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University of Toronto Scarborough
Connie Boudens

1 Chapter 1 – Scientific Understanding of Behaviour Uses of Research Methods - Many occupations require the use of research findings (e.g. people who work in business environments rely on research to make decisions about marketing strategies, ways of improving productivity and morale) - It is important to recognize that scientific research has become increasingly important in public policy decisions - Research is also important when developing and assessing the effectiveness of programs designed to achieve certain goals The Scientific Approach The Limitations of Intuition and Authority - When you rely on intuition, you accept unquestioningly what your own personal judgment or a single story about one person’s experience tells you about the world - A problem with intuition is that numerous cognitive and motivational biases affect our perceptions, and so we may draw erroneous conclusions about cause and effect - Illusory correlation is a cognitive bias that occurs when we focus on two events that stand out and occur together (we think two events have a causal connection when they do not) Authority - Many people are all too ready to accept anything they learn from authority figures (e.g. news media, books, government officials, religious figures) because they believe that the statements of such authorities must be true - The scientific approach rejects the notion that one can accept on faith the statements of any authority Skepticism, Science, and the Empirical Approach - Scientific skepticism means that ideas must be evaluated on the basis of careful logic and results from scientific investigations - The fundamental characteristic of the scientific method is empiricism – knowledge is based on observations - Goodstein describes an “evolved theory of science” that defines the characteristics of scientific inquiry: o Scientists make observations that are accurately reported to other scientists and the public; others can replicate the method and obtain the same results o Scientists search for observations that will verify their ideas about the world o Science flourishes when there is an open system for the exchange of ideas 2 o Before a study is published in a scientific publication it must be reviewed by peers, other scientists who have the expertise to carefully evaluate the research and recommend whether the research should be published - Falsifiability is when a theory or idea is falsified (proven false) by data Integrating Intuition, Skepticism, and Authority - The advantage of the scientific approach over other ways of knowing about the world is that it provides an objective set of rules for gathering, evaluating, and reporting information - Intuition and authority are still important because scientists often rely on them for ideas for research - There is nothing wrong with accepting the assertions of authorities or having opinions or beliefs as long as they are not accepted as scientific evidence - Pseudoscientists are people who use scientific terms to substantiate their claims Goals of Science - Scientific research has four general goals: to describe behaviour, to predict behaviour, to determine the causes of behaviour, and to understand or explain behaviour Description of Behaviour - Researchers are often interested in describing the ways in which events are systematically related to one another Prediction of Behaviour - Once it has been observed with some regularity that two events are systematically related to one another, it becomes possible to make predictions - One implication of this process is that it allows us to anticipate events, which could help us make better decisions Determining the Causes of Behaviour - Although researchers might accurately predict the occurrence of a behaviour, they might not have identified its cause - To know how to change behaviour, you must know the causes of behaviour - Cook and Campbell describe three types of evidence used to identify the cause of a behaviour: o Temporal precedence, which is when the cause precedes the effect o Covariation of the cause and effect, which means that when the cause is present, the effect occurs; when the cause is not present, the effect does not occur o Elimination of alternative explanations, which means that nothing other than a causal variable could be responsible for the observed effect 3 Explanation of Behaviour - A final goal of science is to explain the events that have been described and to understand why the behaviour occurs - Determining cause and explaining behaviour are particularly closely related because it is difficult to know the true cause or all the causes of any behaviour; an explanation that appears satisfactory may turn out to be inadequate when other causes are identified in subsequent research Basic and Applied Research Basic Research - Basic research tries to answer fundamental questions about the nature of behaviour (e.g. cognition, emotion, motivation, learning) Applied Research - Applied research is conducted to address issues in which there are practical problems and potential solutions - Program evaluation research evaluates the social reforms and innovations that occur in government, education, the criminal justice system, industry, health care, and mental health institutions - Campbell noted that social programs are really experiments designed to achieve certain outcomes and argued that social scientists should evaluate each program to determine whether it is having its intended effect; if not, alternative programs should be tried - Much applied research is conducted in settings such as business firms, marketing research companies, government agencies and is not published but is used within the company or by clients of the company Comparing Basic and Applied Research - Both basic and applied research are important and neither can be considered superior to the other - Progress in science is dependent on a synergy between basic and applied research - In recent years, many in our society, including legislators who control the budgets of research- granting agencies of the government, have demanded that research be directly relevant to specific social issues o The problem with this attitude toward research is that we can never predict the ultimate application of basic research; research with no apparent practical value ultimately can be very useful - Behavioural research is important in many fields and has significant application to public policy 4 Chapter 2 – Where to Start - The motivation to conduct scientific research derives from a natural curiosity about the world Hypotheses and Predictions - A hypothesis is a type of idea or question; it makes a statement about something that may be true. Thus, it is a tentative idea or question that is waiting for evidence to support or refute it - Once the hypothesis is proposed, data must be gathered and evaluated in terms of whether the evidence is consistent or inconsistent with the hypothesis - After designing a study to test the hypothesis, the researcher would make a specific prediction concerning the outcome of the experiment - When the results of a study confirm a prediction, the hypothesis is only supported, not proven Who do we Study: a Note on Terminology - Participants (or subjects) refer to the individuals who participate in research projects - Respondents are the individuals who take part in survey research - Informants are the people who help researchers understand the dynamics of a particular cultural and organizational settings Source of Ideas Common Sense - Testing a commonsense idea can be valuable because such notions don’t always turn out to be correct, or research may show that the world is much more complicated than our common sense leads us to believe Observation of the World Around Us - Observations of personal and social events can provide many ideas for research - The world around us is a rich source of material for scientific investigation - Serendipity is when discoveries are the result of accident or sheer luck Theories - A theory consists of a systematic body of ideas about a particular topic or phenomenon - Theories serve two important functions: o Theories organize and explain a variety of specific facts or descriptions of behaviour; facts and descriptions are not very meaningful by themselves, but theories impose a framework on them o Theories generate new knowledge by focusing our thinking so that we notice new aspects of behaviour – theories guide our observations of the world - A scientific theory is grounded in actual data from prior research as well as numerous hypotheses that are consistent with the theory 5 - While research may reveal a weakness in a theory when a hypothesis generated by the theory is not supported, the theory can be modified to account for the new data, or a new theory can emerge Past Research - Because the results of research are published, researchers can use the body of past literature on a topic to continually refine and expand our knowledge - As you become familiar with the research literature on a topic, you may see inconsistencies in research results that need to be investigated, or you may want to study alternative explanations for the results Practical Problems - Research is stimulated by practical problems that can have immediate applications - On a larger