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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - ONLINE

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Western University
Psychology 2042A/B
Richard Brown

Psych 2042A Chapter 4: Research: Its Role and Methods Fundamentals of Research • frequently, the purpose of research is to determine cause-and-effect relationship of a phenomena • determine how a variable affects another variable. • questions that are asked by researchers are guided by concepts, perspectives. or theories • these guide research goals, choice of variables, procedures, analyses, and conclusions • BUT, there is always some subjectivity and creativity in the posing of research questions and in deciding which methods to use • Hypothesis Testing: tends to build knowledge systematically rather than haphazardly • an investigation doesnʼt prove that a hypothesis is correct or incorrect, it presents evidence for or against the hypothesis • a hypothesis that is supported (hypothesis that is shown evidence for) explains a theory even further • Selection of Participants • research reports require the description of the participants and the way they were selected • studies are typically interested in drawing general conclusions about a population of interest (draw out a sample because it is impossible to study a whole population) • representativeness is best achieved by random selection - choosing each participant by chance • with the study of psychological disorders, participants are usually chosen from clinics, hospitals, and other facilities • bad thing about this is that it may not perpetuate random selection as it eliminates those youth who cannot afford treatment or for whole help was not sought • clinics can present youth who are more severe with the disorder - can present selection bias • Observation and Measurement • in any case, a scientist must provide an operational definition of the behaviour or the concept being studied in an experiment • scientists observe behaviour and concepts in a natural or a laboratory setting • they employ standardized tests, record physiological functioning, and ask people to rate their own behaviour, feelings, etc • whatever measure is used to rate oneʼs behaviour, the method used should be valid (validity) - 5 types of validity: • content validity: refers to whether the content of a measure corresponds to the content of the attribute of interest • construct validity: refers to whether a measure corresponds to the construct (concept) underlying the attribute of interest • face validity: refers to whether a measure, on its surface, seems appropriate to the attribute of interest •concurrent validity: refers to whether the scores on a measure correlate with scores on another acceptable measure of the attribute of interest •predictive validity: refers to whether the scores on a measure predict later scores on another acceptable measure of the attribute of interest or other outcomes of interest • in the end, the data and observations collected must be reliable - data would be similar, or consistent, if measurements were taken again under similar circumstances. • Reliability of Research Results • reliability and validity also also apply to the results of research as well. • scientific method assumes that truth repeats itself, given identical or similar conditions; consequently, it an be observed again by others • if the same truth is not reported under the same identical conditions, the initial results are considered to be unreliable and inconsistent. • reliability is concerned with consistency or repeatability of results • Validity of Research Results • as reliability is concerned with consistency, validity refers to the correctness, soundness, and appropriateness of scientific findings • validity must be judged in terms of the purpose of the research and the way the results are used. • internal validity: refers to the extent to which the explanation is judged to be correct or sound • external validity: asks the question of generalizability, the extent to which the results of an investigation applies to other populations and samples •this cannot be assumed •ie. research done on animals may not be the same for humans - no external validity Basic Methods of Research • all research methods have strengths and weaknesses • the choice of a research method depends on the purpose and other aspects of the investigation • conclusions and results are more impressive and easier to adapt when they are based on a convergence of findings that employ different methods • Descriptive Method: general purpose is to portray a phenomenon of interest • Nonexperimental Method: widely employed, may involve sophisticated correlational and multivariate statistical analysis to study complex relationships • Experimental Method: can be viewed as randomized or quasi-experimental studies • Randomized experiments: have the ability to determine a cause and effect relationship •they require that a manipulation be made and that a causal relationship exists between two variables • Quasi-Experimental studies: are similar to randomized experiments in that they include a manipulation and various controls •participants are NOT randomly assigned to the manipulation • Case Studies • a case study is a descriptive, nonexperimental method commonly used in investigations of psychological disorders • focuses on an individual - describing the background, present and past life circumstances, functioning and characteristics of the person • can tell us something about the nature, course, correlates, outcomes, and possible etiology of psychological problems • usually, primary goals of case studies illustrate an approach to treating children with severe disturbances and to emphasize that treatment must be tailored to each childʼs needs • case studies can provide hypothesis to be tested using other methods • disadvantage of case studies: researchers are typically concerned about reliability and validity • hard to generalize a case study because only one person is examined • descriptions of life events often go back in time, raising questions about reliability • Correlational Studies • correlational studies: nonexperimental investigations that describe the relations between two or more factors without exposing the participants to a manipulation • can be conducted in a natural environment or lab setting • asks the general question of, are factors X and Y related, and if so, in what direction are they related, and how strongly? • statistical analysis is performed to determine the relationship between the two variables • Pearson product-moment coefficient (r) is the numerical correlation relationship •this value always ranges from -1 to +1 •positive correlation (direct correlation) vs. negative correlation (indirect/ inverse correlation) •the strength and the magnitude of the correlation depends on the absolute value of r •the coefficient normally doesnʼt tell us the direction of causation - if variable X affects Y or if variable Y affects X) •correlation may also be caused by one or more unknown variables •useful when wanting to determine if any sort of relationship exists • Experiments of Nature • experiments of nature: also called natural experiments • not really experiments and do not involve a manipulation • examine naturally occurring events and contrast a condition of interest with a condition in a comparison group • example is an investigation of the effects of institutionalization of childrenʼs development • studies indicate an adverse effect of institutionalization on intellectual development, physical health, and an array of behaviours • lengthy institutionalization is associated with worse outcomes • Randomized Experiments • usually referred to as the ʻtrueʼ experiment in that it is the strongest method for inferring causal links between variables • usually contains an independent variable and a dependent variable •independent variable is the one that is manipulated • example of a randomized experiment: some children were labelled at-risk and were put into the daycare •independent variable was the provision of the educational program. children in treatment began day care at 3 months, and progress was tracked all the way up to 54 month
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