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Chapter 2

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Lawrence Murphy

How Psychologists Do Research The Ideal Scientist 1. Precision  Theory o Organized system of assumptions & principles that attempts to explain phenomena and how they are related o As close to absolutely certain as possible  Hypothesis o Statement that attempts to predict for a set of phenomena o Empirically tested o Used when uncertain  Operational definition o Define terms in hypotheses by specifying the operation for observing & measuring the process or phenomenon o Theories  generate hypothesis  test hypothesis  data  facts  theory 2. Sceptism  Scientists do not accept ideas on faith/ authority  Treat conclusions, even old, with caution  Caution balanced with openness to new ideas & evidence 3. Reliance on Empirical Evidence (scientific)  Anecdotes are insufficient  Gathered through various research methods 4. Willingness to Make “Risky Predictions”  Principle of falsifiability o A scientific theory must make predictions that are specific enough to disconfirm the theory  science is falsifiable o Predicts what will and won’t happen  Confirmation bias o Tendency to seek & accept evidence that supports our theories & ignore contradicting evidence 5. Openness  Explain the source of ideas, how they were tested and what the results were so that replication is possible  The peer review process ensures scientific standards and provides a system of checks & balances Descriptive Studies  Goal: to describe and predict behaviour but doesn’t allow casual explanations  Essential for all studies obtaining a representative sample  Methods: case studies, observational studies, psychological tests, surveys o Case study: a detailed description of one person being studied or treated about something specific  Commonly used by clinicians o Observational study: researchers systematically observe & record behaviour without interference  Naturalistic observation: in normal social environment  Laboratory observation: in a controlled lab setting o Psychological test: procedures used to measure & evaluate personality traits, emotional states, aptitudes, interests, abilities & values  Characteristics of a good test:  Standardization o When uniform procedures for giving & scoring tests exist o Proper scoring refers to norms or established standards  Norms obtained by mass testing on intended populations to determine diff score ranges  Reliability o The consistency of scores derived from a test from one time to another (should generate the same results) o Test-retest reliability o Alternate-forms reliability  Having separate tests of generally the same questions  Validity o The ability of a test to measure what it was designed to measure  test should be relevant to the question o Face validity  Do the results generate what you expect it to?  Looks like a physics test when it is  no hidden tricks o Content validity  Do items broadly represent the test in question? o Criterion validity  Do the test results predict other measures of the trait? o Survey:  Questionnaires & interviews that ask people about experiences, attitudes, or opinions  Allow for extensive data collection but many problems  Obtaining representative samples (volunteer bias  the survey-takers may already have an opinion prior to the survey  not getting accurate results, getting their opinions)  Truthfulness of responses  Type and phrasing of questions Correlation Studies: a type of descriptive study that looks for a relationship between two phenomena  Measure of how strongly 2 quantifiable characteristics of behaviour (variables) are related to one another Causation: something happened because of one thing  cause & effect  Positive: an increase in one variable causes an increase in the other o May not be good  Negative: an increase in one variable causes a decrease in the other o Doesn’t have to be bad Measuring Correlations  Correlation coefficient o Statistical measure of correlation (ranges -1.00 to +1.00)  Correlation of 0 = no relationship  -1 = perfect negative correlation  Graph decreases from left to right  +1 = perfect positive correlation
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