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Chapter 2

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Western University
Psychology 1000

Psychology Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically SCIENTIFIC PRINICPLES IN PSYCHOLOGY Steps in the Scientific Process- 1. Identify a question of interest 2. Gather information and form hypothesis 3. Test hypothesis by conducting research 4. Analyze data, draw tentative conclusions, and report findings 5. Building a body of knowledge Hypothesis- a specific prediction Theory- a set of formal statements that explains how and why certain events are related to one another  Theories are broader than hypotheses, and specify lawful relations between certain behaviours and their causes Hindsight- after-the-fact reasoning  Problems: related past events can be explained in many creative, reasonable, and sometimes contradictory, ways. There is no sure way to determine which, if any, of the alternatives is correct The characteristics of a good theory:  It incorporates existing facts and observations within a single broad framework. In other words, it organizes information in a meaningful way  It is testable. It generates new hypotheses and predications whose accuracy can be evaluated by gathering new evidence  The predictions made by the theory are supported by the findings of new research  It conforms to the law of parsimony: if 2 theories can explain and predict the same phenomena equally well, the simpler theory is the preferred one Operational definition: defining a concept or variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or measure it. They translate abstract concepts into something observable and measureable Self-report measures ask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, or behaviour Social desirability bias: the tendency to respond in a socially acceptable manner rather than according to how one truly feels or behaves Measures of Behaviour Reaction time- how rapidly something responds to a stimulus Psychology Unobtrusive measures- record behaviour in a way that keeps participants unaware that certain responses are being measured Archival measures- records or documents that already exist METHODS OF RESEARCH Descriptive research: seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave, particularly in natural settings. It provides information about the diversity of behaviour and may yield clues about potential cause-effect relations that are later tested experimentally Case study: an in-depth analysis of an individual, a group, or an event. Data may be gathered through observation, interviews, psychological tests, physiological recordings and task performance, or from archival records. Poor for establishing cause and effect Naturalistic observation: the researcher observes behaviour as it occurs in a natural setting, and attempts to avoid influencing that behaviour. Survey research: information about a topic obtained by administering questionnaires or interviews to many people (must be representative) Correlation research: has 3 components… 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  Involves measuring variables, not manipulating them  X can cause y OR y can cause x OR they can influence each other  ^ That is called the biodirectionality problem  Another factor could affect y and x  Cannot draw causal conclusions from correlation data Correlation coefficient: a statistic that indicates the direction and strength of the relation bet
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