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Chapter 2

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Psychology 1000

Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically Scientific Attitudes - Curiosity, skepticism, and open-mindedness are driving forces behind scientific inquiry - John Darley and Bibb Latane wondered how 38 people could witness a criminal act and not even call the police o They suggested that the presence of multiple bystanders produced a diffusion of responsibility o To test their explanation, Darley and Latane performed several experiments Gathering Evidence: Steps in the Scientific Process (Figure 2.1 Page 39) - Science involves a continuous interplay between observing and explaining events - This section deals with Kitty Genovese murder o Initial Observation/Question  Curiosity sparks the first step  Why did no one help? o Formulate Hypothesis  a tentative explanation or prediction about some phenomenon  scientists gather clues and logically analyze them  Darley and Latane proposed that “if multiple bystanders are present, then a diffusion of responsibility will decrease each bystander’s likelihood of intervening” o Test Hypothesis (conduct research)  create “emergency” in controlled setting; manipulate perceived number of bystanders and measure helping o Analyze Data  helping decreases as the perceived number of bystanders increases; the hypothesis is supported (if hypothesis is not supported, revise it) o Further Research and Theory Building  additional studies support the hypothesis  theory is a set of formal statements broader than hypotheses; theories typically specify lawful relations between certain behaviors and their causes  a theory of social impact is developed based on Darley and Latane’s findings o New Hypothesis Derived from Theory  theory is tested by deriving a new hypothesis and conducting new research; if research consistently supports the hypotheses derived from theory, it becomes stronger Two Approaches to Understanding Behavior - Hindsight Understanding o after-the-fact; problem is that related past events can be explained in many creative, reasonable, and sometimes contradictory ways - Prediction, Control, and Theory Building o scientists prefer understand the causes of behavior and make predictions in a controlled setting; good theories generate an integrated network of predictions  Theory incorporates existing facts and observations within a single broad framework  Theory is testable; generates new hypotheses and predictions  Predictions made by the theory are supported by the findings of new research  Conforms to the law of parsimony: if two theories can explain and predict the same phenomena equally well, the simpler one is preferred - It is possible, however, that future observation can contradict theory Defining and Measuring Variables - Variable is any characteristic that can differ (e.g. gender, memory, personality, intelligence, stress, learning, and motivation) - Operational definition: translate an abstract term into something observable and measurable o define exercise as “engaging in 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity” o define stress as “how tense people feel” - in essence, operational definitions allow us to know exactly what scientists mean by those terms - to define concept operationally, we must be able to measure it  Self-Report: ask people to report on their knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, or behaviors; may cause social desirability bias (to reduce bias, ensure confidentiality)  Reports by Others: reports are made by other people; honesty is key  Physiological Measures: measure heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, and hormonal secretions, and biochemical processes in the brain; however, hard to understand patterns of physiological activity and mental events  Behavioural Observations: observe people’s overt behaviors in real life or in labs; sometimes, researchers use archival measures (already existing records) or unobtrusive measures (keeps participants unaware) Methods of Researching - Descriptive Methods: recording observations or surveys - Correlational Methods: involve measuring the strength of an association between two or more events - Experimental Methods: manipulations to establish cause and effect relationships between two or more events Descriptive Research - seeks to identify how humans and animals behave - Case Studies: in-depth analysis of an individual, group, or event; can be a vibrant source of new ideas and hypotheses, enable scientists to study a rare phenomena intensively, challenge the validity of theory, and illustrate effective intervention programs developed by clinical psychologists to treat special populations - case studies, however, have several disadvantages o Poor method for determining cause-effect relations o Generalization of findings; “would they hold true in real settings?” o Lack of objectivity; when possible claims based on case studies be followed up by more comprehensive research methods - Naturalistic Observation: researcher observes behavior as it occurs in a natural setting (mainly of animal behaviors) o It does not permit causal conclusions about the relations between variables; in the real world, many variables simultaneously influence behavior o As well, researchers may be biased in interpreting a certain behavior o Researchers should also try to avoid influencing participants being studied - Survey Research: information is obtained through questions or interviews o Population: consists of individuals about whom we are interested in drawing a conclusion o Sample: subset of individuals drawn from the larger population of interest o Representative Sample: one the reflects the important characteristics of the population o Random Sampling: select individuals in each subgroup to be in the survey  Must ensure that that every member of the population has an equal probability of being chosen - Findings from the survey closely portray the population as a whole o However, unrepresentative samples can produce di
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