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Chapter 5

PSYB32 - Chapter 5.docx

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Konstantine Zakzanis

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Chapter 5 PSYB32 Chapter 5 Research Methods in the Study of Abnormal Behavior Science and Scientific Methods  Science: pursuit of systematized knowledge through reliable observation  Important for scientific observations and explanations to be testable (open tot systematic problems) and reliable (replicable) Testability and Replicability  Scientific approach requires first that propositions and ideas be stated in a clear and precise way o Only then can scientific claims be exposed to systematic probes and tests  All statements, theories and assertions must be testable and subject to disproof  Each observation must be reliable/replicable o Must occur under prescribed circumstances anytime it is repeated o If event cannot be reproduced, legitimacy of original observation will be questioned The Role of Theory  Theory: a set of propositions meant to explain a class of phenomena  Primary goal of science is to advance theories to account for data, often by proposing cause-effect relationships  Theories themselves can guide research by suggesting that certain additional data be collected  Hypothesis: expectation about what should occur if a theory is true o A theory permits the generation of a hypothesis to be tested in research  Generating a theory is most challenging o Scientists look at unobservable states/processes that are inferred from observable data  Theoretical concepts can also summarize already observed relationships  Operationism: proposed that each concept take as its meaning a single observable and measurable operation o A criteria applied in judging legitimacy of a theoretical concept o This causes the loss of generality  Therefore today the theoretical concept can be defined by sets of operations or effects o Concept can thus be linked to several different measurements, each of which taps a different facet of the concept The Research Methods of Abnormal Psychology  All empirical research entails the collection of observable data o Sometimes research is purely descriptive o Most times several events are observed and connections are made between them The Case Study  Case study: The collection of historical and biographical information on a single individual, often including experience in therapy  Comprehensive case study would cover family history and background, medical history, educational background, jobs held, marital history o Also collect details concerning development, adjustment, personality, life course and current situation Providing Detailed Description  Since case studies focus on one person, they provide much more detail than other research methods  Validity of info gathered in a case study is sometimes questionable  Constant comparative method: consists of the identification of relevant units of information, placing the units into categories that emerge from the data and providing organization themes for information  This method has been used to study dissociative identity disorder and trichotillomania The Case Study as Evidence  Case histories are useful when they negative an assumed universal relationship or law o Ex. Depression is caused by stress; if one case study were to disprove this it would allow us to know that this law is not always followed therefore allowing us to venture other causes  Case studies fares less well as evidence in support of a particular theory o Do not provide the means for ruling out alternative hypotheses o Certain factors are not manipulated so a cause and effect cannot directly be made Chapter 5 PSYB32 Generating Hypotheses  Case study plays a unique role in formulating hypotheses  As clinicians study certain patients, they gain experience in understanding and interpreting them o Eventually notice similarities of circumstances and outcomes and formulate important hypotheses from this  Some case studies are so unique they cant exactly be generalized o If an occurrence of these cases start to exist it helps us understand a disorder much better and allows clinicians to venture different possibilities when diagnosing  Hypotheses from case studies can later be studied in greater detail through controlled research Epidemiological Research  Epidemiology: study of frequency and distribution of a disorder in a population  In epidemiological research, data are gathered about the rates of a disorder and its possible correlates in a large sample or population o Gives a general picture of a disorder, how many people it affects, whether it is more common in men than in women and whether its occurrence also varies according to social and cultural forms  Epidemiological research focuses on determining three features of a disorder o Prevalence: the proportion of a population that has the disorder at a given point or period of time o Incidence: the number of newcases of the disorder that occur in some period, usually a year o Risk factors: conditions or variable that, if present, increase the likelihood of developing the disorder  Knowledge of risk factors can give clues to the causes of disorders  Results of epidemiological research may provide hypotheses that can be more thoroughly investigated using other research methods The Correlational Method  Correlational Method: method established whether there is a relationship between or among two or more variables  Variables being studied are measured as they exist in nature o Different from experiment research (variable are manipulated and controlled) Measuring Correlation  First step to determining correlation is to obtain pairs of observations of the variables in question  Then the strength of the relationship between the two sets of observations can be calculated  Correlation coefficient ^: Denoted by r o Value between -1.00 and +1.00 and measures both magnitude and the direction of a relationship o Higher the absolute value of r, the larger or stronger the relationship between the two variables o +1.00 or -1.00 is the highest possible/perfect correlation o r of 0 indicates that the variables are unrelated o Positive r value means it is positively correlated o Negative r value means it is negatively correlated  Plotting a relationship graphically often helps make it clearer o Perfect relationships are in one straight line o The more dispersed the points are, the less correlated the factors are Statistical Significance  Refers to the likelihood that the results of the investigation are due to chance  A statistically significant correlations is one that is not likely to have occurred by chance  In psychological research, a correlation is considered statistically significant if the likelihood or probability that it is a chance finding is 5 or less in 100 o Level of significance is called the .05 level  Commonly written as p=.05 (p stands for probability)  As the size of the correlation coefficient increases, the result is more and more likely to be statistically significant  The greater the number of observations, the smaller r (the correlation) needs to be to reach statistical significance Chapter 5 PSYB32 Applications to Psychopathology  We compare people given one diagnosis with those given another or with people without a psychological diagnosis, the study is correlational  When correlational method is used in research on psychopathology, one of the variables is typically diagnosis  Often investigations are not recognized as correlational (since participants come to a lab for testing) but the logic of such studies is correlational  Classificatory variables: The characteristics that people bring with them to scientific investigations (sex, age, mental status); studied by correlational research and mixed designs o Not manipulated, naturally occurring factors Problems of Causality  Correlational method does not allow determination of cause-effect relationships  Sizeable correlation between tow variables tells us only that they are related or tend to co-vary with each other o But we do not really know which is cause and which is effect or if either variable is actually the cause of the other The directionality problem  A difficulty that arises in the correlational method of research when it is known that tow variables are related but it is unclear which is causing the other o Seen in many correlational studies  Causation does imply correlation but correlation does not imply causation  One way of overcoming this is based on the idea that causes must precede effects o Studies investigating the hypothesized causes of psychopathology would se a me
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