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Chapter 2

PSYA01H3 Chapter 2: Chapter-2-Notes (1)
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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYA01H3
Professor
Steve Joordens
Semester
Fall

Description
2.1 Empiricism: How to Know Stuff o Dogmatism to describe the tendency for people to cling to their assumptions and the word empiricism to describe the belief that accurate knowledge can be acquired through observation 2.2 The Scientific Method o Empiricism is the essential element of the scientific method, which is a set of principles about the appropriate relationship between ideas and evidence o We gather empirical evidence relevant to an idea and then modify the idea to fit the evidence o Theory: hypothetical explanation of a natural phenomenon o The rule of parsimony: plurality should only be posited when necessary or “keep it simple, stupid” o START with the simplest theory possible and then make the theory complicated only if we must. o Hypothesis: falsifiable prediction made by a theory o Your observation should be consistent 2.3 The Art of Looking o Empirical method: a set of rules and techniques for observation What three things make people difficult to study? 1. Complexity: the human brain is way too complicated 2. Variability: no one ever does, says or thinks exactly the same as other. 3. Reactivity: people often think, feel, and act one way when they are being observed and a different way when they are not o Methods of observation: allow them to determine what people do o Methods of explanation: allow them to determine why people do it 2.5 Observation: Discovering What People Do o To observe means to use one’s senses to learn about the properties of an event or an object 2.6 Measurement Defining and Detecting o Operational definition, which is a description of a property in concrete, measurable terms o Measure: a device that can detect the condition to which an operational definition refers o EMG: a device that measures muscle contractions under the surface of a person’s skin Validity, Reliability, and Power- good measures have these characteristics. o Validity refers to the extent to which a measurement and a property are conceptually related  i.e. Frequency of smiling is a valid way to define happiness because people all over the world tend to smile more often when they feel happy o Reliability: which is the tendency for a measure to produce the same measurement whenever it is used to measure the same thing o Power: which is the ability of a measure to detect the concrete conditions specified in the operational definition o Valid, reliable, and powerful measures consistently detect concrete conditions that are conceptually related to the property of interest when and only when those conditions actually exist Demand Characteristics o Demand characteristics are those aspects of an observational setting that cause people to behave as they think they should o Naturalistic observation is a technique for gathering information by unobtrusively observing people o People are less likely to be influenced by demand characteristics when they cannot be identified as the originators of their actions, and psychologists often take advantage of this fact by allowing people to respond privately  i.e. completing questionnaires when they are alone o Some may not reveal the reason behind the experiment until the end  “blinding” the participant o They may use misleading stories or explanations Observer Bias o Experimenters should be “blind” o Expectations can influence observations o Expectations can influence reality o To avoid the influences, double-blind observation: an observation whose true purpose is hidden from both the observer and the person being observed 2.7 Descriptions Graphic Representations o Frequency distribution: a graphic representation of measurements arranged by the number of times each measurement was made o It can have a shape, such as a bell curve (Gaussian distribution) o Normal distribution: mathematically defined frequency distribution in which most measurements are concentrated around the middle Descriptive Statistics o Brief summary statements that capture the essential information from a frequency distribution o 2 kinds of descriptive stats: those that describe the central tendency of a frequency distribution and those that describe the variability in a frequency distribution o Descriptions of central tendency are statements about the value of the measurements that tend to lie near the center or midpoint of the frequency distribution o 3 most common description of central tendency are mean, median and mode o Descriptions of central tendency are statement about the location of the measurements in a frequency distribution, descriptions of variability are statements about the extent to which the measurements differ from each other o The simplest description of variability is range-the value of the largest measurement in a frequency distribution minus the smallest measurement. o Standard deviation is a statistic that describes the average difference between the measurements in a frequency distribution and the mean of that distribution  On average, how far are the measurements from the center of the distribution? 2.9 Explanation: Discovering Why People Do What They Do o Discover casual relationships between properties 2.10 Correlation Patterns of Variation 1. You measure a pair of variables, which are properties whose value can vary across individuals or over time 2. Make a series of measurements rather than just one 3. You tried to discern a pattern in your series of measurements o By looking at patterns of variation, we can use measurements to discover the relationships between variables o Correlations can describe the past and predict the future o A positive correlation describes a relationship between two variables in “more-more” or “less-less” terms o A negative correlation describes a relationship between two variables in “more-less” or “less-more” terms Measuring Correlation o Correlation coefficient is a measure of the direction and strength of a correla
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