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PSYA01H3 (1,206)
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Chapter 2

Chapter 2- The Ways and Means of Psychology.doc

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Steve Joordens

Chapter 2- The Ways and Means of Psychology The Scientific Method in Psychology • The starting point for any science is observation • To explain behaviour, we must use a method that is both precise enough to be understood by others and general enough to apply to a wide variety of situations Scientific method- a set of rules that control the collection and analysis of data gained through observational studies or experiments • Based on logic and common sense • Originally devised by philosophers who were attempting to determine how we could understand reality Naturalistic observation- observing behaviour of people or other animals in their natural environment • Least formal and are constrained by the fewest rules • Provide the foundations of the biological and social sciences Clinical observation- observing the behaviour of people who are undergoing diagnosis or treatment • Least formal and are constrained by the fewest rules Correlational studies- the examination of relations between two or more measurements of behaviour or other characteristics of people or other animals • Arises when you start to observe relations between observations Experiment- a study in which the researcher changes the value of an independent variable and observes whether this manipulation affects the value of a dependent variable to get a better understanding of how certain variables affect behaviour • Only experiments can confirm the existence of cause-and-effect relations among variables • Can positively identify the causal relations among events • Provide evidence about the psychological processes that affect behaviour, and in this sense provide general accounts of phenomena • The 3 classes of research often occur in progressive sequence and provide increasingly more compelling evidence • The 5 rules of the scientific method that apply to experiments- the form of scientific research that identifies cause-and-effect relations 1. Identify the problem and formulate hypothetical causes-and- effect relations among variables (identifying variables and describing the relations among them) 1 2. Design the experiment (involve the manipulation of independent variable and the observation of dependent variable) 3. Perform the experiment 4. Evaluate the hypothesis by examining the data from the study 5. Communicate the results o Following these steps decreases the chances of misleading observations and incorrect conclusions Identifying the Problem: Getting an Idea for Research Hypotheses • The starting point of any study • It is an idea, phrased as a general statement, that you wish to test through research Hypothesis- a tentative statement about a cause-and-effect relation between two or more events Theories Theory- a set of statements that describes and explains known facts, proposes relations among variables, and makes new predictions • An elaborate form of hypothesis • A good theory can be a testable hypotheses- that can potentially be supported or proved wrong by scientific research Naturalistic and Clinical Observations as Sources of Hypotheses and Theories • Naturalists are people who carefully observe animals in their natural environment with little disruption o Naturalistic observation are what naturalists see and record, and apply observational procedures to questions of behaviour • Clinical psychologists observes important patterns of behaviour o Does not remain in the background because the object of therapy is to change the patient’s behaviour and to solve problems Case study- a detailed description of an individual’s behaviour during the course of clinical treatment or diagnosis Survey study- a study of people’s responses to standardized questions Designing and Experiment Variables Variable- anything capable of assuming any of several values • Things that can vary in value 2 Manipulate- setting the values of an independent variable in an experiment to see whether the value of another variable is affected Experimental group- a group of participates in an experiment, the members of which are exposed to a particular value of the independent variable, which has been manipulated by the researcher Control group- a comparison group used in an experiment, the members, of which are exposed to the naturally occurring or zero value of the independent variable Independent variable- the variable that is manipulated in an experiment as a means of determining cause-and-effect relations Dependent variable- the variable that is measured in an experiment NOTE: A hypothesis describes how the value of a dependent variable depends on the value of an independent variable Nominal fallacy- the false belief that one has explained the causes of a phenomenon by identifying and naming it • Classifying a behaviour does not explain it, classifying only prepares us to examine and discover events that causes a behaviour Operational Definitions Operational definition- the definition of a variable in terms of the operations the researcher performs to measure or manipulate it Validity- the degree to which the operational definition of a variable accurately reflects the variable it is designed to measure or manipulate • How appropriate the operational definitions are for testing the researcher’s hypothesis- how accurately they represent the variables whose values have been manipulated or measured Control of Independent Variables • When conducting an experiment , the researcher must only manipulate the value of the independent variable Confounding of variables- unintentional immediate manipulation of more than one variable • The results of an experiment involving confounded variables permit no valid conclusions about cause and effect • “To fail to distinguish of variables” Habituation- a stimulus is presented repeatedly 3 • If shown the same model again and again, there would be less and less of a response Counterbalancing (“weigh evenly”) - a systematic variation of conditions in an experiment, so that different participants encounter them in different orders (Ex: the order of presentation of stimuli) • Prevents confounding of independent variables with time-dependent processes (Ex: habituation or fatigue) Performing an Experiment Reliability of Measurements Reliability- the repeatability of a measurement (Ex: people’s height and weight are extremely reliable) • The likelihood that if the measurement was made again it would yield the same value • Achieving reliability is usually much easier than achieving validity • Mostly a result of care and diligence on the part of researchers in the planning and execution of their studies • Unrelated factors that might affect the reliability of their measurements: o Conditions throughout the experiment should always be as consistent as possible o The degree of subjectivity in taking a measurement  Inducing an experiment is objective- anyone can follow the procedure and get the same results  Study variables whose results is subjective- requires judgement and expertise Interrater reliability- the degree to which two or more independent observers agree in their ratings of another organism’s behaviour Selecting the Participants Random assignment- procedure in which each participant has an equ
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