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Chapter 2

PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Observer-Expectancy Effect, Naturalistic Observation, Longitudinal Study

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Alison Luby

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Scientific Inquiry
-Scientific Method: A systematic procedure of observing and measuring phenomena to answer questions about what
happens, when it happens, what causes it, and why.
-Replication: repetition of an experiment to confirm results; used to increase confidence in findings
-Significant findings can be the result of serendipity: when researchers unexpectedly discover something important
E.g. in 1950’s, Wiesel and Hubel hypothesized that certain cells in the visual part of brain would respond when
cats looked at dots, but experiment produced no result; when projector was jammed, producing lines and edges,
the cells began to fire
Types of Studies in Psychological Research
-three types of designs: descriptive, correlational, experimental
-all research involves variables: anything that can be measured or manipulated and can vary
-to define variables in precise ways, researches use operational definitions: identify/quantify variables so they can be
Descriptive Studies (Observational)
-observe & classify behavior, either by naturalistic observation (no intervention by observer) or participant
observation (intervention by observer)
-valuable in early stage of research, when trying to determine if phenomenon exists; takes place in real-world setting
-errors in observation can lead to observer bias: systematic errors in observation that occur b/c of observer’s
expectations; problematic if culture norms favors inhibiting/expressing certain behaviors
-observer bias can change behavior being observed, known as the experimenter expectancy effect: actual change in the
behavior of the ppl or animals being observed that is due to observer bias
E.g. in1960’s, from study by Rosenthal, university students trained rats to run maze; the group that was told that
their rats were bred to be good at mazes treated their rats differently than the control group and the rats learned the
task more quickly
-to protect against experimenter expectancy effects, ppl running the study should be blind to (unaware of) study’s
Longitudinal Studies
-observe & classify developmental changes that occur in the same ppl over time, either with or without intervention
-provides info about effects of age in the same ppl (shows developmental changes)
-expensive; takes a long time; may lost participants over time
Cross-sectional Studies
-observe & classify developmental changes that occur in different groups of ppl at the same time
-faster and less expensive than longitudinal studies
-possible that some unidentified variable is responsible for difference in groups involved (third variable problem)
Explanation based
on observations
Prediction based
on the theory
Test of the hypothesis;
yields data, which
Does not support
Discard/revise theory
Supports theory
Refine with new
hypothesis & research
Good theory leads to
testable hypotheses
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