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Chapter 2

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Mamdouh Shoukri

Lesson 2 1) The scientific approach to behaviour a. Goals of the scientific enterprise: three sets of interrelated goals i. Measurement and description: measure the phenomenon under study. The first goal of psychology is to develop measurement techniques that make it possible to describe behaviour clearly and precisely ii. Understanding and prediction: understand events when they can explain the reasons for the occurrence of the event. Hypothesis: 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. iii. Application and control: design a scientific examination of the intervention’s effectiveness. Construct theory: a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observation. Theories permit psychologists to make the leap from the description of behaviour to the understanding of behaviour. A scientific theory must be testable. Most theories are too complex to be tested all at once. theory: a coherent network of explanatory ideas hypotheses:specific revise refinethe predictionsderived theory from the theory empiricalresearch confidencein conductstudy to theory decreases test hypotheses Discard the theory Confidence in theory increase b. Steps in a scientific investigation: systematic i. Formulate a testable hypothesis: translate a theory or an intuitive idea into a testable hypothesis. To be testable, scientific hypotheses must be formulated precisely, and the variables under study must be clearly defined. Researchers achieve these clear formulations by providing operational definitions of the relevant variables. An operational definition describes the actions or operations that will be used to measure or control a variable. Operational: establish precisely what is meant by each variable in the context of a study. ii. Select the research method and design the study: how to put the hypothesis to an empirical test. Participants, or subjects, are the persons or animals whose behaviour is systematically observed in a study. iii. Collect the data: researchers use a variety of data collection techniques: direct observation, questionnaire, interview, psychological test, physiological recording, and examination of archival records, which are procedures for making empirical observations and measurements. iv. Analyze the data and draw conclusions: the observations made in a study are usually converted into numbers, which constitute the raw data of the study. Use statistics to analyze their data and to decide whether their hypotheses have been supported. v. Report the findings: write up a concise summary of the study and its findings. A journal is a periodical that publishes technical and scholarly material, usually in a narrowly defined area of inquiry. Critique new research finds by other scientist. vi. Key data collection techniques in psychology c. d. Advantages of the scientific approach: two i. Its clarity and precision: commonsense notions about behaviour tend to be vague and ambiguous. The scientific approach requires that people specify exactly what they are talking about when they formulate hypotheses. ii. Its relative intolerance of error (greatest): demand objective data and thorough documentation before they accept ideas. iii. Research methods consist of various approaches to the observation, measurement, manipulation, and control of variables in empirical studies. 2) Looking for causes: experimental research: 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 result. a. Independent and dependent variables (Dutton and Aron) i. An independent variable is a condition or event that an experimenter varies in order to see its impact on another variable. Experimenter controls or manipulates this. It is free to be varied. ii. Dependent variable is the variable that is thought to be affected by manipulation of the independent variable. b. Experimental and control groups: two (David Wolfe) i. The experimental group consists of the subjects who receive some special treatment in regard to the independent variable. ii. The control group consists of similar subjects who do not receive the special treatment given to the experimental group. c. Extraneous variables (Dutton and Aron) i. Extraneous (secondary, nuisance) variables are any variables other than the independent variable that seem likely to influence the dependent variable in a specific study. ii. Confounding of variables occurs when two variables are linked together in a way that makes it difficult to sort out their specific effects. iii. Random assignment of subjects occurs when all subjects have an equal chance of being assigned to any group or condition in the study. d. Variations in designing experiments i. It is sometimes advantageous to use only one group of subjects who serve as their won control group. The effects of the independent variable are evaluated by exposing this single group to two different conditions—an experimental condition and a control condition. This approach would ensure that the participants in the experimental and control conditions would be alike on any extraneous variables involving their personal characteristics. ii. It is possible to manipulate more than one independent variable in a single experiment. The main advantage of this approach is that it permits the experimenter to see whether two variables interact. An interaction means that the effect of one variable depends on the effect of another. iii. It is also possible to use more than one dependent variable in a single study. e. Advantages and disadvantages of experimental research i. Its principal advantage is that it permits conclusions about cause- and-effect relationships between variables. ii. 