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Chapter 2

PSYB01 - Chapter 2

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University of Toronto Scarborough
David Nussbaum

PSYB01 – PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH LAB (WEEK 2) RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY Chapter 2: The Foundations of Psychological Research  Experimental Design – random assignment of participants to groups. The effects on the dependent variable of manipulating one or more independent variables are investigated  Non-Experimental Design - actions or events carefully measured and catalogued, but independent variables cannot be directly manipulated o i.e., quasiexperimental, correlational, survey, and single-subject or small-N research The Goal of Science  Paul Erkman studied facial expressions of emotions and found that most social scientists understood emotional expression in the face to be culturally determined by a set of learned social conventions. o Began by challenging the idea that such rules are learned social or cultural conventions. o Would building a program of psychological research around his break through discovery that facial expressions of emotion were not socially learned by rather are the universal products of evolution  Scientific understanding entails two distinct but related processes: description and explanation  Conceptual definition – provides the meaning, often rather broad in scope, of an abstract term such as intelligence, anxiety, or emotion; it demarcates a semantic or linguistic meaning of a psychological term, that is, its usage in words, texts, and language o For Erkman, the term emotions represents another key concept that he defines broadly as a rapid and coordinated response system that evolved to enable humans to react quickly and effectively to events that affect their welfare  Operational definition – indicates how a concept is coded, measured, or quantified o Erkman: the Facial Action Coding System provides the operational definition of various facial expressions of emotion. The coding system defines specific combinations of facial muscle movements that are universally and discretely generated when certain emotions are elicited  An important aspect of a scientific description and explanation is establishing predictive relationships between two events or occurrences  Explanation can include both prediction as well as establishing cause and effect  Causality requires three kinds of evidence, as described by Cook and Campbell (1979) o Temporal precedence – establishes that the cause precedes the effect o Covariation of the cause and effect – when the cause is present, the effect occurs, and when the cause is absent, the effect does not occur o Elimination of Alternative explanations – a researcher must show that nothing other than a causal variable could be responsible for the observed effect; no other plausible explanation for the relationship  It is impossible in human studies to control for all extraneous, cofounding or third-variables that could account for the observed effect  Studies are often categorized as basic research or applied research PSYB01 – PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH LAB (WEEK 2) RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY o Basic Research addresses fundamental questions about the nature of abstract psychological process and ideas, such as emotion, intelligence, reasoning or social behaviour o Applied Research addresses important questions that are thought to be of immediate relevance in solving practical problems  Program Evaluation studies the effects on behaviour of large-scale policy changes and as well social reforms and innovations occurring in government, schools, courts, prisons, businesses, health care, housing, and so forth Sources of Research Ideas  Science often begins with simple observation, which can serve as a source of both evidence and ideas  Often in research, our observations will need to be broken down into simpler units that allow for more precise quantification and measurement  Observations often act to restrict our attention, but sometimes we might stumble upon an important discovery that may not have been of primary interest  Serendipity Effect – an unplanned, accidental, yet fortunate discovery that can occur in the course of a study on an unrelated topic  In many instances, your research question will flow directly from a theory o James-Lange theory – emotions are feelings that come about as a result of physiological changes, created by the autonomic nervous system that regulates bodily reactions to stress o Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion – in the 1920s, in direct opposition of the James-Lange theory, Walter Cannon and Philip Bard proposed that emotional experiences come first, followed by bodily changes o Embodiment Theory of Emotion – a dynamic interplay of specific bodily states and their associated emotions  Scientific literature can also serve as a fountain for new ideas o Scientific journals constitute the scientific literature and fall into two categories: empirical articles and review articles o Empirical articles report on a particular study and is written in a certain format divided into sections with an abstract, introduction, method, results, and discussion o Review articles examine several studies of a particular phenomenon, such as facial expressions of emotion. It evaluated methodology used across different studies, examines the degree to which findings are robust across various conditions, settings and procedures, and comments on the extent to which the empirical findings allow for general theoretical conclusions  Journalistic pieces represent important secondary sources – second-hand media accounts of scientific work. They are best used as clues to lead you to the primary source – the first-hand empirical report established in a peer-reviewed journal PSYB01 – PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH LAB (WEEK 2) RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY Research Strategies  Deductive Research – researchers may make connections by starting with a psychological theory and testing some of its implications with data; most often the strategy used in experimental studies  Inductive Research – researchers may develop a connection between a 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 non-experimental studies  Two important elements of all scientific research is data and theory o A good theory is one that is parsimonious and precise as well as powerful in its breadth and depth of explanation  Inductive research entails reasoning from a particular data or empirical observations to general theory o Often used in qualitative research o In naturalistic observation, observation must be systematic, which means that is must be conducted carefully, with precise description that allows for consistent and reliable cataloging of data and orderly classification and analysis of that information o The aim of qualitative research is to understand context  In deductive research, reasoning proceeds from a general theory to particular data o Generalization is a broad statement that cannot be directly tested but rather needs to be translated into one or more hypotheses o A theory will consist of a host of generalizations, and each generalization can lead
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