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Chapter 1

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PSYC 102
David Klonsky

Chapter 1 Thinking Critically with Psychological Science Order in Random Events Given random data, we look for order and meaningful patterns. We have a tendency to see order where there is not any. Sometimes by random chance, things just go together. We automatically look for order where there is none. What we see is affected by what is meaningful to ourselves. What one sees may be missed by someone else. Confirmation Bias  The mother of all biases- we attend to what we agree with and ignore what we don’t  We give weight to info that supports our preconceived notions and discount the info that doesn’t.  We see some info that leads us to a certain conclusion & our brains are wired to accept it Examples:  Study on attitudes towards capital punishment  Study on psychiatrists making diagnoses What about smart people? Can we trust their opinions? We can’t trust ourselves in everyday life.  can’t rely on anecdotes or testimonies, MUST RELY ON DATA ex. Icing the kicker  they too have confirmation bias  subject to human nature, will offer some sort of explanation of what’s going on, may be completely inaccurate b/c of inadequate info  smart people have the same susceptibility & limitations as all the rest of us Summary When it comes to knowing truth:  We can’t trust our own personal experience  We can’t trust the opinions of our friends, relatives and loved ones  We can’t trust the opinions of smart people Scientific Method- Our best protection against sloppy thinking & human reasoning , allows us to figure out the right track Hallmarks of Scientific Method:  Objective observation & logically necessary conclusions- look at something in a way where we are not affecting it & measuring it in a way without our opinions (objective can be replicated i.e. questionnaire), don’t go beyond what’s logically necessary to refer or to conclude  Parsimonious explanations- the most efficient explanation is the right one, stick with the most simple, efficient one but sometimes go with the more complex one if it predicts better than a bunch of other simpler explanations though they offer the same results  Independent replication- not until a study is independently replication ( by another group preferably using diff methods), a study is not accurate or believed b/c of human errors  Skepticism- we wonder how somebody knows something or how we know something (b/c of confirmation bias)  Careful designs- careful controls, comparison groups to make accurate inferences from what we learned  Falsifiability- we take what we think is true to predict, can be tested (not science if not making falsifiable predictions)  Open-mind- if there is a falsifiable prediction, then we should be open-minded to test it and find data -> balance “Science is unique mix of openness and skepticism” –Carl Sagan “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself” & “Learn from science that you doubt experts..Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” -Richard Feynman, Physicist What is the scientific method? It’s a research process: Theories turned to hypotheses which lead to research & observations then generate new premises/ideas or refine theories The Quest for Truth When human reasoning goes unchecked by scientific investigation… end up who knows? b/c there hasn’t been any testing Do scientific investigation, wrong ideas don’t work, interpret, come up with new ideas, do more science, get closer and closer to truth gradually but never actually at truth, become more & more accurate 2 possible outcomes 1. Inaccurate beliefs are gradually discredited & gradually replaced by more accurate beliefs OR 2. We don’t have the methods or tech to study & make progress in a certain area, so we remain ignorant temporarily  Either way we are protecting ourselves & the public from inaccurate beliefs  Actually more scientific to say “ I don’t know” Theory-An explanation that integrates principles & organizes & predicts behaviour or events Hypotheses- a testable prediction to enable us to keep, reject or revise the theory Operational definition- the procedures used to define a variable in a study  Construct vs. operational definition  Whole study won’t work out if we choose a bad operational definition  Construct is the concept we want to measure, op def is how the construct is going to be measured Replication- same finding with different participants in different situations Key concept: No confidence/accuracy in a study if it has not been replicated (preferably using diff methods) to confirm findings, actually found something Random Sampling (or “unbiased sample)- when each member of a population has an equal chance of inclusion in a sample  Contrary to specific sampling  Want to represent the broader group  Extremely difficult in reality  Replication becomes more important, keep finding same findings across different samples , become generalized 3 Basic Types of Scientific Studies: Descriptive  Purpose: careful & accurate description  Questionnaires & interviews  Naturalistic observation- observing life as it happens -> Social p
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