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PSYC 201W (78)
Chapter 1-3

Chapter 1-3

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Cathy Mc Farland

PSYC 201: Methods in Behavioral Research CHAPTER 1: THE SCIENTIFIC APPROACH A problem with intuition is that numerous cognitive and motivational biases affect our perceptions, and so we may draw erroneous conclusions about cause and effect (p. 4) - A cognitive bias called illusory correlation occurs when we focus on two events that stand out and occur together Aristotle said we are more likely to be persuaded by a speaker who seems prestigious, trustworthy, and respectable than by one who lacks such qualities. - The scientific approach rejects the notion that one can accept on faith the statements of any authority Empiricism – knowledge based on observations - Fundamental characteristic of the scientific method Falsifiability – ideas that can be falsified by data - If an idea is falsified when tested, it is also advanced because this result will spur the development of new and better ideas Goals of Science (p. 7-9) 1. To describe behavior 2. To predict behavior: once it has been observed with some regularity that two events are systematically related to one another, it becomes possible to make predictions 3. To determine causes of behavior: remember that correlation is not causation. To conclude causation, three things must occur: o Temporal precedence – the order of events in which the cause precedes the effect o Covariation of the cause and effect – when the cause is present, the effect occurs; and when the cause is not present, the effect does not occur o Elimination of alternative explanations – nothing other than the causal variable could be responsible for the observed effect 4. To understand or explain behavior: the scientist seeks to understand why the behavior occurs o Explanations of behavior often must be discarded or revised as new evidence is gathered Basic Research tries to answer fundamental questions about the nature of behavior - Designed to address theoretical issues Applied Research is conducted to address issues in which there are practical problems and potential solutions - Program evaluation research evaluates the social reforms and innovations that occur in government, education, the criminal justice system, industry, health care, and mental institutions o the scientific approach dictates that the new programs should be evaluated - most applied research is conducted in settings such as large business firms, marketing research companies, government agencies, and public polling organizations & are not published, but rather is used within the company - used to help people make better decisions concerning problems that require immediate attention CHAPTER 2: WHERE TO START A hypothesis is a type of idea or question. (p. 17) It is important to note that when the results of a study confirm a prediction, the hypothesis is only supported, not proven. Sources of ideas - common sense – the things we all believe to be true o examples: “Opposites attract,” “birds of the same feather flock together,” “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” - observation of the world around us o observations of personal and social events can provide many ideas for research o ideas can be generated by curiosity of the things that happen around you o serendipity – sometimes some discoveries are the result of accident or sheer luck - theories consist of a systematic body of ideas about a particular topic or phenomenon o two functions:  organize and explain a variety of specific facts or descriptions of behavior  generate new knowledge by focusing our thinking o is grounded in actual data from prior research as well as numerous hypotheses that are consistent with the theory - past research o researchers can use the body of past literature on a topic to continually refine and expand our knowledge - practical problems Library Research - journals o where researchers publish the results of their investigations o see p. 24 for a list of major journals in psychology - psychological abstracts o brief abstracts of psychology and related disciplines o psycINFO search engine strategies  use TI, AU, AND, OR, NOT, and * - Science Citation Index (SCI) and Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) o Allows you to search through citation information such as the name of the author or the article title - literature reviews o articles that summarize the research o Psychological Bulletin o Annual Review of Psychology publishes articles that summarize recent developments in various areas of psychology - other electronic search resources o FirstSearch, Sociological Abstracts, MEDLINE, ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center), Lexis-Nexis and Factiva o PsycARTICLES @ http://www.apa.org/psycarticles/ - google scholar - professional meeting searches o APA, APS, CPA, etc Anatomy of a Research Article (p. 33; also see Appendix A p.
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