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Chapter 1

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PSYC 2360
Carol Anne Hendry

Chapter 1Scientific Understanding of BehaviourScience provides us with a means of addressing questions and providing answersUses of Research MethodsA background in research methods will help read scientific journals and reports critically evaluate methods employed decide whether the conclusions are reasonable ie can they be accepted or notMany occupations require the use of research findingsScientific research has become increasingly important in public policy decisions eg legislators Research can influence judicial decisions Important in assessing the effectiveness of programs designed to achieve certain goals Research can help determine if programs are successful or how successful they are at attaining their goalsThe Scientific ApproachScientific approach is useful because it forces us not to rely on intuition and authority as ways of knowingLimitations of Authority and IntuitionObservations can lead to intuitively reasonable beliefsMany people use intuition and anecdotal evidence to draw GENERAL conclusions about the world around usRelying on intuition means accepting unquestioningly what personal judgement or a single story of experience tells us about the world Numerous cognitive and motivational biases affect our perceptions so we draw erroneous conclusions about cause and effect We usually fall for illusionary bias focusing on two events that stand out and occur together Scientific approach requires MUCH MORE evidence before conclusions like this can be drawnAuthorityAuthority has a significant effect on persuasion and attitude change There is a relationship between credibility of a source and persuasion Authority involves the belief of information from a particular source because of the amount of prestigecredibilityimportance a source has Involves believing the statements of authorities are true The scientific approach rejects this notion that information can be accepted on faith from any authority More evidence needs to be collected before drawing any scientific conclusionsSkepticism science and Empirical ApproachScientists are very skepticalScientific skepticism ideas must be evaluated on the basis of careful logic and results from scientific observationEmpiricism the fundamental characteristic of the scientific method Knowledge is based on observation Data is collected that forms the basis of conclusions about the nature of the world Characteristics of scientific inquiryoScientists make observations that are accurately reported to other others oScientists search for observation that will verify their ideas oScience flourishes when there is an open exchange of ideas and competition among ideasGood scientific ideas are testableThey can be supported or they can be falsified by data FALSABILIYoPeer review of research is carried out and is very importantThis process ensures that major flaws do not become part of the scientific literatureIntegrating intuition skepticism and authorityScientific approach provides an objective set of rules for gathering evaluating and reporting information A general rule is to be highly skeptical when scientific assertations are made that are supported by vague or improbably evidence Goals of ScienceFour goals of scienceoDescribe behaviouroPredict behaviouroDetermine the causes of behaviouroUnderstand or explain behaviourDescription of behaviourBegin with careful observation to be able to describe eventsResearchers are often interested in describing the ways in which events are systematically related to one anotherPrediction of BehaviourOnce behaviour has been observed it becomes possible to make predictions One implication is that is allows us to predictanticipate eventsThe ability to predict outcomes often helps us make better decisions Determining the causes of BehaviourAlthough we can accurately predict the occurrence of a behaviour the cause may not have been correctly identified To know how to change behaviour you need to know the cause of behaviourTo conclude causation three things need to occuroTemporal precedence order of events in which the cause precedes the effect oCovariation of cause and effect when the cause is present the effect occurs and when the cause is not present the effect does not occur oElimination of Alternative explanation nothing other than a causal variable could be responsible for the observed effect There should be no other plausible alternative for the relationship Explanation of BehaviourScientists seek to understand why behaviour occursDescription prediction determination of cause and explanation are all closely intertwinedDetermining cause and explaining behaviour are all particularly closely related because it is difficult to know the true cause or all the causes of behaviour There is usually a certain amount of ambiguity in the enterprise of scientific inquiry New research findings almost always pose new questions that must be addressed by new and further evidence Basic and Applied Research Basic and applied research terms can be looked at as a continuum Most research is not just basic or applied but can be bothBasic research Tries to answer fundamental questions about the nature of behaviour Studies try to answer theoretical issues regarding phenomena such as cognition emotion motivation learning psychobiology personality development and social behaviourApplied research Conducted to address issues in which there are practical problems and potential solutions oProgram evaluation a major area of applied research Program evaluation evaluated the social reforms and innovations that occur in areas such as government education justice system etc oA lot of applied research is conducted in large settings such as business firms marketing research companies etc Comparing basic and applied research Neither can be considered superior to the otherApplied research is guided by the theories and findings of basic research investigation Behaviour research has significant applications to public policy
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