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Chapter 2

Psychology 1000 Chapter 2 Reading

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Psychology 1000
Terry Biggs

Psychology Chapter 2 Reading Studying Scientific Behaviour Prof: Prof. T Biggs Gathering Evidence: Steps in Scientific Process  The scientific method was used to make great progress in determining the laws of the physical sciences  Diffusion of Responsibility – a psychological state in which each person feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening  Steps for the Scientific Method (John Darley & Bibb Latane): 1. Identify a Question of Interest – from different sources (ex. Articles, news, events, personal experiences, etc.), scientists observe something that interests them and ask a question about it 2. Gather Information and Form Hypotheses – scientists determine whether any studies, theories, and other information that might help answer their question already exist. Then they form a hypothesis 3. Test Hypothesis by Conducting Research – They staged an “emergency in the lab and recorded people’s responses to people discussing college experiences. 4. Analyze Data, Draw Tentative Conclusions, and Report Findings – Darley and Latane submitted their findings to a journal. This is important because it allows fellow scientists to learn about new ideas and findings, to evaluate the research and to challenge and expand on it. 5. Build a Body of Knowledge – they ask further questions – as evidence builds up, they may attempt to build theories  Theory – a set of formal statements that explains how and why certain behaviors and their causes  Theory of Social Impact – a combination of the principle of diffusion of responsibility and other principles of group behavior; this is used to explain a variety of social behaviours Two Approaches to Understanding Behaviour  Approaches to understanding behavior: 1. Hindsight (After-the-Fact Understanding) – the problem with relying on hindsight if that related past events can be explained in many creative, reasonable, and sometimes contradictory ways 2. Understanding Through Prediction, Control, and Theory Building – if we understand the causes of a given behavior, then we should be able to predict the conditions under which that behavior will occur in the future. Furthermore, if we can control these conditions, then we should be able to produce that behavior  A good theory has important characteristics: 1. It organizes information in a meaningful way 2. It is testable. It generates new hypotheses and predictions whose accuracy can be evaluated by gathering new evidence 3. The predictions made by the theory are supported by findings of new research 4. It follows the law of parsimony: If two theories can explain and predict the same phenomena equally well, the simpler theory is the preferred one Defining and Measuring Variables  Variable – any characteristic or factor that can vary from one person to another (ex. Age, income, hair colour, etc.)  Operational Definition – define a variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or measure it Some measurement techniques: 1. Self-Report Measures – ask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, or behavior; this information is usually gathered through interviews or questionnaires - Social Desirability Bias – the tendency to respond in a way that is acceptable, rather than according to how the person actually feels or behaves 2. Measures of Overt Behaviour – record obvious behavior - ex. In an experiment on learning, we might measure how many errors a person makes while performing a task - ex 2. We might measure people’s reation time – how rapidly they respond to a stimulus) – after investigating various amounts of alcohol - psychologists develop coding systems to record different categories of behavior; the observations must be consistent between other observers 3. Unobtrusive measures – records behavior in a way that keeps participants unaware that certain responses are being measured 4. Archival Measures – records of documents that already exist 5. Psychological Tests – ex. Personality tests, intelligence tests, neuropsychological tests 6. Physiological Measures – assesses what people are experiencing (ex. Heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, hormonal secretions) Descriptive Research: Recording Events  Descriptive Research – seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave, particularly in natural settings - Provides information about the diversity of behavior and may produce clues about potential cause-effect relations that are later tested experimentally  Case Studies – an in-depth analysis of an individual, group, or an event - Advantages: This method enables scientists to study it closely - It may challenge the validity of the theory or widely held scientific belief - It can provide important understanding of such diverse topics as brain functioning, child development, mental disorders, and cultural influences - Limitations: cause-effect relations - May not generalize to other people or situations - Observers may not be objective in gathering and interpreting data - They are based on the observer’s impressions  Naturalistic Observation – a researcher observing a behavior as it occurs in a natural setting, and attempts to avoid influencing that behavior (ex. Bullying) - Does not look at the causes of things - Bias in how researchers interpret what the observe is possible - The presence of an observer may disrupt a person/animal’s behavior  Survey Research – information about a topic is obtained by administering questionnaires or interviews to many people (ex. Political polls)  Disadvantages: survey data cannot be used to draw conclusions about cause and effect  Surveys rely on participants’ self-reports, which can be distorted by social desirability bias, interviewer bias, peoples’ inaccurate perceptions of their own behavior, and misinterpretation of survey questions - Representative Sample – a sample that reflects the important characteristics of the population  It is better to have smaller rep. samples rather than a larger unrepresentative one  Advantage: we can be confident that the findings closely portray the population as a whole - Random Sample – every member of the population has an equal probability of being chosen to participate in the survey  Stratified Random Sampling – dividing the population into subgroups based on such characteristics as gender or ethnic identity Correlational Research: Measuring Associations Between Events Correlation Research  Three components: 1. The researcher measures one variable (X), such as people’s birth order 2. The researcher measures a second variable (Y), such as personality trait 3. The researcher statistically determines whether X and Y are related  We cannot draw causal conclusions from correlational data, which is the major disadvantage of correlational data  Correlation Coefficient – a statistic that indicates the direction and strength of the relation between two variables  Positive Correlation – higher
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