Experimental design: used when a researcher wants to test cause and effect; the
researcher is able to exercise control over the variable or variables that are assumed to
be the causal agent(s) producing the predicted effect
Nonexperimental design: the independent variable cannot be directly manipulated and
confounding factors are difficult to control; encompass several types of studies
including: quasiexperimental; correlational; survey; single subject/small-N research.
The Goals of Science
Paul Ekman – psychologist who studied the facial expressions of emotion. He found
that most scientists understood emotional expression in the face to be culturally
determined by a set of learned social conventions.
Ekman studied numerous cultures and found that each culture could identify facial
expressions. He found seven major categories of facial expressions of emotions:
Conceptual definition: provides the meaning, often very broad scope, of an abstract
term. A semantic or linguistic meaning of a psychological term.
Example: intelligence; anxiety; emotion.
Operational definition: indicates how a concept is coded, measured, or quantified.
A coding system must be transparent so that multiple people can use it.
Causality requires three types of evidence:
1. Temporal precedence: establishes that the cause precedes the effect.
2. Covariation of the cause and effect: when the cause is present, the effect occurs.
When the cause is not present, the effect does not occur.
3. Alternative explanations: nothing other than a causal variable could be
responsible for the observed effect. It is nearly impossible for human studies to control for all confounding/third variables: an
extraneous variable that could also be responsible for an effect.
Studies are often categorized as two types of research:
1. Basic research: addresses fundamental questions about the nature of abstract
psychological processes and ideas
a. Emotions, intelligence, reasoning, social behaviour
2. Applied research: addresses important questions that are thought to of
immediate relevance in solving current/practical problems.
a. What media is best to convince children not to do drugs?
Program evaluation: a type of applied research. Studies the effects on behaviour of
large-scale policy changes, social reforms, and innovations occurring in the
government, schools, etc.
Basic and applied research are best viewed as occurring along a continuum. Both are
important and one can often lead to the other.
Sources of Research Ideas
Starting with Observation
Science often starts with basic observations. Then it needs to be broken down into units
that allow for more precise qualification and measurement.
Observations can often work to restrict attention but can lead to important to discoveries
in an area that had not been of interest.
Serendipity effect: accidentally discovering something fortunate
Starting with Theory
We can start with a pre-existing theory and move from that to build other theories.
Example: Do physiological changes lead to emotion or vice versa?
James-Lange Theory: physiological change comes first then emotions
Cannon-Bard theory: emotions come first then bodily changes
Embodiment theory of emotion: proposes a dynamic interplay of specific bodily states
and their associate emotions
The latter is supported by:
When people adopt emotion-specific bodily postures, they report experiencing
the associated emotions When people make facial expressions or emotional gestures, their perceptions
and impressions are affected
Inhibiting people’s motor movements can interfere with their ability to express
Scientific literature can give ideas. Can be found in scientific journals.
Empirical articles: reports on a particular study and is written in a certain format divided
into sections with an Abstract, Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion.
Review articles: examines several studies of a particular phenomenon. It evaluates the
methodology used across the studies, examines the findings across various
conditions/settings/procedures, and comments on the extent that empirical findings
allow for theoretical conclusions.
Popular science literature: often written by scientists for the general public in order to
explain science to them.
Science journalism: focuses on recent developments in science that are deemed
Primary sources: first-hand empirical report published in a peer-reviewed journal
Secondary sources: second-hand media accounts of scientific work
Deductive research: starting with a psychological theory and testing some of its
implications with data
Inductive research: develop a connection between psychological theory by first
systematically collecting observations, measurements, or data, and then developing a
theory that explains the patterns in the data.
Most often used in nonexperimental studies
Two most important parts of research:
Data: empirical observations that allow for evaluating a theory.
Theory: set of propositions that explains a variety of occurrences. Performs three
major functions: organisation; explanation; prediction.
Often used in qualitative research: naturalistic observation design where people are
studied in their natural settings, so that behaviours and words can be put in proper
context. The goal of this is to understand context.
Also known as ethnography Deductive research
Reasoning proceeds from a general theory to particular data. Theories may not be
directly testable so hypotheses are deri