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Chapter 5

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Konstantine Zakzanis

Chapter 5: Research methods in the study of Abnormal Behaviour [SCIENCE AND SCIENTIFIC METHODS] - Science is the pursuit of systemization knowledge thru observation; refers to both method (the systematic acquisition and evaluation of info) and to a goal (the development of general theories that explain the info) - Important for scientific explanations to be testable (open to systematic probes) and reliable (replicable) Testability and Replicability - Statements, theories and assertions, must be testable in the public arena and subject to disproof - Hypothesis must be amenable to systematic testing that could show it to be false - Each observation that contributes to the scientific body of knowledge be replicable or reliable - It must be replicable meaning that it should occur under prescribed circumstances not once but repeatedly The Role of Theory - Theory is a set of propositions meant to explain a class of phenomena- advance theories account for data by proposing cause-effect relationships - Theories can play important role in guiding research by suggesting certain additional data be collected - Theories permit generation of hypotheses: expectations about what should occur if a theory is true; tested in research - The most challenging part of scientific enterprise is generating a theory - In formulating a theory, scientists must often make use of theoretical concepts, unobservable stats or processes that are inferred from observable data - Repression is a theoretical concept, which are inferred from observable data; can summarize already observed relationships; explains what has been observed; TC become mediators of relationships - What criteria are applied in judging the legitimacy of the TC? o Operationism: each concept take as its meaning a single observable and measureable operation; each TC would be nothing more than one particular measureable event o If however, each TC is operationalized in only one way, its generality is lost o TC can be defined by sets of operations or effects: the behaviour/physiological effects are set of operations defining the TC (i.e. hand trembling; heart rate increases); better to do this rather than defining TC by single operation [The Research Methods of Abnormal Psychology] - All empirical research entails collection of observable data o some research stays at descriptive level but often researchers observe several events and try to determine how they are associated or related - large descriptive literature concerning typical symptoms of people who have been diagnosed as having particular disorders are related to other characteristics such as gender or social classes - we want to understand causes of relationships we have observed - methods vary in degree to which they permit collection of adequate descriptive data and the extent to which they allow researchers to infer causal relationships The Case Study - study individual at one time and record detailed information about them - collecting historical and biographical info on a single individual, often including experiences in therapy; family history and background, medical history, educational background, jobs held, marital history and details concerning development, adjustment, personality, life course and current situation - case studies of practising clinicians may lack the degree of control and objectivity of research using other methods, but descriptive accounts have played important role in study of abnormal behaviour - case study has been used to: o provide detailed description of a rare or unusual phenomenon and of important, often novel, methods or procedures of interviewing, diagnosis and treatment  dissociative identity disorder; trichotillomania  constant comparative method: consist of the identification of relevant units of information (unitizing), placing the units into categories that emerge form the data (categorizing) and providing organizational themes for the info (identifying themes)  important to address issues such as emotional, social and psychological well being when assessing and treating patients rather than just focusing on symptom reduction with limited effectiveness o disconfirm allegedly universal aspects of a particular theoretical proposition  case studies negate an assumed universal relationship or low  if even a single case does not agree with a universal theory then this would negate the theory or at least force it to be changed to agree with the new findings  case studies do not provide the means for ruling out alternative hypotheses  several plausible hypotheses can account for clinical improvement  data yielded by the case study do not allow us to determine the true cause of the change o generate hypotheses that can be tested through controlled research - validity of info gathered in case study is sometimes questionable - case studies good way of examining behaviour of a single individual in great detail and of generating hypotheses that can later be evaluated by controlled research; useful in clinical settings where focus is only on one person - not very useful when universal laws are sought to explain phenomenon - it may not reveal principle characteristics of people in general and is unable to provide satisfactory evidence concerning cause-effect relationship Epidemiological Research - epidemiology is the study of frequency and distribution of a disorder in a population - data are gathered about the rates of a disorder and its possible correlates in a large sample or population; info can be used in general picture of a disorder, how many people it affects, whether it is ore common in men than in women and whether its occurrence also varies according to social and cultural factor - focus is on determining three features of a disorder o prevalence proportion of population that has the disorder at a given point or period of time o incidence number of new cases of the disorder that occur in some period, usually a year o risk factors conditions or variables that, if present, increase the likelihood of developing the disorder; gives clues to causes of disorders - these are important for planning heath care facilities and services and for allocating provincial and federal grants for the study of disorders - results of epidemiological research may provide hypotheses that can be more thoroughly investigated using other research methods The Correlational method - establishes whether there is a relationship between or among two or more variables - often employed in epidemiological research and in other studies - variables being studied are measured as they exist in nature=> different from experimental research in which variables are manipulated and controlled by the researcher - Correlational studies address questions of the form “are variable X and variable Y associated in some way so that they vary together (co-relate)?” o Measuring correlation:  Obtain pairs of observations of variables in question for each member of a group of participants  Strength of the relationship between the two sets of observations can be calculated to determine the correlation coefficient: denoted by r  r takes value b/w -1 to +1 and it measures both the magnitude and direction of a relationship; higher the absolute value of r, the larger or stronger the relationship b/w the two variables; value of either -1 or +1 indicate the highest possible, or perfect, relationship; when r = 0.00 then it indicates that variables are unrelated; if sign is + then variables are said to be positively related so that as values for variable X increase, those of variable Y also tend to increase; if sign is – then it is said to be negatively related; as scores of one variable increases then the other tends to decrease  plotting relationship graphically often helps make it clearer scatter diagrams; in a perfect correlation all the points lie on the straight line; value tends to scatter increasingly and become more dispersed as correlation become lower o Statistical significance  Likelihood that the results of an investigation are due to chance  SS correlation is one that is not likely to have occurred by chance  Correlation is considered SS if likelihood or probability that it is a chance finding is 5 or less in 100 p= 0.05  As size of correlation coefficient increases, the result is more ad more likely to be statistically significant  Whether correlation attains SS also depends on the number of observations made; greater the number of observations, smaller r (corre
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