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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 how psychologists do research.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Lawrence Murphy

Chapter 2 how psychologists do research What makes psychological research scientific? Precision o Theory: organized system of assumptions and principles that purports to explain phenomena and how they are related o Hypothesis: statement that attempts to predict or account for a set of phenomena; specifies relationships; empirically tested o Operational definition: define terms in hypotheses by specifying operations for observing and measuring the process or phenomenon Skepticism o Scientists do not accept ideas on faith or authority o Treat conclusions (old and new) with caution o Caution balanced with openness to new ideas and evidence Reliance on empirical evidence o Anecdotes are insufficient o Gathered through use of various research methods Willingness to make “risky predictions” o Principle of falsifiability: scientific theory must make predictions that are specific enough to disconfirm the theory ‒ Predicts not only what will happen but also what won’t happen o Confirmation bias: tendency to seek and accept evidence that supports our theories and ignore evidence that contradicts beliefs Openness o Explain the source of ideas, how they were tested and what the results were so replication possible o Peer review process ensures scientific standards and provides system of checks and balances Descriptive Studies o Goal to describe and predict behavior but does not allow causal explanations o Essential for all studies is obtaining a representative sample o Descriptive methods [case studies, observational studies, psychological tests, surveys]: ‒ case studies,  detailed description of a particular individual being studied or treated  most commonly used by clinicians ‒ observational studies,  method where researchers systematically observe and record behavior without interference  naturalistic observation: observations in normal social environment  laboratory observation: observations in more controlled lab setting ‒ psychological tests  procedures used to measure and evaluate personality traits, emotional states, aptitudes, interests, abilities, values  characteristics of a good test include standardization, reliability, validity ‒ surveys  questionnaires, interviews that ask people about experiences, attitudes, opinions  allow for extensive data collection but many problems:  obtaining representative sample (volunteer bias)  truthfulness of responses  type and phrasing of questions Standardization: o when uniform procedures for giving and scoring test exist o proper scoring refers to norms or established standards of performance ‒ norms obtained by mass testing on intended populations to determine different score ranges Reliability o the consistency of scores derived from a test from one time and place to the next or across scorers o “test-retest reliability” (giving someone the same test twice to ensure results are reliable) o Alternate-forms reliability (giving someone different versions of the test and if results are same- reliable) Validity o Ability of a test to measure what it was designed to measure o Face validity (does it look like it’s testing what it’s supposed to test) o Content validity (degree to which questions refer to the content) o Criterion validity (do test results predict other measures of the trait) Correlational Studies o Type of descriptive study that looks for a relationship between two phenomena o Correlations: measure how strongly two quantifiable characteristics of behavior (variables) are related to one another o Positive correlation: association between increases in one variable and increase in another o Negative correlation: association between increases in one variable and decreases in another o Measuring correlations: ‒ Correlation coefficient- statistical measure of correlation (ranges -1.00 to +1.00) ‒ Indicates size and direction of correlation o Correlations often reported may be small, nonexistent, meaningless o Correlations may be misleading (they don’t establish causation!) Experiments o Controlled test of hypothesis in which researcher manipulates one varia
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