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Chapter 2

PSYC 1200 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Abusive Power And Control, Standard Deviation, Central Tendency

Course Code
PSYC 1200
Jason Leboe- Mcgowan

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The Scientific Approach to Behaviour
The scientific approach assumes that there are laws of behaviour that can be discovered
through empirical research
The goals of science of psychology include
o The measurement and description of behaviour
o The understanding and prediction of behaviour
o The application of this knowledge to the task of controlling behaviour
A scientific investigation follows a systematic pattern that includes five steps
o Formulate a testable hypothesis
o Select the research method and design the study
o Collect the data
o Analyze the data and draw conclusions
o Report the findings
The two major advantages of the scientific approach are its clarity in communication and
its relative intolerance of error
By integrating apparently unrelated facts into a coherent whole, theories permit
psychologists to make the leap from the description of behaviour to understanding
Looking for Causes: Experimental Research
Experimental research involves the manipulation of an independent variable to ascertain its
effects on a dependent variable
o Done by comparing experimental and control groups
o Must be alike in regards to important extraneous variables
Experimental designs may vary
o Sometimes an experimental group is its own control group
o May have more than one independent or dependent variable
An experiment is a powerful research method that permits conclusions about cause-ad-
effect relationships between variables
Looking for Links: Descriptive/Correlational Research
Psychologists rely on descriptive/correlational research when they are unable to manipulate
the variables they want to study
o Key descriptive methods include naturalistic observation, case studies, and surveys
Descriptive/correlational research methods allow psychologists to explore issues that might
not be open to experimental investigation
o Can't demonstrate cause-and-effect relationships
Looking for Conclusion: Statistics and Research
Psychologists use descriptive statistics, such as measures of central tendency and
variability, to organize and summarize their numerical data
o The mean, median, and mode measure central tendency
o Variability is measured with standard deviation
Correlations may be positive or negative
o The closer to 1 or -1, the stronger the association
o No assurance of causation
Hypothesis testing involves deciding whether observed findings support the researcher's
Findings are statistically significant only when they are unlikely to be due to chance
Looking for Flaws: Evaluating Research
Sampling bias occurs when a sample is not representative of the population of interest
Placebo effects occur when subjects expectations cause them to change their behaviour in
response to a fake treatment
Distortions in self-reports are a source of concern whenever questionnaires and personality
inventories are used to collect data
Experimenter bias occurs when researchers expectations and desires distort their
observations or unintentionally influence their subjects behaviour
Looking at Ethics: Do the Ends Justify the Means?
The key questions concern the use of deception with human subjects and the use of painful
or harmful manipulations with animal subjects
The CPA has formulated ethical principles to serve as guidelines for researchers
Putting it in Perspective: Themes 1 and 7
Two themes are evident
o Psychology is empirical
o People's experience of the world can be highly subjective
The Perils of Anecdotal Evidence
Anecdotal evidence consists of personal stories about specific incidents and experiences
o Often influence people because they tend to be concrete, vivid, and memoriable