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Chapter 2

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PSYC 1010
Doug Mc Cann

Chapter 2 – The Research Enterprise in Psychology  CASE STUDY  READ AGAIN FOR FURTHER CLARIFACTION Goals of the Scientific Enterprise  Psychologists and scientists share 3 interrelated goals: measurement and description, understanding and prediction and application & control  Measurement and description: requires that an investigator figure out a way to measure the phenomenon under study  The first goal of psych. is to develop measurement techniques that make it possible to describe behaviour clearly and precisely  Understanding and prediction: scientists believe that they understand events when they can explain the reasons for the occurrence of events  Scientists make and test predictions called a HYPOTHESIS  A Hypothesis is a tentative statements 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  Application and control: Scientists hope that the info they find is good for everyday problems  Once ppl understand phenomenon they can have more control over it  Today, psych. tries to apply research findings to practical problems  “How do theories help psychologists achieve their goals?”  A theory is a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations  Theories permit psychologists to make the leap from the description of behaviour to the understanding of behavior  Advanced understanding of theories guides future research  A scientific theory must be testable  Theory construction is a gradual, iterative process that is always subject for revision Steps In a Scientific Investigation  Curiosity about a question provides the point of departure for any kind of investigation (scientific or otherwise) Step 1: Formulate a Testable Hypothesis  Translate a theory or idea into a testable hypothesis  Hypotheses are expressed as predictions  To be testable a hypothesis must be formulated precisely and the variables under study must be defined  Operation definition describes the actions or operations that will be used to measure or control a variable Step 2: Select the Research Method and Design the Study  Second step: Put the hypothesis to an empirical test  The research method chosen depends on the nature of the question  Researcher ponders the pros and cons and then selects the strategy that appears to be the most appropriate  Participants or subjects are the persons or animals whose behaviour is systematically observed in the study Step 3: Collect the Data  Collect the data  Data collection techniques are procedures for making empirical observations and measurements FEATURED STUDY: Can Fear Increase Sexual Attraction?  READ FOR FURTHER CLARIFICATION Step 4: Analyze the Data and Draw Conclusions  Observations made in studies are converted to numbers that constitute the raw data of the study  Statistics are used to analyze data and decide whether or not the hypothesis has been supported Step 5: Report the Findings  The publication of research results is the fundamental aspect of scientific enterprise  Scientific progress can only be received when researchers share their findings with one another  The final step of scientific investigation is to write a summary of the study and its findings  They usually submit info to a journal for publications  A journal is a periodical that publishes technical and scholarly material, usually in a narrowly defined area of inquiry  The process of publishing scientific studies allows other experts to evaluate and critique new research findings  Sometimes critical analysis discloses flaws in the study; if the flaws are serious the study is discarded Advantages of the Scientific Approach  Scientific approach offers 2 major advantages  Clarity and Precisions: commonsense notions are vague and ambiguous  Requires that people specify exactly what they are talking about when they formulate a hypothesis  Relative intolerance of error: scientists are trained to be skeptical  Subject their ideas to empirical tests  Scrutinize one another’s findings with a critical eye  Demand objective data and documentation before accepting an idea  When 2 findings conflict, scientists try to figure out why by conducting additional research  Scientific approach tends to yield more accurate findings than casual analysis  Research Methods consist of various approaches to the observation, measurement, manipulation, and control of variables in empirical studies  No single research method is ideal for all purposes Looking for Causes: Experimental Research  The 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 a result  PSYCHOLOGISTS DEPEND ON THIS METHOD MORE THAN ANY OTHER  A well designed experiment must take into account a # of factors that could affect the clarity of the results Independent and Dependent Variables  The purpose of an experiment is to find out whether changes in one variable (“X”) causes in another variable (“Y”)  X – independent variable; Y- dependent variable  An independent variable is a condition or event that an experimenter varies in order to see its impact on another variable  Independent variable is what the experimenter controls or manipulates; hypothesized that this effects the dependent variable; experiment is conducted to verify this  Dependent variable is the variable that is thought to be affected by manipulation of the independent variable  In psych. the dependent variable is usually a measurement of some aspect of the participants’ behaviour  Independent is known as independent because its free to be varied by experimenter  Dependent is known as dependent because it depends on the manipulations of independent variable Experimental and Control Groups  2 groups of subjects are typically assembled when taking an experiment and are treated differently with regards to the independent variable  2 groups are referred as the control group and experimental group  The experimental group consists of the subjects who receive some special treatment in regard to the independent variable  The control group consists of similar subjects who do not receive the special treatment given to the experimental group  David Wolfe’s study: Interested in the effects of treatment on dating abuse on the part of male and female teens who were at risk of abusive relationships based on their