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Chapter 2

Psychology Chapter 2 Notes.docx

9 Pages

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Psychology 1000
Mark Holden

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Chapter2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically Scientific Principles in Psychology Scientific Attitudes:  Curiosity o Must want to know ‘why’  Skepticism o ‘show me the evidence’ o ‘could there be another explanation?  Open Mindedness o Must be open minded to make conclusions Approaches to Understanding:  Hindsight Understanding  Relies on explanations after the fact  Good: Use hindsight to create testable hypotheses  Bad: past events can be explained in many ways  Understanding through scientific method:  Relies on prediction, control, and theory building  Good: satisfies curiosity, builds knowledge, generates principles that can be applied to new situations  Less Good: Prediction does not necessary mean understanding Steps in Scientific Process (5): 1. Identify a question of interest 2. Gather information and form hypothesis a. Hypothesis: a specific prediction; usually takes the form of an if-then statement 3. Test hypothesis through research 4. Analyze data, draw tentative conclusions, and report findings 5. Build body of knowledge Example: Kitty Genovese Building Theories:  Hypothesis: a specific prediction; usually takes the form of an if-then statement o Tends to deal with a single experiment o Basically, a prediction  Theory: set of formal statements that explains how and why certain events are related to one another o Much broader than hypotheses; an integrated network of predictions o Relate behaviour to causes  We use theories to come up with hypotheses, which are then tested o If research supports the predictions of the theory, we gain confidence in that theory o If the predictions are falsified, we modify or discard the theory  Because of this interplay between creating and testing theories, we say that theories are ‘self correcting’ Characteristics of Good Theories:  Incorporates existing facts and observations within a single, broad frame work o Organizes information meaningfully  It is testable o Generates new hypotheses and predictions o Accuracy can be evaluated  Predictions made by the theory are supported by the findings of the new research  Conforms to the law of parsimony Note about Theories:  Theories are never regarded as the absolute truth o Even if no experiment has falsified a certain theory, this does not mean that none ever will  This process of discarding old theories for newer, better ones is the essence of scientific progress Defining and Measuring Variables  Variable: any characteristic or factor that can vary o i.e. age, sex, height, hair colour, GPA, income, chocolate consumption  can vary between different people; may also vary within a given person over time o Psychological variables:  i.e. self-esteem, stress, intelligence  Operational definition: o defines a variable in terms of the specific procedure used to measure (or produce) it o translate abstract concepts into something observable and measurable  answers the question, ‘how will we measure it?’  i.e. academic performance  test score? Course grade? Overall GPA? Measuring Variables: (4)  Self-Report & Reports by Others: o Ask people to report their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, behaviour, etc o Interviews, questionnaires o Hinges on participant’s honesty  Social Desirability Bias: tendency to respond in a socially acceptable manner, rather than how one truly feels/behaves  Trying to look good  Avoid this by: carefully wording questions  Ensuring participant anonymity and confidentiality  Over-Claiming Questionnaire – measures Social Desirability Bias  Measures of Overt Behaviour: o Record directly-observable behaviour  No need to infer anything (i.e. errors in learning a list of words, reaction time to braking) o Measurements must be reliable – Consistent observations  Experimenters who observe must be trained to use a specific coding system to ensure consistency between and within experimenters  Remember, empirical evidence must be systematic o Measurements should be unobtrusive  People and animals might behave differently when they know they are being watched  Researchers must ensure participant doesn’t realize they are being observed  Unobtrusive Measures: test isn’t obvious as to what is being measured  i.e. rate pleasantness of neutral pictures to test mood  Archival Measures: use records or documents that already exist  Student class grades to evaluate effectiveness of different teaching styles  Psychological Measures: o Specialized tests to measure many types of variables o i.e. Personality tests  ‘T/F: I prefer to be alone rather than attend social gatherings’  This type is essentially a specialized self-report  What do you see in this (ambiguous) picture? o Intelligence tests: we score intelligence based on performance  Physiological Measures: o Includes heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, hormones, brain function, etc… o We don’t always know what these mean, though  i.e. what is the link between heart rate and emotion?  