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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYB32H3
Professor
Konstantine Zakzanis

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Chapter 5: Research Methods in the Study of Abnormal Behavior
Scientific research methods that are applied in contemporary psychopathology
Science and Scientific Methods
Sciencepursuit of systematized knowledge through observation.
Scireto know refers both to method and to goal
It is impt. For scientific observations and explanations to be testable and reliable
Testability and Replicability
A scientific approach req. propositions and ideas be stated in clear way
Statements, theories, and assertions must be testable and subj. to disproof
Each observation be replicable or reliable
If cannot be reproduce – distrustful of legitimacy of original observation
The role of theory
Theory – is a set of propositions to explain a class of phenomena
Guides research by suggesting additional data to be used
Hypothesesgenerated by theory : expectations about what should occur if a theory is true – to
be tested in research
Generation of theory is the most challenging part of scientific enterprise
Theories are constructions put together by scientists
Theoretical concept are inferred form observable data and can also summarize already
observed relationships
Criteria of judging legitimacy of a theoretical concept
1. Operationism – each concept take as a meaning a single observable and measurable
operation
2. Flexible way - Concept can be linked to several measurements each taps a different facet
of the concept
Research Methods of Abnormal Psychology
The Case Study
Most familiar, time honoured method of observing others study them one at a time and
record detailed info about them
Collecting historical and biographical info. on a single individual often included
experiences in therapycover family history and background, medical history,
educ.background, jobs held, marital history and details concerning devpt.adjustment,
personality, life course and current situation.
Has been used to :
Provide detail description (e.g. Eve white, black , and Jane = 21)
Disconfirm allegedly universal theoretical proposition
oUseful when they negate an assumed universal rel. or law
oDo not provide the means of ruling out HA
generate hypothesis that can be tested through research
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oCase study notice similarities of situations and outcomes and
formulate impt. Hypothesis that could not have been uncovered in a
more controlled investigation.
oCase studies are primarily informative in terms of the specific and
unique manifestations of the disorder.
To sum, case study is an excellent way of examining behavior of single individual in great detail
and generate hypothesis that later can be evaluated by control research
Focus is just 1 person; not reveal principle char.of people and unable to provide cause and effect
rel.
Epidemiological Research
Epidemiology – study of freq.and distribution of a disorder in a pop.
Data are gathered about rates of disorder & its possible r in large sample or pop.
Focus in determining 3 factors:
1. Prevalence - prop. Of pop that has the disorder at a given pt. or period of time
2. Incidence - # of new cases of disorder that occur in some period, usually a year
3. Risk Factors conditions or variables that if present inc.the likelihood of devping a
disorder
Knowing the 3 factors assoc. with this disorders is impt. for planning health care facilities and
services and for allocating grants for the study of the disorders.
The Correlational Method
Establishes whether there is a relationship bet./among 2 or more variables (measured as
they exist).
Measuring Correlation
Strength of the relationship bet.the 2 sets of observation can be calculated to det.the
Correlation Coefficient –denoted by symbol r. value between -1 to +1
Statistical significance
Refers to the likelihood that the results of an investigation are due to chance
Level of significance = p=.05; if size of corr.coefficient increases result is more likely to
be stat.significant; the greater the no. of observations the small the r needs to be to reach
statistical significance
Applications to Psychopathology
Calculate corr.bet. this variable and another 1 diagnosis is quantified (scoring – averaging)
Classificatory variablesvariables such as having a disorder or not (e.g. anxiety, age sex, social
class and body build)
Naturally occurring and not manipulated
Problems of Causality
R not allow to det.causality – corr not imply causation but causation imply correlation.
High Risk method research technique involving the intensive examination of people who have
a high probability of becoming abnormal (E.g. Schizophrenia)
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