PSYA01 - CH 2 TEXT NOTES

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PSYA01H3 2010-10-19
CHAPTER 2: THE WAYS AND MEANS OF PSYCHOLOGY
The Scientific Method in Psychology
To explain behaviour we must use a method that is both precise enough to be clearly understood by others and
general enough to be applied to a variety of situations
Scientific method: a set of rules that governs the collection and analysis of data gained through observational
studies or experiments
The rules of the scientific method are based on logic and common sense and apply to a form of research that
identifies cause-and-effect relationships; experiments
Experiment: a study in which the researcher changes the value of an independent variable
Only experiments can confirm the existence of cause-and-effect relationships among variables
Five steps of an experiment:
1. Identify the problem and formulate hypothetical cause-and-effect relations among variables
x Involves identifying variables and describing the relations between them in general terms
x The hypothesis states that something about the first affects the second
2. Design the experiment
x Involves the manipulation of indep. variables and the observation of dep. Variables
x Each variable must be operationally defined (defined in terms of the operations the researcher
performs to measure or manipulate the variable)
x The indep. variable must be controlled so that only it, and no other variable, is responsible for
any changes in the dep. variable
3. Perform the experiment
x Randomly assigned volunteers to an experimental group or a control group
4. Evaluate the hypothesis by examining the data from the study
x Do the reports support or refute the hypothesis?
x Often involves special mathematical procedures used to determine whether an observed effect
is statistically significant (likely that the observed relation or difference between two variables
really exists rather than being due to chance factors)
5. Communicate the results
x /v๎u}๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎U๎๎๎ร๎Z}o}P]๎๎๎๎ร๎]๎๎๎๎v๎๎๎๎]๎o๎๎๎Z๎๎๎]v๎oยต๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎]๎๎]}v๎}(๎๎Z๎๎๎ร๎๎๎]u๎v๎[๎๎
procedure and results and a discussion of their significance
Following these steps decreases the chances of us being misled by our observations or forming incorrect
conclusions in our research
Types of Research
Naturalistic observation: observation of the behaviour or people or other animals in their natural
environments
x Little interference, but hard to do well (your very presence disturbs normal/natural activities)
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PSYA01H3 2010-10-19
Clinical observation: observation of the behaviour of people or animals while they are undergoing diagnosis or
treatment
The above two methods are the least formal and constrained by the fewest rules ร naturalistic observations
provide the foundations of the biological and social sciences
Correlational studies: the examination of relations between two or more measurements of behaviour or other
characteristics of people or other animals
x Observational in nature, but does not provide causal information
x The researcher may conclude that the phenomena measured are related in some particular way
Experiments go beyond mere measurement; a psychologist performing an experiment makes things happen
and observes the results
x With a proper designed experiment, causal information can be determined
Identifying the Problem: Getting an Idea for Research
Hypothesis: a statement, usually designed to be tested by an experiment, that tentatively expresses a cause-
and-effect relationships between two or more events
x The starting point of any study, derived from the Greek word hypothesis u๎๎v]vP๎^๎ยตPP๎๎๎]}v_
Theory: a set of statements designed to explain a set of phenomena; more encompassing than a hypothesis
x Explains known facts, proposes relations among variables, and makes new predictions
x A scientific theory operates within the scientific method to organize a system of facts and related
hypotheses to explain some larger aspect of nature
x A good theory fuels the creation of more hypotheses ร generates testable hypotheses (hypotheses
that can be potentially supported or refuted by scientific research
x Some theories are so general that they produce no testable hypotheses and cannot be subjected to
scientific exactness
Many research endeavours in psychology are directed towards making some particular theory stronger
