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Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically

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Psychology 1000
Shauna Burke

Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically 09/13/13 Scientific Principles in Psychology & ScientificAttitudes: • scientific method used to determine laws of physical sciences • curiosity, skepticism, open-mindedness • diffusion of responsibility- psychological state in which each person feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening Gathering Evidence: 1. Identify a Question of Interest: observe what piques your interest 2. Gather Information & Form Hypothesis: determine whether any studies/theories that might help already exist, form hypothesis- specific prediction about some phenomenon that often takes form of “If-Then” statement 3. Test Hypothesis by Conducting Research: create an “emergency” in a controlled setting, manipulate (control) the perceived number of bystanders, measure weather and how quickly each participant helps the victim 4. Analyze Data, Draw Tentative Conclusions, and Report Findings: data reveal that helping decreases as the perceived number of bystanders increases, hypothesis is supported 5. Build a Body of Knowledge: theory- set of formal statements that explains why and how certain events are related to one another, ask further questions, conduct more research, develop and test theories, additional theories support hypothesis, “theory of social impact” is developed based on these findings, test the theory directly by deriving a new hypotheses and conducting the research TwoApproaches to Understanding Behaviour: 1. Hindsight: problem with relying solely on hindsight is that related past events can be explained in many creative, reasonable, and sometimes contradictory ways, can provide valuable insights, often foundation of further on building of further scientific inquiry 2. Understanding through Prediction, Control, and Theory Building: good theories generate an integrated network of predictions; characteristics of good theories: Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically 09/13/13 I. Organizes information in a meaningful way II. Is testable; generates new hypotheses, evaluated by gathering evidence III. Supported by findings of new research IV. Conforms to law of parsimony- if two theories can explain/predict same phenomena, simpler is preferred Defining and Measuring Variables: • Variable- any characteristic/factor that can vary ex. age, income; many cannot be observed directly ex. stress • Operational Definition- defines variable in terms of specific procedures used to produce/measure it; translate abstract concepts into something observable Self- Reports and Reports by Others: • report on own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, behaviour, interviews/questionaries • Social Desirability Bias- tendency to respond in a socially acceptable manner rather than according to how one truly feels or behaves • more honesty by stating confidentiality, knowing the person Measures of Overt Behaviour: directly observable • • Reaction Time- how rapidly they respond to a stimulus • coding systems record different categories of behaviour • reliable- consistent observations • people may behave differently when they know they are being observed • Unobtrusive Measures- record behaviour in a way that keeps participants unaware that certain responses are being measured • Archival Measures- records/documents that already exist Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically 09/13/13 1. Psychological Tests: ex. personality- specialized self-reports, ambiguous stimuli (pictures that can have different meanings), performance tasks- intelligence (assemble objects/solve arithmetic problems), neuropsychological (how well people preform mental/physical tasks) 2. Physiological Tests: measures of heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, hormonal secretions, brain functioning, don’t always understand what they mean Methods of Research: Recording Events: • Descriptive Research: seeks to identify how humans/animals behave, in natural settings, diversity of behaviour, yield clues about potential cause-effect relations 1. Case Studies: in-depth analysis of an individual, group, or an event ex. treating cases of starvation on human infants - Advantages: study closely, challenge validity of theory/belief, new ideas/hypotheses using more controlled research methods, insight into child development, mental disorders, cultural influences - Disadvantages: poor for determining cause-effect relations, may not generalize to other people/ situations, observers may not be objective in gathering and interpreting data, measurement bias 2. Naturalistic Observation: researcher observes behaviour as it occurs in natural setting, and attempts to avoid influencing behaviour ex. bullying in schoolyards - categories: verbal assertion, physical assertion, physical aggression, when disguise is not feasible people ignore presence of observer, habituation 3. Survey Research: information obtained by administering questionaries/interviews to people - ask about behaviours, experiences, attitudes on wide-ranging issues ex. political polls - Population: all individuals about whom we are interested in drawing a conclusion - Sample: subset of individuals drawn from the larger population of interest - Representative Sample: represents important characteristics of the population - Random Sampling: every member of the population has an equal probability of being choice to participate in the survey Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically 09/13/13 - Stratified Random Sampling: divide the population into subgroups based on characteristics ex. gender, ethnic identity - unrepresentative samples can produce distorted results ex. election survey predicted Landon would win, but poor/socioeconomic population was not represented & Roosevelt won - internet polls- could be problematic (ex.lying about age, gender etc.) - Advantages: express opinions, experiences, lifestyles, changes in people’s beliefs/habits, - Disadvantages: cannot draw conclusions on cause-effect, rely on participants’self-reports, unrepresentative samples can lead to faulty generalizations about an entire population, sometimes random sampling can still misrepresent a population Correlation Research- Measuring Associations Between Events: • Correlation Research: 1. One variable (x) ex. people’s birth order 2. Second variable (y) ex. personality trait 3. Statistically determines weather x and y are related Correlation Does Not Establish Causation: • ex. very happy people pg. 50 • direction of causality could be opposite, being happy causes people to have stronger relationships, having stronger relationships causes people to be happy, bidirectionality problem • association between social relationships/happiness may be artificial aka spurious • Z- responsible for what looks like rel
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