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PSYCH 1200 -ch 2.docx

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2310

PSYCH 1200 –CHAPTER 2 - Curiosity, skepticism, and open mindedness are key scientific attitudes. The scientific process precedes through several steps: 1. Asking questions based on some type of observation; 2. Formulating a tentative explanation and a testable hypothesis 3. Conducting research to test the hypothesis 4. Analyzing the data and drawing a tentative conclusion 5. Building a theory 6. Using the theory to generate new hypotheses, which are tested by more research. - In everyday life we typically use hindsight (after-the-fact understanding) to explain behaviour. This approach is flawed because there may be countless possible explanations and no way to ascertain which is correct. Psychologists prefer to test their understanding through prediction, control and building theories about the causes of behaviour. - A good theory organizes known facts, gives rise to additional hypotheses that are testable, is supported by the findings of new research and is parsimonious. - An operational definition defines a concept or variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or measure it. - Psychologists assess behaviour by obtaining participants’ self reports, gathering reports from others who know the participants, directly observing behaviour, and measuring physiological responses. - The goal of descriptive research is to identify how organisms behave, particularly in natural settings. Case studies involve the detailed study of a person, group or event. Case studies often suggest important ideas for further research but they are a poor method for establishing cause-effect relations. - Naturalistic observation gathers information about behaviour in real-life settings. It often yields rich descriptions of behaviour and allows the examination of relations between variables. Researchers must be careful to avoid influencing the participants being observed and to interpret their observations objectively. - Surveys involve administering questionnaires or interviews to many people. Most surveys study a subset of people (a sample) that is randomly drawn from the large population of people the researcher is interested in. A major advantage to surveys is that representative samples allow for reasonably accurate estimates of the opinions or behaviours of the entire population. Unrepresentative samples, however, can lead to inaccurate estimates. Survey results can be distorted by interviewer bias or biases in the way participants report about themselves. - Correlational research measures the association between naturally occurring variables. A positive correlation means that higher scores on one variable are associated with higher scores on a second variable. A negative correlation occurs when higher scores on one variable are associated with lower scores on a second variable. - Causal conclusions cannot be drawn from correlational data. Variable X may cause Y, Y may cause X or some third variable (Z) may be the true cause of both X and Y. Nevertheless, if two variables are correlated, then knowing the scores of one variable will help predict the scores of the other. - A well-designed experiment is the best way to examine cause-effect relations. Experiments have three essential characteristics; 1. One or more variables are manipulated. 2. Their effects on other variables are measured 3. Extraneous factors are eliminated or reduced so that cause-effect conclusions can be drawn. - Each variable manipulated by the experimenter is an independent variable. Variables hat are measured are dependant variables. The independent variable is viewed as the cause, the dependent variable as the effect. The experimental group receives a treatment or an active level of the independent variable, whereas the control group does not. The behaviour of the control group sets a standard against which the behaviour of the experimental group can be compared. - In some experiments different participants are randomly assigned to each condition, creating experimental and control groups that are equivalent at the beginning of the study. In other experiments participants are exposed to all the conditions, but the order in which the conditions are presented is counterbalanced. - Researchers often examine several casual factors within a single experiment by simultaneously manipulating two or more independent variables. They examine the separate influence of each variable on behaviour and determine whether particular combinations of variables produce distinct effects. - An experiment has high internal validity when it is designed well and permits clear casual conclusions. Confounding occurs when the independent variable becomes mixed with an uncontrolled variable. This ruins internal validity because we can no longer tell which variable caused the changes in the dependent variable. - Internal validity is weakened by; 1. Demand characteristics which are cues that tip off the participants as to how they should behave. 2. Placebo effects in which mere expectations of receiving a treatment produces a change in behaviour. 3. Experimenter expectancy effects which are the subtle ways a researcher’s behaviour influences participants to behave in a manner consistent with the hypothesis being tested. - The double-blind procedure prevents placebo effects and experimenter expectancy effects from biasing research effects. - External validity is the degree to which the findings of a study can be generated to other people, settings and conditions. By replicating (repeating) a study under both similar and dissimilar circumstances, researchers can examine its external validity. - Psychological research follows extensive ethical guidelines
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