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PSYCH 356 (14)
Chapter 2

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Richard Eibach

Chapter #2: Data, Methods, and Tools  A science begins by creating a language to describe a phenomena in a way that allows a single common understanding to emerge, in order to avoid multiple alternative accounts that vary with each observer  The goal is not just to find a common understanding, but to be able to use it to make accurate predictions and to test if they really are accurate, remaining ready to disconfirm and modify them if they are unsupported  To convert personality speculations about people into ideas that can be studied scientifically, researchers must be able to put them into testable terms using good measures  Central goal of personality psychology is to figure out how these diverse aspects about an individual relate to each other and help us to understand what is going on in the individual as a whole  Interview(oldest method): a verbal exchange between the participant and the examiner, favoured particularly by workers at the Psychodynamic Motivational Level and those at the Phenomenological level  Interviews usefulness as an assessment tool depends on many considerations including how the interview is guided and structured, and how the interviewee’s responses are recorded, coded and interpreted  They also tend to be expensive and time consuming to conduct, as well as to code or score, because it is not easy to have all interviews with different people conducted the same standard way so that they can be compared easily. Therefore many researchers use various standardized tests, often in the form of ratings and self-reports  Test: any standardized measure of behavior, including verbal behavior  Self-reports: any statements people make about themselves  Self-reports offer quick ways of getting info the person is willing and able to reveal  Some tests involve performance measures. Researchers interested in seeing how personality measures in childhood predict academic performance in later life might use measures like the SAT as an outcome assessment OR the anxiety test= repeat long strings of numbers under difficult, stressful conditions is measured, etc  Projective tests: were developed more than 60 years ago and continue to be popular clinical use. With these methods, assessors present the person with ambiguous stimuli and ask them ambiguous questions that have no right or wrongs answers. Measures like these are of theoretical importance to much of the work at the Psychodynamic- Motivational Level  Naturalistic Observation(comes from students of animal behavior, who unobtrusively observe the moment-by-moment lives of such animals as chimpanzees in their natural environment) and Behaviour Sampling: investigator often prefers to observe behavior as it naturally occurs, without any scientific interference Study: Gerald Patterson and coworkers @ the Oregon Social Learning Center developed a behavioural coding system having 29 categories with very specific definitions -Every interaction of the child with another family member was coded, so that it was possible to study the entire sequence of interactions -Data indicated that in distressed families, the problem children’s aversive behaviours continued in “Chains” over longer periods of time, with an escalating pattern of hostile interchanges with family members -When parents in the problem families reacted with punishment, it tended to prolong the escalation of aggression as the child reacted with defiance or resumed aversive behaviours shortly afterward - These behaviours translated into poor social skills, noncompliance at school, poor school achievement, rejection by peers, and in many cases, antisocial beahavior as an adolescent  Direct observation of behavior samples also may be used to assess the relative efficacy of various treatment procedures  Observation is a commonplace method in everyday life; through observation we form impressions and learn about events and people  However, observation as a scientific tool is distinctive in that it is conducted as precisely, objectively, and systematically as possible  When observers are not visible by the individual observed, the effect of the observers’ own behaviors is minimized  Remote Behavior Sampling: Daily Life Experiences: through this, researchers and clinicians can collect samples of behavior from respondents as they live their daily lives  A tiny computerized device carried by respondents pages them at randomly determined times of the day  When the beeper sounds, respondents record their current thoughts, feelings or behaviours, depending on what the researcher or therapist is assessing  Respondents may also report on the kind of situation they are in so that situation-behaviour interactions can be examined (data can be stored in the computer or transmitted directly to the assessor  Remote sampling procedures can be used over weeks or even months to collect a larger behavior sample across many situations  This approach allows researchers and clinicians to detect patterns of personal functioning that might not be revealed by other methods  Physiological Functioning and Brain Imaging: One method under this category is Polygraph; an apparatus that records the activities of the autonomic nervous system  Polygraph apparatus contains a series of devices that translate indices of body changes into a visual record by deflecting a pen across a moving paper chart  Popular component of polygraphic measurement is EKG (Electrocardiogram)  As the heart beats, its muscular contractions produce patterns of electrical activity that may be detected by electrodes placed near the heart on the body surface  Another component is the changes in blood volume that may be recorded by means of a plethysmograph  Other useful measures include changes in the electrical activity of the skin due to sweating recorded by GSR (galvanic skin response) changes in blood pressure and changes in muscular activity  The degree of activation in the cerebral cortex may be inferred from “brain waves” recorded by EEG (Electroencephalograph)  PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans measure the amount of glucose (brain’s main fuel) being used in various parts of the brain and provide an index of activity as the brain performs a particular function  fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) measures the magnetic fields created by the functioning nerve cells in the brain and with the aid of computers depicts these activities as images. These pictures virtually light up the amount of activity in different areas as the person performs mental tasks and experiences different kinds of perceptions, images, though
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