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Psychology (9,549)
PSYA01H3 (1,196)
Steve Joordens (1,052)
Chapter 2

PSYA01 Chapter 2 Notes.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

2.1 Empiricism: How to Know Stuff  Dogmatism to describe the tendency for people to cling to their assumptions o Dogmatists – thought that the best way to understand illness was to develop theories about the body’s functions  Empiricism to describe the belief that accurate knowledge can be acquired through observation o Empiricists – best way to understand illness was to observe sick people 2.2 The Scientific Method  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  Theory: hypothetical explanation of a natural phenomenon  The rule of parsimony: plurality should only be assumed as a fact when necessary or “keep it simple, stupid” o William Ockham – we must start with the simplest thing and only complicate it if necessary  Hypothesis: falsifiable prediction made by a theory  Your observation should be consistent  Best way to find out the truth – develop theories, derive hypothesis, test those hypothesis using evidence and then use the evidence to modify the theory 2.3 The Art of Looking  Empirical method: a set of rules and techniques for observation  Method – technologies that enhance the power of senses  What three things make people difficult to study?  Complexity: the human brain is way too complicated  Variability: no one ever do, say or think exactly the same under the same circumstances  Reactivity: people often think, feel, and act one way when they are being observed and a different way when they are not  Methods of observation: allow them to determine what people do  Methods of explanation: allow them to determine why people do it 2.5 Observation: Discovering What People Do  To observe means to use one’s senses to learn about the properties of an event or an object 2.6 Measurement  Define the property we wish to measure and detect it  Operational definition, which is a description of a property in concrete, measurable terms  Measure: a device that can detect the condition to which an operational definition refers  EMG – electromyography: a device that measures muscle contractions under the surface of a person’s skin  Validity, Reliability, and Power  Validity refers to the extent to which a measurement and a property are conceptually related o 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  Reliability: which is the tendency for a measure to produce the same measurement whenever it is used to measure the same thing  Power: which is the ability of a measure to detect the concrete conditions specified in the operational definition  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  Demand characteristics are those aspects of an observational setting that cause people to behave as they think they should  Naturalistic observation is a technique for gathering information by unobtrusively observing people  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 o i.e. completing questionnaires when they are alone  Psychologists also measure behaviors that are not susceptible to demand to avoid demand characteristics  Behaviors are also unlikely to be influenced by demand characteristics if the person doesn’t know that the behavior and demand are related  Some may not reveal the reason behind the experiment until the end  “blinding” the participant  They may use misleading stories or explanations  Observer Bias – it is easy to tell what the psychologist’s expectations are and what they are measuring, this may create bias in the subject as they answer questions  Experimenters should be “blind”  Expectations can influence observations  Expectations can influence reality  Double-blind observation: an observation whose true purpose is hidden from both the observer and the person being observed 2.7 Descriptions  Graphic Representations  Frequency distribution: a graphic representation of measurements arranged by the number of times each measurement was made  It can have a shape, such as a bell curve (Gaussian distribution)  Normal distribution: mathematically defined frequency distribution in which most measurements are concentrated around the middle  Descriptive Statistics - brief summary statements that capture the essential information from a frequency distribution – capture important information 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  Mean - average, median- middle value and mode – most frequent o Mean, median and mode are the same if the distribution is normal  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  Range – the value of the largest measurement in a frequency distribution minus the value of the smallest measurement  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  Discover casual relationships between properties 2.10 Correlation  Patt
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