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Chapter 2

Psychological Science - Third Canadian Edition - Chapter Two Notes.docx

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University of Toronto St. George

INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY (CHAPTER 2) SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY = a way of finding answers to empirical questions that can be answered by observing the world and measuring aspects of it; four basic goals correspond to describing what happens, predicting when it happens, controlling what causes it to happen and explaining why it happens; use the scientific method approach SCIENTIFIC METHOD: 1. a systematic procedure of observing and measuring phenomena to answer questions about what happens, when it happens, what causes it and why 2. reflects a dynamic interaction among three essential elements – theories, hypotheses and research 3. A theory is used to explain prior observations and to make predictions about future events; generates a hypothesis; If the theory is reasonably accurate, the prediction framed in the hypothesis should be supported 4. Research, the collection of data, provides a test of whether the hypothesis and theory is likely to be supported 5. Once the research findings are in, one returns to the original theory to evaluate the implications of the data collected; findings either support theory or require it to be modified 6. Process starts all over again as a theory is continually refined by new hypotheses and tested by new research methods; there is more confidence in scientific findings when research outcomes are replicated THEORY = a model of interconnected ideas and concepts that explains what is observed and makes predictions about future events; a good theory produces wide variety of testable hypotheses HYPOTHESIS = a specific prediction of what should be observed in the world if a theory is correct RESEARCH = scientific process that involves the systematic and careful collection of data DATA = objective observation or measurements REPLICATION = repetition of an experiment to confirm the results VARIABLES = something in the world that can be measure and can vary TYPES OF STUDIES IN PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH: 1. Descriptive Studies = involve observing and noting behaviour to analyze it objectively; some researchers observe behaviour at regular time intervals, spanning durations from as short as seconds to as long as entire lifetimes and across generations; researchers can keep track of what research participants do at particular points in time and behaviours can be studied; advantages include – valuable in the early stages of research when trying to determine whether a phenomenon exists and takes place in a real-world setting; disadvantages include – errors in observation can occur because of an observer’s expectations (bias) and observer’s presence can change the behaviour being witnessed (reactivity); two basic types: a. Naturalistic observation = a passive descriptive study in which observers do not change or alter ongoing behaviour b. Participant observation = a type of descriptive study in which the researcher is actively involved in the situation; problems include observers’ losing objectivity and the participants’ changing their behaviour if they know they are being observed 2. Longitudinal Studies = involve observing and classifying developmental changes that occur in the same people over time, either with no intervention by the observer or with intervention by the observer; advantages include – providing information about the effects of age on the same people, allowing researchers to see developmental changes; disadvantages include – being expensive, take a long time and may lose participants over time 3. Cross-sectional Studies = involve observing and classifying developmental changes that occur in different groups of people at the same time; advantages include – being faster and less expensive than longitudinal studies; disadvantages include – unidentified variables maybe be involved and the third variable problem 4. Correlational Studies = examines how variables are naturally related in the real world without any attempt by the researcher to alter them; can be used to determine that two variables are associated with each other and this connections enables researchers to make predictions; advantages include – rely on natural occurring relationships and may take place in a real-world setting; disadvantages include – cannot be used to support causal relationships, cannot show the direction of the cause/effect relationship between variables and an unidentifiable variable may be involved 5. Experimental Studies = tests causal hypotheses by measuring and manipulating variables; advantages include – can demonstrate causal relationships and avoid the directionality problem; disadvantages include – often take place in an artificial setting; consists of: a. A control group  the participants in a study that receive no intervention or an intervention different from the one being studied b. Experimental groups  the participants in a study that receive the intervention c. The variable that is manipulated is the independent variable d. The variable that is measured is the dependent variable 6. Cross-cultural Studies = compare groups of people from different cultures; advantages include – examine the effect of culture on some variable of interest, thereby making psychology more applicable around the world; disadvantages include – some situations and words do not convey the same meaning when translated across cultures and can leave room for alternative explanations such as misunderstanding during the research process; example ‘Lady and the Tramp’ in Turkey 7. Case Studies = are a special type of descriptive study that involves intensive examination of one person or a few individuals or a few organizations; advantages include – can provide extensive data about one of a few individuals / organizations; disadvantages include – can be very subjective because if a researcher has a causal theory, this theory can bias what is observed and recorded and it is not possible to generalize the results from an individual to the population ESTABLISHING CAUSALITY:  When conducting an experiment, a researcher needs to ensure that the only thing that varies is the independent variable and avoid confounds (anything that affects a dependent variable and may unintentionally vary between the experimental conditions of a study)  Control represents the foundation of the experimental approach, in that it allows researchers to rule out alternative explanations for the observed data  The more confounds and alternative explanations that can be eliminated, the more confident a researcher can be that the independent variable produced the effect in the dependent variable PROBLEMS TO AVOID IN STUDIES: 1. OBSERVER BIAS = systematic errors in observation that occur because of an observer’s expectations; can be problematic if cultural norms favour inhibiting or expressing certain behaviours because cultural norms can affect both the participants’ actions and the way observers perceive those actions 2. EXPERIMENTER EXPECTANCY EFFECT = actual change in the behaviour of the people or animals being observed that is due to observer bias; some aspects of our own behaviour are not under our conscious control and we are not always consciously aware of the many factors that affect how we think, feel and act; to avoid this, it is best if the person running the study is blind to the study’s hypotheses 3. DIRECTIONALITY PROBLEM = when researchers find a relationship between two variables in a correlational study, they cannot determine which variable may have caused changes in the other variables 4. THIRD VARIABLE PROBLEM = 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 variable HOW TO SELECT PEOPLE FOR INCLUSION IN A STUDY:  Findings must generalize or apply to people beyond the individuals in the study  The group you want to know about is the population (everyone in the group the experimenter is interested in) and the subset of people who are studied is the sample  Sampling  the process by which people from the population are selected for the sample; the sample should represent the population and the best method for making this happen is random sampling in which each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected to participate  Most of the time, a researcher will use a convenience sample which is a sample of people who are conveniently available for the study; example: university students SELECTION BIAS = when participants in different groups in an experiment differ systematically; when groups are not equivalent because participants differ between conditions in unexpected ways RANDOM ASSIGNMENT = the procedure for placing participants into the cond
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