PSYB01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Psychological Abstracts, Psycinfo, American Psychological Association
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Chapter 2 – Where to Start
The motivation to conduct scientific research derives from a natural curiosity about the world.
Hypothesis and Predictions
•Hypothesis – a statement, formulated by the researcher, that makes an assertion about what is true in a
particular situation; often a statement asserting that two or more variables are related. Therefore, it is only a
tentative idea waiting for evidence to support or refute it.
•Hypothesis can be general, informal questions (ie. “Do males and females differ in their drinking ability”).
In such cases, the researchers develop a procedure for collecting data to answer the questions. These are
informal hypotheses or simply questions about behavior.
•Formal hypotheses state that two or more variables are related (ie. “Crowding results in reduced
performance on cognitive tasks”).
•Such hypotheses are formulated on the basis of past research and theoretical considerations. The research
will then design an experiment to test the hypothesis.
•At this point the experimenter will make a specific prediction concerning the outcome of the experiment.
•If the prediction is confirmed by the results, the hypothesis is supported; if the prediction is not confirmed,
we will either reject the hypothesis or conduct further research using different methods.
•A hypothesis can only be supported is cannot be proven.
Who we Study: A Note on Terminology
•Participants are also referred to as subjects. The publication Manual of the American Psychological
Association recommends using the term “participants” when describing humans who take part in
•Respondents – individuals who take part in survey research.
•Informants – people who help researchers understand the dynamics of particular cultural and
organizational settings – the term originated in anthropological and sociological research.
Sources of Data
Five sources of ideas are:
1. common sense
2. observation of the world
4. past research
5. practical problems
•Common sense – the body of knowledge of things we all believe to be true (ie. “do opposites
•Testing common sense is valuable because such notions don’t always turn out to be true or
research may show the real world is much more complicated than our common sense ideas would
•Conducting research to test common sense often makes us go beyond the common sense theory of
Observation of the World
•Curiousity sparked by observation often leads to asking questions about phenomena (ie. “When I hide
something in a special place I often forget where I put it”). This is what leads most students to engage in
their first research project.
•There is a great diversity of the ideas that can be generated in this way.
•Fried suggested that the negative reaction to rap music may arise because it is associated with Black
music. To test this he asked participants to read lyrics to a folk song with a violent message and he told
them it was either a rap song or a country song. He found they had more negative reactions when they
were told it was a rap song.
•Lynn was a waiter through university and during that time formed many hypotheses about what increased
tips. He took this further and used a scientific approach to test his ideas, making an entire career out of it
and making many new discoveries. Lynn exemplifies that taking a scientific approach to a problem can
lead to important applications.
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