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Chapter 5

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Konstantine Zakzanis

Science and The Scientific Method  Science is the pursuit of systemized knowledge through observation.  The term comes from the Latin word ‘scire’ meaning, “to know,” refers to both a method and a goal.  It is important for scientific observations and explanations to be testable and reliable. Testability and Replicability  A scientific approach requires that propositions and ideas be stated in a clear and precise way.  Statements, theories, and assertions must be testable in the public arena and subject to disproof.  Closely related to testability is the requirement that each observation that contributes to scientific body of knowledge be replicable or reliable. It must occur under prescribed circumstances not once, but repeatedly. The Role of Theory  A theory is a set of propositions meant to explain a class of phenomena.  The primary goal of science is to advance theories to account for data, often by proposing cause – effect relationships.  Empirical research allows the adequacy of theories to be evaluated.  A theory permits the generation of hypothesis-expectations about what should occur if a theory is true.  The generation of a theory asserts that a scientist formulates a theory by simply considering data that has been previously collected and then deciding, and a rather straightforward fashion, is a given way of thinking about the data is the most economical and useful.  Theories are constructions put together by scientists.  Scientists must often make use of theoretical concepts: unobservable states or processes that are inferred from observable data.  Theoretical concepts can also summarize already observed relationships.  Operationism: school of thought that proposes that each concept takes its meaning a single observable and measurable operation. Each theoretical concept would be nothing more than one particular measurable. In this way, its generality is lost.  The early operation's point of view quickly gave way to more flexible position that a theoretical concept can be defined by sets of operations or effects. The Research Methods of Abnormal Psychology The Case Study  A case study collects historical and biographical information on a single individual, often including experiences during therapy sessions.  A case study would cover family history and background, medical history, educational background, jobs held, marital history, and details concerning development, adjustment and personality, life course, and current situations. Providing Detailed Description  The validity of the information gathered in the case study is sometimes questionable.  Constant comparative method: identification of relevant units of information, placing the units into categories that emerge from the data and providing organizational teams for the information. The Case Study as Evidence  Case histories are especially useful when they negate an assumed universal relationship or law.  Case studies do not provide the means for ruling out alternative hypothesis. Generating Hypotheses  Through exposure to life histories of a great number of clients, clinicians may notice similarities of circumstances and formulate hypothesis that could not have been uncovered in a more controlled investigation.  The case study is an excellent way of examining the behavior of a single individual in great detail and generating hypothesis that can later be evaluated by controlled research.  But when general, universal laws are sought to explain phenomena, the case study is of limited use. Epidemiological Research  Epidemiology is the study of the frequency and distribution of the disorder in a population.  This information can be used to give a general picture of the 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 factors.  Epidemiological research focuses on three features of a disorder: 1. Prevalence: the proportion of a population that has the disorder at the given point or period of time 2. Incidence: the number of new cases of the disorder that occur in some period, usually within a year 3. Risk factors: conditions are variables thought, if present, increase the likelihood of developing the disorder  Epidemiology is important for planning healthcare facilities and services and for allocating provincial and federal grants for the study of disorders. The Correlational Method  Correlational method establishes whether there is a relationship between or among two or more variables.  The variables being studied are measured, as they exist in nature. Measuring Correlation  The first step in determining a correlation is to obtain pairs of observations of the variables in question, such as height and weight, for each member of the group of participants.  The strength of the relationship between two sets of observations can be calculated to determine the correlation coefficient. The relationship is represented by r. If r is positive, it is, the two variables are said to be positively related. If r is negative, the two variables are said to be negatively related.  In perfect relationships, all the points on the straight line. Statistical Significance  Statistical significance refers to the likelihood that the results of an investigation are due to chance.  A statistically significant correlation is one that is not likely to have occurred by chance.  Traditionally, and psychological research, a correlation is considered statistically significant if the likelihood or probability that it is a chance finding is five or less in 100, commonly written as p=.05.  As the size of the correlation coefficient increases, the result is more and more likely to be statistically significant.  When a correlation attains statistical significance also depends on the number of observations made. The greater the number of observations, the smaller r (the correlation) needs to be to reach statistical significance. Applications to Psychopathology  When the correlational method is used in research and psychopathology, one of the variables is typically diagnosis; for example, whether the participant is
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