Goals of Scientific Enterprise
1. Measurement & description: develop measurement techniques that make it possible to
describe behaviour clearly
2. Understanding & prediction: scientists believe they can understand events when they can
explain why the event occurred
Hypothesis: a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables
3. Application & control: scientists hope the information they gather is relevant, resulting in
more control over the problem
Theory: a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations
Steps in a Scientific Investigation
1. Formulate testable hypotheses: variables must clearly be defined; operational definition:
describes the actions or operations that will be used to measure/control the variable.
2. Select the research method & design the study: figure out how to put the hypotheses to an
empirical test. Methods include experiments, case studies, surveys, naturalistic observation
etc. Researcher must weight pros & cons of each method in a given situation. Figure out
who/how many participants are needed.
3. Collect the data: can be done through direct observation (watch & record behaviour),
questionnaire (series of written questions), interview (face-to-face dialogue), psychological
test (used to assess mental abilities/personality traits), physiological recording (instrument
used to monitor/record blood pressure, heart rate etc), examination of records (analyzes
institutional records such as medical, educational etc).
4. Analyze the data & draw conclusion: usually converted into numbers; statistics
5. Report the findings: write up a summary of the study/findings in a journal. Journal: a
periodical that publishes technical & scholarly material.
Advantages of the Scientific Approach
Clarity & precision
Intolerance of error
Study: Can Fear Increase Sexual Attraction?
Hypotheses: an attractive female would be seen as more attractive by males who encounter
her while they experience strong emotion (fear) than by males not experiencing a strong
Participants: males between ages 18-35 who cross either of two bridges in Vancouver. The
“control” bridge was low, solid & unlikely to arouse fear or anxiety. The “experimental” bridge
was high & swayed, likely to arouse fear or anxiety.
Materials: participants completed the TAT (they’re asked to respond to stimuli which may
reveal their needs, feelings & personality traits).
Design: two independent variables; participants were approached after crossing either of the
bridges (first independent variable) by either a male or female (second independent variable)
Procedure: after crossing the bridge, the males were met by a male or female. They were
asked to fill out a questionnaire, included was a measure of sexual imagery taken from the
TAT. Participants were offered the male or females number in case they wanted to contact
them later about the study. If participants called more after crossing the high bridge, they
were more attracted to the female, mislabelling their fear as sexual attraction. The
dependent variable was the degree of sexual imagery participants’ responses to the TAT &
the number who crossed each bridge who called the male or female.
Results: prediction was correct; those who crossed the high bridge & were met by a female
showed more sexual arousal in their TAT scores than those who crossed the low bridge. A
higher number of males took the females number & called if they had crossed the high bridge
over the low one. If they were met by a male, they were less likely to call.
Independent & Dependent Variables
Experiment: a research method in which the investigator manipulates a variable under
carefully controlled conditions & observes whether any changes occur in a second variable as
We want to find out how variable “x” affects “y”
Independent variable: a condition that an experimenter varies in order to see its impact on
another variable. It is “free” to be varied by the experimenter
Dependent variable: the variable that’s thought to be affected by manipulation of the
independent variable. It’s usually a measurement of the participants’ behaviour. It “depends”
Experimental & Control Groups
Experimental group: consists of subjects who receive some special treatment in regard to the
Control group: consists of similar subjects who don’t receive the special treatments given to
the experimental group
Both groups have to be alike on dimensions relevant to the dependant variable
Extraneous variables: 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, making it difficult
to sort out their specific effects
Variations in Designing Experiments
It’s sometimes beneficial to use only one group of subjects who serve as their own control
group (studying the effects of loud music on typing performancegroup typing, with loud
music (experimental condition), & while music isn’t playing (control condition))
It’s possible to manipulate more than one independent variable in a single experiment (high
or low crossing bridge, & male or female at the end)
It’s possible to use more than one dependant variable in a single study (using a questionnaire
Advantages of Experimental Research
Precise control over variables
Ability to draw conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships
Disadvantages of Experimental Research
Experiments are often artificial; because experiments require great control over proceedings,
researches must construct simple situations to test
Ethical concerns & practical realities preclude experiments on many important questions. Ie.
You want to know whether being brought up in an urban as opposed to rural area affects
one’s values. An experiment would require you to assign similar families to live in rural or
urban areas which is impossible to do
Robert V. Levine & Ara Norenzayan wanted to study the pace of life around the world
Naturalistic observation: a researcher engages in careful observation of behaviour without
intervening directly with the subjects (happens naturally)
Goals of scientific enterprise: measurement & description: develop measurement techniques that make it possible to describe behaviour clearly, understanding & prediction: scientists believe they can understand events when they can explain why the event occurred. hypothesis: a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables: application & control: scientists hope the information they gather is relevant, resulting in more control over the problem. Theory: a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations. Methods include experiments, case studies, surveys, naturalistic observation etc. Researcher must weight pros & cons of each method in a given situation. Journal: a periodical that publishes technical & scholarly material. hypotheses: an attractive female would be seen as more attractive by males who encounter her while they experience strong emotion (fear) than by males not experiencing a strong emotion. Participants: males between ages 18-35 who cross either of two bridges in vancouver.