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Chapter 2

Psych 201- Research methods- Chapter 2.docx

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A.George Alder

Chapter 2- Conducting Psychological Research The initial observation and question • Research ideas can be formed rapidly,slowly, from person exp, daily events, prior research and theory ideas, real-world problems, or serendipity Where Research Ideas come from Personal Exp and Daily Events • Personal exp’s is key to notice and reflect on something important, interesting, or perplexing about our own or other ppl’s behavior Prior Research and Theory • studies stimulate other studies, where something they observe from theirs or others work lead to new q’s • theories = key source of research ideas; theories are tested by deriving predictions, which are tested thru research Real-World Problems • the need to understand and solve real-world problems helped form research ideas • may be specific (e.g astronauts coping w/ stress) or more widespread (e.g depression, addiction) • we ask q’s like “What causes it?” “What prevalent is it?” “What characteristics/consequences are associated?” • evidence-based treatments (EBTs)- interventions that scientifically controlled studies have demonstrated to be effective in treating specific conditions o mental health practitioners required to use EBTs; urged by gov’t agencies, private health insurance co., and American Psychological Association (APA) o addresses “How do we know whether a treatment is effective?” Serendipity • accidental discovery of something important by chance (usually while looking for something else) and having the wisdom and curiosity to recognize that may be on to an important discovery Gathering Background Information We do not conduct study immediately after having research idea. We first examine previous research on topic, where it provides info of how other scientists defined, measured, and examined the concept. We likely want to expand more and eliminate those limitations from previous studies. Relevant theories help guide us in forming a hypothesis to test. Searching Scientific Databases • literature searches are done electronically (database); it is key form of gathering background info on topic • e.g PsychINFO and PsycARTICLES (online databases from APA- over 100 yrs of research; includes title, authors’ names, publication source and date, and abstract). PsycARTICLES- contains full-text version of article. PsychINFO-Abstracts. • parameters- options for tailoring a search (e.g keywords, titles, authors, dates, peer-reviewed journals, etc) • Databases in related discplines o Other fields have their own literature databases (e.g medicine, biology). If psych overlaps w/ these, we can use these databases to search for references not listed under PsycINFO • General Search Engines and Google Scholar o E.g google,yahoo – inefficient for conducting scientific literature searches due to irrelevant results (eg ads, newspaper articles) o Google scholar- dedicated to searching scholarly articles • Choosing a database o There is no ‘best’ database as each user place diff values on features of each one • Narrowing and Broadening a Search o Key for efficient search: 1) knowing what we looking for 2) how to broaden/narrow a search o Using Boolean operators (named after math George Boole) help narrow results (e.g AND, NOT, OR) o Using asterisk (*) to broaden results (* is a truncation symbol- e.g decep*  deception, deceptive) o Mostly want peer-reviewed research articles and review articles Obtaining Articles • Journals may be published online and in print, depending on subscription by your library • If online copy of article not available, check electronic and print journal holdings at library • If library still not available, we can : o Request access to articles from another library thru interlibrary loan program o Find journal available in public library system or another college/uni o Contact article’s author to request a copy (authors’ email and address is provided). Write formal Letter. o Pay fee for electronic copy of article thru journal’s publisher Reading Research Articles • APA journals contain articles that consists of title, author names, and institutional affiliation (e.g SFU) Structure of Research Article – abstract, general purpose, hypotheses, methodology, findings, conclusions • Abstract- brief, one-paragraph summary of the report. Contains key details of study’s general purpose, hypotheses, methodology, findings and conclusions • Introduction- narrative, may contain topical headings. Describing general topic, specific q’s studying, explain why topic is important, and cite prior research and theorizing, stating hypotheses being tested • Method- usually divided into subsections. Describes overall research design, participants characteristics, how they were selected, specific procedures used, how variables were manipulated or measured. Author may want to combine subsections if short. • Results- Descriptin of how they analyzed their data and present their results. Stat findings shown in tables/graphs • Discussions- Reiterating the key findings at great length, less stats. Discuss whether hypotheses were supported, theoretical or practical implications of findings, limits of study, and issues to be resolved in future research • References- List sources cited in article, using standard format in Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) Understanding Research Articles • Abstract is good place to get overview of study • Intro will talk about study’s purpose and hypotheses • Method section will help us understand how the study was done and details in conducting research • Results = most difficult to read. Contains statistical analyses and graphs/tables, or more diff techniques. o Ways to understand: 1) focus on written description rather than numbers 2) discussion section will help identify key findings • References can be a great resource for additional articles on topic Reading Review Articles • Qualitative review- where authors identify important articles on a topic and integrate the findings in nonstatistical manner, deriving major themes and conclusions from the literature o Annual Reviews- a publisher that specializes in reporting qualitative review articles in 37 disciplines  E.g Annual Review of psychology, social science, clinical psych, neuroscience, etc • Quantitative review- experts identify and review empirical reports on topic, categorizing studies based on methodological quality, then describing number of percent of studies supporting or failed to support particular hypothesis or conclusion, and discuss findings. o Meta-analysis- statistical procedure for combining results of diff studies that examine same topic  Each participant = unit of analysis, each individual response= part of statistically analyzed data  Analyzes each relevant statistical comparison made within each study (e.g 11 experiments 20 statistical comparisons)  Effect size- statistical measure of strength of a relation between two variables • avg effect size for all comparisons if relation between 2 variables=small/ medium/large  use this for trying to combine a review on many articles about the effectiveness of a program Forming a Hypothesis Hypothesis- tentative proposition about causes or outcome of an event, or how variables are related • If-then form as a prediction about relation between 2 or more variables (e.g If X, then Y) • Should be based on a reasoned analysis of existing evidence, making rational use of a theory, or other findings from literature search, prior expert knowledge, or other relevant background info Theory- set of formal statements that specifies HOW and WHY variables or events are related Forming Hypotheses Inductively – data driven- bottom-up processing Inductive Reasoning- using specific ‘facts’ to form a general conclusion or principle • E.g detectives- gathering specific clues and form tentative conclusion of who committed crime & why • E.g prior research findings and other evidence used to form hypotheses Forming Hypotheses Deductively- theory driven- top-down processing Deductive reasoning- using general principle to reach a more specific conclusion • E.g using theory to derive a hypothesis • E.g sexual-strategies theory (men/women have diff predisposed mating strategies)hypothesis bout sex diff in short-term mating strategies (men prefer short-term mating than women) prediction bout sex diff in # of mates desired over any specific period Modus Tollens- If P then Q; Not Q; Therefore not P Characteristics of a good hypothesis Testability- must be testable, which must be falsifiable • Requires the hypothesis to not be vague, but be clearly defined and based on sound reasoning A good hypothesis generates specific predictions so its clear if data supports/refutes it A successful hypothesis is supported by data collected in the study that tests it Exploratory research- research done w/ no relevant theory or little prior info upon which to develop a hypothesis • Q’s asked in exploratory study needs to be stated clearly in order to gather empirical evidence Designing and Conducting a Study Approaches to Conducting Research Quantitative research- relies primarily on numerical data and numerical (e.g statistical) analysis to describe and understand behavior (e.g Emily Rosa’s Therapeutic Touch exp- recorded # of trials) Qualitative research- seeks to achieve a relatively holistic or thematic description and understanding of behavior, primarily thru the nonstatistical analysis of data • Trying to capture the meaning/importance of exps occurring naturally in ppl’s life • E.g usually measured thru interviews or discussion; use audio-video recordings, live observes, verbal content of diary • Examining data w/o statistics- but if stats present, it plays a secondary role to support main thematic analysis of data • Content analysis- analysis of diff t
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