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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Notes

Course Code
Konstantine Zakzanis

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Chapter 5 Research Methods in the Study of Abnormal Behaviour
Science & the Scientific Method
It is important that scientific methods be reliable (replicable- must occur under prescribed
circumstances not one, but repeatedly) and testable (open to systemic probe)
Theory: A set of prepositions meant to explain a class of phenomena. A primary goal of
science is to advance theories to account for data, often by proposing cause-effect
relationships. They are constructions put together by scientists.
Hypothesis:Expectations of what should occur if the theory is true
Scientists must often use theoretical concepts (unobservable states or processes that are
inferred by observable data) to come up with a theory
In abnormal psychology, theoretical concepts are used to fill in information that are unaccounted
for based on a theory (i.e. if a person goes though a traumatic event, and their attitude suddenly
changes we can use the theoretical concept of applied fear to fill the gap)
Operationism, an earlier school of thought, suggested that each theoretical concept take as its
meaning, only observable and measurable operation (i.e. the concept of anxiety could be
thought as scoring over 50 on an anxiety test)
The problem with that was each concept was too specific, and it lost its generality. A concept
did not include events, only one specific one
Research Methods of Abnormal Psychology
The Case Study
The most familiar and time-honoured method; Therapists gather historical and biographical
information on a single individual (i.e. background, family/medical history, educational
background, jobs held, marital history, life course etc.)
However, how the therapist gathers information and what they focus more attention on is
determined by what paradigm they chose to adopt
Case studies are beneficial because...
They provide detailed descriptions of rare/unusual phenomenon and of important
methods of interviewing, diagnosing and treatment

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Disconfirm allegedly universal aspects of a particular theoretical proposition
General testable, controlled hypotheses
They can also be effective by combining a series of cases of unusual phenomenon using a
method called constant comparative method, which consists of the identification of relevant
information (unitization), placing the units in categories that immerge from the data
(categorization), and providing organizational themes for the information (identifying themes)
Case studies are especially effective (as evidence) if they disprove an assumed universal
relationship/law. However, case studies are not useful in ruling out the possibility of alternate
i.e. if a clinician diagnoses a person with depression and comes up with a treatment method
which significantly reduces the depression in 10 weeks, it is not enough to conclude that the
treatment worked, it is possible other factors could have contributed to the loss of depression (a
stressful situation could have solved itself, the depression could have been naturally time limited
etc.) the case study does not rule out these possibilities
Therefore case studies are great for studying in great detail the phenomena of one individual as
well as forming hypotheses but it is not useful in general studies where universal laws are used
The case study is an excellent way of examining the behaviour of an individual in great detail
and of generating hypotheses that can later be evaluated by controlled research.
Epidemiological Research
Epidemiology:The study of the frequency and distribution of a disorder in a population
Data is gathered about the rates of a disorder and its possible correlates in a large sample or
Epidemiological research tries to determine three features of a disorder:
1.The proportion of a population that has the disorder at a given point (prevalence)
2.The number of new cases of the disorder that occurs in some period of time, usually a
year (incidence)
3.Conditions or variables that, if present, increase the likelihood of developing the disorder
(risk factors)
The Correlation Method
This method establishes whether or not there is a relationship between 2 or more variables
This method differs from experimental methods because the variables are observed in their
natural states; they are not manipulated/controlled. So there would be no need to recreate
stress in a lab
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