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PSYB01H3 (581)
Chapter 2

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David Nussbaum

Chapter 2 The foundations of psychological research Facial expressions of emotion 1. Smiling can lead to improved mood 2. Ekman a. Discovered that facial expressions of emotions are not socially learned but rather are the universal products of evolution b. Seven major categories of facial expressions i. Fear ii. Anger iii. Happiness iv. Contempt v. Surprise vi. Disgust vii. Sadness 3. Emotions a. Description: rapid and coordinated response system that evolved to enable humans to react quickly and effectively to events that affect their welfare i. Facial expressions are a critical medium of communication The goals of science 4. Two very broad research design approaches used by researchers a. Experimental i. Used when the researcher wants to test cause and effect 1. i.e. only experimental approach allows for causality b. Non-experimental i. Naturalistic observation 1. Actions and events are carefully measured and catalogued but independent variables cannot be directly manipulated and confounding factors are hard to control ii. Quasiexperimental iii. Correlational iv. Survey v. Single subject Description 1. Principal objective of research a. To provide a scientific understanding of the topic of investigation b. Scientific understanding entails i. Description 1. Describe and define terms a. Conceptually i. Provides the meaning of an abstract term very generally ii. Dictionary term b. Operationally i. Follow conceptual definitions ii. Indicates how a concept is coded, measured, or quantified ii. Explanation 1. Involves prediction as well as establishing cause and effect 2. Causality requires three kinds of evidence a. Temporal precedence i. Cause precedes the effect in time 1. E.g. smoking  cancer b. Covariation of the cause and effect i. When the cause is present, the effect occurs ii. When the cause is absent, the effect does not occur c. Elimination of alternative explanations i. No confounding variables c. Important aspect of description and explanation is establishing predictive relationships between two events or occurrences Practical knowledge 1. Studies are catagorized as either a. Basic research i. Addresses fundamental questions about the nature of abstract psychological processes and ideas 1. Such as a. Intelligence b. Reasoning c. Emotion d. Social behavior b. Applied research i. Addresses important questions that are thought to be of immediate relevance in solving practical problems 1. E.g. what television advertisements are most effective in reducing illicit drug use in children? ii. Program evaluation 1. Studies the effects of large scale policy changes, social reforms, innovations occurring in government, schools, courts, prisons, businesses etc on behavior 2. Basic and applied research often falls along a continuum instead of being two distinct areas of research a. Some sort of basic research may end up having practical applications in the future i. E.g. basic research on facial expression leading to integration of this knowledge in police work in catching criminals ii. E.g. can looking better make you feel happier? – the effects of permanent smile on mood Sources of research ideas Starting with observation 1. Simple observation a. Source of evidence and ideas 2. Serendipity effect a. Accidentally discovering something fortunate b. Keep an open mind for the unexpected, unlikely and counterintuitive Starting with theory 1. Research question coming from theory a. Darwin: are physiological changes the cause of emotion or is emotion the cause of physiological changes? i. James-Lange theory 1. Emotions are feelings that come about as a result of physiological changes created by the autonomic nervous system that regulates bodily reactions to stress a. i.e. physiological changes come first ii. Cannon-Bard theory 1. Opposite of James-Lange theory iii. Embodiment theory of emotion 1. Proposes a dynamic interplay of specific bodily states and their associated emotions a. i.e. both JL and CB theory have some merit 2. States that when people adopt emotion specific bodily postures, they report experiencing the associated emotions a. James-Lange 3. States that when people make facial expressions or emotional gestures, their perceptions and impressions are affected a. Cannon-Bard 4. Inhibiting motor movements can interfere with experience of emotion Literature 1. Scientific journals a. Peer reviewed articles fall into two categories i. Empirical 1. Reports on a particular study and is written in sections a. Abstract b. Introduction c. Method d. Results e. Discussion ii. Review 1. Examines several studies of a particular phenomenon 2. Evaluates the methodology used across different studies 3. Examines the degree to which findings are robust across various conditions, settings and procedures 4. Comments on the extent to which the empirical findings allow for general theoretical conclusions Searching the literature 1. Online serendipity of stumbling onto an unexpected article that could add a new dimension to your thinking or lead you a different path from original idea a. Databases of scholarly articles i. Google scholar ii. APA iii. Association for Psychological Science iv. PsycINFO v. PsycLIT Using literature 2. Beware confirmatory bias 3. Internet databases prioritize information based on advertising, not scientific merit Research strategies 1. Connecting theory with empirical data through a. Deductive research i. Theory  data ii. Experimental iii. Theories are not directly testable 1. Hypotheses must be derived from theories a. Hypotheses are tested and the results are used to evaluate how good the theory is b. Hypothesis defined i. A specific testable statement that can be evaluated by empirical observations or data c. Only hypotheses are testable i. Because they propose a specific relationship between two or more variables that must be measurable 1. Independent variable that is manipulated 2. Dependent variable that is affected d. Hypotheses are usually if-then statements i. E.g. if the independent variable increases (or decreases) then the dependent variable increases (or decreases) e. Have direction of association i. Positive 1. Both independent and dependent variables increase or decrease ii. Negative / inverse 1. Independent and dependent variables either increase and decrease or vice versa iv. Generalizations defined 1. A broad statement that cannot be directly tested but needs to be translated into one or more hypotheses a. i.e. a theory will contain many generalizations that need to be formed into hypotheses
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