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Chapter 1

PSYB01 Textbook Notes Chapter 1

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David Nussbaum

Chapter 1: Scientific Understanding of Behaviour Method of Acquiring Knowledge Intuition • When you rely on intuition, you accept unquestioningly what your personal judgment or a single story about one person’s experience tells you about the world. • Often, it involves finding an explanation for our behaviours or for the behaviours of others. Other times, intuition is used to explain intriguing events that you observe. • A problem with intuition is that many cognitive and motivational biases affect our perceptions, and so we are likely to draw erroneous conclusions about causes and effect. • Illusory correlation occurs when we focus on two events that stand out and occur together. When a decision to stop looking is closely followed by finding a long-term mate, our attention is drawn to the situation, but when a decision to stop looking is not closely followed by finding a long-term mate, we don’t notice this non-event. Authority • Many people are all too ready to accept anything they learn from the news, media, books, government officials, or religious figures. They believe that the statements of such authorities must be true. Advertisers know this, and therefore use endorsements by authorities to sell products. Skepticism, Science, and the Empirical Approach • The scientific approach to acquiring knowledge recognizes that both intuition and authority are sources of idea about behaviour. • 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 structured, systematic, observations. After developing a hypothesis – an idea that might be true – a scientist carefully collects data to evaluate whether that hypothesis accurately reflects the nature of the world. • Four Key characteristics guide the process of scientific inquiry. • The first is that scientists make systematic observations that are accurately reported to other scientists and the public; other can replicate the methods used to check whether they obtain the same results. • Second, scientists enthusiastically search for observations that will help them make accurate discoveries about the world. • Third, science flourishes when there is an open system for the exchange and competition of ideas. • Researchers are only interested in falsifiable ideas, where data can reveal whether they are truth or fiction. • Fourth, peer review of research is very important in increasing the likelihood that only the most rigorous research is published. Before a study is published in a scientific publication, it must be reviewed by other scientists who have the expertise to carefully evaluate the research and recommend whether the research should be published. Integrating Scientific Skepticism, Intuition, 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. It is an open system that allows ideas to be refuted or supported by others. • There are many examples in daily life of pseudoscience, which uses scientific terms to substantiate claims without using scientific data. Some Warning Signs of Pseudoscience: Hypotheses generated are falsifiable If scientific test are reported, methodology is not scientific and accuracy of data is questionable. Supportive evidence tends to be anecdotal or relies heavily on authorities who are “so- called” experts in the area of interest. Genuine, peer-reviewed scientific references are not cited. Claims ignore conflicting evidence Claims are stated in scientific-sounding terminology and ideas Claims tend to be vague
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