Is it love? Stress? Excitement? Descriptive Methods of Research (3)  Descriptive research: describes how people and animals behave (especially in natural settings, ‘real life’)  Methods: o Case Studies o Naturalistic Observation o Survey  Case Studies (Descriptive) o In-depth analysis of one individual, a (small) group, or an event o Can use any of the methods of measuring variables o Advantages: great for rare phenomena, can challenge validity of scientific theories, can generate new ideas and hypotheses to be tested o Disadvantages: not good at determining cause and effect, not easily generalized, measurement bias (subjective observations) o i.e. Mel Goodale study on patient D.F.  object recognition vs. object orientation  Naturalistic Observation (Descriptive) o Researcher observes behaviour in its natural setting (typically relies on method of measuring overt behaviour) o Advantages: provide rich descriptions of behaviour in the ‘real world’ o Disadvantages: not good at determining cause and effect, measurement bias (subjective observations), presence of researcher may affect behaviour (should be unobtrusive)  Habituation: process by which organisms eventually ignore researcher presence  Survey Research (Descriptive) o Information is obtained by administering questionnaires, surveys, interviews o i.e. political polls, surveys that ask about behaviours, experiences, attitudes, etc. o i.e. Personality researchers gave people 2 questionnaires, one measured national character, other measured own personality. Results  stereotypes don’t equal reality o Critical that you have a representative sample  Representative sample: reflects the important characteristics of an entire population (If taking political poll, asking only people from Quebec or Alberta is not representative) o Population: entire group of the people you are interested in surveying o Sample: a subgroup of the population o Obtaining Representative Sample:  Random Sampling:  Every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected  Stratified Random Sampling:  Variation of random sampling  Divide population into known subgroups (i.e. male/female, ethnicity)  Make certain that the sample has the same proportions as the population  Use random sampling to select actual people in sample’s subgroups o Unrepresentative samples can lead to wrong results  1936 American Election  Internet surveys (no way to select people randomly)  Also people sometimes lie on internet surveys o Advantages: efficient way of collecting lots of data, can reveal changes in beliefs/habits over time o Disadvantages: cannot determine cause and effect, based on self-reports (social desirability bias, interview bias, inaccurate self-perceptions Descriptive Statistics:  Frequency Distribution: shows how many people got what score  Histogram: graph of the frequency distribution, frequency on the y-axis  Central Tendency: Mean (average), Median (middle number), Mode (most common) o Measures of variability  Range  Standard Deviation  Variance (deviation score)  Variance= sum (X-M)2/N  Standard deviation is the square route of the variance  68% within 1 SD either side of the mean  95 within 2 SD on either side of the mean  99.7% within 3 SD on either side of the mean  34.1%, 13.6,2.1 More Research Methods (2) Correlations:  Correlation Method: o Research technique in which two (or more) variables are measured to determine f they are related in any systematic way o Does not manipulate anything o Correlation studies asks:  Is there a relationship between ____ and ____?  NOT: If ____ causes ____?  Correlation studies allow us to answer a specific research question (i.e. Are beautiful people more popular?) o 3 Steps:  Researcher measures one variable  Researcher measures a second variable  Researcher statistically determined whether the two variables are related o Correlation: the degree to which variance in one variable can be accounted for by variance in another variable (i.e. If I know how beautiful someone is, how well can I estimate their popularity?) o Correlation studies say nothing about causes o 4 Steps:  Collect Data  Graph the data  Draw a line of best  Calculate the correlation coefficient o Positive Correlation: a relationship between variables where an increase in one is associated with an increase in the other o Negative correlation: a relationship between variables where an increase in one is associated with a decrease in the other o Zero = no correlation, they are unrelated o Numbers approaching 1 or -1 mean a very strong correlation, approaching zero means
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