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Chapter 2

Psychology 1000 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Social Desirability Bias, Jane Goodall, Murder Of Kitty Genovese

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Biggs- Universityof Western Ontario

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Chapter Two: Statistical Methods
Scientific Attitudes:
Curiosity, skepticism and open-mindedness are driving forces behind scientific inquiry
Scientists need to be open-minded
Ex. In the case of Kitty Genovese, some would assume that what occurred can be blamed
on bystander apathy, moral decay or dehumanization, but the findings showed what’s
called diffusion of responsibility- a psychological state in which each person feels
decreased personal responsibility for intervening
Gathering Evidence: Steps in the Scientific Process:
There is a continuous interplay between observing and explaining events
1. Initial Observation/Question
- Curiosity sparks this, observing something noteworthy
2. Form a Hypothesis
- A tentative explanation or prediction about some phenomenon
- Gather clues, logically analyze them
- Make it testable- in the form of an “if- then” statement
3. Test Hypothesis (conduct research)
- Gather evidence, experiment
4. Analyze Data
- Collect and draw tentative conclusions
5. Further Research and Theory Building
- Building theories with additional evidence
- Theory- a set of formal statements that explains how and why certain events are related to
one another
6. New Hypothesis Derived from Theory
- Conducting additional research, gathering new evidence

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- If the research supports the hypothesis, our confidence rises
- If not, we modify of disregard it
Approaches to Understanding Behaviour:
1. Hindsight Understanding
“Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards.”- Soren Kierkgard
Using related, past events to explain
Problem: no way to determine accuracy
2. Understanding through Prediction, Control and Theory Building
Creates an integrated network of predictions
A good theory:
a) Incorporates existing facts/observations
b) Is testable
c) Predictions made are supported by research
d) Conforms to the law of parsimony: if two theories can explain and predict the same
phenomena equally well, the simpler theory is the preferred one.
Does not mean that the prediction requires understanding
Defining and Measuring Variables:
Variable- any characteristic that can differ (ex. Gender), being non-material (memory,
personality, intelligence, etc.)
Operational definition- variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce of
measure it, letting other scientists know what we mean by certain terms.
Self-Report Measures:
Ask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences or behaviour
Accuracy depends on peoples’ ability and willingness to be honest
Social desirability bias- tendency of participants to give an answer that gives a good
Bias can be minimized by wording questions differently (social desirability not relevant)
Can be influenced by behaviour (ex. Sexual child abuse cases)
Allegations need to be “drawn out”- repetitive, suggestive
Reports by Others:
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