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Chapter 2

Textbook notes for chapter 2 of Psychological Science

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University of Toronto St. George
Ashley Waggoner Denton

Scientific inquiry: - The scientific method is used to answer what happens, when it happens, what causes it, and why (36) - Theory = a model of interconnected ideas and concepts that explains what is observed and makes predictions about future events (36) - Atheory is good if it produces many testable hypotheses (38) Types of research studies: - There are descriptive, correlational, and experimental designs (39) - Descriptive studies involve observing and noting behavior to analyze it objectively (40) - This can occur through naturalistic observation, where observers don’t change or alter ongoing behavior, or participant observation, where the researcher is actively involved in the situation (40) - Participant observation can cause problems with the observer losing objectivity or the subjects altering behavior once they recognize they’re being observed (40) - Descriptive techniques are especially valuable in the earliest stages of research when researchers are just trying to figure out whether a phenomenon exists (41) - Cross-sectional studies = observing and classifying developmental changes that occur in different groups of people at the same time, ex. studying young people and old people (42) - Observer bias = systematic errors in observation that occur because of an observer’s expectations (42) - Experimenter expectancy effect = actual change in the behavior of the subjects due to observer bias, ex. the observer expecting group a to be better than group b so gives group a more encouragement (42) - Correlational studies examine how variables are naturally related in the real world, without any attempt by the researcher to alter them (42) - Correlational studies can determine whether two things correlate, but can’t determine whether one causes the other, ex. whether spanking is associated with anxiety or whether spanking causes anxiety (42) - One problem with correlational studies is the directionality problem, which is when researchers can’t determine which variable may have affected the other, ex. does sleeping more cause less stress or do people who are less stressed sleep more? (43) - Another problem is the third variable problem, where another variable might cause the correlation between x and y (43) - Experimental studies test causal hypotheses by measuring and manipulating variables (45) - Confound = anything that affects a dependent variable and may unintentionally cause variation between the experimental conditions of a study (47) - The more confounds and alternative explanations for variations a researcher can rule out, the more confident he can be that the independent variable produced the effect in the dependent variable (48) - Population = everyone the researcher is interested in, ex. trying to generalize about all university students (48) - Sample = a subset of the population who is being studied (48) - Random sample = taken at random from a population, ex. a kid from every school in the country (48) - Convenience sample = taken at random from an available subgroup, ex. kids in a class at your school (48) - Selection bias = when participants in different groups in an experiment differ systematically, ex. women who work full time being different than women who work part time (49) - The way to try to avoid selection bias by ensuring the groups are similar in all relevant ways is to use random assignment, where each participant has an equal chance of being assigned to group a or group b or the control group (49) - Random assignment generally means the groups will be similar on average (49) - Meta-analysis = a study of sties that combines the findings of multiple studies to arrive at a conclusion (49) - Large sample sizes are more accurate than smaller ones (50) Data collection: - The four different levels of analysis are biological, individual, social, and cultural (53) - At the biological level, researchers can measure brain processes and differences in hormone levels (53) - At the individual level, researchers are looking for individual differences among participants’responses, so they can question participants or use indirect assessments like observing how quickly they respond to stimuli (53) - At the social level, researchers can observe people within a single culture and observe how they interact (53) - At the cultural level, researchers can compare groups of people from different cultures to study the effects of culture on a variable (54) - One problem with cross-cultural analyses is that concepts and words sometimes translate differently and mean different things across cultures (54) - Culturally sensitive research = studies that take into account the ways culture affects thoughts, feelings, and actions (54) - Observational technique = a research method of careful and systematic assessment and coding of overt behavior (55) - Main observational considerations: laboratory vs. real world, whe
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