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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Notes

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Psychology 1000

Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically Chapter Outline Scientific Principles in Psychology Scientific Attitudes Gathering Evidence: Steps in the Scientific Process Two Approaches to Understanding Behaviour Defining and Measuring Variables Methods of Research Descriptive Research: Recording Events Focus on Neuroscience The Neuroscience of the Human Brain at Work Correlation Research: Measuring Associations Between Events Research Foundations Very Happy People Experiments: Examining Cause and Effect Threats to the Validity of Research Confounding of Variables Placebo Effect Experimenter Expectancy Effects Replicating and Generalizing the Findings Ethical Principles in Human and Animal Research Ethical Standards in Human Research Frontiers Does ESP Exist? Ethical Standards in Animal Research Critical Thinking in Science and Everyday Life Applications Evaluating Claims in Research and Everyday life Scientific Principles in Psychology Science is an approach to asking and answering questions about the universe. Scientific Attitudes Curiosity, scepticism, and open-mindedness are driving forces behind scientific inquiry. Diffusion of responsibility: a psychological state in which each person feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening (occurs when there are multiple bystanders). Gathering Evidence: Steps in the Scientific Process Five steps to scientific inquiry: 1. Identify Question of Interest Scientists observe something that piques their interest, and they ask a question about it. 2. Gather Information and Form Hypothesis Scientists determine whether any studies, theories, and other information that might help answer their question already exists. Then they form a hypothesis (a specific prediction about some phenomenon that often takes form as a statement) 3. Test Hypothesis by Conducting Research Scientists test the hypothesis by conducting research. 4. Analyze Data, Draw Tentative Conclusions, and Report Findings Researchers analyse the information they collect, draw tentative conclusions, and report their findings to the scientific community. Publishing research is essential to scientific progress (allows to learn, evaluate, challenge, and expand new findings). 5. Build a Body of Knowledge Scientists build a body of knowledge (ask further questions, formulate new hypotheses, conduct more research, build theories). Theory: a set of formal statements that explains how and why certain events are related to one another. Theory of social impact: Combination of the principle of diffusion of responsibility with other principles of group behaviour. *Scientists use theories to develop new hypotheses, which are then tested by conducting more research. In this manner, the scientific process becomes self-correcting. Two Approaches to Understanding Behaviour Hindsight (After-the-Fact Understanding) The main problem with relying solely on hindsight is that related past events can be explained in many creative, reasonable, and sometimes contradictory, ways. There is no way to determine which alternative is correct. Hindsight can provide valuable insights. Understanding through Prediction, Control, and Theory Building If we understand the causes of a given behaviour, then we should be able to predict the conditions under which that behaviour will occur in the future. If we can control those conditions in the lab, then we should be able to produce that behaviour. Theory development is the strongest test of scientific understanding. Theory is never regarded as absolute truth. “Theory building” satisfies our curiosity, increases knowledge, and generates principles that we can apply to new situations. Characteristics of a good theory: • Existing fact and observations within a single broad framework • Testable (generates new hypotheses that can be evaluated by gathering new info. • Predictions are supported by research • Conforms to the law of parsimony: If two theories can explain and predict the same phenomena equally well, the simple theory is the preferred one. Defining and Measuring Variables Variable: any characteristic or factor that can vary. They vary from one person to another, and within a given person over time. Operational definition: a variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or measure it. They translate abstract concepts into something observable and measurable. Self Report and Reports by Others Self report measures ask people to report on their own, knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, or behaviour (information is gathered through interviews or questionnaires). Social desirability bias: the tendency to respond in a socially acceptable manner rather than according to how one truly feels or behaves. Measures of Overt (directly observable)Behaviour We can measure people’s reaction time (how rapidly they respond to a stimulus) Coding system: developed by psychologists to record different categories of behaviour (e.g. for parent, “praises child”, “assists child”). Observers must be trained to use the coding system properly so that their measurements will be reliable-consistent observations. Unobstrusive measures: record behaviour in a way that keeps participants unaware that certain responses are being measured. Archival measure: records or documents that already exist. Psychologists use this to gather information. Psychological tests: specialized tests to measure many types of variables. • Personality tests: -assess personality traits -contains questions about feelings and behaviour. -present ambiguous stimuli, and personality traits are judged based upon how a person interprets stimuli • Intelligence tests: -performance tasks (e.g. assemble objects, solve arithmetic