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Chapter 2

Ch. 2 - The Research Enterprise in Psychology.docx

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PSYC 1010
Jennifer Steeves

Chapter 2: The Research Enterprise in Psychology - Themes that emerge can be identified by interviewing clients and studying videos or transcripts of psychotherapy sessions - Quantitative methods which are designed primarily to examine cause-and-effect relationships where variables may be defined ahead of time and where the data are numerical - “Quantitative researchers make empirical observations of the work and report these observations as narratives.” - Quantitative methods are dominant The Scientific Approach to Behaviour - Three sets of interrelated goals o Measurement and Description: Science’s commitment to observation requires that an investigator figure out a way to measure the phenomenon under study. For example, if you were interested in the effects of different situations on emotion, you would first develop some means of measuring emotions. Thus, the first goal of psychology is to develop measurement techniques that make it possible to describe behaviour clearly and precisely. o 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 occurrence of the events. To evaluate their understanding, scientists make and test predictions called hypotheses. A hypothesis is 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. o Application and Control: Ultimately, many scientists hope that the information they gather will be of some practical value in helping to solve everyday problems. Once people understand a phenomenon, they often can exert more control over it. Today, the profession of psychology attempts to apply research findings to practical problems in schools, businesses, factories, and mental hospitals. EXAMPLE ON PAGE 45 - A theory is a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations - Scientific theory must be testable Steps in a Scientific Investigation Step 1: Formulate a Testable Hypothesis - Hypotheses are expressed as predictions - Hypotheses must be formulated precisely, and the variables under study must be clearly defined - An operational definition describes the actions or operations that will be used to measure of control a variable Step 2: Select the Research Method and Design the Study - Put hypothesis to empirical test - Methods o Experiments, case studies, surveys, naturalistic observation, etc. - Researcher has to ponder pros and cons then select - Participants, or subjects, are the persons or animals whose behaviour is systematically observed in a study Step 3: Collect the Data - Data collection techniques, which are procedures for making the empirical observations and measurements Step 4: Analyze the Data and Draw Conclusions - Researchers use statistics to analyze their data and to decide whether their hypotheses have been supported Step 5: Report the Findings - Scientific progress occurs when researchers share info with one another - Researchers prepare a journal to share o A journal is a periodical that publishes technical and scholarly material, usually in a narrowly defined area of inquiry Advantages of the Scientific Approach - Scientific Approach offers two main advantages o Clarity and Precision o Greater advantage: relative tolerance of error - Research methods consist of various approaches to the observation, measurement manipulation, and control of variables in empirical studies. o No single research method is ideal for all purposes and situations 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 Independent and Dependent Variables - An independent variable is a condition or event that an experimenter varies in order to see its impact on another variable - The dependent variable is the variable that is thought to be affected by manipulation of the independent variable. - Dependent variable depends on manipulations of the independent variable Experimental and Control - Two groups in an experiment o The experimental group consists of the subjects who receive some special treatment in regard to the independent variable. o The control group consists of similar subjects who do not receive the special treatment given to the experimental group - Experimental and control groups must be alike, except for different treatment. Extraneous Variables - Experimenters did not have to worry about hair colour, height, interest etc., but they needed to focus on extraneous or secondary variables. o Extraneous variables are any variables other than the independent variable that seem likely to influence the dependent variable 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 - Unanticipated confounding of variables have wrecked innumerable experiments - Experimenters assign experimental and control groups randomly o Random assignment of subjects occurs when all subjects have an equal chance of being assigned to any group or condition Variations in Designing Experiments - Sometimes advantageous to use only one group of subjects who serve as their own control group o Ensures that participants would be alike on any extraneous variables - 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 o More complete picture of how experimental manipulation affects subjects’ behaviour Advantages and Disadvantages of Experimental Research - Researchers can draw conclusions because of the control which allows them to isolate the relationship between independent and dependent variable, and neutralizing effects of extraneous variables - When experiments artificial, doubts arise o Conduct a field experiment  Field experiments are research studies that use settings that are very much like real life; and may occur in the context of everyday life and events - Some researchers may sacrifice control for greater generalizability - Experimental methods can’t be used to explore some research questions - Sometimes manipulations of variables are impossible Review of Key Points - Experimental research involves manipulation of independent to determine effect on dependent; done by comparing experimental and control groups. - Difference between dependent would be because of manipulation of the independent variable, without confounds - Experimental Designs may vary - Experiment – powerful research method that permits conclusions about cause and effect relationships between variables, but not used often because of specific problem, and many experiments tend to be artificial. Looking for Links: Descriptive / Correlational Research - Researchers may want to rely on descriptive/correlational research methods o Include naturalistic observation, case studies, and surveys o Researchers cannot manipulate variables under study; cannot be used to demonstrate cause-and-effect relationships o Descriptive/correlational methods permit investigators to only describe patterns of behaviour and discover links or associations between variables Naturalistic Observation - In naturalistic observation, a researcher engages in careful observation of behaviour without intervening directly with the research subjects or participants o Behaviour is allowed to unfold naturally - EAR – Electronically activated recorder – unobtrusive, portable, audio recorder carried by participants that periodically records conversations and other ambient sounds - Reactivity occurs when a subject’s behaviour is altered by the presence of an observer - Often too difficult to translate naturalistic observations into numerical data Case Studies - A case study is an in-depth investigation of an individual subject o Suicide = Psychological Autopsies - 93% of suicides, victim suffered from psychological disorder - Case Study Research involves investigators analyzing a collection of case studies to look for patterns - Case studies provide compelling, real life illustrations that bolster a hypothesis or theory - Main problem – highly subjective Surveys - In a survey, researchers use questionnaires or interviews to gather information about specific aspects of participants’ behaviour - Can also be used to gather information on important social issues - Surveys make collecting information much easier - Depend on self-report data - Not all surveys conducted with care o Bias Advantages and Disadvantages of Descriptive/Correlational Research - PAGE 57 FOR KEY RESEARCH METHODS - Descriptive/Correlational research broadens the scope of phenomena that psychologists are able to study - Descriptive method – Investigators cannot control events to isolate cause and effect - Correlational research cannot demonstrate conclusively that two variables are causally related. - All you can conclude is they are similar, cannot draw any further conclusions about which fact
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