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Chapter 5

PSYB32H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Statistical Significance, Conduct Disorder, Mental Disorder


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYB32H3
Professor
Konstantine Zakzanis
Chapter
5

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Chapter 5-Research Methods in the Study of Abnormal Behaviour
Science and Scientific Methods
Science is the pursuit of systemized knowledge though observation
Testability and Replicability
A scientific approach first requires that propositions and ideas be stated in a clear way
Only then can scientific claims be tested and subject to disproof
Whatever is observable must be replicable
The Role of Theory
A Theory is a set of propositions meant to explain a class of phenomena
A primary goal in science is to advance theories to account for data, often proposing a
cause-and-effect relation
A theory permits the generation of hypothesesexpectations about what is to occur if
the theory is trueto be tested in research
It is sometimes asserted that a scientist formulates a theory simply by considering data
that have been previously collected and then deciding that a given way of thinking
about the data is the most economical and useful
Aspects not mentioned are creativity of the act and the excitement of finding a novel
way to conceptualize things
Theories are constructions put together by scientists
In forming a theory scientists must often make theoretical conceptsunobservable
states or processes that are inferred from data
It is useful because it can bridge temporal gaps, and summarize already observed
relationships
In judging the legitimacy of a theoretical concept, the school of thought operationism
proposed that each concept take as it’s meaning a single observable and measurable
operation
This method made the concepts lose their generality
A more flexible position was born that a theoretical concept is a set of operations rather
than a single operation
Research Methods of Abnormal Psychology
Often researchers observe several events and try to determine how they are related
For example symptoms can be related to other characteristics such as gender or social
class

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The Case Study
The case study has been used to:
o Provide a detailed description of unusual phenomenon and of important
methods or procedures of interviewing, diagnosis and treatment
o Disconfirm allegedly universal aspects of a particular phenomenon
o Generate hypotheses that can be tested through controlled research
Providing a Detailed Description
Constant comparative method
o Identification of relevant units of info (unitizing)
o Placing the units into categories (categorization)
o Providing organizational themes for info (identifying themes)
The Case Study as Evidence
Case studies are useful when they negate a universal relationship or law
Case studies do not provide the means for ruling out alternative hypotheses
Generating Hypotheses
Eventually they notice similarities of circumstances and outcomes and formulate
important hypotheses
Some case studies are also informative about specific and unique manifestations of a
disorder
The case study cannot form general laws to explain phenomena and it cannot provide
evidence concerning cause-and-effect relationships
Epidemiological Research
Epidemiology is the study of the frequency and distribution of a disorder in a population
Focuses on three factors of a disorder
o Prevalencethe proportion of a population that has the disorder at a given time
o Incidencethe number of new cases of the disorder that occur in the some
period usually a year
o Risk factorsconditions or variables that if present increase the likelihood of
developing the disease
Knowing these three is important in planning health care facilities and services
Early Risk Factors and Psychological Disorders in a Canadian Setting: The Role of Abuse
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Parental mental disorder and severe abuse are the strongest risk factors
Canada has a child protection/”duty to report” legislation to reduce the long term
negative consequences of abuse and neglect
There are much higher rates of abuse for Aboriginal children
There are many factors for the high rate:
o Devastating impact of European contact
o Distrust of outsiders
There is a strong association between spanking and prevalence of anxiety disorders,
abuse of alcohol, and conduct disorder (undercontrolled disorders)
People’s inability or limited ability to recall experiences may have led to an
underestimation of the prevalence of spanking
It is possible that specific adversities that occur in childhood do not result in specific
disorders
Gender is also a risk factor for depression
The Correlational Method
The Correlational method establishes if there is a relationship between two or more
variables
In the correlational method the variables being studies are measured, in
experimental research the variables are manipulated and controlled by the
researcher
Measuring Correlation
The first step in determining a correlation is to obtain pairs of observations of the
variables in question
The strength of the relationship of the two observations can be calculated using the
correlation coefficient denoted by the symbol r
May take a value between -1.00 and +1.00
The higher the value of r the stronger the relationship
If the sign of r is positive the two variables are said to be positively related: as values
for X increase, those for Y also increase
If the sign of r is negative the two variables are said to be negatively related: as
values for X increases, those for Y decrease
In perfect relationships all points fall on a straight line. If you know the value for one
variable you can state the value for the other variable
Values tend to scatter increasingly as the correlation becomes lower
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