scale, researchers have guided public policy by conducting research on obesity and eating disorders, as well as other social and health issues Library Research - Before conducting any research project, an investigator must have a thorough knowledge of previous research findings; a review of past studies will help the researcher clarify the idea and design the study The Nature of Journals - After a research project has been completed, the study is written as a report, which then may be submitted to the editor of an appropriate journal; the editor requests reviews from other scientists in the same field and then decides whether the report is to be accepted for publication (peer review) - Because each journal has a limited amount of space and receives many more papers than it has room to publish, most papers are rejected - The number of journals in many areas is so large that it is almost impossible for anyone to read them all Psychological Abstracts - The American Psychological Association began publishing Psychological Abstracts, or Psych Abstracts, in 1927 - Abstracts are brief summaries of journals - The American Psychological Association computer databases system is called PsycINFO and provides coverage from the 1800s to the present 6 Conducting a PsycINFO Search - When conducting a PsycINFO search, the most important task is to specify the search terms that you want the computer to use - Most commonly, you will want to use standard psychological terms; the “Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms” lists all the standard terms that are used to index the abstracts, and it can be accessed directly with most PsycINFO systems - The output of the search is organized “fields” of information, such as : title (abbreviated as TI), author (AU), source (SO), and abstract (AB) - When you do a simple search with a single word or a phrase, the default search yields articles that have that word or phrase anywhere in any of the fields listed - One way to narrow the search is to limit it to certain fields, such as the title - Most PsycINFO systems have advanced search screens that enable you to use the Boolean operators AND and OR and NOT: o The AND forces both conditions to be true for an article to be included o The OR operation is used to expand a search that is too narrow o The NOT operation will exclude abstracts based on a criterion you specify; the NOT operation is used when you anticipate that the search criteria will be met by some irrelevant abstracts - Another helpful search tool is the “wildcard” asterisk (*); the asterisk stands for any set of letters in a word and so it can expand your search Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index - Two related search resources are the Science Citation Index (SCI) and the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI): o The SCI includes disciplines such as biology, chemistry, biomedicine, and pharmacology o SSCI includes social and behavioural sciences such as sociology and criminal justice - The most important feature of both resources is the ability to use the “key article” method: o Here you need to first identify a “key article” on your topic, usually one published sometime in the past that is particularly relevant to your interests o You can then search for subsequent articles that cited the key article - It is also possible to specify a “key person” in order to find all articles written by or citing a particular person after a given date Literature Reviews - Articles that summarize the research in a particular area are also useful - The Psychological Bulletin publishes reviews of the literature in various topics areas in psychology - Each year, the Annual Review of Psychology publishes articles that summarize recent developments in various areas of psychology Other Electronic Search Resources 7 - The number of information databases that a library may purchase today is enormous; budget and other considerations determine which ones are available - Other major databases include FirstSearch, Sociological Abstracts, MEDLINE, and ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) - In addition, services such as Lexis-Nexis and Factiva allow you to search general media resources such as newspapers - Some of the information resources available provide full text of articles in the database whereas others provide only an abstract or citation information - Sometimes it is tempting to limit yourself to full-text services because it is so easy to obtain the complete article but a problem with this strategy is that you limit yourself to only those journals that are in the full-text database Internet Searches - The Internet is a wonderful source of information; any given search may help you find Web sites devoted to your topic, articles that people have made available to others, book reviews, and even online discussions - Although it is incredibly easy to search, you can improve the quality of your searches by learning: o The differences in the way each service finds and stores information o Advanced search rules including how to make searches more narrow and how to find exact phrases o Ways to critically evaluate the quality of the information that you find - You also need to make sure that you carefully record the search service and search terms you used, the dates of your search, and the exact location of any Web sites that you will be using in your research; this information will be useful as you provide documentation in the papers that you prepare Scholar.google.com - When you do a scholar search, you find papers and books from scholarly journals, universities, and academic book publishers Professional Meeting Searches - Many professional societies are placing their meeting programs on the Internet; you can search for terms to find papers that were presented at the meeting - Although the search is limited to the title, this technique can be useful for finding recent research Evaluating Web Information - Some important things to look for are: o Is the site associated with a major educational institutions or research organization? A site sponsored by a single individual or an organization with a clear bias should be viewed with skepticism 8 o Is information provided on the people who are responsible for the site? Can you check the credentials of these individuals? o Is the information current? o Do links from the site lead to legitimate organizations? Anatomy of a Research Article - Research articles usually have five sections: o An abstract o An introduction that explains the problem under investigation and the specific hypothesis being tested o A method section that describes in detail the exact procedures used in the study o A results section in which the findings are presented o A discussion section in which the researcher may speculate on the broader implications of the results, propose alternative explanations for the results, discuss reasons that a particular hypothesis may not have been supported by the data, and/or make suggestions for further research on the problem - You will also find a list of all the references that were cited Abstract - The abstract is a summary of the research report and typically runs no more than 120 words in length - It includes information about the hypothesis, the procedure, and the broad pattern of results Introduction - The investigator introduces the research in a logical format that shows how past research and theory are connected to the current research problem and the expected results Method - The method section is divided into subsections, with the number of sections determined by the author and dependent on the complexity of the research design: o The first subsection presents an overview of the design to prepare the reader for the material that follows o The next subsection describes the characteristics of the participants; if the study used human participants, some mention of how participants were recruited for the study would be needed o The next subsection details the procedure used in the study - When describing the procedures of the study, it is important that no potentially crucial detail be omitted; such detail allows the reader to know exactly how the study was conducted, and it provides other researchers with the information necessary to replicate the study 9 Results - In the results section, the researcher presents the findings, usually in three ways: o There is a description in narrative form o The results are described in statistical language o The material is often depicted in tables and graphs Discussion - In the discussion section, the researcher reviews the research from various perspectives - If the results support the hypothesis, the author should give all possible explanations for the results and discuss why one explanation is superior to another - If the hypothesis has not been supported, the author should suggest potential reasons - The researcher may also discuss how the results compare with past research results on the topic - This section may also include suggestions for possible practical applications of the research and for future research on the topic Chapter 3 – Ethical Research Milgram’s Obedience Experiment - Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment to see whether participants would continue to obey an authority figure (the scientist) by administering increasingly higher levels of shock to a “student” (who was actually