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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – Reading and Evaluating Scientific Research.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Chapter 2 – Reading and Evaluating Scientific Research Module 2.1Principals of Scientific Research Five Characteristics of Quality Scientific Research 1. It is based on measurements that are objective, valid and reliable 2. It can be generalized 3. It uses techniques that reduce bias 4. It is made public 5. It can be replicated Scientific Measurement: Objectivity, Reliability and Validity  The foundation of scientific methodology is the use of objective measurements the measure of an entity or behaviour that within an allowed margin of error, is consistent across instruments and observers  Psychologist may include physical recording devices, but more often involve the research who do the recording thus the objectivity of the measure comes from the person doing the measuring  Variable refers to the object, concept, or event being measured  Self reportinga method in which responses are provided directly by the people who are being studied, typically through face-to-face interviews, phone surveys, paper and pencil tests and web- based questionnaires  Operational definitions are statements that describe the procedure (or operations) and specific measures that are used to record observations  The behavioural measures psychologist make must be reliable and valid  Reliability  when it provides consistent and stable answers across multiple observations and points in time  Validitythe degree to which an instrument or procedure actually measures what is claims to measure  Reliability and validity are essential components of scientific research  Very important that knowledge gained from scientific studies has usefulness that extend beyond the laboratory Generalizability of Results  Personal testimony can be very persuasive and compelling] o Although something may appear to be true for an individual, may not work for everyone else  When we apply information and finding from one person to another we are generalizing  Generalizability  refers to the degree to which one set of results can be applied to other situations, individuals, or events o Study a large group of subjects, gives a much better sense of how individuals are likely to behave  Ideally it would be best to study an entire populationthe group that researchers want to generalize about o If not study a sample group a select group of population members  To ensure that finding within a sample generalize to a larger population, psychologist prefer to use random sampling o Random sampling every individual of a population has an equal chance of being included  Convenience samples which are sample of individuals who are the most readily available  Random sampling can help research results generalize across individuals o Research should generalize across time and space  There are two primary research settings; o Laboratory researchincludes any study conducted in an environment controlled by the researcher o Naturalistic Researchtakes place where the behaviour would typically occur  Artificial nature of the laboratory can sometimes interfere with normal behaviour which in would affect the generalizability of the findings  Ecological Validity  is the degree to which the results of a laboratory study can be applied to or repeated in the natural environment Sources of Bias in Psychological Research  The Hawthorne Effect a term used to describe situations in which behaviour changes as a result of being observed  Research Biases biases on the part of those who are conducting the experiment  Subject Biases biases created by participants of studies who are aware that their behaviour is under investigation Risky Paths to Truth: Anecdotes, Authority, and Common Sense  Poor evidence comes most often in one of three varieties: o Anecdotal evidence an individual’s story or testimony about observation or event that is used to make a claim as evidence o Appeal to authority the belief “experts” claim even when no supporting data or scientific evidence is present o Appeal to Common Sensea claim that appears to be sound, but lacks supporting scientific evidences Module 2.2  Scientific Research Design  Variables are a properties of an object, organism, event, or something that can take different values. (ex. Sense of humor is a variable; some people have more some people have less)  Operation definitions are the details that define the variable for the purposes of a scientific study  When scientists collect observations about the variables of interest, the information they record is called data. Descriptive Research  Descriptive research is not an attempt to explain a subject but it an opportunity to present observations about the characteristics of the subject  Case study is an in-depth report about the details of a specific case o Useful in describing symptoms of psychological disorders and detailed descriptions about specific successes or failures in treatment  An Alternative approach is to observe people or animals in their natural settings  Naturalistic observation they unobtrusively observe and record behaviour as it occurs in the subject’s natural environment  Correlational research  involves measuring the degree of association between two or more variables Experimental Research  Random assignment a technique for dividing samples into two or more groups  Cofounding variables variables outside the researcher’s control that might affect the results  Dependent variable which is the observation or measurement that is recorded during the experiment and subsequently compared across all groups  Independent variable the variable that the experiment manipulates to distinguish between the two groups  Experimental group is the group in the experiment that is exposed to the independent variable  Control group does not receive the treatment and therefore serves as a comparison  Random assignment and manipulation of a variable are required for experiments  The Quasi-Experimental Method is a reach te
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