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Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Scientific Understanding of Behavior

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University of Toronto Scarborough

Chapter 1: Scientific Understanding of Behavior  Scientific research provides us with the best means of addressing questions and providing answers Use of Research Methods  Mental health professionals for treatment methods  People in business environments  Political leaders take political positions and propose legislation based on research findings  Developing and assessing effectiveness of programs designed to achieve goals The Scientific Approach  Instead of using scientific approach, people rely on intuition and authority as ways of knowing Limitations of Intuition and Authority  Intuition may be used with anecdotal evidence to draw general conclusions about the world around us  Problem with intuition is that numerous cognitive and motivational biases affect our perceptions, and so we may draw erroneous conclusions about cause and effect o Ex. Relationship between adoption and pregnancy a few months later due to lower stress levels.  Hold this belief due to illusionary correlation; occurs when we focus on two events that stand out and occur together.  Authority- People considered prestigious authority, internet, media, books, government officials, or religious figures are usually readily accepted and considered to be true. Skepticism, Science, and the Empirical Approach  Scientists are skeptical to what they see/hear  Scientific skepticism means that ideas must be evaluated on the basis of careful logic and results from scientific investigations  Fundamental characteristic of the scientific method is empiricism- the idea that knowledge is based on observations  Science is adversarial- it’s a way of thinking in which ideas do battle with other ideas in order to move closer to the truth  Good scientific ideas are testable and are either supported or falsified.  Scientific evidence is peer reviewed- this ensures that research with major flaws will not become part of the scientific literature. Integrating Intuition, Skepticism, and Authority  Scientific approaches provide an objective set of rules for gathering, evaluating, and reporting information  You should be skeptical to pseudoscience, which is fake science in which seemingly scientific terms and demonstrations are used to substantiate claims that have no basis in scientific research Goals of Behavioral Science  1) To describe behavior  2) to predict behavior  3) To determine cause
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