Research methods in psychology
Chapter 1: The scientific approach
Uses of research methods
A background in research methods can help us critically evaluate the scientific reports in mass
media. Evaluate the methods employed and decide whether the conclusions are reasonable.
Occupations that require the use of research findings: Health professionals, business
environments, educators, and public policy decisions making professions.
Ex: Social science brief was used as evidence in the case of Brown v. Board of education in
school segregation. Availability of pornography have been informed by behavioural research,
research on sex stereotype has influenced the outcome of a court decision on sex discrimination
Research is also important when developing and assessing the effectiveness of programs
designed to achieve certain goals.
The scientific approach
Many people rely on intuition and authority as ways of knowing.
The limitations of intuition and authority
Ex: Intuition and anecdotal evidence that adopting a child increases chance of pregnancy.
Perhaps due to reduction of marital stress.
-We often use intuition to explain intriguing events we observe or to explain our own or other’s
behaviours. But numerous cognitive and motivational biases can affect our perception, and we
may draw erroneous conclusions about cause and effect.
-For the pregnancy and adoption case, it is a cognitive bias called illusory correlation, occurs
when we focus on 2 events that stand out and occur together.
-Such illusory correlation also occurs when we are highly motivated to believe in the causal
Authority: Aristotle argued, that we are more likely to be persuaded by speaker who seem
prestigious, trustworthy, and respectable. The scientific approach rejects the notion that one can
accept on faith the statements of any authority.
Skepticism, Science and the empirical approach
Ideas must be evaluated on the basis of careful logic and results from scientific investigations.
Scientific method is based on empiricism—knowledge based on observations.
Goodstein’s evolved theory of science:
1. Observations accurately reported to other.
2. Search for discovery and verification of ideas
3. Open exchange and competition among ideas
4. Peer review of research
Good scientific ideas are testable and falsifiable.
Peer review is important in making sure only the best is published. Integrating intuition, skepticism and authority
There’s nothing wrong with relying on intuition and authority for ideas and opinion, as long as
you recognize these may not be scientific.
When someone claims to be a scientist, ask the following.
A. Credentials of the individuals.
B. Reputation of the institution represente