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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Study Guide

9 Pages

Course Code
Dan Dolderman

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Chapter 2: Research Methodology
What is Scientic Inquiry?
All various fields of science share a general approach called the scientific method.
Scientific inquiry has four goals of which are what happens, why it happens, when it
happens, and what causes it to happen.
The first goal of science is description (what)
The second goal of science is prediction (when)
The third goal of science is causal control (what causes)
The fourth goal of science is explanation (why)
Scientic Questions Can Be Objectively Answered
Scientific questions are questions of which can be tested and proved true or false.
What the respondent or scientists thinks about the question and whether or not the
scientist thinks something is good is irrelevant.
Since empirical questions can be answered by objective means, studies that are
properly designed are able to be repeated and produce the same outcome.
Replication1 helps build the principles of psychological science. If a study is poorly
designed and can!t be replicated, it will ultimately be viewed with skepticism.
The Empirical Process Depends on Theories, Hypotheses, and Research
The empirical process reflects a dynamic interaction between three essential
elements: a theory2, a hypothesis3, and research4 & data5.
A good theory produces a wide variety of testable6 hypotheses.
Research does not always proceed in a neat and orderly fashion. On the contrary,
many significant findings are the results of serendipity7.
Chapter 2"PSY100
1 Repetition of an experiment to confirm the results
2 A model of interconnected ideas and concepts that explains what is observed and makes predictions
about future events.
3 A specific prediction of what should be observed in the world if a theory is correct.
4 Scientific process that involves the systematic and careful collection of data.
5 Objective observations or measurements.
6 Something that can be practiced scientifically
7 The unexpected stumbling upon something important.
What are the Types of Studies in Psych Research
Once a hypothesis has been defined, there are three types of designs to choose from:
experimental, correlational, and descriptive.
Variables are things in the world that can be measured and that can vary. (Notice that
the term variable can refer to something that the experimenter either measures or
Researches use an operational definition8 to define variable in precise ways that
reflect the methods used to assess them.
An Experiment Involves Manipulating Conditions
In experimental 9 research, the investigator has maximal control over the situation.
The basic idea is one variable is manipulated in order to examine how it affects a
second variable.
The conditions of the experiment refer to the experimental group to which a participant
is assigned by the researcher.
Within this context, the manipulated is referred to as the independent variable10, and
the measured is referred to as the dependent variable11.
The benefit of experiments is that they allow the researcher to study the causal
relationship between two variables. If the independent variable proves to influence the
dependent variable in a systematic way, then the independent variable is assumed to
be the cause of the change in the dependent variable.
A properly performed experiment depends on rigorous control12.
In experiments, a confound is anything affecting a dependent variable that may
unintentionally vary between the different experimental conditions of a study.
One major potential confound in studies is any differences that exist between groups
that are exposed to different conditions. Any differences in the reaction observed may
be due not to the condition, but instead to differences in how participants are assigned
to the conditions which is known as selection bias.
Selection bias also occurs when participants differ between conditions in unexpected
Chapter 2"PSY100
8 The quantification of a variable that allows it to be measured.
9 A study that tests causal hypotheses by measuring and manipulating variables.
10 In an experiment, the condition that is manipulated by the experimenter to examine its impact on the
dependent variable.
11 In an experiment, the measure that is affected by manipulation of the independent variable.
12 Refers to the steps that are taken to minimize the possibility that anything other than the independent
variable may have been affecting the outcome of the study.
The only way to ensure equivalency of groups is to use random assignment13. Thus
perhaps you flip a coin to determine whether people are in the control group or the
treatment group.
Differences will tend to average out when participants are assigned randomly so that
the groups are equivalent on average. This also helps balance out the known and
unknown factors.
Correlational Designs Examine How Variables Are Related
Many times it is not possible to manipulate the variables of interest, and you have to
deal with them as they naturally occur. A correlational study14 cannot show causation.
In correlational studies, it is always possible that some extraneous factor is
responsible for the apparent relation between your variables (third-variable problem15).
Another problem with correlational studies is in knowing the direction of the cause-
effect relation between variables. Suppose some researchers took a survey and found
that people who reported sleeping a great deal also reported having a lower level of
stress. Does reduced stress lead to longer and better sleep, or does sleep reduce
people!s stress levels? Both scenarios seem equally plausible, an ambiguity that is
known as the directionality problem.
Correlational studies are widely used in psychological science because they provide
important information about how variables are naturally related.
Some questions cannot be studied via an experiment because manipulating an
independent variable would be unfeasible, unethical, or both. In this case, you need to
conduct correlational research. Knowing the relation between variables allows us to
make predictions.
Descriptive Studies Observe and Classify Behavior
Descriptive studies, sometimes called observational studies because of the manner in
which the data are typically collected, involve observing and noting behavior in order
to provide a systematic and objective analysis. Some studies may rely on observing
behaviors at regular time intervals.
There are two types of descriptive studies: naturalistic observation16, and participant
Chapter 2"PSY100
13 The procedure for placing research participants into the conditions of an experiment in which each
participant has an equal chance of being assigned to any level of the independent variable.
14 A research method that examines how variables are naturally related in the real world, without any
attempt by the researcher to alter them.
15 When the experimenter cannot directly manipulate the independent variable and therefore cannot be
confident that another, unmeasured variable is not the actual cause of differences in the dependent
16 A passive descriptive study in which observers do not change or alter ongoing behavior.
17 A type of descriptive study in which the researcher is actively involved in the situation.

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