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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Part II PS101.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PS101
Professor
Carolyn Ensley

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PS101 Chapter 2 – The Research Enterprise in Psychology {continued} Week 3 Looking for Links: Descriptive/Correlational Research -In some situations, psychologists cannot exert experimental control over the variables they want to study, for either ethical or practical reasons -In such situations, investigators must rely on descriptive/correlational research methods – observation, case studies, and surveys -The lack of control means that these methods cannot be used to demonstrate cause-and-effect relationships between variables -Descriptive/correlational methods permit investigators to only describe patterns of behaviour and discover links or associations between variables Naturalistic Observation -In naturalistic observation a research engages in careful observation of behaviour without intervening directly with the research subjects or participants -Behaviour is to unfold in its natural environment -Naturalistic observation allows researchers to study behaviour under conditions that are less artificial than in experiments -Can be used to study animal behaviour -Often, researchers have trouble making their observations unobtrusively so they don’t affect their participants’ behaviour -Reactivity occurs when a subject’s behavior is altered by the presence of an observer -It is often difficult to translate naturalistic observations into numerical data that permit precise statistical analyses Case Studies -A case study is an in-depth investigation of an individual subject -When this method is applied to victims of suicide, the case studies are called psychological autopsies -Typical techniques are interviewing the subjects, interviewing people who are very close to the subjects, direct observation, examination of records, and psychological testing -Clinical psychologists, who diagnose and treat psychological problems, routinely do case studies of their clients – they are not conducting empirical research -Case study research typically involves investigators analyzing a collection of case studies to look for patterns that permit general conclusions -Case studies are particularly well suited for investigating certain phenomena, such as psychological disorders and neuropsychological issues -Case studies can also provide compelling, real life illustrations that bolster a hypothesis or theory -Case studies are highly subjective - information from several sources must be knit together in an impressionistic way – it is relatively easy for investigator to see what they expect to see in case study research Surveys -In a survey, researchers use questionnaires or interviews to gather information about specific aspects of participants’ behaviour -Surveys are often used to obtain information on aspects of behaviour that are difficult to observe directly -The problem with surveys is that they depend on self-report data – intentional deception, wishful thinking, memory lapses PS101 Chapter 2 – The Research Enterprise in Psychology {continued} Week 3 -Sampling bias Advantages and Disadvantages of Descriptive/Correlational Research -As a whole, the foremost advantage of these methods is that they give researchers a way to explore questions that could not be examined with experimental procedures -Descriptive/correlational research broadens the scope of phenomena that psychologists are able to study -Correlational research cannot demonstrate conclusively that two variables are causally related Variability -Variability refers to how much the scores in a data set vary from each other and from the mean -The simplest we use is range (highest number – smallest number) -The standard deviation is an index of the amount of variability in a set of data -It gives you a measure of how the scores in your sample cluster around the average -The normal distribution is a symmetrical, bell-shaped curve that represents the pattern in which many human characteristics are dispersed in the population -When a trait is normally distributed, most scores all near the centre of the distribution (mean) and the number of scores gradually decline as one moves away from the centre in either direction -68% of scores are within one standard deviation, 95% within two, and 99.7% within 3 -A percentile score indicates the percentage of people who score at or below a particular score Correlation -A correlation exists when two variables are related to each other -The correlation coefficient is a numerical index of the degree of relationship between two variables – it indicates the direction of the relationship and how strongly the two variables are related Positive versus Negative Correlation -A positive correlation means the two variables co-vary in the same direction and vice versa -The strength of the correlation is measured between 0 and 1 (1 is a strong correlation) -As a correlation increases in strength, the ability to predict one variable based on knowledge of the other variable increases Correlation and Causation -Although a high correlation allows us to predict one variable from another it does not tell us whether a cause-and-effect relationship exists between the two variables -Just because there is a correlation does not mean it is always the causation Inferential Statistics -Inferential statistics are used to interpret data and draw conclusions -Working with the laws of probability, researchers use inferential statistics to evaluate the possibility that their results might be due to the fluctuations of chance -When statistical calculations indicate that research results are no likely to be due to chance, the results are said to be statistically significant -Statistical significance is said to exist when the probability that the observed findings are due to chance is very low -Statistically significant findin
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