Chapter 2 Notes

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Published on 3 Jul 2011
School
UTSC
Department
Psychology
Course
PSYA01H3
2 The Ways and Means of Psychology
Scientific method:A set of rules that governs the collection and analysis of data gained
through observational studies or experiments.
Naturalistic observation:The observation of the behaviour of people or other
animals in their natural environments (with as little involvement as possible). Most
scientific questions begin by someone observing something in its natural habitat
Example: Jane Goodales work with chimpanzees. For chimpanzees eye contact was a
struggle for hierarchy. The first one to back down will be the weaker one.
Problem: Almost impossible for a human being to be invisible, so it is not exactly natural.
Clinical observation:The observation of the behaviour of people who are undergoing
diagnosis or treatment.
Correlational study:The examination of relations between two or more
measurements of behaviour or other characteristics of people or other animals.
Correlational studies are used to study variables that cannot be manipulated by the
experimenter. For example, a persons sex, genetic history, income, social class, family
environment, and personality are obviously not under the researchers control.
Experiment:A study in which the researcher changes the value of an independent variable
and observes whether this manipulation affects the value of a dependent variable. Only
experiments can confirm the existence of cause-and-effect relations among variables.
Hypothesis:A statement, usually designed to be tested by an experiment that tentatively
expresses a cause-and-effect relation between two or more events.
Theory:A set of statements designed to explain a set of phenomena; more
encompassing than a hypothesis.
Case study:A detailed description of an individuals behaviour during the course of
clinical treatment or diagnosis. As with naturalistic observations, these could form the
basis of hypotheses about the causes of behaviour. Unlike a naturalist, however, a clinical
psychologist most likely does not remain in the background, because the object of therapy is
to change the patients behaviour and to solve problems. Indeed, the psychologist is ethically
constrained to engage in activities designed to benefit the patient; he or she cannot
arbitrarily withhold some treatment or apply another just for the sake of new observations.
So, like the naturalist, a clinician is bound by certain rules that limit the kinds of
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observations that can be made: The clinician cannot interfere with the treatment regime
prescribed for the patient.
Survey study:A study of peoples responses to standardized questions.
Variable:Anything capable of assuming any of several values.
Manipulation:Setting the values of an independent variable in an experiment to see
whether the value of another variable is affected.
Experimental group:A group of participants in an experiment, the members of which
are exposed to a particular value of the independent variable, which has been manipulated
by the researcher.
Control group:A comparison group used in an experiment, the members of which are
exposed to the naturally occurring or zero value of the independent variable.
Independent variable:The variable that is manipulated in an experiment as a means
of determining cause-and-effect relations.
Dependent variable:The variable that is measured in an experiment.
Nominal fallacy:The false belief that one has explained the causes of a phenomenon by
identifying and naming it; for example, believing that one has explained lazy behaviour by
attributing it to laziness. Classifying behaviour does not explain it; classifying only
prepares us to examine and discover events that cause behaviour.
Operational definition:The definition of a variable in terms of the operations the
researcher performs to measure or manipulate it.
Validity:The degree to which the operational definition of a variable accurately
reflects the variable it is designed to measure or manipulate. Let us consider this
operational definition: the time it takes from initial presentation of the stereogram to the
pressing of the response button. How can we know that the participant has actually seen
the hidden image? Even with our best of intentions, a person in an experiment like this
might be reacting to imagination rather than actual visual perception. As one possible
check, we could construct our stereograms so that the image appears in one of the four
quadrants of the display screen. We could then ask participants to point to the quadrant in
which they had seen the image. Using only those times that were associated with correct
points would increase the validity of our measure.
Manipulation checks can be used to test the validity of independent variables.
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Document Summary

Scientific method: a set of rules that governs the collection and analysis of data gained through observational studies or experiments. Naturalistic observation: animals in their natural environments (with as little involvement as possible). Most scientific questions begin by someone observing something in its natural habitat. The observation of the behaviour of people or other. For chimpanzees eye contact was a struggle for hierarchy. The first one to back down will be the weaker one. Problem: almost impossible for a human being to be invisible, so it is not exactly natural. The observation of the behaviour of people who are undergoing. The examination of relations between two or more measurements of behaviour or other characteristics of people or other animals. Correlational studies are used to study variables that cannot be manipulated by the experimenter. For example, a person"s sex, genetic history, income, social class, family environment, and personality are obviously not under the researcher"s control.