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PSYC 201W (78)
Chapter 1

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A.George Alder

Chapter 1: Science and Psychology 4 methods people use to hold beliefs about the world: Tenacity- involves believing something simply b/c it is what we have long believed • Involves ignoring inconsistent info that threatens the belief • Charles Peirce (scientist)- tenacity possess ‘strength, simplicity, and directness’ • The belief may be correct/incorrect • Poor way to establish knowledge and reduces formation of accurate beliefs Authority- involves relying on other people as our source of knowledge and belief • E.g parents, caregivers, siblings, teachers. Media • We rely on ppl we perceive as credible (when they have expertise on the subject and is trustworthy) • May be efficient (info gets passed down generation to generation) • Limits & pitfalls: e.g disagreement from other experts; even if agreement-- may still be wrong; & us dismissing source as untrustworthy b/c it contradicts our personal beliefs • Preventing danger: evaluate source carefully, assess person’s credentials, think critically of info Reason- use of logic and rational (intellectually sound) argument to reach conclusion about how things ‘must be’ • E.g philosophers using systems of logical argument • Forming judgments (inferences, conclusions) based on facts or premises • E.g facts  developments of theories  development of hypothesis to test theories • Limits: pure reasoning = poor basis for understanding behavior since scientific knowledge isn’t based on method of reasoning; diff logical conclusions can be drawn depending on premises given w/, yet may not be true! o e.g Premise 1 – infants =/= object permanence until 9m/o Premise 2- Alice = 7 m/o Conclusion- alice =/= object permanence Empirical knowledge- knowledge based on senses & our exp’s with the world • empiricism- process of acquiring knowledge directly thru observation and exp; philosophical viewpoint that all knowledge is derived from exp • limits + risks: we cant exp everything in life—most of stuff we acquire knowledge thru authority (credible experts) who actually had those exp; our exps cant rep other ppl’s exps (general state of affairs in world); our exp’s are biased o confirmation bias- aka congeniality bias; tendency to selectively seek info that supports our views and avoid disconfirming info Science- process of systematically gathering and evaluating empirical evidence to answer questions and test ideas • 3 aspects of science: o Science relies on empirical evidence (reason alone may not be sufficient, claims from authorities require good empirical evidence) o Gathering and interpreting evidence systematically o Using reasoning to evaluate evidence, q’s & ideas, and drawing conclusions Goals of Science 4 Goals of science: Description, explanation, control and prediction. Variables- any factor or attribute that can assume 2 or more values • Characteristics that can differ or change (e.g differ across people, within ppl, or both) • E.g hair color, mood, height Description • ‘describing or uncovering laws of nature’ • Uses coding systems (e.g mental disorders, facial expressions) • Identifying how ppl behave, feel, and think in various settings Explanation • We answer “Why do they behave that way?” “What causes ppl to respond as they do?” • Take form of a hypothesis o Hypothesis- tentative proposition about the causes or outcome of an event or about how variables are related  Subject to empirical testing (e.g experiments)  Formed thru reasoning about events using previous knowledge & other background info o Theories- set of formal statements that specifies how and why variables or events arerelated  Built thru accumulation of empirical evidence  Broader than hypotheses • Explaining behavior thru diff perspectives (e.g even within one perspective, there’s multiple causes affecting behavior simultaneously) • Distal causes- remote causes • Proximal causes- aka proximate causes; immediate causes o e.g distal causes = genetic mutations, inherited genetic factors proximal causes= neuropathological processes (e.g dopamine hyperactivity, brain degeneration)  schizophrenia • Causal inference- conclusion that variable x had causal effect on variable y o 3 conditions must meet:  Covariation- as X changes, Y changes  Temporal order- change in X occurs before change in Y  Absence of plausible alternative explanations- confounding variable • Failure to rule these out leads to false beliefs about world Prediction • Plays role in scientific research: ‘hypothesis and theory testing’ and ‘applied prediction’ • Determines true understanding of why event occurs and what causes it (where we can predict circumstances of when an event occurs) • Developing hypotheses based on theory and then testing the hypotheses. o Does not have to be based on a theory. Hypothesis can be formed w/ pre-existing knowledge • Applied prediction- if we know 2 events/variables =related, then we can use knowledge about one event/variable to make predictions about the other. Predictions may be used for practical purposes too (e.g questionnaires predicting job performances) • Does not require understanding of association between variables (e.g why something occurs) Control • Control- having influence over research settings and procedures and over application of scientific knowledge • Control = being able to decide what variables to study, how + when to measure them, who participants?, how many participants? • E.g manipulating X to see change in Y • Applying scientific knowledge to improve ppl’s lives Characteristics of Science Science involves assumptions • 3 Basic scientific assumptions of natural world: 1) Events are not random, but instead demonstrate regularity or pattern 2) These patterns have underlying causes 3) It is possible to discover these causes Science is Empirical and Systemic • claims are based on evidence gathered and evaluated in a systematic manner Science focuses on Testable Questions • scientific research address q’s testable within limit
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