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 variables, while neutralizing the effects of extraneous variable. No other can do it. iii. The experimental method can’t be used to explore some research questions. iv. Limitation: experiments are often artificial. This approach allows the experimenter to manipulate a variable, however, critics have pointed out that having a participant read a short case summary and make an individual decision cannot really compare to the complexities of real trials. When experiments are highly artificial, doubts arise about the applicability of findings to everyday behaviour outside the experimental laboratory. Ethical concerns and practical realities preclude experiments on many important questions. 3) Looking for links: descriptive/correlational research a. Naturalistic observation (Lavine and Norenzayan, 1999) i. In naturalistic observation, a researcher engages in careful observation of behaviour without intervening directly with the subjects. ii. The major strength of naturalistic observation is that it allows researchers to study behaviour under conditions that are less artificial than in experiments. Can be good place to start when little is known about phenomena under study. iii. A major problem with this method is that researchers often have trouble making their observations unobtrusively so they don’t’ affect their participants’ behaviour. Can’t explain why certain patterns of behaviours were observed. b. Case studies (Henriksson, Finland 1993) i. A case study is an indepth investigation of an individual subject. ii. When this method applied to victims of suicide, the case studies are called psychological autopsies. iii. Interviewing people, direct observation examination of records and psychological testing. iv. Clinical psychologists, who diagnose and treat psychological problems. Routinely do case studies of their clients. But they are not conducting empirical research. v. Case study research typically involves investigators analyzing a collection of case studies to look for patterns that permit general conclusion. vi. The main strength of case studies is it can provide compelling, real-life illustrations that bolster a hypothesis or theory. It is also particularly well suited for investigating certain phenomena, such as psychological disorders and neuropsychological issues. vii. The main problem: highly subjective. It is easy for investigator to see what they expect to see in case study research. c. Surveys i. Survey: researchers use questionnaires or interviews to gather information about specific aspects of participants’ behaviour. ii. The main strengths: Surveys are often used to obtain information on aspects of behaviour that are difficult to observe directly. It is also make it relatively easy to collect data on attitudes and opinions from large samples participants. iii. The main problem with survey is that they depend on self-report data. In addition, not all surveys are conducted with care. They are often unreliable, due to intentional deception, social desirability bias, response sets, memory lapses, and wishful thinking. d. Tests i. Psychological tests, sometimes called assessment instruments, are procedures for measuring and evaluating personality traits, emotions, aptitudes, interests, abilities, and values. ii. Objective tests, also called inventories, measure beliefs, feelings, or behaviours of which an individual is aware. iii. Projective tests are designed to tap unconscious feeling or motives. iv. One test of a good test is whether it is standardized—whether uniform procedures exist for giving and scoring the test. v. Norms: in test construction, established standard of performance. vi. For one thing the test must be reliable—that is, it must produce the same results from one time and place to the next or from one scorer to another. vii. To be useful, a test must also be valid, which means that it must measure what it sets out to measure. e. Advantages and disadvantages of descriptive/correlational research i. Advantage: They give researchers a way to explore questions that could not e examined with experimental procedures. This method broadens the scope of phenomena that psychologists are able to study. ii. Disadvantages: investigators cannot control events to isolate cause and effect. Consequently, correlational research cannot demonstrate conclusively that two variable are causally related. 4) Looking for conclusions: statistics and research: statistics is the use of mathematics to organize summarize, and interpret numerical data. a. Descriptive statistics: are used to organize a summarize data. Provide an overview of numerical data. i. Central tendency: the score that falls exactly in the center of a distribution of scores. Mean (most useful but is sensitive to extreme scores): the arithmetic average of the scores in a distribution. Mode: the most frequent score in a distribution. Median. ii. Variability: refers to how much the scores in a data set vary from each other and from the mean. Standard deviation: index of the amount of variability in a set of data. High variability leads high standard deviation. iii. Correlation: exists when two variables are related to each other. Correlation coefficient is a numerical index of the degree of relationship between two variables. It indicates: the direction (positive or negative) of the relationship and how strongly the two variables are relative. iv. Positive versus negative correlation: (only direction not strength) 1. Positive: two variables co-vary in the same direction. 2. Negative: two variables co-vary in the opposite direction. v. Strength of the correlation: the size of the coefficient indicates the strength of an association between two variables. The strength of a correlation depends only on the size of the coefficient. +1.00 or - 1.00 indicates a perfect, one to one correspondence between the two variables. Near 0 indicates no relationship between the variables. vi. Correlation and prediction: as a correlation increases in strength (get closer to either -1
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