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Chapter 2

psych chapter 2.docx

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Don Morgenson

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Chapter 2 September 30, 2013 12:40 PM The Scientific Approach to Behaviour Goals of the Scientific Enterprise  Psychologists and other scientists share three sets of goals: 1. Measurement and description: commitment to observation requires that an investigator figure out a way to measure the phenomenon under study 2. Understanding and Prediction: a higher-level goal of science is understanding. Scientists believe that they understand events when they can explain the reasons for the occurring of the event. Hypothesis: a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables. Variables: any measurable conditions, events, characteristics, or behaviour that are controlled or observed in a study 3. Application and Control: scientists hope that the information they gather will be of some practical value in helping to solve every day problems  Theory: a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations  Theories permit psychologists to make a leap from the description of behaviour to the understanding of behaviour  A scientific theory must be testable Steps in a Scientific Investigation 1. Formulate a testable hypothesis o Translate a theory or intuitive idea into a testable hypothesis o To be testable, scientific hypotheses must be formulated precisely, and the variables under the study must be clearly defined o Operational Definition: describes the actions or operations that will be used to measure or control the variable 2. Select the research method and design the study o Figure out how to put the hypothesis to the empirical test o Research method depends of the nature of the question under the study o Participants/subjects: the persons or animals whose behaviour is systematically observed in a study 3. Collect the Data o Data collection technologies: procedures for making empirical observations and measurements 4. Analyze the data and draw conclusions o Observations in the study are usually converted into numbers o Researchers use statistics to analyze their data 5. Report the Findings o Scientific progress can only happen if researchers share their findings o Journal: a periodical that publishes technical and scholarly material, usually in a narrowly defined area of inquiry Advantages of the Scientific Approach  The scientific approach offers two major advantages: 1. Clarity and precision  Requires people to specify exactly what they are talking about when they formulate hypotheses 2. It's relative intolerance of error  Scientists are trained to be skeptical  Research methods: consist of various approaches to the observation measurement, manipulation, and control of variables in empirical studies Looking for Causes: Experimental Research  Experiment: 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 Independent and Dependent Variables  Independent variable: a condition or event that the experimenter varies in order to see its impact on another variable  The experimenter controls or manipulates the independent variable  Dependent variable: the variable that is thought to be affected by manipulation of the independent variable Experimental and Control Groups  In an experiment, the investigator typically gathers two groups of subjects that are treated differently based in the independent variable  Experimental group: consists of subjects who receive some special treatment in regard to the independent variable  Control group: a similar group of subjects who do not receive special treatment  It is crucial that the experimental and control group consist of alike subjects CONCEPT CHECK 2.1 (page 50) Extraneous Variables  It is impossible to ensure that the two groups (experimental and control) are alike in every aspect o They only have to be alike in aspects relevant to the dependent variable  Extraneous variables: any variables other than the independent variable that seem likely to influence the dependent variable in a specific study  Confounding of Variables: occurs when two variables are linked together in a way that makes it difficult to sort out their specific effects o When an extraneous variable is confounded with an independent variable, a researcher cannot tell which is having what effect on the dependent variable  Random Assignment: occurs when all subjects have an equal chance of being assigned to any group or condition in the study Variations in Designing Experiments  It is sometimes advantageous to use only one group of subjects as their own control group  It is possible to manipulate more than one independent variable in a single experiment  It is also possible to use more than one dependent variable in a single study Advantages and Disadvantages of Experimental Research  Its principle advantage is that it permits conclusions about cause-and-effect relationship between variables o Researchers are able to draw these conclusions about causation because the precise control available in the experiment allows them to isolate the relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variable  Experiments are often artificial o Researchers often have to construct simple, contrived situations to test their hypotheses experimentally  To avoid this, researchers conduct field experiments o Field experiments take place in everyday situations but it makes the researcher lost some of the control Looking for Links: Descriptive/Correlation Research Naturalistic Observation  Naturalistic Observation: the researcher engages in careful observation of behaviour without intervening directly with the research subjects or participants  Behaviour is able to unfold naturally (without interference) in its natural environment  Naturalistic observations allows researchers to study behaviour under conditions that are less artificial than in experiments  It can represent a good starting point when little is known about the behaviour under study  Can be used to study animal behaviour  Researchers often have trouble making their observations unobtrusively  Reactivity: occurs when a subjects behaviour is altered by the presence of an observer  It is difficult to translate naturalistic observations into numerical data Case Studies  Case Study: an in-depth investigation of an individual subject  When case studies are applied to victims of
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