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Chapter 2


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

CHAPTER 2 BOOK NOTES 2.0 Methods in Psychology -Louise Hay, bestselling authors of all time, believes that everything that happens to us (accident and disease) is a result of the thoughts we choose to think. -Believes she cured herself of cancer by changing her thoughts. 2.1 Empiricism: How to Know Stuff -Two kinds of doctors for ancient Greeks: -Dogmatists (dogmatikos): who thought that the best way to understand illness was to develop theories about the body’s functions. -People who went to dogmatists tend to die a lot. -Empiricists: who thought that the best way to understand illness was to observe sick people. -Today’s meaning of dogmatism and empiricism: -Dogmatism: tendency for people to cling their assumptions -Empiricism: the belief that accurate knowledge can be acquired through observation. 2,2 The Scientific Method -Scientific method: a set of principles about the appropriate relationship between ideas and evidence. -Theory: hypothetical explanation of a natural phenomenon -Ideas about how and why things work they way they do. -Hypothesis: a falsifiable prediction made by a theory 2.3 The Art of Looking -Eadweard Muybridge, invented a technique for taking photographs in rapid succession, and his photos showed that when horses gallop, all four feet leave the ground. -Empirical method: a set of rules and techniques for observation -Method: techniques that enhance the powers of the senses -Three things that make people difficult to study: 1. Complexity: the brain is complicated to study 2. Variability: people are as varied as their fingerprints 3. Reactivity: people act one way when they are being observed -Psychologists have developed two kinds of methods that are designed to meet these challenges: 1.methods of observation: allows them to determine what people do 2.methods of explanation: allows them to determine why people do it 2.4 In Summary -Empiricism is the belief that the best way to understand the world is to observe it. -Scientific method suggests that our theories about the world give rise to falsifiable hypothesis. 2.5 Observation: Discovering What People Do -Observe: to use one’s senses to learn about the properties of an event or an object. 2.6 Measurement -Measure: a device that can detect the condition to which and operational definition refers. -To measure we must define the property we wish to measure and then find a way to detect it. -Operational definition: a description of a property in concrete, measurable terms. -Electromyograph (EMG): a device that measures muscle contractions under the surface of a person’s skin. -Good measures have three properties: validity, reliability, and power. -Validity: the extent which a measurement and 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 to detect the concrete conditions specified in the operational definition. -Demand Characteristics: aspects of an observational setting that cause people to behave as they think they should. -A “demand” that people say and do things that they normally might not -Naturalistic observation: a technique for gathering information by unobtrusively observing people in their natural environments. -People being observed without any knowledge of it. -Demand characteristics can be avoided when they cannot be identified as the originators of their actions (I.e., anonymous questionnaires) -Also, keeping the people who are being observed from knowing the true purpose of the observation. -Psychologists use ‘cover stories’: misleading explanations that are meant to keep people from discerning the true purpose of an observation. -Observer bias, expectations can influence observations. -Double-blind observation: an observation whose true purpose is hidden from both the observer and the person being observed. 2.7 Descriptions -Two techniques for making sense of big pages full of numbers: graphic representations and descriptive statistics. -Frequency distribution: a graphic representation of measurements arranged by the number of times each measurement was made. -Graphic representations, human beings typically find it easier to understand things when they are represented visually. -Normal distribution: a mathematically defined frequency distribution in which most measurements are concentrated around the middle. -Normal distribution is symmetrical, has a peak in the middle, and trails off at both ends. -Descriptive statistics, a brief summary statement that captures the essential information from a frequency distribution. -Two important kinds of descriptive statistics: central tendency and variability -Central tendency: statements about the value of the measurements that tend to lie near the center of midpoint of the frequency distribution. -mode: value of the most frequently observed measurement -mean: average value of all the measurements -median: value that is “in the middle” -range: the value of the largest measurement in a frequency distribution minus the value of the smallest measurement. -Standard deviation: a statistic that describes the average and the mean of that distribution. 2.8 In Summary -Measurement involves defining a property in terms of a concrete condition, and then constructing a measure that can detect that condition. -A good measure is valid, reliable, and powerful -Demand characteristics are features of a setting that suggest to people that they should behave in a particular way. -Psychologists try to reduce this by observing participants in their natural habitats. -Observer bias is the tendency for observers to see what they expect to see or cause others to behave as they expect them to behave. -Psychologists often describe the measurements with graphic representation called a frequency distribution, which often has a special shape known as the normal distribution. -Also describe their measurements with descriptive statistics, most common of which are descriptions of central tendency and descriptions of variability. 2.9 Explanation: Discovering Why People Do What They Do -Ultimate goal of scientific research is to discover casual relationships between properties. 2.10 Correlation -When performing a study the following should be present: -Variables: properties whose values can vary across individuals or over time. (I.E., letters can be used in algebra not just numbers) -Make a series of measurements rather than making just one. - Discern a pattern of measurements. -Correlation: two variables are said to “be correlated” when variations in the value of one variable are synchronized with variations in the value of the other. -Correlation coefficient: a measure of the direction and strength of a correlation. -Symbolized by the letter ‘r’ -Has a limited range, r can range from -1 to 1 - r=1 perfect positive correlation - r= -1 perfect negative correlation - r =0 uncorrelated 2.11 Causation - Immanuel Kant, philosopher who suggested people come into the world with cause-detectors built into their brains. -For centuries, people believed solar eclipses cause birth defects or human sacrifices bring rain. -Natural correlation: the correlations we observe in the world around us. -Example, violence to which a child is exposed through media and the aggressiveness of the child’s behavior. -Third-variable correlation: two variables are correlated only because each is casually related to a third variable. -To determine a third va
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