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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 summary

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Western University
Psychology 1000

Chapter 2 Studying Behaviour Scientifically Chapter 2: Studying Behaviour Scientifically Scientific Principles In Psychology - The Scientific Method o Used by physicists and chemists to make great progress in determining the laws of the physical sciences - Psychologists adopted the scientific method for behavioural science Scientific Attitudes  DIFFUSION OF RESPONSIBILITY – a psychological state in which each person feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening Gathering Evidence: Steps In The Scientific Process 1. Identify a Question of Interest 2. Gather Information and Form Hypothesis o Hypothesis is a specific prediction about some phenomenon o Takes form of an “if-then” statement 3. Test Hypothesis by Conducting Research 4. Analyze Data, Draw Tentative Conclusions, and Report Findings o Collect, draw tentative conclusions and report their findings to the scientific community o Publishing research is essential to scientific progress o Allows fellow scientists to learn about new ideas and findings, to evaluate the research and to challenge/expand on it 5. Build a Body of Knowledge o Theory is the set of formal statements that explains how and why certain events are related to one another o Theories are broader than hypothesis o Theory of social impact which has been used to explain a variety of social behaviours Two Approaches to Understanding Behaviour Hindsight (After-the-Fact Understanding) - Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards - Understand behaviour in our everyday life is hindsight reasoning - Problem with relying solely on hindsight reasoning is that related past events can be explained in many creative, reasonable, and sometimes contradictory ways Understanding through Prediction, Control and Theory Building - Understand the causes of a given behaviour - Then easier to predict the conditions under which the behaviour will occur in the future - Control those conditions produce that behaviour - Theory development is the strongest test of scientific understanding 1 Chapter 2 Studying Behaviour Scientifically - A good theory: o Incorporates existing facts and observations within a single broad framework o It is testable  Generates new hypotheses  Accuracy can be evaluated by gathering new evidence o Predictions made by the theory are supported by the findings of new research o Conforms to the law of parsimony  If two theories can explain and predict the same phenomena equally well, simpler theory is the preferred one - Possible that future observation will contradict it - Doesn’t mean that prediction requires understanding Defining and Measuring Variables  VARIABLE – characteristic or factor that can vary - Represent abstract concepts that cannot be observed  OPERATIONAL DEFINITION – defines a variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or measure it Self-Reports and Reports by Others - Self report measures ask people to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, or behaviour  SOCIAL DESIRABILITY BIAS – tendency to respond in a socially acceptable manner rather than according to how one truly feels or behaves Measures of Overt Behaviour - Another measurement approach is to record overt behaviour  REACTION TIME - how rapidly they respond to a stimulus - Coding systems to record different categories of behaviour  RELIABLE – consistent to observations  UNOBSTRUSIVE MEASURES – record behaviour in a way that keeps participants unaware that certain responses are being measured  ARCHIVAL MEASURES – records or documents that already exist - Psychological Tests o Specialized tests to measure many types of variables o Present ambiguous stimuli o Consist of performance task o Neuropsychological tests help diagnose normal and abnormal brain functioning - Physiological Measures o Assess when people are experiencing o Measures of heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, hormonal secretions, and brain functioning o Psychological responses can have their own interpretive problems  Main one being we don’t always understand what they mean 2 Chapter 2 Studying Behaviour Scientifically Methods of Research Descriptive Research: Recording Events - Seeks to identify how humans and other animals behave (particularly in natural settings) - Provides information about the diversity of behaviour - Potential cause-effect relations Case Studies: Treating Cases of Failure to Thrive (Starvation) in Human Infants  CASE-STUDY is an in-depth analysis of an individual, a group or an event - Advantages: o Rare phenomenon occurs and the method enables scientists to study it closely o A case study may challenge the validity of a theory or widely held scientific belief o Vibrant source of new ideas and hypotheses that subsequently may be examined by using more controlled research methods - Case studied have provided important insight - Limitations: o Poor method for determining cause-effect relations o May not generalize to other people or situations o Observers may not be objective in gathering and interpreting the data Focus On Neuroscience – Neuroscience of the Human Brain at Work - Neuroscientists use various techniques to identify localization of behavioural function in specific areas of the brain - Brain-imaging technology have allowed neuroscientists to monitor neural activity in the intact brain of a person during mental or physical tasks - PET and fMRI scans measure changes in local blood flow or oxygen content - Map the neural activity of clinical patients with psychiatric disorders and patients suffering from brain damage - Development of normal and abnormal brain functions Naturalistic Observations - Researcher observes behaviour as it occurs in a natural setting - Attempts to avoid influencing that behaviour - Doesn’t permit clear casual conclusion - Variables simultaneously influence behaviour and they can’t be disentangled with this research technique - Bias in how researchers interpret what they observe - Mere presence of an observer may disrupt a person’s behaviour Survey Research - Information about a topic is obtained by administering questionnaires or interviews to many people - Key concepts in survey research 3 Chapter 2 Studying Behaviour Scientifically  POPULATION – consists of all individuals about whom we are interested in drawing a conclusion  SAMPLE – subset of individuals drawn from the larger population of interest - Sample must be representative  REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE – one that reflects the important characteristics of the population  RANDOM SAMPLING – every member of the population has an equal probability of being chose to participate in the survey - Divide the population into subgroups based on such characteristics as gender or ethnic identity - Unrepresentative samples can produce disorted results - Internet questionnaires can be problematic because researchers do not have much control over data quality o Respondents can lie o No method for randomly sampling the population of Internet users - In scientific research, surveys are an efficient method for collecting a large amount of information about people’s opinions, experiences, and life-styles o They can reveal changes in people’s beliefs - Disadvantages: o Survey data can’t be used to draw conclusions about cause and effect o Rely on participants’ self-reports, which can be distorted by social desirability bias, interview bias, inaccurate perceptions, etc… o Unrepresentative samples can lead to faulty generalizations about how an entire population would respond o A sample that is randomly chosen will turn out not to be representative of the larger population Correlational Research: Measuring Associations Between Events 1. Researcher measure one variable 2. Researcher measures a second variable 3. Researcher statistically determines whether X and Y are related Correlation Does Not Establish Causation - In correlation research, you must consider the possibility that variable X has caused variable Y o Y has caused X or that both variables have influenced each other o Called a
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