problems) • Neuropsychological tests: -diagnose normal and abnormal brain functioning -measure how well people perform mental and physical tasks (e.g. recalling list of words, manipulating objects) Physiological measures: record psychological responses to assess what people are experiencing. • Heart rate • Blood pressure • Respiration rate • Hormonal secretions • Brain functioning *Problem: we don’t always know that the physiological responses mean Methods of Research Descriptive Research: Recording Events Descriptive research seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave, particularly in natural setting. Research methods used to describe behaviour: • Case studies • Naturalistic observation • Surveys Case Studies Case study: In-depth analysis of an individual, a group, or an event. Researchers hope to discover principles of behaviour that are true for people or situations in general. Data is gathered through: • Observation • Interviews • Psychological tests • Physiological recordings • Task performance • Archival records Advantages: • Study closely a phenomenon • Challenge validity • Source of new ideas and hypotheses Limitations: • Poor method for determining cause-effect relations • Findings may not generalize to other people or situations • Observers may not be objective in gathering and interpreting the data • Based on observers subjective impressions Naturalistic Observation Naturalistic observation: researcher observes behaviour as it occurs in a natural setting, and attempts to avoid influencing that behaviour. Limitations: • Naturalistic observation does not permit clear casual conclusions • Bias in how researchers interpret what they observe is also possible • Presence of the observer may disrupt a person’s behaviour Researchers disguise their presence so that participants are not aware of being observed. When disguise is not feasible, people and other animals typically adapt to and ignore the presence of an observer as time passes (this process is called habituation). Survey Research Survey research: information about a topic is obtained by administering questionnaires or interviews to many people (e.g. political polls). Key concepts: • Population: all individuals about whom we are interested in drawing a conclusion • Sample: a subset of individuals drawn from the larger population of interest. To draw valid conclusions the sample must be representative. A representative sample is one that reflects the important characteristics of the population. To obtain a representative sample we use random sampling (every member of the population has an equal probability of being chosen to participate in the survey). Large samples are better than small ones. Advantages: • efficient method for collecting a large amount of information about people’s opinions, experiences, and life styles, and they can reveal changes in people’s beliefs and habits over many years. Drawbacks: • survey data cannot be used to draw conclusions about cause and effect • rely on participants’ self-reports (distorted by social desirability bias, interviewer bias, peoples’ inaccurate perceptions of their own behaviour, misinterpretation of survey questions) • unrepresentative samples can lead to faulty generalizations about how an entire population would respond • a sample that is randomly chosen does not necessarily represent the larger population Focus on Neuroscience The Neuroscience of the Human Brain at Work Neuroscientists use various techniques to identify localization of behavioural function in specific areas of the brain. *Visual object recognition and action are processed independently by the ventral and dorsal streams, respectively. *Visual object recognition was associated with absent/abnormal ventral-stream activation *Dorsal stream regions showed normal activation during object grasping tasks Brain-imaging technology gives neuroscientists a powerful tool to study the localization of function. Correlation Research: Measuring Associations Between Events Three components of correlation research: 1. The researcher measures one variable (X), such as people’s birth order 2. The researcher measures a second variable (Y), such as a personality trait 3. The researcher statistically determines whether X and Y are related Correlation research involves measuring variable, not manipulating them. Naturalistic observation and surveys are used to study associations between variables. Correlation Does Not Establish Causation • One must consider the possibility that variable X has caused variable Y, that Y has caused variable X, or that both variables have influenced each other. This is called bidirectional problem (two-way causality). • The association between social relationships and happiness may be artificial or spurious (not genuine). • A third variable, Z, may really be the cause. This is called third-variable problem: Z is responsible for what looks like a relation between X and Y. X and Y change in unison, but this is caused by Z. • We cannot draw casual conclusions from correlational data. Correlation Coefficient • Correlation coefficient is a statistic that indicates the direction and strength of the relation between two variables. • Positive correlation means the higher scores on one variable are associated with higher scores on a second variable. • Negative Correlation occurs when higher scores on one variable are associated with lower scores on a second variable. • Correlation coefficients range from values of +1.00 to –1.00. The + and – tell you the direction of the correlation (positive of negative). The absolute value of the statistic tells you the strength of the correlation. The closer the correlation is to +1.00 (perfect positive correlation), or –1.00 (perfect negative correlation), the more strongly the two variables are related (correlation of –0.59 indicates a
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