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Chapter 2

PS101 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Frequency Distribution, Advantageous, Standard Deviation

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Kris Gerhardt

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The Research Enterprise In Psychology- Chapter Two
- Different types of questions may call for different types of research strategies. For example, if we are
interesting more in the meaning of a specific experience, we might adopt a qualitative research method.
- Qualitative researchers tend to let the meanings assigned to the experience emerge from the data they
collect. Their data consists of words and narratives experience.
-Quantitative methods are designed mainly to examine cause-and-effect relationships.. whereas variables
can be determined ahead of time, and data is numerical.
The Scientific Approach to Behaviour
1. Measurement and Description—first goal of psychology is to develop measurement techniques to make
it possible to describe behaviour clearly and precisely.
2. Understanding and Prediction—to evaluate understanding, scientist make and test predictions called
hypothesis. Hypothesis is a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables.
Variables are any measurable conditions, events, characteristics, or behaviours that are controlled or
observed in a study.
3. Application and Control—once people understand a phenomenon, they often have more control over it.
- to build a better understanding of behaviour, psychologists construct a theory. A theory is a system of
interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations. (pg 45 fig. 2.1)
Steps in a Scientific Investigation
- scientific investigators are systematic—therefore they follow an orderly pattern.
Step 1: Formulate a Testable Hypothesis
translate a theory/intuitive idea into a testable hypothesis (prediction)
to be testable, scientific hypothesis must be formulated precisely, and they variables understudy must
be clearly defined.
Researchers achieve theses clear formulations by providing operations definitions of the relevant
variables. An operational definitions describes the actions or operations that will be used to measure
or control a variable
Step 2: Select the Research Method and Design the Study
Put they hypothesis in to an empirical test
Various methods include; experiments, case studies, surveys, naturalistic observation…etc.
Once a method is chosen, the must make detail plans for executing their study… example what kind of
experiment they will conduct, who are their participants? how many? From where?
Participants/subjects are the persons or animals whose behaviour is systematically observed in a study.
Step 3: Collect the Data
Data collection techniques are procedures for making empirical observations and measurements.
Types of observations include:
Direct Observation: observers watch and record behaviour (could involve using a stop watch or video
Questionnaire: subjects are given a series of written questions which researchers obtain information
Interview: face-to-face dialogue
Psychological Test: subjects are administered a standardized measure to obtain a sample of their
Physiological recording: instrument is used to monitor and record a specific physiological process in a
subject, such as blood pressure, heart rate, brain activity…etc.
Examination of Archival Records: researcher analyzes existing institutional records such as medical,
legal, education, business records… etc.
Step 4: Analyze the Data and Draw Conclusions
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- researchers use statistics to analyze their data and decide whether their hypotheses have been supported.
Step 5: Report the Findings
- write a concise summary of the study and its findings
- researchers usually prepare a report that is delivered at a scientific meeting and submitted to a journal
for publication.
- A journal is a periodical that publishes technical and scholarly material, usually in a narrowly defined
area of inquiry.
- Process of publishing allows other experts to evaluate and critic new research findings.
Advantages of the Scientific Approach
- the scientific approach offers two major advantages:
1. its clarity and precision – it requires that people specify exactly what they are talking about when
they formulate hypotheses. This clarity and precision enhances communication about important
2. Its relative intolerance of error. Scientists are trained to be skeptical. They subject their ideas to
empirical tests.
Experimental Research
- research methods: consist of various approaches to the observation, measurement, manipulation, and
control over variable in empirical studies—meaning they are general strategies for conducting studies.
- The experiment is a research method in which the investigator manipulates a variable under carefully
controlled conditions and observes whether any changes occur in a second variable as a result.
- The experiment is a powerful procedure that allows research to detect a cause-and-effect relationships.
Psychologists use this method more than any other.
Independent and Dependent Variables
- the purpose of an experiment is to find out whether changes in one variable (x) causes changes to
another variable (y).
- x = independent , y = dependent
- Independent: is a condition or event that an experimenter varies in order to see its impact on another
- Dependent: a variable that is thought to be affected by manipulation of the independent variable.
Experimental and Control Groups
- Experimental Group: consists of the subjects who receive some special treatment in regard to the
independent variable.
- Control Group: consist of similar subjects who do not receive the special treatment given to the
experimental group.
Extraneous Variables (p.51)
- extraneous variables: any variables other than the independent variable that seem likely to influence the
dependent variable in a specific study.
- a confounding of variables occurs when two variables are linked together in a way that makes it
difficult to sort out their specific effects.
- When an extraneous variable is confounded with an independent variable, a researcher cannot tell which
is having what effect on the dependent variable
- Experimenters use a variety of safeguards to control extraneous variables. Subjects are usually assigned
to the experimental and control groups randomly.
-Random assignment of subjects occurs when all subjects have an equal chance of being assigned to any
group or condition in the study
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