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PSYC21H3 (41)
Chapter 2

Chapter 2.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Carly Prusky

Social Development Chapter 2 – Research Methods: Tools for Discovery - Theories must produce predictions that can be tested with empirical research Getting Starting: Formulating Hypotheses, Asking Questions - Research starts with ideas from theory, previous research, or observations - A general idea has to be translated into a clear research hypothesis - Before collecting empirical data, looking at past work is important - Operationalization – defining a concept so that it is observable and measurable; translating ideas into accessible forms - Make decisions about research designs, methods, samples, and analyses Research Methods: Establishing Patterns and Causes - The Correlational Method o Looking for statistical associations between two variables; finding out strongly two variables are related o Correlation ≠ causation o Correlation coefficient – statistic that provides a numeric estimate of how closely two variables are related and the direction of their relation  Ranges from -1.0 to +1.0 o Two variables with correlation -1.0: for every increase in one variable, there is a systematic decrease in the other o Two variables with correlation +1.0: for every increase in one variable, there is a comparable increase in the other o Correlation of 0.0 means that the variables are completely unrelated o Correlations between 0.2 and 0.5 are significant (large enough to not have occurred by chance) o A suitable experiment cannot always be designed to study a particular question, hence why the correlational method is used (i.e. ethical reasons, to find causation would take a long time for a particular set of variables, or because researchers want to look at patterns of the variables, not causation) - Laboratory Experiments o Primary way researchers investigate causal connections o In a lab, researchers hold constant every possible factor except the one they believe will influence the variable they want to study o Participants are assigned to an experimental group (exposed to the variable) or to a control group (who are not exposed to the suspected causal variable) o Random assignment – method by which people are assigned to either the experimental or control group, ruling out the possibility that the people in the groups differ in a systematic way o Independent variable – factor that is manipulated in an experiment o Dependent variable – factor that is expected to change as a function of the independent variable o Ecological validity – the degree to which a study accurately represents events or processes that occur in the real world o Laboratory analogue experiment – researchers try to duplicate lab features that occur naturally in everyday life in order to increase ecological validity of results (i.e. using a room that resembled a living room for an experiment involving children watching tv) - Field Experiments, Interventions, and Natural Experiments o Used to avoid artificiality and other problems associated with labs o Field Experiments  An experiment where changes in real-world settings are deliberately created and the outcome of the manipulation is measured  Observer bias – an observer’s tendency to be influenced by knowledge about the research design or hypothesis  In field experiments, the results can be more easily generalized to real life o Interventions  A program provided to improve a situation or relieve psychological illness or distress  Used when a field experiment is broader in its focus o Natural Experiments  Researchers may not be able to introduce changes into natural environments for ethical or practical reasons  Natural experiment – researchers measure the results of events that occur naturally in the real world (i.e. without intervention)  Often called a quasi-experiment because it is not a true experiment involving random assignment  Researchers select children who are naturally exposed to particular conditions and compare them to children not exposed to them - Combining Different Methods o Researchers often start by using the correlational method to establish possible relations, after which they may use experimental approaches to further explore the associations from the correlational method o Variables can be controlled more in the lab, but generalizability is better if data are collected in the field o 2 ways to combine field and lab studies: introduce independent variable in the lab and measure dependent variable in field, or introduce independent variable in the field and measure the effect in lab - The Case Study Approach o Case study – investigators study an individual person or group intensely o Allow investigators to study phenomena that they do not encounter often o Facilitate more intensive investigation, provide rich details o Impossibility of generalizing from one individual to others in other settings - Real-World Application: Treating an Aggressive Child o ABAB experiment – A is the normal condition, B is the experimental condition o We can learn about promising approaches to helping children overcome their problems by careful analysis of the efficacy of a treatment of a single child Studying Change Over Time - The Cross-sectional Design o Researchers compare groups of individuals of different age levels at approximately the same point in time o Most common way to look at age-related differences o Hope to determine how changes occur over development by comparing social behaviours of different aged-children o Yields no information about the causes behind age-related changes o Does not establish that differences between groups are strictly related to age, rather than confounding factors - The Longitudinal Design o Researchers follow the same people over a period of time, observing them repeatedly o Allow researchers to follow children’s development over time, whether behaviour patterns are stable, to explore possible causes of changes in behaviour over time o May take several years to collect data o Problem of losing participants o It is difficult adjust to new insights and methods once a study is already under way o Problem of practice effects – effects of repeatedly testing participants - Into Adulthood: Behaviour in Childhood Predicts Adult Outcomes o Parents rated their children’s personality characteristics at age 11 and then the participants completed self-reports when they were 30 years old - The Sequential Design o Combines features of the cross-sectional and longitudinal designs – researchers select children of different ages, but follow them longitudinally o Allows researchers to look at age-related changes in child behaviour, stability of individual differences, and effects of being born in a particular time period o Design also saves time Selecting A Sample - Representativeness of the Sample o Representative sample - Participants are drawn from strata or categories in the same proportions that they are found in the larger population; group of participants who possess the same characteristics as the larger population o By selecting multiple samples, researchers can be more certain that their conclusions do apply to a broad range of people - The National Survey Approach o Researchers select a large, nationally representative group of participants o Sampling in these surveys have to ensure representativeness of age, gender, socioeconomic status, marital status, ethnicity, and race o Allow researchers to draw conclusions that apply to entire populations o Costly in time and labour, not well suited for answering questions about processes underlying social development - Meta-analysis: Combining Results Across Studies o A statistical technique allowing researchers to summarize the results of many studies on a particular topic and to draw conclusions about the differences or associations o Effect size – estimate of the magnitude
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