own history of maltreatment and who were under protect, supervision or wardship order  It’s crucial that the experimental and control groups in a study be alike; except for the different treatment they will receive in respect to the independent variable Extraneous Variables  It’s impossible to ensure the 2 groups are the same in EVERY respect  Experimental and control groups have to be alike only on dimensions relevant to the dependent variable  Experimenters concentrate on having the groups be alike according to a limited # of variables that could have a bearing on the study’s results  Extraneous variables are any variables other than the independent and dependent variables in a specific study  A confounding of variables occurs when two variables are linked together in a way that makes it difficult to sort out their specific effects  When an extraneous variable is confounded with an independent variable the researcher can’t tell which is having what effect on the dependent variable  Unanticipated confounding of variables have wrecked a lot of experiments  The ability to foresee troublesome extraneous variables and control them to avoid confounding is a key quality to a talented experimenter  Random assignment of subjects occurs when all subjects have an equal chance of being assigned to any group or condition in the study Variations in Designing Experiments  Some experiments are conducted with 1 dependent and 1 independent variable  Wolfe’s experiment was an example of this  Many variations are possible in conducting experiments  It is sometimes advantageous to use only 1 group of subjects as their own control group  The effects of the IV are evaluated by exposing this single group to two different conditions; the experimental condition and a control condition  I.e the effects of loud music while doing work; expose the group to loud music and without music while working  When subjects serve as their own control group, the experiment is said to use a within-subjects design because comparisons are made within the group of participants  In contrast if two or more groups are used it’s called the between-subjects design because comparisons are made between two different groups of participants  Within-subjects aren’t used as frequently as between-subjects but are better for certain experiments  An interaction means the effect the variable has on another  It is possible to manipulate more than one independent variable in a single experiment  Researchers often manipulate multiple variables to see their joint effects on the dependent variables  It is also possible to use more than one dependent variable in a single study Advantages and Disadvantages of Experimental Research  Permits conclusions about cause and effect relationships between variables  Able to let researchers draw conclusions about causation because control in experiments allow them to isolate the relationship between IV and DV, while neutralizing EV  No other research method can duplicate this  Psychologists prefer to use this method whenever possible  Experiment has limitations  Experiments are often artificial; since researchers often construct situations to test hypotheses experimentally  When experiments are highly artificial doubts arise about the applicability in everyday behaviour outside lab; field experiment can fix this  Field experiments are research studies that use settings that are very much like real life  The researcher may sacrifice control over extraneous variables for greater generalizability  Field experiments are more generalizable and applicable to everyday life than artificial labs  Best strategy may be to use artificial and field experiments while researching  Experimental method can’t be used to explore some questions  Psychologists are interested in the effects of factors that cannot be manipulated as independent variables because of ethical concerns or practical realties  In some cases manipulations are difficult or impossible Looking for Links: Descriptive/Correlation Research  In some situations psychologists can’t exert experimental control over subjects because of ethical or practical reasons  Methods for descriptive/correlation research methods: naturalistic observation, case studies, and surveys  Researcher can’t manipulate variables under study; lack of control means that methods can’t be used to explain cause and effect relationships between variables  Descriptive/correlational methods permit investigators to only describe patterns r behaviour and discover links or associations between variables Naturalistic Observations  In naturalistic observation a researcher engages in careful observation of behaviour without intervening directly with the research subject or participants  Known as naturalistic because behaviour is allowed to unfold naturally in its natural environments  Researchers have to make careful plans to ensure systematic, consistent observations  I.e Drivers at a Yellow Light study  Naturalistic observation allows researchers to study behaviour under conditions that are less artificial  Naturalistic observation can be a good starting point in research when much isn’t known about the behaviour under study  Naturalistic observation can be used to study animal behaviour (unlike case studies and surveys)  I.e Jane Goodall  Major problem with naturalistic observation is that researchers often have trouble making their observations unobtrusively so they don’t affect their participants behaviours  Reactivity occurs when a subject’s behaviour is altered by the presence of an observer  Animals can exhibit reactivity as well Case Studies  A case study is an in-depth investigation of an individual subject  A variety of data collection techniques can be used in case studies: interviewing subjects, interviewing people who are very close to the subject, direct observation of subjects, examination of records, and psychological testing  Clinical psychologists who diagnose and treat psychological problems routinely do case studies  When clinicians assemble case studies for diagnostic reasons they are not conducting empirical research  Case study research involves investigators analyzing a collection of case studies to look for patterns that permit conclusions  Case studies are well suited for res
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