Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically:
- Gathering Evidence: Steps in The Scientific Process:
o Two methods of studying behaviour:
Hindsight Understanding: common-sense.
Understanding through prediction control and understanding: scientific method.
o The five steps, which reflect how a scientific inquiry often proceeds:
1. Step 1: Identify a Question of interest.
2. Gather Information and form hypothesis.
Hypothesis: a specific prediction about some phenomenon that often
takes the form of an “if-then” statement.
3. Test Hypothesis by conducting research.
4. Analyze Data, Draw Tentative Conclusion, and Report Findings.
5. Build a Body of Knowledge (ex. Ask further questions, formulate a new
hypothesis, and test it.)
Theory: a set of formal statements that explains how and why certain
events are related to one another.
- Understanding through Prediction, Control, and Theory Building:
o Theory development is the strongest test of scientific understanding because good
theories generate an integrated network of predictions. A good theory has several
It incorporates existing facts and observations within a single broad framework.
In other words, it organizes information in a meaningful way.
It is testable. It generates new hypothesis and predictions whose accuracy can
be evaluated by gathering new evidence.
The predictions made by the theory are supported by the findings of new
It conforms to the law of parsimony: if two theories can explain and predict the
same phenomena equally well, the simpler theory is the preferred one.
- Defining and Measuring Variables:
o Variable: any changing characteristic or factor that may vary. Such as, people's sex,
height, hair colour, age, income, etc.
o Operational definition defines a variable in terms of the specific procedures used to
produce or measure it. Operational definitions translate abstract concepts into
something observable and measurable.
- Self Reports and Reports by Others:
o Self-report measures ask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings,
experiences, or behaviour.
o Social desirability bias: the tendency to respond in a socially acceptable manner rather
than according to how one truly feels or behaves.
- Measures of Overt Behaviour:
o In an experiment meant on learning, we might measure how many errors a person
makes while performing a task. In an experiment on drug effects, we might measure
people's reaction time.
o Reaction times: how rapidly people respond to a stimulus.
o Observers must be trained to use coding system properly so that their measurements
will be reliable - consistent observations. If two observers disagree on their coding, then
the data is unreliable. o Humans and animals behave differently, when being observed.
o Unobtrusive measures: to record behaviour in a way that keeps participants unaware
that certain responses are being measured.
o Psychologists also gather information about behaviour by using archival measures,
which are records or documents that exist.
- Psychological Tests:
o Psychologists develop and use specialized tests to measure types of variables (ex,
personality tests, intelligence tests, etc.)
- Physiological Tests:
o Psychologists also record physiological responses to assess what people are
experiencing (ex. measures of heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, hormonal
secretions, and brain functioning).
- Descriptive Research: Recording Events:
o Descriptive research: seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave,
particularly in a natural setting.
- Case Studies: Treating Cases of Failure to Thrive (Starvation) in Human Infants:
o Case study: in-depth analysis of an individual, a group, or an event.
o Case studies often suggest important ideas for further research, but they are a poor
method for establishing cause-effect relations.
- Naturalistic Observation: Bullying in Canadian Schoolyards:
o In naturalistic observation, the researcher observes behaviour as it occurs in a natural
setting, and attempts to avoid influencing that behaviour.