Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically
Different Methods--Different Conclusions!
People Perceive Situations Subjectively
People Remember Situations Subjectively
People Jump to Incorrect Conclusions
Measurement and Description (needs to be precise and base on common metric)
Understanding and Prediction
Application and Control
Types of Explanation (round argument, caution labelling)
Steps in the Scientific Process
Step 1: Identify a Question. Curiosity. Ask a question of interest.
Step 2: Gather Information and Form Hypothesis. usually in an “IF-THEN” statement.
Step 3: Test Hypothesis. Design study, collect data. Operational Definition.
Step 4: Analyze data and interpret findings. Does findings support/refute theory?
Step 5: Ask further questions, conduct more research, develop and test theories. Are replications possible by you or others?
Operational Definition: defines a variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or measure it
Variable may mean differently to different people, so variables must be define clearly. So scientists define variables operationally.
Operational definitions translate abstract concepts into something observable and measureable. Eg self-esteem test score
Ethnical Principles in Research
Five Broad Ethnical Principles
1. Beneficence: seeking to benefit other people
2. Responsibility: performing professional duties with utmost care
3. Integrity: being honest and accurate in conducting experiment/recording
4. Justice: enhancing all people’s access to the benefits of psychological knowledge. (Everyone gets a chance to participate, get access to
5. Respect: respecting people’s dignity and rights to confidentiality and self-determination
Before people agree to participate in research, they should be informed about:
1. The study’s purpose and procedures
2. The study’s potential benefits
3. Potential risks to participants
4. The right to decline participation and withdraw at any time without penalty
5. Whether responses will be confidential and, if not, how privacy will be safeguarded.
Is when participants are misled about the nature of a study.
1. Violates the principle of informed consent, but may be the only way to obtain natural responses.
2. Deception is only permitted if there are no other alternation available
3. Study must have scientific, educational, or applied benefits that clearly outweigh the ethical costs of deceiving participants
4. Requires adequate debriefing
5. True purpose of study must be revealed to participants after its over
Ethics of Animal Research
7-8% of all psychological research
Animals must be treated humanely
Study goals, procedures and benefits must be clearly explained and defined
Benefits must outweigh costs, only allowed if no other alternative is available (research must be reviewed and approved before
Debate remains controversial Types of Research
A. DESCRIPTIVE RESEARCH: Recording Events
collect data in natural setting, non-experimental, non-invasive, not manipulated.
Accurate & systematic measurement
Increases awareness of multiple variables
1. Case Study
an in-depth analysis of an individual, group, or event
Does not allow cause and effect, little generalizability, researcher’s subjective interpretation
2. Naturalistic Observation
observe behaviour as it occurs in a natural setting, and avoid influencing that behavior. Example: school bullying
Advantages: can provide detailed information about the nature, frequency and context of naturally occurring behaviours.
Disadvantages: cannot establish cause-effect relations, bias, researcher presence.
3. Survey Research
data is obtained by administering questionnaires or interviews to a population
Representative sample: one that reflects the important characteristics of the population
To draw valid conclusions about a population from the result of a survey, the sample must be
representative. Eg Use method of random sampling: every member of population has an equal probability
of being chosen to participate in the survey
Advantage: a properly selected, representative sample usually yields accurate information about a broader population
Disadvantage: cause and effect, reliance on self-report (social desirability bias), might not be representative, obtaining a
representative sample (volunteer bias, random sample?)
B. CORRELATION RESEARCH: Measuring associations between events
Measures the relationship between variables
Variables are not manipulated but measured
statistically determines whether X and Y are related
Advantages of Correlational Research
Application of lab results to the real‐world
Exploration of variables before conducting lab studies
Allows study of variables that might not otherwise be ethical in the lab (how religious vs. personality)
Allows us to make predictions about behaviour
Disadvantages of Correlational Research
Correlation does not imply causation, due to:
Bi-directionality (two way causality). Did X cause Y or did Y cause X or did they both influence each other?
Third Variable Problem: Z is responsible for the relationship between X and Y
C. EXPERIMENTS: Examining cause and effect
a research method in which the investigator m