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Chapter 2

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CHAPTER TWO Empiricism  Dogmatists – thought that the best way to understand illness was to develop theories abou the human body  Empiricists- thought that the best way to understand sickness was to observe sick people  Dogmatism: the tendency for people to cling to their assumptions  Empiricism: describe the belief that accurate knowledge can be acquired through observation.  Empiricism is the essential element of the scientific method, which is a set of principles about the appropriate relationship between ideas and evidence.  Theory- a hypothetical explanation of a natural phenomenon.  When scientists set out to develop a theory they start with the simplest one, and they refer to this as the rule of parsimony, which is credited to William Ockham  Hypothesis: which is a falsifiable prediction made by a theory  Religion - Because such theories do not give rise to hypotheses, they cannot be the subject of scientific investigation  Edward Muybridge invented a technique where you can take consecutive rapid photos and proved that all four feet of the horse leave the ground when it gallops.  Empirical method: which is a set of rules and techniques for observation? 3 Things that make People Difficult to Study: - Complexity -Variability - Reactivity  Psychologists have developed 2 kinds of methods to meet these challenges: methods of observation, which allow them to determine what people do, and methods of explanation, which allow them to determine why people do it.  Psychologists cannot simply use casual observations because: they are unstable and they can’t tell us about all the properties we may be interested in.  Luckily psychologists have developed techniques to work around these: Measurements & Descriptions. Measurement  When measuring you must always do two things: define the property we wish to measure and then find a way to detect it.  operational definition: which is a description of a property in concrete, measurable terms  measure: which is a device that can detect the condition to which an operational definition refers.  electromyograph (EMG) which is a device that measures muscle contractions under the surface of a person’s skin **Having an operational definition that specifies a measurable event and a device that measures that event are the two keys to scientific measurement.**  good measures have three properties: validity, reliability and power. - Validity refers to the extent to which a measurement and a property are conceptually related. - Reliability: the tendency for a measure to produce the same measurement whenever it is used to measure the same thing - Power: the ability of a measure to detect the concrete conditions specified in the operational definition.  Demand characteristics are those aspects of an observational setting that cause people to behave as they think they should  Naturalistic observation is a technique for gathering information by unobtrusively observing people in their natural environments - unfortunately many things psychologist want to observe don’t occur naturally, therefore they have made ways to avoid demand characteristics such as:  Confidentiality  Measure behaviours that are not susceptible to demand (pupil dilation)  When people are unaware that a demand and behaviour are related (eye blinking & concentration)  Keep the people who are being observed “blind”  Use cover stories (filler items)  Observer Bias – expectations can influence observations & reality. (rat-maze experiment)  Because both the observer and participant can influence the results, psychological experiments usually use the method of double-blind observation: which is an observation whose true purpose is hidden from both the observer and the person being observed Descriptions  The most common kind of graphic measurement in psychology is frequency distribution: which is a graphic representation of measurements arranged by the number of times each measurement was made  a common shape is the bell curve, which is technically known as the Gaussian distribution or the normal distribution: which is a mathematically defined frequency distribution in which most measurements are concentrated around the middle -in normal distribution the mean, median and mode are equal  In psychology, brief summary statements that capture the essential information from a frequency distribution are called descriptive statistics. There are two important kinds of descriptive statistics: those that describe the central tendency of a frequency distribution and those that describe the variability in a frequency distribution Measures of variability: - simplest measure of variability is range - standard deviation is a statistic that describes the average difference between
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