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Psy100 Ch2

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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

CHAPTER 2 NOTES: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY A good theory produces wide variety of testable hypothesis. th Early 20 century, psycho Jean Piaget - theory: cognitive development occurs in a fixed series of stages from birth to adolescence - one test: children of different ages compare volume of equal amounts of liquid in different-sized glasses - found: responses consistent within an age group! Only children at certain age/stage able to see all equal - studies in psycho science have SUBSEQUENTLY show some aspects of this theory were WRONG. Research: -begins with question, designs and conducts study to answer the question - whether study is useful answer depends on how well it is DESIGNED. Skepticism: being wary of SUBJECTIVE beliefs, such as INTUITION, that can be biased. Intuition helps guide scientific QUESTIONS, not answers! - to answer, follow OBJECTIVE systematic procedures Scientific Inquiry Science ASSUMES that world works in orderly fashion based on physical laws: gravity, Bernoulli principle explains how aircraft can fly. - all fields share general approach, scientific method o an objective examination of the natural world o has FOUR goals what happens when it happens what causes it to happen why it happens Essence of scientific inquiry: fully understanding a phenomenon by examining it at many different levels of analysis Scientific Questions can be objectively answered Scientific inquiry: the study of empirical questionsquestions that can be answered by observing and measuring the world around us Can psychics communicate with the dead? - assess what dead people were saying, assuming dead people can speak, which is impossible to investigate by scientific method. Does alcohol impair ability to drive? - CAN be answered by measurement - Answer is YES: review of 112 studies found that the skills necessary to drive a car can become impaired after people consume even small amounts of alcohol (Moskowitz and Fiorentino 2000) KEY POINT: scientific questions can be tested and either confirmed or shown to be false. The answer to an empirical question does NOT depend on what respondent or scientist thinks about the question. - whether researcher believes that consuming alcohol is a good or bad thing is IRRELEVANT! Since empirical question can be answered objectively, all people should get same answer. - studies that are properly designed get same findings if repeated by anyone - replication: repetition of an experiment to confirm results o when other researchers repeat and confirm results of earlier studies Poorly designed experiment or those that get positive results due to chance will not be replicated and viewed with skepticism. Empirical Process Empirical process - reflects dynamic interaction between THREE elements 1. Theory o Idea or model of how something works. Interconnected ideas and concepts that explain what is observed and makes predictions abut future events. 2. Hypothesis o Specific prediction of what should be observed if the theory is correct. o Serves as a direct test of the theory! 3. Research o Which involves systemic and careful collection of data, or objective information, to examine or test whether the given hypothesis and corresponding theory is tenable. Once findings are in, go back to theory to evaluate implications of data. Either 1. they support the theory OR 2. require theory to be modified to take them into account. - good research reflects a DYNAMIC, CYCLIC interaction among three elements. How to decide whether theory good? -good theory produces wide variety of TESTABLE hypotheses Interpretation of Dreams Sigmund Freuds theory: all dreams represent the fulfillment of a wish - not good theory - because few if any TESTABLE hypothesis of function of dreams - no way to evaluate if reasonable or accurate IMPORTANT to note: research does NOT ALWAYS neat and orderly fashion - many significant findings are result of serendipity: the unexpected stumbling upon something important - chance findings typically occur when some event happens was NOT part of original plan of study - EXAMPLE (important story): - Late 1950s Harvard physiologists Torsten Wiesel and David Hubel o Original plan: recording activity of cats nerve cells in brain areas associated with vision, hoping to find that these cells respond when cats observe slides of dots o After no significant activity in these cells, projector suddenly jammed between slides, cells unexpectedly fire at astonishing rate Jammed slide produced visual edge on screen Discover that instead of responding to simple dots, cells n the brain area they studied respond to lines and edges Got Nobel prize for this serendipitous finding After hypothesis: three main types of studies in psycho research: Choose design: 1) experimental 2) correlational 3) descriptive - differ in extent of control over variables, therefore over in extent to which the research can make conclusions about causation Variables: can be measured and that can vary - can refer to something you either measure or manipulate must define variables in precise ways that reflect methods used by operational definitions: quantification of a variable that allows it to be measured - how will you quantify coordination to judge whether it is affected by alcohol o maybe measure how easily people can touch their fingers to their nose with eyes closed o operational definition for coordination: number of inches by people miss o operation definition allows for replication experimenter has MAXIMAL control over situation experiment: study wherein variables are both measured and manipulated The conditions of an experiment: the experimental group a participant assigned - what is manipulated is independent variable - what is measured is dependent variable - so CONDITIONS refer to the different levels of the independent variable (impaired or sober) participant is assigned
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