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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Research Methodology.doc
Chapter 2 - Research Methodology.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

Chapter 2 - Research Methodology • scientific method: a systematic procedure of observing and measuring phenomena to answer questions about what happens, when it happens, what causes it, and why • theory: a model of interconnected ideas and concepts that explains what is observed and makes predictions about future events • 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: objective observations or measurements • replication: repetition of an experiment to confirm the results • a good theory should generate a wide variety of testable hypotheses ◦ Freud's theory on dreams was not good bc there could not be many hypotheses formed ◦ Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development in a series of stages was good bc many theories could be formed regarding specifics of each stage • many significant findings are the result of serendipity - when researchers unexpectedly discover something important ◦ Wiesel & Hubel's cat studies on lines and edges WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF STUDIES IN PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH? • three main types of designs: descriptive, correlational, experimental • all research involves variables: anything that can be measured and that can vary • operational definitions: identify and quantify variables so they can be measured; ex. scales from 1-10 DESCRIPTIVE STUDIES INVOLVE OBSERVING AND CLASSIFYING BEHAVIOUR • descriptive studies/observational studies: data are collected through observation and noting behaviour to analyze it objectively ◦ two types: ◦ naturalistic observation: observer remains separated from and makes no at- tempt to change the situation ◦ participant observation: a type of descriptive study in which the researcher is actively involved in the situation • longitudinal studies: involve observing and classifying developmental changes that oc- cur in the same people one time, either with no intervention by the observer or with inter- vention by the observer; expensive and take a long time • cross-sectional studies: involve observing and classifying development changes that oc- cur in different groups of people at the same time; less expensive and faster • observer bias: systematic errors in observation that occur because of an observer's ex- pectations; cultural attitudes/normas • experimenter expectancy effect: actual change in the behaviour of the people or ani- mals being observed that is due to observer bias ◦ Rosenthal study: university students observed rats who were said to be faster as being faster in completing maze; may have inadvertently given cues or rewarded these rats better CORRELATIONAL DESIGNS EXAMINE HOW VARIABLES ARE RELATED • correlational study: a research method that examines how variables are naturally related in the real world, without any attempt by the researcher to alter them; popular bc they rely on naturally occurring relationships, but causal conclusions cannot always be drawn from correlational studies Chapter 2 - Research Methodology • 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 variable (A --> B? or B --> A?) • third variable problem: when the experimenter cannot directly manipulate the indepen- dent variable and therefore cannot be confident that another, unmeasured variable is not the actual cause of differences in the dependent variable AN EXPERIMENT INVOLVES MANIPULATING CONDITIONS • experiment: a study that tests causal hypotheses by measuring and manipulating vari- ables; can demonstrate causal relationships and avoid the directionality problem, howev- er they often take place in an artificial setting • control (or comparison) group: the participants in a study that receive no intervention or an intervention different from the one being studied • experimental (or treatment) group: the participants in a study that receive the inter- vention • independent variable: condition that is manipulated by the experimenter to examine its impact on the dependent variable • dependent variable: the measure that is affected by manipulation of the independent variable • experiments allow researchers to study the causal relationships between two variables ESTABLISHING CAUSALITY • confound: anything that affects a dependent variable and may unintentionally vary be- tween the experimental conditions of a study; must eliminate as many confounds as pos- sible to be sure that IV affects DV RANDOM ASSIGNMENT IS USED TO ESTABLISH EQUIVALENT GROUPS • psychological scientists typically want to know that they findings generalize, that they ap- ply to people beyond the individuals in the study • population: everyone in the group the experimenter is interested in • sample: a subset of a population • sampling: process by which people form the population are selected for the sample - should represent the population, best method for this is random sampling, in which each member of the population has equal change of participating • convenience sample: sample of people who are conveniently available for the study • selection bias: when participants in different groups in an experiment differ systematically • random assignment: 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 • meta-analysis: a "study of studies" that combines the findings of multiple studies to arrive at a conclusion; believed to provide stronger evidence • law of large numbers: large samples are more likely to provide more accurate conclu- sions of what is true in populations WHAT ARE THE DATA COLLECTION METHODS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE? • culturally sensitive research: studies that take into account the ways culture affects thoughts, feelings, and actions; makes psychology more applicable around the world but some situations and words may not convey same meaning when translated, resulting in misunderstanding during the research process • world-views are adaptive, help to ensure survival of the species OBSERVING IS AN UNOBTRUSIVE STRATEGY Chapter 2 - Research Methodology • observational techniques: a research method of careful and systematic assessment and coding of overt behaviour • reactivity: when the knowledge that one is being observed alters the behaviour being ob- served • Hawthorne effect refers to changes in behaviour that occur when people know that oth- ers are observing them • case study: a special type of observational/descriptive study that involves intensive exam- ination of one person or a few individuals (clinical case studies) or one of
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