x The try to show that the evidence is consistent with the hypothesis
x They explore the relationship between concepts within the theory
x Sometimes, research stimulates us to think about old problems in new ways by showing how findings
that did not appear to be related to each other can be explained by a single concept
Systematic observations permit trained observers to discover subtly different categories of behaviour and to
develop hypotheses about their causes
Case studyW๎๎๎๎๎๎๎]o๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎]๎๎]}v๎}(๎๎v๎]v๎]ร]๎ยต๎o[๎๎๎๎Z๎ร]}ยต๎๎๎ยต๎]vP๎๎Z๎๎๎}ยต๎๎๎๎}(๎๎o]v]๎๎o๎๎๎๎๎๎u๎v๎๎}๎๎
diagnosis
Survey studyW๎๎๎๎๎ยต๎ร๎}(๎๎๎}๎o๎[๎๎๎esponses to standardized question
x A case of naturalistic/clinical observation in which the researcher interferes with the situation in the
natural/clinical setting
A clinical psychologist could also manipulate the treatment given to a patient with the desire of producing a
more beneficial result ร could be written as a case study, but is really an experiment, not an observation study
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PSYA01H3 2010-10-19
Designing an Experiment
Variables: anything capable of assuming any of several values
Scientists either manipulate or measure the values of variables in an experiment
Manipulation: setting the values of an independent variable in an experiment to see whether the value of
another variable is affected
Experimental group: the group of participants in an experiment that is 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 measured in an experiment and hypothesized to be affected by the
independent variable
Scientists want to understand the causes of behaviour in more than one specific situation
x Variables that hypotheses deal with are expressed in general terms
x Independent/dependent variables are categories into which various behaviour are classified
o E.g. hit๎]vPU๎l]๎l]vPU๎๎]๎]vPU๎๎๎๎X๎ร}ยตo๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎P}๎]ร๎๎๎๎๎๎^]v๎๎๎๎๎๎๎}v๎o๎๎PP๎๎๎๎]}v_
x A psychologist must have enough knowledge about a particular type of behaviour to classify it
Nominal fallacy: the false belief that we have explained causes of a phenomenon by identifying and naming it
x ๎XPX๎๎๎o]๎ร]vP๎๎Z๎๎๎ร๎๎Z๎ร๎๎๎ร๎o๎]v๎๎๎o๎รร๎๎๎Z๎ร]}ยต๎๎๎ร๎๎๎๎๎]๎ยต๎]vP๎]๎๎๎}๎^o๎ร]v๎๎๎_
Classifying only prepares us to examine & discover events that cause behaviour; it does not explain behaviour
Identifying causes is not as simple as merely identifying preceding events; many internal and external events
may precede any behaviour, some of which will be causal and others have no influence
Change blindness: insensitivity to a changed scene
Hypotheses are described in general terms, but when designing an experiment, we must decide what particular
variables will be manipulated and measured
Any general concept can be operationalized in many different ways; one particular operational definition may
or may not succeed in manipulating the independent variable or measuring the dependent variable
Validity: the degree to which the operational definition of a variable accurately reflects the variable it is
designed to measure or manipulate
x How approp๎]๎๎๎๎๎๎ร๎๎]๎๎o๎๎]๎๎(}๎๎๎๎๎๎]vP๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎๎Z๎๎[๎๎Zร๎}๎Z๎๎]๎
Converging evidence: other operational def. of the same concept(s) provide similar results
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Document Summary

Chapter 2: the ways and means of psychology. To explain behaviour we must use a method that is both precise enough to be clearly understood by others and general enough to be applied to a variety of situations. Scientific method: a set of rules that governs the collection and analysis of data gained through observational studies or experiments. The rules of the scientific method are based on logic and common sense and apply to a form of research that identifies cause-and-effect relationships; experiments. Experiment: a study in which the researcher changes the value of an independent variable. Only experiments can confirm the existence of cause-and-effect relationships among variables. Identify the problem and formulate hypothetical cause-and-effect relations among variables. Involves identifying variables and describing the relations between them in general terms. N the hypothesis states that something about the first affects the second: design the experiment. Involves the manipulation of indep. variables and the observation of dep.

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