a researcher and didn’t get shocked at all) - Milgram’s study revealed that 65% of the participants continued to deliver shocks all the way to 450 volts, the highest setting - This study received a great deal of publicity and the results challenged many of our beliefs about our ability to resist authority The Belmont Report - “The Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research” is a journal that defined the principles and applications that have guided more detailed regulations and the American Psychological Association Ethics Code - The three basic ethical principles are beneficence, respect for persons (autonomy), and justice; associated applications of these principals are assessment of risk and benefits, informed consent, and selection of subjects Assessment of Risks and Benefits - The principle of beneficence in the Belmont Report refers to the need for research to maximize benefits and minimize any possible harmful effects of participation - Risk-benefit analysis is calculating the potential risks and benefits that are likely to result in research 10 - The potential risks to the participants include such factors as psychological or physical harm and loss of confidentiality - The benefits include direct benefits to the participants, such as an educational benefit, acquisition of a new skill, or treatment for a psychological or medical problem - There may also be material benefits such as a monetary payment, some sort of gift, or even the possibility of winning a prize in a raffle Risks in Psychological Research Physical Harm - Many medical procedures fall in this category (e.g. administering a drug such as alcohol or caffeine) - There would be need to be clear benefits of the research that would outweigh the potential risks Stress - When stress is possible, it must be asked whether all safeguards have been taken to help participants deal with the stress - Usually there is a “debriefing” session following the study that is designed in part to address any potential problems that may arise during the research Loss of Privacy and Confidentiality - Confidentiality becomes particularly important when studying sensitive topics such as sexual behaviour, divorce, family violence, etc. - In most cases, the response are largely anonymous – there is no way to connect any person’s identity with the data - In cases in which the identity of the person might be known, the researcher must carefully plan ways of coding data, storing data, and explaining the procedures to participants so that there is no question concerning the confidentiality of responsesa written consent form signed by a parent or guardian is required in addition to agreement by the minor - In some research there is a real need to be able to identify individual participants (e.g. when individuals are studied on multiple occasions over time) and in such cases, researchers should develop a way to identify the individuals but to separate the information about their identity from the actual data Informed Consent - The Belmont Report’s principle of respect for persons or autonomy states that participants are treated as autonomous; they are capable of making deliberate decisions about whether to participate in research - Informed consent is that potential participants in a research project should be provided with all information that might influence their decision of whether to participate Informed Consent Form 11 - The content of the informed consent form typically cover: o The purpose of the research o Procedures that will be used including time involved o Risks and benefits o Any compensation o Confidentiality o Assurance of voluntary participation and permission to withdraw o Contact information for questions - In general, consent forms should be written in simple and straightforward language that avoids jargon and technical terminology - To make the form easier to understand, it should not be written in the first person - If participants are non-English speakers, there should be a translated version of the form Autonomy Issues - When the participants lack the ability to make a free and informed decision to voluntarily participate (e.g. minors, patients in psychiatric hospitals, or adults with cognitive impairments), they require special precautions - In the case of minors, a parent or guardian is required in addition to agreement by the minor; this agreement by a minor is called assent - Any procedure that limits an individual’s freedom to consent is potentially coercive (e.g. a professor requiring students to fill out a survey in order to pass the course) - Sometimes benefits are so great that they become coercive Information Issues: Withholding Information and Deception - Providing too much information about the study could potentially invalidate its results - Researchers usually will withhold information about the hypothesis of the study or the particular condition an individual is participating in - It is acceptable to withhold information when the information would not affect the decision to participate and when the information will later be provided, usually in a debriefing session when the study is completed - When planning research, it is important to make sure that you do have good reasons not to have any informed consent (e.g. in the situation of field studies) - Deception occurs when there is active misrepresentation of information - The Milgram experiment illustrates two types of deception: o There was deception about the purpose of the study o The participants become part of a series of events staged for the purposes of the study - Research has shown that providing informed consent may in fact bias participants’ responses, at least in some research areas (e.g. research on stressors such as noise or crowding has shown that a feeling of “control” over a stressor reduces its negative impacts) 12 - It is also possible that the informed consent procedure may bias the sample (e.g. if people decline to be in the experiment once they know of its nature) Is Deception a Major Ethical Problem in Psychological Research? - Many psychologists believe that the problem of deception has been exaggerated and that the extreme cases of elaborate deception are rare - Most of the concerns over this type of deception arises in social psychological research - There are three primary reasons for a decrease in the type of elaborate deception: o More researchers have become interested in cognitive variables rather than emotions and so use methods that are similar to those used by researchers in memory and cognitive psychology o The general awareness of ethical issues has led to researchers to conduct studies in other ways o Ethics committees now review proposed research more carefully, so elaborate deception is likely to be approved only when the research is important and there are no alternative procedures available The Importance of Debriefing - Debriefing occurs after the completion of the study and is an opportunity for the researcher to deal with issues of withholding information, deception, and potential harmful effects of participation - Debriefing also provides an opportunity for the researcher to explain the purpose of the study and tell participants what kinds of results are expected - Debriefing is effective as a way of dealing with deception and other ethical issues that arise in research investigations Alternatives to Deception Role-Playing - In one role-playing procedure, the experimenter describes a situation to participants and then asks them how they (or other people) would respond to the situation - Role-playing is not generally considered to be a satisfactory alternative to deception: o Reading a description of a situation does not involve the participants very deeply – they are not part of a real situation o Because the researcher gives the participants a complete description of the situation, the experimenter’s hypothesis may become transparent to the participants; people may try to behave in a way that is consistent with the hypothesis  Features of the experiment that may inform participants about the hypothesis are called “demand characteristics” o The most serious defect of role-playing is that, no matter what results are obtained, critics can always claim that the results would have been different if the participants had been in a real situation 13  This criticism is based on the assumption that people aren’t always able to accurately predict their own behaviour or the behaviour of others Simulation Studies - A different type of role-playing involves simulation of a real-world situation; which can be used to examine different situations - Such simulations can create high degrees of involvement among participants - Even with simulations, there may be ethical problems. o For example, Zimbardo conducted a simulation study where he recruited college students to play the role of either a prisoner or a guard. Within 6 days, the participants became so involved in their roles that Zimbardo had to stop the experiment due to the cruel behaviour of the guards and the stressful reactions of the prisoners Honest Experiments - In one such strategy, participants agree to have their behaviour studied and know exactly what the researchers hope to accomplish - A related strategy presents itself when people seek out information or services that they need - Another strategy involves situations in which a naturally