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Chapter 2

PSYC 351 Chapter 2.docx

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PSYC 351
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Chapter 2 1. Scientific Research - Scientific method is the approach scientists use to study any problem or issue. The method is a system of rules that scientists use to design, conduct, evaluate and communicate their findings a. The Role of Theory i. Theory is a broad set of statements describing the relation between a phenomenon and the factors assumed to affect it. ii. Law (or principle) is a predicted relation between a phenomenon and a factor assumed to affect it that is supported by a good deal of scientific evidence. iii. Hypothesis is a predicted relation between a phenomenon and a factor assumed to affect it that is not yet supported by a great deal of evidence iv. Two roles of theories: 1. organize research findings by using theories to fit the information together into a coherent explanation 2. guide new research by indicating which hypotheses should be tested b. Objectivity and Measurement i. Objectivity is a characteristic of scientific research; it requires that the procedures and subject matter of investigations be formulated so that they could be agreed on by everyone ii. The primary goal of objective methods of study is to permit any other scientist to conduct the same research in the same manner iii. Objectivity helps reduce potential sources of bias iv. Objectivity can be reached in several ways 1. focus on observable behaviours 2. behaviours under study must be measurable 3. make everything in research quantifiable a. not only the results but also the factors that the researcher hypothesizes might be affecting the behaviours 2. Types of Reearch a. Descriptive Research- research based solely on observations, with no attempt to determine systematic relations among the variables i. Observational Methods 1. Naturalistic observation- entails carefully observing children's behaviour in natural settings. This is different from passively watching children. The difference is that observational methods employed by researchers stress objectivity and are purposefully designed to answer certain research questions about children. 2. There is a risk of being influenced by observer's expectations, beliefs, ideas a. To avoid bias, observers are trained using a common observational protocol. The two observations are compared. If there is no disagreement, then one can be confident about the observation. If there is disagreement, then the behaviour must be observed again, which is possible, since most of these behaviours are recorded 3. Observer influences- the effects of knowing that you are being observed a. make the observer as inconspicuous as possible b. have a camera for a long time before it is actually used c. hidden camera 4. the behaviours might not occur frequently or consistently, making it difficult to be studied a. structured observation - observation of behaviour in settings that are controlled by the investigator. However, results obtained from situations in lab might not be generalized to other settings ii. Interview Methods- collecting information through verbal reports, such as interviews or questionnaires 1. Can be open-ended, with children responding freely and in a conversational way on a given topic a. can be studied qualitatvely 2. Can be structured, with the interviewer asking specific questions 3. Can be questionnaire or interview protocol, in which every child is asked the exact same question in the same order 4. Relies on informant's knowledge, memory, and ability or willingness to communicate information. As such, they may not accurately reflect actually behaviour iii. Case Studies- a research method that involves only a single individual, often with a focus on a clinical issue 1. limitation- the researcher must be very cautious about drawing conclusions from the case 2. valuable, because they may raise new questions or issues that can be studied using more carefully controlled research methods b. Correlational Research- identifying any systematic relations in the observation i. Variable- any factor that can take on different values along a dimension (i.e. height, room size, behaviour (frequency, intensity, duration) ii. Correlation- the relation between two vaiables, described in terms of direction and strength 1. positive correlation- the two variables change in the same direction 2. negative correlation- the two variables change in opposite direction iii. Correlation coefficient (r) - a number between +1 and -1, that indicates the direction and strength of a correlation between two variables iv. Scatter diagram- a graphic illustration of a correlation between two variables v. limitation: correlation is not the same as causation. Although correlational research is a valuable tool for identifying and measuring systematic relations, it cannot be used to explain them; explanation requires further research c. Experimental Research- permits us to draw cause and effect conclusions about the variables. investigating the relation between just two variables i. Additional Consideration 1. Quassi-experimental studies- comparison of groups differing on some important characteristic; investigator has less control over the independent variable; although researchers can talk about differences between the groups, this kind of research does not allow one to make cause-effect conclusion 3. Studying Development a. Longitudinal Research- a research method in which researchers study teh same individuals repeatedly over time i. Main advantage: it allows the researcher to study directly how each behaviour changes as the child gets older ii. Time can vary depending on experiment iii. Can be correlational or experimental. Experimental longitudinal studies usually involve introducing a manipulation at one point in development and then examining its effects on the dependent variable of interest at some later point in development iv. two types of research questions are particularly well suited for longitudinal approach: both are forms of continuity- discontinuity issue 1. Stability or persistence of behaviour- for instance, if we wish to determine the extent to which a child`s temperament remains constant throughout life 2. Effects of early experiences on later behaviour- for instance, if we wish to determine whether certain events or conditions that occur early in a child`s life, i.e. divorce, produce long-term effects v. Disadvantage: 1. Problem of attrition, the loss of individuals in the study, which can occur because of other commitments, lack of interest, too stressful 2. problems with repeated testing- the test taker becomes
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