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Chapter 2

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Western University
Psychology 1000
Derek Quinlan

CHAPTER 2  Curiosity, skepticism, and open-mindedness are the driving forces behind scientific inquiry.  Diffusion of Responsibility- a psychological state in which each person feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening.  Gathering Evidence: Steps in the Scientific Process o Initial observation/ Question  Why did no one help in the Kitty Genovese case? o Form Hypothesis  IF multiple bystanders are present, THEN a diffusion of responsibility will decrease each bystander’s likelihood of intervening.  Hypothesis- a tentative explanation or prediction about some phenomenon. o Test Hypothesis (Conduct research)  Create “emergency” in controlled setting.  Manipulate perceived number of bystanders.  Measure helping. o Analyze data  Helping decreases as the perceived number of bystander’s increases. The hypothesis is supported! (If the data does not support the hypothesis, revise and retest). o Further Research and Theory Building  Additional studies support the hypothesis. A theory of social impact is developed based on these and other findings. o New Hypothesis Derived from Theory  The theory is tested directly by deriving a new hypothesis and conducting new research.  So basically, it consists of asking a question, forming a hypothesis, conducting research, and drawing conclusions based on data analysis.  Theory- set of formal statements that explain how and why certain events are related to one another.  Causes of behavior- the conditions responsible for its occurrence.  Hindsight Understanding- after the fact understanding. o The main problem with relying solely on hindsight reasoning is that 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.  Theory development is the strongest test of scientific understanding because good theories generate an integrated network of predictions. A good theory has several different characteristics: o It incorporates existing facts and observations within a single broad framework. Aka, it organizes information in a meaningful way. o It is testable. It generates new hypothesis- new specific predictions- whose accuracy or inaccuracy can be evaluated by gathering new evidence. o The predictions made by the theory are supported by the findings of new research. o It confirms the law of parsimony: if 2 theories can explain and predict the same phenomena equally well, the simpler theory is the preferred one.  Variable-any characteristic that can differ. For ex. Gender.  Operational definition- defines a variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or measure it. In essence, operational definitions translate an abstract term into something observable and measurable.  Self-report measures- ask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, or behavior. This information can be gathered in interviews, questionnaires, or specially designed psychological tests. o The accuracy depends on the person answering the question honestly.  Self-desirability bias- the tendency of participants to give an answer that gives a good impression rather than one that reflects how they truly feel or behave.  Reports by others- we can also learn about someone’s behavior by obtaining reports made by other people. People who know a person can provide useful information about them.  Physiological Measures- scientists can measure many aspects of physiological functioning ranging from heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, and hormonal secretions, to electrical and biochemical processes in the brain.  Behavioral Observations- to observe people’s overt (I.e. directly visible) behaviors in real life or laboratory settings.  Archival measures- already existing records or documents. o Psychologists use these sometimes to gather information about people’s overt behavior.  Unobtrusive measures- records behavior in a way that keeps participants unaware that they are being observed.  Descriptive methods- involve recording observations or surveys.  Correlation methods- involve measuring the strength of an association between 2 or more events.  Experimental methods- involve manipulations to establish cause and effect relationships between 2 or more events.  Descriptive research- seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave, particularly in natural settings.  Case Study- in-depth analysis of an individual, group, or event. By studying one, researcher hopes to understand the principles of behavior that are true for people or situations in general. o Advantages:  When a rare phenomenon occurs, the case study method enables scientists to study it intensively and collect a large amount of data.  A case study may challenge the validity of a theory or widely held scientific belief.  It can illustrate effective intervention programs developed by clinical psychologists to treat special populations. o Disadvantages:  Case studies are a poor method for determining cause-effect relations.  Generalizations of the findings: will the principles uncovered in a case study hold true for other people or in other situations?  To establish the generalization of a general principle, investigators must conduct more case studies, use other research methods, and test a variety of cultural g
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