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PSYC 201W Chapter Notes -No Alternative, Logical Positivism, Falsifiability


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 201W
Professor
V.Gordon Rose

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Research Methods – Psychology 201
Chapter 1: Intro to Scientific Research
Methods for Acquiring Knowledge
- Intuition
Occurs when one feels they have direct knowledge or insight but cannot state any
observation or reason for the knowledge
Not based on any known reasoning or inferring process
It does not provide a mechanism for separating inaccurate info from accurate info
Sometimes used in science, usually when forming hypotheses
- Authority
A basis for acceptance of info because it is acquired from a highly respected source
Possible problem: Info from an authority source isn’t necessarily accurate
In science, authority can be useful to consult when trying to decide if a hypothesis is
testable, or for advice on how to design a study effectively/study a particular variable
Authority figures consulted in this manner are experts on certain topics who learned
from their own research and empirical findings -> Usually reliable sources
- Rationalism
The acquisition of knowledge through reasoning
Assumes that valid knowledge is acquired if the correct reasoning process is used
Possible problem with rationalism -> Two people can come to two completely
different conclusions even when using reasoning
Reasoning & rationalism are a vital part of the scientific method -> Used when
deriving hypotheses & identifying outcomes that indicate truth or falsity of
hypotheses
- Empiricism
The acquisition of knowledge through experience
Naive Empiricism: Facts that concur with experience are valid & those that do not are
invalid
Many dangers exist when used alone -> Perceptions are affected by many variables
Our memory for events does not remain constant and can be distorted
Empiricism is vital part of science, but empirical observations must be conducted
under controlled conditions & systematic strategies must be used to minimize biases
& maximize objectivity
Science
- The most trustworthy way of acquiring reliable & valid knowledge about the natural world
- Induction:
A reasoning process that involves going from the specific to the general
- Deduction:
A reasoning process that involves going from the general to the specific
- Hypothesis Testing:

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The process of testing a predicted relationship or hypothesis by making observations
& then comparing the observed facts with the hypothesis or predicted relationship
Logical Positivism: A philosophical approach that focused on verifying hypotheses as
the key criterion of science
Falsificationism: A deductive approach to science that focuses on falsifying
hypotheses as the key criterion of science
Duhem-Quine Prinicpal: States that a hypothesis cannot be tested in isolation from
other assumptions
- Naturalism:
Position popular in behavioural science stating that science should justify its
practices according to how well they work rather than according to philosophical
arguments
Empirical Adequacy: Present when theories & hypotheses closely fit empirical
evidence
- Kuhn & Paradigms:
Normal Science: The period in which scientific activity is governed & directed by a
single paradigm
Paradigm: A framework of thought or beliefs by which reality is interpreted
Revolutionary Science: A period in which scientific activity is characterized by the
replacement of one paradigm with another
- Feyerabend’s Anarchistic Theory of Science
Argued that there was no method of science but many methods
Basic Assumptions Underlying Scientific Research
- Uniformity or Regularity in Nature
Science searches for regularities in nature -> If there was no uniformity there would
be no understanding, explanation, or knowledge about nature
Determinism: The belief that mental processes & behaviours are fully caused by prior
natural factors
Probabilistic Causes: A weaker form of determinism that indicates regularities that
usually but not always occur
- Reality in Nature:
The assumption that the things we see, hear, feel, smell, & taste are real
- Discoverability:
The assumption that it is possible to discover the regularities that exist in nature
Characteristics of Scientific Research
- Control
Elimination of the influence of extraneous variables
Without this, one cannot identify causal relationships -> In order to provide
unambiguous answers, researchers rely on control

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Placebo Effect: Improvement due to participants’ expectations for improvement
rather than the actual treatment
- Operationalism
Representing constructs by a specific set of operations
Operational Definition: Defining a concept by the operations used to represent or
measure it
Multiple Operationalism: Using multiple measures to represent a construct
- Replication
The reproduction of results of a study in a new study
Before you can trust the findings of a single research study -> Must determine
whether the observed results are reliable
In order to make a general claim, you must know whether your results can be
replicated
Meta-analysis: A quantitative technique for describing the relationship between
variables across multiple research studies
Role of Theory in Scientific Research
- Theory:
An explanation of how & why something operates
- Logic of Discovery:
The inductive or discovery part of the scientific process
- Logic of Justification:
The deductive or theory-testing part of the scientific process
Role of the Scientist in Psychological Research
- Curious:
Scientist’s goal is the pursuit of knowledge & uncovering regularities in nature
Attempt to answer questions: What? When? Why? How? Under what conditions?
And with what restrictions?
Must maintain an open mind, never become rigid in orientation or method
- Patient
Progress in uncovering regularities in nature is slow -> Research often requires
many months or years of tedious, painstaking work
- Objectivity
Goal in science to eliminate or minimize opinion or bias in the conduct of research
Scientist’s wishes & attitude should not affect research, perfect objectivity is not
realistic
- Tolerant of Change
Scientific method necessitates change, always devising new methods & &
techniques
When a particular approach to a problem fails, a new one must be devised
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