assemble objects or solve arithmetic problems o Psychological tests help to diagnose normal and abnormal brain functioning by measuring how well people perform mental and physical tasks • Physiological Measures o Physiological responses are typically recorded to assess what people are experiencing ( e.g. Heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, hormonal secretions, and brain functioning (biopsychology)) § We don’t always understand what they mean • Descriptive Research; seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave, particularly in natural settings o Provides information about the diversity of behaviour and may yield clues about potential cause-effect relations that are later tested experimentally Methods of Research • Case studies involve the detailed study of a person, group, or event. o Case studies often suggest important ideas for further research, but they are a poor method for establishing cause-effect relations. § Data may be gathered through observations, interviews, psychological tests, physiological recordings, and task performance and/or archival records
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