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Chapter 2

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


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Professor
Prof
Chapter
2

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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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Chapter 2
Studying Behaviour Scientifically
3
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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