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Chapter 2

PSY100 Psychological Science (3rd Ed.) Textbook Notes Chapter 2

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Alison Luby

CHAPTER 2: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Scientific Inquiry -Scientific Method: A systematic procedure of observing and measuring phenomena to answer questions about what happens, when it happens, what causes it, and why. Does not support Research theory Theory Hypothesis Test of the hypothesis; Discard/revise theory Explanation based Prediction based on observations on the theory yields data, which either… Supports theory Good theory leads to Refine with new testable hypotheses hypothesis & research -Replication: repetition of an experiment to confirm results; used to increase confidence in findings -Significant findings can be the result of serendipity: when researchers unexpectedly discover something important  E.g. in 1950’s, Wiesel and Hubel hypothesized that certain cells in the visual part of brain would respond when cats looked at dots, but experiment produced no result; when projector was jammed, producing lines and edges, the cells began to fire Types of Studies in Psychological Research -three types of designs: descriptive, correlational, experimental -all research involves variables: anything that can be measured or manipulated and can vary -to define variables in precise ways, researches use operational definitions: identify/quantify variables so they can be measured Descriptive Studies (Observational) -observe & classify behavior, either by naturalistic observation (no intervention by observer) or participant observation (intervention by observer) -valuable in early stage of research, when trying to determine if phenomenon exists; takes place in real-world setting -errors in observation can lead to observer bias: systematic errors in observation that occur b/c of observer’s expectations; problematic if culture norms favors inhibiting/expressing certain behaviors -observer bias can change behavior being observed, known as the experimenter expectancy effect: actual change in the behavior of the ppl or animals being observed that is due to observer bias  E.g. in1960’s, from study by Rosenthal, university students trained rats to run maze; the group that was told that their rats were bred to be good at mazes treated their rats differently than the control group and the rats learned the task more quickly -to protect against experimenter expectancy effects, ppl running the study should be blind to (unaware of) study’s hypotheses Longitudinal Studies -observe & classify developmental changes that occur in the same ppl over time, either with or without intervention -provides info about effects of age in the same ppl (shows developmental changes) -expensive; takes a long time; may lost participants over time Cross-sectional Studies -observe & classify developmental changes that occur in different groups of ppl at the same time -faster and less expensive than longitudinal studies -possible that some unidentified variable is responsible for difference in groups involved (third variable problem) Correlational Studies -examines how variables are naturally related in the real world without attempt by researcher to alter them (rely only on naturally occurring relationships); some research questions use correlational studies for ethical reasons (cannot do experiment) -does not prove causation; has directionality problem (cannot determine which variable caused changes in the other variable); has third variable problem (cannot be confident that another unidentified variable is not the actual cause of differences in the dependent variable)  E.g. research shows that genes predispose some ppl more likely to smoke and develop lung cancer  In a correlational study that stated that middle-aged ppl have increased risk for heart attack if they smoke marijuana (higher RR of heart attack for users of marijuana), researchers only took case studies of middle-aged heart attack patients (non-randomized sampling technique; findings don’t pertain to all middle-aged ppl); factors other than marijuana may have influenced rate of heart attacks for marijuana smokers (victims may have gotten high prior to engaging in sex/exercise; third-variable problem) -correlational studies identified strong relationship b/w depression and suicide (unethical to induce mental disorder in ppl for experiments) Experiments -researcher manipulates one variable to examine the effects on a second variable -can demonstrate causal relationships and avoids directionality problem -control group: no intervention/ different intervention than treatment/experimental group -independent variable is manipulated; dependent variable is measured -criticized for being artificial -control allows researchers to rule out alternative explanations for observed data; confound is anything that affects a dependent variable and may unintentionally vary between the study’s different experimental conditions -sampling: process by which ppl from the population are selected for the sample (subset of population)  Random sampling (each membe
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