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Chapter 2

Research Methods - Chapter 2 - Psychology 104

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Geoff Hollis

The Hypothetico-Deductive Model • It’s the main framework for inquiry within the scientific method Steps: - Form a theory - Deduce hypothesis from theory - Test predictions - Evaluate theory in light of tests ___________________________________________________________________________ Scientific Method - The concept of “proof” --> “If I open my TV and find a colony of hamsters, have I proven my theory that TV’s are powered by hamsters?” - Falsification --> When testing a hypothesis made by a theory, we are actually trying to to disprove the theory, not confirm it. The scientific method cannot prove that things are true, because it is impossible to rule out all alternative theories that may better account for details of our observations. The scientific method is a tool for eliminating theories that sound plausible but are, in fact, wrong. - Affirming the consequent --> This is a logical error that is often made when trying to do empirical work __________________________________________________________________________ Critical Thinking - The Scientific Method - Scientific Skepticism (How scientists are trained to think about the world, these ways are very effective in figuring things out) --> It is the practice of not taking the world at face-value but, instead, considering it in close detail before drawing conclusions. __________________________________________________________________________ Scientists are trained to follow a few rules, called critical thinking, when being skeptical: • Handling extravagant claims - The more a claim contradicts what we already believe, the more persuasive the evidence for the claim must be before we accept it. • Focus on falsifiable ideas or theories - We only deal with theories that, if they were incorrect, we would have a way to demonstrate this. We are using a process of elimination. An example would be creationism, and it is believed that this theory cannot be falsified, because we have no way of observing it. We cannot prove or disprove this divine being, we can only measure physical things. It does not mean it does or does not exist, but we don’t have the tools to approach this question because we have nothing tangible. • Apply Occam’s Razor - If two theories explain a phenomenon equally well, we should generally prefer to work with the one that makes the fewest assumptions. ex: we have two theories: the first says that clocks work through a series of interlocking gears, and the second says the same except that they’re pushed by invisible pink unicorns. One makes fewer assumptions; we would prefer to work with the simpler of the two, which does not mean that the pink unicorn theory is wrong. Often what happens in scientific research is not that we immediately falsify a theory but, rather, we devise an alternative theory that is more succinct. Another wording: do not multiply entities beyond necessity. Positing the existence of invisible pink unicorns does not add anything extra to our understanding of how clocks work. • Replicate Observations - Findings must be capable of being duplicated by independent researches following the same “recipe”. • Rule out rival theories - How could we rule out the dog suicide theory? (Scotland bridge) _____________________________________________________________________________ _ September 19, 2013 A NEW WAY OF UNDERSTANDING - For most of recorded history, people simply looked to their leaders for understanding. (ex: egyptian Pharaoh's were considered God-men, and Medieval Kings were The Hands of God) MEASUREMENT TOOLS - Accurate measurement devices are, historically, quite new (ex: Gregorian Calendar (1582) and Modern Balance Scales (1700s) - It was difficult to measure the passage of time and seasons in a reliable way - Once we could weigh things accurately this helped out in commerce and the economy, because it was hard to compare weights. MEASUREMENT TERMS - If we want to understand the world by measurement our measurement tools need to be accurate: Operational Definition. These four: 1. Validity • It wouldn’t be useful to define aggression as “the distance you can shoot milk out of your nose while laughing”, we say this definition lacks validity, which is: the characteristic of an observation that allows one to draw accurate inferences about it. • Operational definitions are not “valid” or “invalid”. There is a spectrum from “completely irrelevant” to “exactly what I want to measure”. It’s not one or the other, there are statements or operations that are more or less valid than others. Ex: SAT scores only account for 16% of the variability in college students’ performance, but they are still used as an operational definition of “preparedness for university”. We should be able to take your score on your SAT, and compare it to the marks you receive in University, and they should be similar (share some sort of relationship). Truthfully, there’s actually only a little relationship. • Construct Validity: Operational definitions are tools, and sometimes there are multiple tools for the same job. This term means - the tendency for multiple operational definitions to produce converging findings. Ex: What are three different ways to operationally define aggression? 2. Reliability • Definition: the tendency for a measurement device to produce the same result when used to measure the same thing on different occasions • Suppose we want to operationally define “visual acuity” • Reliable Definition: The minimum threshold of size before you can no longer read letters is 10 feet away. VS. Unreliable definition: The number of ducks you can shoot down on a foggy day • Some psychologists study visual perception, and help opticians develop tools for testing visual activity. You can probably read down to the same place on any day of a given week that you attempt it. 3. Bias • The extent to which a measurement consistently differs in a certain direction away from what it is supposed to be measuring. • Suppose you wanted to understand the effects of playing video games on aggressive behavior. To do this, you: - Recruit Find people who actually play video games and are familiar with the video games and are familiar with the v
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