occurring event presents an opportunity for research Justice and the Selection of Participants - The third ethical principle defined in the Belmont Report is termed justice, which addresses issues of fairness in receiving the benefits of the research as well as bearing the burdens of accepting risks - The justice principle requires researchers to address issues of equity; any decision to include or exclude certain people from a research study must be justified on scientific grounds Research Commitments - Researchers make several implicit “contracts” with participants during the course of the study (e.g. if the researcher promises to send a summary of the results to the participants, they should do so) Federal Regulations and The Institutional Review Board - The actual rules and regulations for the protection of human research participants were issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Under these regulations, every institution that receives federal funds must have an Institutional Review Board (IRB) that is responsible for the review and research conducted within the institution - The IRB is a local review agency composed of at least five individuals; at least one member of the IRB must be from outside the institution - The HHS regulations also categorized research according to the amount of risk involved in the research; this concept was later incorporated into the Ethics Code of the American Psychological Association 14 Exempt Research - Research in which there is no risk is exempt from review (e.g. anonymous questionnaires, surveys, etc.) - Archival research in which the data being studied are publicly available or the participants cannot be identified is exempt as well; this type of research requires no informed consent - Researchers cannot decide by themselves that research is exempt; instead, the IRB at the institution formulates a procedure to allow a researcher to apply for exempt status Minimal Risk Research - Minimal risk means that the risks of harm to participants are no greater than risks encountered in daily life or in routine physical or psychological tests - Some of the research activities considered minimal risk are: o Recording routine physiological data from adult participants (e.g. weighing, tests of sensory acuity, electrocardiography, etc.) o Moderate exercise by healthy volunteers o Research on individual or group behaviour or characteristics of individuals, such as studies of perception, cognition, game theory, or test development in which the researcher does not manipulate participants’ behaviour and the research will not involve stress to participants Greater Than Minimal Risk Research - Researchers planning to conduct an investigation are required to submit an application to the IRB - The application requires description of risks and benefits, procedures for minimizing risk, the exact wording of the informed consent form, how participants will be debriefed, and the procedures for maintaining confidentiality - If it is a long-term project, it will be reviewed at least once each year - If there are changes in procedures, researchers are required to obtain approval from the IRB IRB Impact on Research - Some researchers have voiced their frustration about the procedures necessary to obtain IRB approval for research; the review process can take a long time and the IRB may ask for revisions and clarifications - Moreover, the policies and procedures that govern IRB operations apply to all areas of research, so the extreme caution necessary for medical research is applied to psychology research - Researchers and review board members tend to be very cautious in terms of what is considered ethical - Studies have shown that students who have participated in research studies are more lenient in their judgments of the ethics of experiments than are researchers or IRB members 15 APA Ethics Code - The American Psychological Association (APA) has provided leadership by formulating the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct – known as the Ethics Code - These standards complement the HSS regulations and the Belmont Report; they stress the importance of informed consent as a fundamental part of ethical practice Ethics and Animal Research - Animals are used for research for a variety of reasons: o The researcher can carefully control the environmental conditions of the animals o The researcher can study the same animals over a long period of time o The researcher can monitor their behaviour 24 hours a day if necessary o Animals can be used to test the effects of drugs and to study physiological and genetic mechanisms underlying behaviour - Data indicates that the amount of research done with animals has been steadily declining - Most commonly, psychologists work with rats and mice, and to a lesser extent, birds - In recent years, groups opposed to animal research (animal rights groups) in medicine, psychology, biology and other sciences have become more vocal and militant - Scientists argue that animal research benefits humans and points to many discoveries that would not have been possible without animal research - Also, animal rights groups often exaggerate the amount of research that involves any pain or suffering whatsoever - A national survey of attitudes toward the use of animals in research revealed that students supported animal research, females have less positive views toward animal research than males, and that many students were unsure if animals in research were treated humanely - It is crucial to recognize that strict laws and ethical guidelines govern both research with animals and teaching procedures in which animals are used - Such regulations deal with the need for proper housing, feeding, cleanliness, and health care; they specify that the research must avoid any cruelty in the form of unnecessary pain to the animal - In addition, institutions in which animal research is carried out must have an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) composed of at least one scientist, one veterinarian, and a community member - The IACUC is charged with reviewing animal research procedures and ensuring that all regulations are adhered to - This section of the Ethics Code (Humane care and use of animals in research) is of particular importance here (refer to page 57 - 58) - APA has also developed a more detailed Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in the Care and Use of Animals 16 Risks and Benefits Revisited - You need to weigh the direct benefits of the research to the participants, as well as the scientific importance of the research and the educational benefits to the students who may be conducting the research - If you ultimately decide that the costs outweigh the benefits, you must conclude that the study cannot be conducted in its current form; there may be alternative procedures that could be used to make it acceptable - If the benefits outweigh the costs, you will likely decide that the research should be carried out Misrepresentation: Fraud and Plagiarism - Two other elements of the Ethics Code should be noted: 8.10 Reporting Research Results o Psychologists do not fabricate data o If psychologists discover significant errors in their published data, they take reasonable steps to correct such errors in a correction, retraction, erratum, or other appropriate publication means 8.11 Plagiarism o Psychologists do not present portions of another’s work or data as their own, even if the other work or data source is cited occasionally Fraud - The fabrication of data is fraud - We must be able to believe that the reported results of research; otherwise, the entire foundation of the scientific method as a means of knowledge is threatened - Instances of fraud in the field of psychology are considered to be very serious, but fortunately, they are very rare - In most cases, fraud is detected when other scientists cannot replicate the results of a study - Sometimes, fraud is detected by a colleague who has worked with the researcher - Fraud is not a major problem in science in part because researchers know that others will read their reports and conduct further studies, including replications - Researchers will know that their reputations and careers will be seriously damaged if other scientists conclude that the results are fraudulent - In addition, the likelihood of detection of fraud has increased in recent years as data accessibility has become more open: regulations of most funding agencies require researchers to make their data accessible to other scientists - One reason scientists commit fraud is that scientists occasionally find themselves in jobs with extreme pressure to produce impressive results 17 - Another reason is that researchers who feel need to produce fraudulent data have an exaggerated fear of failure, as well as a great need for success and the admiration that comes with it - Allegations of fraud should not be made lightly; even if you cannot replicate the results, the reason may lie in aspects of the methodology of the study rather than deliberate fraud Plagiarism - Plagiarism refers to misrepresenting another’s work as your own - Plagiarism also occurs when you present another person’s idea as your own rather than properly acknowledging the source of the ideas - Access to Internet resources and the ease of copying material from the Internet may be increasing the prevalence of plagiarism - Plagiarism is ethically wrong and can lead to many strong sanctions (e.g. prosecution as a criminal offence, expulsion from school) Chapter 4 – Studying Behaviour Intro to validity  Construct validity: concerns whether our methods of studying variables are accurate  Internal validity : refers to the accuracy of conclusions about cause and effect  External validity: concerns whether we can generalize the findings of a study to other settings Variables - A variable is any event, situation, behaviour, or individual characteristic that varies - Each variable represents a general class within which specific instances will vary; these specific instances are called the levels or values of the variable - Variables can be classified into four general categories: o Situational variables describe characteristics of a situation or environment o Response variables are the responses or behaviours of individuals, such as reaction time and performance on a cognitive task o Participant or subject variables, are individual differences; these are the characteristics of individuals, including gender, intelligence and personality traits o Mediating variables are psychological processes that mediate the effects of a situational variable on a particular response  For example, a mediating variable would be diffusion of responsibility, which is when there are several bystanders, personal responsibility to help is diffused among all the bystanders, so no single person feels much responsibility Operational Definitions of Variables - The operational definition of a variable is a definition of the variable in terms of the operations or techniques the researcher uses to measure or manipulate it 18 - Variables must be operationally defined so they can be studied empirically - The task of operationally defining a variable forces scientists to discuss abstract concepts in concrete terms; the process can result in the realization that the variable is too vague to study - This realization does not necessarily indicate that the concept is meaningless, but rather that systematic research is not possible until the concept can be operationally defined - Once an operational definition is found, progress in understanding a psychological phenomenon is often dependent on the development of increasingly sophisticated technology - Operational definitions also help us communicate our ideas to others - There is rarely a single, infallible method for operationally defining a variable; researchers must decide which one to use given the particular problems under study, the goals of the research, and other considerations such as ethics and costs Relationships between Variables - The relationship between two variables is the general way in which the different values of one variable are associated with different values of the other variable - When both variables have values along a numeric scale, many different “shapes” can describe the relationship: o The positive linear relationship o The negative linear relationship o The curvilinear relationship o The situation in which there is no relationship between the variables Positive Linear Relationship - In a positive linear relationship, increases in the values of one variable are accompanied by increases in the values of the second variable Negative Linear Relationship - In a negative linear relationship, increases in the values of one variable are accompanied by decreases in the values of the other variable - Social loafing is a phenomenon where as the number of people working a on a task increases, the group effort and productivity may actually decreases Curvilinear Relationship - In a curvilinear relationship, increases in the values of one variable are accompanied by both increases and decreases in the values of the other variable - In other words, the direction of the relationship changes at least once; this type of relationship is sometimes referred to as a nonmonotonic function (e.g. an inverted-U shape function) No Relationship - When there is no relationship between the two variables, the graph is simply a flat line 19 - Unrelated variables vary independently of one another - The positive and negative linear relationships are example of a more general category of relationships described as monotonic because the relationship between the variables is always positive or always negative (it does not change directions) - Individual deviations from the general pattern are likely - Correlation coefficient is a numerical index of the strength of relationship between variables, which is important because we need to know how strongly variables are related to one another Relationships and Reduction of Uncertainty - When we detect a relationship between variables, we reduce uncertainty about the world by increasing our understanding of the variables we are examining - The term uncertainty implies that there is randomness in events; scientists refer to this as random variability or error variance in events that occur in the world - Research is aimed at reducing random variability by identifying systematic relationships between variables Nonexperimental versus Experimental Methods - There are two general approaches to the study of relationships among variables: o With the nonexperimental method, relationships are studied by making observations or measures of the variables of interest; that is, behaviour is observed as it occurs naturally (e.g. directly observing behaviour, asking people to describe their behaviour) o The experimental method involves direct manipulation and control of variables; the researcher manipulates the first variable of interest and then observes the response  With this method, the two variables do not merely vary together; one variable is introduced first to see whether it affects the second variable Nonexperimental Method - Because the nonexperimental method allows us to observe covariation between variables, another term that is frequently used is the correlational method; with this method, we examine whether the variables correlate or vary together - However, there is a weakness of this method when we ask questions about cause and effect - There are two problems with making causal statements when the nonexperimental method is used: o It can be difficult to determine the direction of cause and effect o The third-variable problem – that is, extraneous variables may be causing an observed relationship Direction of Cause and Effect - With the nonexperimental method, is it difficult to determine which variable causes the other 20 - Knowledge of the correct direction of cause and effect in turn has implications for applications of research findings - However, the direction of cause and effect is often not crucial because, for some pairs of variables, the causal pattern may operate in both directions The Third-Variable Problem - When the nonexperimental method is used, there is the danger that no direct causal relationship exists between the two variables - The third-variable problem is any variable that is extraneous to the two variables being studied; any number of other third variables may be responsible for an observed relationship between two variables - The third variable is an alternative explanation for the observed relationship between the variables - The ability to rule out alternative explanations for the observed relationship between two variables is an important factor when we try to infer that one variable causes another - Direction of cause and effect and potential third variables represent serious limitations of the nonexperimental method and often, they are not considered in media reports of research results - When we actually know that an uncontrolled third variable is operating, we can call the third variable a confounding variable - If two variables are confounded, they are intertwined so you cannot determine which of the variables is operating in a given situation Experimental Method - With the experimental method, one variable is manipulated and the other is then measured - Another characteristic of the experimental method is that it attempts to eliminate the influence of all potential confounding third variables; this is called control of extraneous variables - Such control is usually achieved by making sure that every feature of the environment except the manipulated variable is held constant - Any variable that cannot be held constant is controlled by making sure that the effects of the variable are random; through randomization, the influence of any extraneous variables is equal in the experimental conditions Experimental Control - With experimental control, all extraneous variables are kept constant and if a variable is held constant, it cannot be responsible for the results of the experiment, thus it cannot be a confounding variable - Experimental control is accomplished by treating participants in all groups in the experiment identically; the only difference between groups is the manipulated variable 21 Randomization - Sometimes it is difficult to keep a variable constant; the most obvious such variable is any characteristic of the participants - The experimental method eliminates the influence of such variables by randomization, which ensures that the extraneous variable is just as likely to affect one experimental group as it is to affect the other group - To eliminate the influence of individual characteristics, the researcher