Psychology 1000 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Virtual Community, Random Assignment, Internal Validity

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Chapter 2
Studying Behaviour Scientifically
1
Chapter 2:
Studying Behaviour Scientifically
Scientific Principles In Psychology
- The Scientific Method
o Used by physicists and chemists to make great progress in
determining the laws of the physical sciences
- Psychologists adopted the scientific method for behavioural science
Scientific Attitudes
DIFFUSION OF RESPONSIBILITY a psychological state in which each person
feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening
Gathering Evidence: Steps In The Scientific Process
1. Identify a Question of Interest
2. Gather Information and Form Hypothesis
o Hypothesis is a specific prediction about some phenomenon
o Takes form of an “if-then” statement
3. Test Hypothesis by Conducting Research
4. Analyze Data, Draw Tentative Conclusions, and Report Findings
o Collect, draw tentative conclusions and report their findings to the
scientific community
o Publishing research is essential to scientific progress
o Allows fellow scientists to learn about new ideas and findings, to
evaluate the research and to challenge/expand on it
5. Build a Body of Knowledge
o Theory is the set of formal statements that explains how and why
certain events are related to one another
o Theories are broader than hypothesis
o Theory of social impact which has been used to explain a variety of
social behaviours
Two Approaches to Understanding Behaviour
Hindsight (After-the-Fact Understanding)
- Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards
- Understand behaviour in our everyday life is hindsight reasoning
- Problem with relying solely on hindsight reasoning is that related past events
can be explained in many creative, reasonable, and sometimes contradictory
ways
Understanding through Prediction, Control and Theory Building
- Understand the causes of a given behaviour
- Then easier to predict the conditions under which the behaviour will occur in
the future
- Control those conditions produce that behaviour
- Theory development is the strongest test of scientific understanding
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Chapter 2
Studying Behaviour Scientifically
2
- A good theory:
o Incorporates existing facts and observations within a single broad
framework
o It is testable
Generates new hypotheses
Accuracy can be evaluated by gathering new evidence
o Predictions made by the theory are supported by the findings of new
research
o Conforms to the law of parsimony
If two theories can explain and predict the same phenomena
equally well, simpler theory is the preferred one
- Possible that future observation will contradict it
- Doesn’t mean that prediction requires understanding
Defining and Measuring Variables
VARIABLE characteristic or factor that can vary
- Represent abstract concepts that cannot be observed
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION defines a variable in terms of the specific
procedures used to produce or measure it
Self-Reports and Reports by Others
- Self report measures ask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs,
feelings, experiences, or behaviour
SOCIAL DESIRABILITY BIAS tendency to respond in a socially acceptable
manner rather than according to how one truly feels or behaves
Measures of Overt Behaviour
- Another measurement approach is to record overt behaviour
REACTION TIME - how rapidly they respond to a stimulus
- Coding systems to record different categories of behaviour
RELIABLE consistent to observations
UNOBSTRUSIVE MEASURES record behaviour in a way that keeps
participants unaware that certain responses are being measured
ARCHIVAL MEASURES records or documents that already exist
- Psychological Tests
o Specialized tests to measure many types of variables
o Present ambiguous stimuli
o Consist of performance task
o Neuropsychological tests help diagnose normal and abnormal brain
functioning
- Physiological Measures
o Assess when people are experiencing
o Measures of heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, hormonal
secretions, and brain functioning
o Psychological responses can have their own interpretive problems
Main one being we don’t always understand what they mean
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Studying Behaviour Scientifically
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Methods of Research
Descriptive Research: Recording Events
- Seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave (particularly in
natural settings)
- Provides information about the diversity of behaviour
- Potential cause-effect relations
Case Studies: Treating Cases of Failure to Thrive (Starvation) in Human Infants
CASE-STUDY is an in-depth analysis of an individual, a group or an event
- Advantages:
o Rare phenomenon occurs and the method enables scientists to study
it closely
o A case study may challenge the validity of a theory or widely held
scientific belief
o Vibrant source of new ideas and hypotheses that subsequently may be
examined by using more controlled research methods
- Case studied have provided important insight
- Limitations:
o Poor method for determining cause-effect relations
o May not generalize to other people or situations
o Observers may not be objective in gathering and interpreting the data
Focus On Neuroscience Neuroscience of the Human Brain at Work
- Neuroscientists use various techniques to identify localization of behavioural
function in specific areas of the brain
- Brain-imaging technology have allowed neuroscientists to monitor neural
activity in the intact brain of a person during mental or physical tasks
- PET and fMRI scans measure changes in local blood flow or oxygen content
- Map the neural activity of clinical patients with psychiatric disorders and
patients suffering from brain damage
- Development of normal and abnormal brain functions
Naturalistic Observations
- Researcher observes behaviour as it occurs in a natural setting
- Attempts to avoid influencing that behaviour
- Doesn’t permit clear casual conclusion
- Variables simultaneously influence behaviour and they can’t be disentangled
with this research technique
- Bias in how researchers interpret what they observe
- Mere presence of an observer may disrupt a person’s behaviour
Survey Research
- Information about a topic is obtained by administering questionnaires or
interviews to many people
- Key concepts in survey research
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Document Summary

The scientific method: used by physicists and chemists to make great progress in determining the laws of the physical sciences. Psychologists adopted the scientific method for behavioural science. Diffusion of responsibility a psychological state in which each person feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening. Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards. Understand behaviour in our everyday life is hindsight reasoning. Problem with relying solely on hindsight reasoning is that related past events can be explained in many creative, reasonable, and sometimes contradictory ways. Understand the causes of a given behaviour. Then easier to predict the conditions under which the behaviour will occur in the future. Theory development is the strongest test of scientific understanding. A good theory: incorporates existing facts and observations within a single broad framework, it is testable. Accuracy can be evaluated by gathering new evidence: predictions made by the theory are supported by the findings of new research, conforms to the law of parsimony.

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