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Chapter 2

PSYA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Naturalistic Observation, Blind Experiment, Dogma

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Steve Joordens

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Chapter 2 Psy a01
Dogmatism- tendency for people to cling to their assumptions
Theories & Hypotheses:
The scientific method: a set of principles about appropriate relationship between ideas and evidence
Theory- a hypothetical explanation of a natural phenomenon
- Data is seen, so a theory is made to explain why this is so
- The best theory is when you can test it, and it has a potential notion can it could be wrong. That
there is something that could falsify the theory
- When evidence is consistent with a theory it increases our confidence in it, but it never makes
us completely certain.
Hypothesis: predictions that can be tested in a way that might prove them to be incorrect (i.e.,
- Muybrudge said, “we have to do more than just look if we want to know the truth about the
Empiricism- belief that accurate knowledge can be acquired through observation
- Empiricism is the right approach
- it requires the empirical method: set of rules and techniques for observation
- The term “variable” is used to refer to anything that can take on multiple “values”
- “Eye Color”, for example, can have the values of “green”, “blue”, “brown”, etc … it is a
categorical variable (or is it?)
- “Height” is another variable, it is a continuous variable because its values lie on a continuum (or
do they?)
- In actuality, whether a variable is categorical or continuous often depends on how it is
Variable: anything that can take on a multiple value
Example: eye color, because it can have a value of more than one
color. Blue, green, brown
Categorical vs. Continuous: eye color is categorical. People fall into a category;
they have a specific color of eye.
Height is continuum, the values follow a continuum. Go from low number-high
number. This distinction is important is because analysis is different for each.
Color could also be continuous. Different shades of color.

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3 things that make people difficult to study:
1. Complexity
- Human brain is extremely complicated
- Difficult to understand how millions of neurons in the brain give rise to thoughts, feelings and
2. Variability
- no two individuals are the same
3. Reactivity
- people act a different way when they are being observed
- when they know they are being studied, they don’t always behave as they usually would
Scientists have designed methods to meet these challenges:
1) Methods of explanation
2) Method of observation
- requirement:
- define the property we wish to measure
- Then find a way to detect it
Defining and Detecting
Operational definition: a description of a property in concrete, measurable terms
Measure: a device that can detect the condition to which an operational definition refers
electromyograph: a device that measures muscle contractions under the surface of a person’s skin
Validity: the extent to which a measurement and a property are conceptually related
Power: the ability of a measure to detect the concrete conditions specified in the operational definition
Demand characteristics: those aspects of an observational setting that cause people to behave as they
think they should
one way to avoid demand characteristics is to measure behaviors that are unable or
unlikely to control, such as facial expressions, blood pressure, reaction times
Naturalistic observation: a technique for gathering scientific information by unobtrusively observing
people in their natural environments
techniques used to avoid influence of expectation on observation
- double blind: an observation whose true purpose is hidden from both the observer and the
person being observed
- frequency distribution: a graphical representation of measurements arranged by the number of
times each measurement was made
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