assigns participants to the two groups in a random fashion - By using a random assignment procedure, the researcher is confident that the characteristics of the participants in the two groups will be virtually identical in every way - Direct control and randomization eliminate the influence of any extraneous variables, thus, the experimental method allows a relatively unambiguous interpretation of the results Independent and Dependent Variables - Researchers use the terms independent variable and dependent variable when referring to the variables being studied: o The variable that is considered to be the “cause” is the independent variable o The variable that is the “effect” is the dependent variable - The independent variable is the variable manipulated by the experimenter, and the dependent variable is the measured behaviour that is assumed to be caused by the independent variable - When the relationship between an independent and dependent variable is plotted in a graph, the independent variable is always placed on the horizontal axis and the dependent variable is always placed on the vertical axis - Some research focuses primarily on the independent variable with the researcher studying the effect of a single independent variable on numerous behaviours - Other researchers may focus on a specific dependent variable and study how various independent variables affect that one behaviour Causality - Inferences of cause and effect require three elements: o Temporal precedence: the causal variable should come first in the temporal order of events and then be followed by the effect  The experimental method addresses temporal order by first manipulating the independent variable and then observing whether it has an effect on the dependent variable o There must be covariation between the two variables  Covariation is demonstrated with the experimental method when participants in an experimental condition show the effect whereas participants in a control condition do not show the effect o There is a need to eliminate plausible alternative explanations for the observed relationship 22  The experimental method beings by attempting to keep such variables constant through random assignment and experimental control - Sometimes we impose even more stringent requirements before concluding that there is a causal relationship: some philosophers and scientists argue that a cause-and-effect relationship is proven only if the cause is both necessary and sufficient for the effect to occur o To be necessary, the cause must be present for the effect to occur o To be sufficient, the cause will always produce the effect - The “necessary and sufficient” requirement for establishing cause is rare in psychology: whenever psychologists assert that there is a necessary and sufficient cause of a behaviour, research soon reveals that this simply isn’t so - Behavioural scientists are not concerned with the issues of ultimate cause and effect, rather, they are more interested in carefully describing behaviour, studying how variables affect one another, and developing theories that explain behaviour - Research on numerous variables eventually leads to an understanding of a whole “causal network” in which a number of variables are involved in complex patterns of cause and effect Choosing a Method: Advantages of Multiple Methods - Perhaps most important, complete understanding of any phenomenon requires study using multiple methods, both experimental and nonexperimental; no method is perfect, and no single study is definitive - The important point here is that no study is a perfect test of a hypothesis; however, when multiple studies using multiple methods all lead to the same conclusion, our confidence in the findings and our understanding of the phenomenon are greatly increased Evaluating research: four validities - Validity refers to “truth” and the accurate representation of information Construct Validity - Construct validity refers to the adequacy of the operational definition of variables: does the operational definition of a variable actually reflect the true theoretical meaning of the variable - Because variables can be measured and manipulated in a variety of ways, there is never a perfect operational definition of a variable Internal Validity - Internal validity refers to the ability to draw conclusions about causal relationships from our data - A study has high internal validity when strong inferences can be made that one variable caused changes in the other variable - Strong causal inferences can be made more easily when the experimental method is used - Internal validity is increased when the considerations of cause and effect can be applied to the research 23 External Validity - The external validity of a study is the extent to which the results can be generalized to other populations and settings - Field experiments represent one way that researchers try to increase the external validity of their experiments Conclusion Validity - Conclusion validity is the extent to which the conclusions about the relationships among variables reached on the basis of the data are correct or reasonable - Conclusion validity is sometimes termed statistical conclusion validity – originally, the concept focused on whether the statistical conclusion about whether there is a relationship between variables is correct Conclusion - A variety of methods are available, each with advantages and disadvantages; researchers select the method that best enables them to address the questions they wish to answer - No method is inherently superior to another, rather, the choice of method is made after considering the problem under investigation, ethics, cost and time constraints, and issues associated with the three types of validity Chapter 5 – Measurement Concepts Reliability of measures - Reliability refers to the consistency or stability of a measure of behaviour - A reliable measure does not fluctuate from one reading to the next; if the measure does fluctuate, there is error in the measurement device - Any measure that you can make can be thought of as comprising two components: o True score, which is the real score on the variable o Measurement error - An unreliable measure of intelligence contains considerable measurement error and so does not provide an accurate indication of an individual’s true intelligence - A reliable measure of intelligence – one that contains little measurement error – will yield an identical (or nearly identical) intelligence score each time the same individual is measured - The measurement error in an unreliable test is revealed in the greater variability of its results of the unreliable test - It is important to use a reliable measure since researchers only measure each person only once - Trying to study the behaviour using unreliable measures is a waste of time because the results will be unstable and unable to be replicated - Reliability is most likely to be achieved when researchers use careful measurement procedures 24 - In many areas, reliability can be increased by making multiple measures; this is most commonly seen when assessing personality traits and cognitive abilities (e.g. a survey with more items [questions] is more reliable) - We can assess the stability of measures using correlation coefficients, which is a number that tells us how strongly two variables are related to each other - Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (symbolized as r) can range from 0.00 to +1.00 and 0.00 to -0.00 o A correlation of 0.00 tells us that the two variables are not related at all; the closer a correlation is to either +1.00 or -1.00, the stronger the relationship o The positive and negative signs provide information about the direction of the relationship  When the correlation coefficient is positive, there is a positive linear relationship – high scores on one variable are associated with high scores on the second variable  A negative linear relationship is when high scores on one variable are associated with low scores on the second variable - To assess the reliability of a measure, we will need to obtain at least two scores on the measure from many individuals; if the measure is reliable, the two scores should be very similar (e.g. a Pearson correlation coefficient that relates the two scores should be a high positive correlation) Test-Retest Reliability - Test-retest reliability is assessed by measuring the same individuals at two points in time; having two scores for each person would allow the researcher to calculate the correlation coefficient and determine the relationship between the first test score and the retest score - If many people have very similar scores, we conclude that the measure reflects true scores rather than measurement error - For most measures, the reliability coefficient should probably be at least .80 - Given that test-retest reliability involves administering the same test twice, the correlation might be artificially high because the individuals remember how they responded the first time o To solve this problem, alternate forms reliability is used, which involves administering two different forms of the same tests to the same individuals at two points in time Internal Consistency Reliability - Internal consistency reliability is the assessment of reliability using responses at only one point in time; because all items (questions) measure the same variable, they