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Chapter 2

PSYA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Squared Deviations From The Mean, Descriptive Statistics, Standard Deviation

Course Code
Steve Joordens

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Chapter 2:
The Scientific Method in Psychology
x Goal of quantitative/ psychology is the explanation of behaviour
x Need language that is precise enough to be understood by others and general enough to
apply it to a variety of situations this language takes the form of explanations which are
general statements about events that cause phenomena to occur
x Scientific method agreed-upon approach to discovery and explanation
o Set of rules that dictate general procedures a scientist must follow in research
o Rules are based on logic and common sense
x Three types of scientific research:
x Naturalistic observations observation of behaviour of people or animals in their natural
o Least formal and constrained by fewest rules
o Provide foundation of biological and social sciences
x Correlational studies examination of relations between 2+ measurements of behaviour or
other characteristics of people or animals
o Involve more formal measurements of environmental events, of individuals physical
and social characteristics, and of their behaviour
x Experiments study which researcher changes value of an independent variable and
observes whether this manipulation effects value of dependent variable
o Only research which can confirm existence of cause-and-effect relations among
Five steps summarizing the rules of scientific method:
1. Identify the problem and formulate hypothetical cause-and-effect relations among variables
c Involves identifying variables (behaviours and environmental and physiological
events) and describing relations among them in general terms
2. Design the experiment
c experiments involve manipulation of independent variables and observation of
dependent variables
c each variable must be operationally defined and independent variable must be
controlled so that it is only thing responsible for changes to dependent variable
3. Perform experiment
c organize material, train people to perform it, recruit volunteers, randomly assign
volunteers to experimental group of control group
4. Evaluate hypothesis by examining data from study
c Involves special mathematical procedures used to determine whether observed
effect is statistically significant
5. Communicate results
c Article, conferences, conventions
x Replication repetition of an experiment or observational study to see whether
previous results will be obtains; uncovers statistical anomalies and incompetently
conducted research
x Great scientific research occurs as result of long-term research programs in which

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findings are part of collective endeavour
x Psychological research in Canada is supported by:
c Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
c Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
c Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Medical Research Council)
Step 1: Identifying the Problem
x Hypotheses - statement, usually designed to be tested by an experiment, that
tentatively expresses a cause-and-effect relationship between 2+ events
x Theory set of statements designed to explain a set of phenomena, proposes
relationships among variables, and makes new predictions; more encompassing than a
c way of organizing system of related hypotheses to explain some larger aspect of
c generates testable hypotheses - ones that can be supported or proved wrong by
scientific research
x framework for most psychological research is larger in scope than hypothesis but
smaller in scope than full-fledged theory
Naturalistic Observations
x Naturalistics people who carefully observe animals in their own environment, disturbing
them as little as possible; observer remains in background
Step 2: Designing an Experiment
x Variables anything capable of assuming any of several values (very in value)
x Manipulate setting values of an independent variable in an experiment to see
whether value of another variable is affected
x Experimental Group group of participants in an experiment, members of which are
exposed to particular value of independent variable, which has been manipulated by
x Control Group comparison group used in experiment, members of which are exposed
to naturally occurring or zero value of independent variable
x Variable anything capable of assuming any of several values
x Independent variable variable that is manipulated in experiment as means of
determining cause-and-effect
x Dependent variable variable that is measured in experiment as means of determining
cause-and-effect relations
c value of dependent variable depends on value of independent variable
c independent and dependent variables are categories into which various behaviours
are classified
c experiment is performed by manipulating value of independent variable and
observing whether change affects dependent variable
x Nominal Fallacy false belief that one has explained causes of phenomenon by
identifying and naming it; (explaining lazy behaviour by attributing it tolaziness”)
x Operational Definitions translation of generalities into specific terms; definition of a
variable in terms of operations the researcher performs to measure or manipulate it
x Validity -degree to which operational definition of a variable reflects variable it is
designed to measure or manipulate; how appropriate it is for testing researcher's
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