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Chapter 2

Psych 1000 - Chapter 2.docx

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Western University
Psychology 1000

Psychology – Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically Scientific Attitudes: A good scientist is curious, skeptical, and open-minded Kitty Genovese Murder: A young woman was stabbed to death in New York City. 38 Bystanders heard her screams and cries for help and no one called the police. - Diffusion of Responsibility: A psychological state in which each person feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening. - The more bystanders present, the more likely someone is to not react The Scientific Process: 1. Initial Observation/Question: Something noteworthy is observed and a question is asked 2. Form Hypothesis: A tentative explanation or prediction about some phenomenon. Scientists gather clues and logically analyze them. Make an if/then statement 3. Test Hypothesis: Gathering evidence by conducting research 4. Analyze Data: Collect and draw tentative conclusions 5. Further Research and Theory Building: Conduct more research and as additional information comes, attempt to build theories 6. New Hypothesis Derived from Theory: The theory is used to develop new hypotheses which are then tested by conducting additional research and gathering new evidence Theory: A set of formal statements that explains how and why certain events are related to one another. Theories are broader than hypotheses, and in psychology theories typically specify lawful relations between certain behaviours and their causes. Good theories: - Incorporate existing facts and observations in a meaningful way - Are testable and generate new hypotheses and predictions - Are supported by the findings of new research - Conform to the law of parsimony: if two theories can explain and predict the same phenomenon equally well, the simpler theory is the preferred one Approaches to Understanding Behaviour: Being able to specify the causes of behaviour, the conditions responsible for its occurrence. Hindsight Understanding: - The most common method we use to try to understand behaviour in everyday life - After the fact (hindsight) reasoning - Problem: related past events can be explained in many ways that can be contradictory - Can provide valuable insights and lay foundation for further scientific inquiry Understanding through Prediction, Control, and Theory Building: - If we understand the causes of behaviour then we should be able to predict the conditions under which that behaviour will occur - If we can control those conditions (i.e. in a lab), we should be able to produce that behaviour - Scientific alternative to hindsight understanding Defining and Measuring Variables: Variable: Any characteristic that can differ Operational Definition: Defines a variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or measure it; translate an abstract term into something observable and measurable Measuring Behaviour: Self-Report Measures: Ask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, or behaviour through interviews, questionnaires, or psychological tests. Can be distorted by…  Social 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 Report by Others: Obtaining reports on someone’s behaviour made by other people Physiological Measures: Measuring aspects of physiological functioning such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, and hormonal secretions Behavioural Observations: Observing people’s overt behaviours in either real-life or laboratory settings Archival Measures: Gathering information about people’s overt behaviour from already-existing records or documents Unobtrusive Measures: Record behaviour in a way that keeps participants unaware that they are being observed Methods of Research: Descriptive Research: Seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave, particularly in natural settings - Provides information about the diversity of behaviour - Common descriptive methods are: Case Studies: an in-depth analysis of an individual, group, or event o Data can be gathered through observation, interviews, psychological tests, physiological recordings, and task performance o Studying a single case in great detail to discover principles of behaviour that are true for people and situations in general o Suggest important ideas for further research, but do not establish cause-effect relations Naturalistic Observation: the researcher observes behaviour as it occurs in a natural setting o Often used to study animal behaviour (Jane Goodall’s chimps) o Allows the examination of relations between variables o Yields rich descriptions of behaviour Survey Research: information about a topic is obtained by administering questionnaires or interviews to many people about their attitudes, opinions, and behaviour o Population: consists of all the individuals about whom we are interested in drawing a conclusion o Sample: a subset of individuals drawn from the larger population of interest o Representative Sample: one that reflects the important characteristics of a population o Random Sampling: used to select individuals in each subgroup to be in a survey o Allow for reasonably accurate estimates of the opinions or behaviours of the entire population o Unrepresentative samples can lead to inaccurate estimates Correlational Research: A researcher measures two variables and determines statistically
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