should yield similar or consistent results - Split-half reliability is the correlation of an individual’s total score on one half of the test with the total score on the other half o One drawback with this method is that it does not take into account each individual item’s role in a measure’s reliability - Cronbach’s alpha is based on the individual items; here the researcher calculates the correlation of each item with every other item 25 o The value of alpha is based on the average of all the interitem correlation coefficients and the number of items in the measure; more items indicate higher reliability - Item-total correlations is the examination of the correlation of each item score with the total score based on all items - Item-total correlations and Cronbach’s alpha are very informative because they provide information about each individual item; items that do not correlate with the other items can be eliminated from the measure to increase reliability Interrater Reliability - Interrater reliability is the extent to which raters agree in their observations; high interrater reliability is obtained when most of the observations result in the same judgment Reliability and Accuracy of Measures - Reliability tells us about measurement error but it does not tell us about whether we have a good measure of the variable of interest Construct Validity of Measures - If something is valid, it is “true” in the sense that it is supported by available evidence - Construct validity refers to the adequacy of the operational definition of variables; this is a question of whether the measure that is employed actually measures the construct it is intended to measure Indicators of Construct Validity Face Validity - Face validity is when the measure appears to accurately assess the intended variable o The evidence for validity is that the measure appears “on the face of it” to measure what it is supposed to measure - Face validity is not very sophisticated; it involves only a judgment of whether, given the theoretical definition of the variable, the content of the measure appears to actually measure the variable - The assessment of validity here is a very subjective, intuitive process; a way to improve the process somewhat is to systematically seek out experts in the field to make the face validity determination - Face validity is not sufficient to conclude that a measure is in fact valid Content Validity - Content validity is based on comparing the contents of the measure with the “universe” of content that defines the construct - Both face validity and content validity focus on assessing whether the content of a measure reflects the meaning of the construct being measured 26 Predictive Validity - Research that uses a measure to predict some future behaviour is using the predictive validity approach - The construct validity of such measures is demonstrated when scores on the measure predict the future behaviours Concurrent Validity - Concurrent validity is demonstrated by research that examines the relationship between the measure and a criterion behaviour at the same time (concurrently) - A common method is to study whether two or more groups of people differ on the measure in expected ways - Another approach to concurrent validity is to study how people who score either low or high on the measure behave in different situations Convergent Validity - Convergent validity is the extent to which scores on the measure in question are related to scores on other measures of the same construct or similar constructs - Measures of similar constructs should “converge” and be highly correlated Discriminant Validity - Discriminant validity is when the measure is not related to variables with which it should not be related - The measure should discriminate between the construct being measured and other unrelated constructs Research on Personality and Individual Differences - Although reliability and validity are important characteristics of all measures, systematic and detailed research on validity is most often carried out on measures of personality and individual differences - When you are interested in doing research in these areas, it is usually wise to use existing measures of psychological characteristics rather than develop your own - Existing measures have reliability and validity data to help you decide which measure to use; you will also be able to compare your findings with prior research that uses the measure Reactivity of Measures - A measure is said to be reactive if awareness of being measured changes an individual’s behaviour - There are ways to minimize reactivity, such as allowing time for individuals to become used to the presence of the observer or the recording equipment Variables and Measurement Scales 27 - Every variable that is studied must be operationally defined; the operational definition is the specific method used to manipulate or measure the variable - The levels can be conceptualized as a scale that uses one of four kinds of measurement scales: nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio Nominal Scales - Nominal scales have no numerical or quantitative properties; instead, categories or groups simply differ from one another (e.g. male or female) - This is called a nominal scale because we simply assign names to different categories - In an experiment, the independent variable is often a nominal or categorical variable Ordinal Scales - Ordinal scales allow us to rank order the levels of the variable being studied; instead of having categories that are simply different, as in a nominal scale, the categories can be ordered from first to last (e.g. a movie rating system out of 4 stars) - No particular value is attached to the intervals between the numbers used in the rating scale (e.g. the difference between a 1 star and 2 star movie might not be the same as a 2 star and 3 star movie) Interval and Ratio Scale - In an interval scale, the difference between the numbers on the scale is meaningful; specifically, the intervals between the numbers are equal in size (e.g. the difference between 1 and 2 on the scale is the same as the difference between 2 and 3) - The zero on any interval scale is only an arbitrary reference point; without an absolute zero point on interval scales, we cannot form ratios of the numbers (e.g. you can’t say a number is twice as much as another, or that 60°C is twice as hot as 30°C) - Ratio scales do have an absolute zero point that indicates the absence of the variable being measured (e.g. length, weight, time) - Ratio scales are used in the behavioural sciences when variables that involve physical measures are being studied – particularly time measures such as reaction time, rate of respond, and duration of response The Importance of the Measurement Scale - The conclusions one draws about the meaning of a particular score on a variable depend on which type of scale was used: o With interval and ratio scales, you can make quantitative distinctions that allow you to talk about amounts of the variable o With nominal scales, there is no quantitative information - The scale that is used also determines the types of statistics that are appropriate when the results of a study are analyzed 28 Chapter 6 – Observational Method Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches - Qualitative research focuses on people behaving in natural settings and describing their world in their own words; quantitative research tends to focus on specific behaviours that can be easily quantified - Qualitative researchers emphasize collecting in-depth information on a relatively few individuals or within a very limited setting; quantitative investigations generally include larger samples - The conclusions of qualitative research are based on interpretations drawn by the investigator; conclusions in quantitative research are based upon statistical analysis of data Naturalistic Observation - Naturalistic observation study is when the researcher makes observations in a particular natural setting (the field) over an extended period of time, using a variety of techniques to collect information - A researcher uses naturalistic observation when they want to describe and understand how people in a social or cultural setting live, work, and experience the setting Description and Interpretation of Data - Naturalistic observation demands that researchers immerse themselves in the situation; the field researcher observes everything – the setting, the patterns of personal relationships, people’s reactions to events - The goal is to provide a complete and accurate picture rather than to test hypotheses formed prior to the study; to achieve this goal, researchers must keep detailed field notes on everything that has happened - The researcher’s first goal is to describe the setting, events, and persons observed - The second goal is to analyze what was observed; the researcher must interpret what has occurred, essentially generating hypotheses that help explain the data and make them understandable - A good naturalistic observation report will support the analysis by using multiple confirmations (e.g. similar events occurring several times, similar information reported by two or more people) - The data in naturalistic observation studies are primarily qualitative in nature; that is, they are the descriptions of the observations themselves rather than quantitative statistical summaries Issues in Naturalistic Observation Participation and Concealment - Two related issues facing the researcher are weather to be a participant or nonparticipant in the social setting and whether to conceal his or her purposes from the other people in the setting - Participant observation allows the researcher to observe the setting from the inside, which means he or she may be able to experience events in the same way as natural participants 29 - A potential problem with participant observation is that the observer may lose the objectivity necessary to conduct scientific observation - Naturalistic observation requires accurate description and objective interpretation with no prior hypotheses; if a research has some prior reason to either criticize people in the setting or give a glowing report of a particular group, the observations will likely be biased and the conclusions will lack objectivity - Concealed observation may be preferable because the presence of the observer may influence and later the behaviour of those being observed - Nonconcealed observation may be preferable from an ethical viewpoint, since it is not an invasion of privacy and people often quickly become used to the observer and behave naturally in the observer’s presence - Observation in public places when anonymity is not threatened is considered to be “exempt” research; in these cases, informed consent may not be necessary Defining the Scope of the Observation - Researchers often must limit the scope of their observations to behaviours that are relevant to the central issues of the study Limits of Naturalistic Observation - The approach is most useful when investigating complex social settings both to understand the settings and to develop theories based on the observations; it is less useful for studying well- defined hypotheses under precisely specified conditions - Field research can be extremely time-consuming, often placing the researcher in an unfamiliar setting for extended periods; it cannot always be scheduled at a convenient time and place - In naturalistic observation research, there is an ever-changing pattern of evens, some important and some unimportant; the researcher must record them all and remain flexible in order to adjust to them as research progresses - The process of analysis that follows the completion of research involves the research to sort through the data to develop hypotheses to explain the data, and then make sure all data are consistent with the hypotheses - Negative case analysis is an observation that does not fit the explanatory structure devised by the researcher; when a research finds a negative case, he or she revises the hypothesis and again examines all the data to make sure they are consistent with the new hypothesis Systematic Observation - Systematic observation refers to the careful observation of one or more specific behaviours in a particular setting - This research approach is much less global than naturalistic observation research - The research is interested in only a few very specific behaviours, the observations are quantifiable, and the researchers frequently has developed prior hypotheses about the behaviours 30 Coding Systems - The researcher must decide which behaviours are of interest, choose a setting in which the behaviours can be observed, and develop a coding system to measure the behaviours - Coding systems should be as simple as possible, allowing observers to easily categorize behaviours; the need for simplicity is especially important when observers are coding live behaviours rather than viewing videotapes that can be reviewed or even coded on a frame-by-frame basis - Sometimes the researcher develops the coding system to fit the needs of the particular study and sometimes the researcher can use coding systems that have been developed by others - A major advantage of using a previously developed coding system is that a body of research already exists in which the system has proven useful, and training materials are usually available Methodological Issues Equipment - It is becoming more common to use videotape equipment to make observations, which has the advantage of providing a permanent record of the behaviour observed that can be coded later Reactivity - Reactivity is the possibility that the presence of the observer will affect people’s behaviours - Reactivity can be reduced by concealed observation (e.g. one-way mirrors, and hidden microphones or cameras) - Reactivity can also be reduced by allowing enough time for people to become used to the presence of the observer and any recording equipment Reliability - Reliability refers to the degree to which a measurement reflects a true score rather than measurement error; reliable measures are stable, consistent, and precise - When conducting systematic observation, two or more raters are usually used to code behaviour; reliability is indicated by a high agreement among the raters Sampling - For many research questions, samples of behaviour taken over a long period provide more accurate and useful data than single, short observations Case Studies - A case study provides a description of an individual; this individual is usually a person, but it may also be a setting such as a business, school, or neighbourhood - A psychobiography is a type of case study in which a researcher applies psychological theory to explain the life of an individual, usually an important historical figure 31 - Depending on the purpose of the investigation, the case study may present the individual’s history, symptoms, characteristic behaviours, reactions to situations, or responses to treatment; typically a case study is done when an individual possesses a particularly rare, unusual, or noteworthy condition - Case studies are valuable in informing us of conditions that are rare or unusual and thus providing unique data about some psychological phenomenon, such as memory, language, or social exchange Archival Research - Archival research involves using previously complied information to answer research question - The researcher analyzes existing data such as statistics that are part of public records, reports of anthropologists, the content of letters to the editor, or information contained in computer databases Statistical Records - Statistical records are collected by many public and private organizations; the U.S. Census Bureau maintains the most extensive set of statistical records available to researchers for analysis - Public records can also be used as sources of archival data Survey Archives - Survey archives consist of data from surveys that are stored on computers and available to researchers who wish to analyze them - One very useful data set is the General Social Survey, a series of surveys funded by the National Science Foundation and intended as a resource for social scientists - Survey archives are now becoming available via the Internet at sites that enable researchers to analyze the data online - Survey archives are extremely important because most researchers do not have the financial resources to conduct surveys of randomly selected national samples; the archives allow them to access such samples to test their ideas Written and Mass Communication Records - Written records are documents such as diaries and letters that have been preserved by historical societies, ethnographies of other cultures written by anthropologists, and public documents - Archival data may also be used in cross-cultural research to examine aspects of social structure that differ from society to society Content Analysis of Documents - Content analysis is the systematic analysis of existing documents and requires researchers to devise coding systems that raters can use to quantify the information in the documents - The use of archival data allows researchers to study interesting questions - There are at least two major problems with the use of archival data: 32 o The desired records may be difficult to obtain: they may be placed in long-forgotten storage places, or they may have been destroyed o We can never be completely sure of the accuracy of information collected by someone else Chapter 7 – Asking People About Themselves: Survey Research Why Conduct Surveys? - Surveys provide us with a methodology for asking people to tell us about themselves; they have become important as society demands data about issues rather than only intuition and anecdotes - In basic research, many important variables, including attitudes, current emotional states, and self- reports of behaviour, are most easily studied using questionnaires or interviews - The survey method is also an important way for researchers to study relationships among variables and ways that attitudes and behaviours change over time - A response set is a tendency to respond to all questions from a particular perspective rather than to provide answers that are directly related to the questions - The social desirability response set leads the individual to answer in the most socially acceptable way – the way that “most people” are perceived to respond or the way that would reflect most favorably on the person - Social desirability is most acute when the question concerns a sensitive topic such as violent or aggressive behaviour, substance abuse, or sexual practices - People are most likely to lie when they don’t trus
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