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Chapter 2

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York University
PSYC 1010
Jennifer Steeves

Psychology Chapter 2 Chapter 2: The Research Enterprise in Psychology The Scientific Approach to Behaviour  Goals of the Scientific Enterprise o 1. Measurement and Description  Investigator figure out a way to measure the phenomenon under study  Develop measuring techniques that make it possible to describe behaviour clearly and precisely o 2. Understanding and prediction  To evaluate their understanding, they make and test predictions via hypothesis  Hypothesis: relationship between two or more variables  Variables: measurable conditions, events, characteristics, or behaviours that are controlled or observed in the study o 3. Application and control  Apply research findings to practical problems  Also after applying an intervention, should examine the interventions effectiveness  By integrating apparently unrelated facts and principles into a coherent whole, theories permit psychologists to make the leap from the description of behaviour to the understanding of behaviour  Scientific theory must be testable  Steps in a Scientific Investigation o 1. Formulate a Testable Hypothesis  Operational definition  Describes the actions or operations that will be used to measure or control a variable o 2. Select the Research Method and Design the Study o 3. Collect the Data  Data Collection Techniques  Which are procedures for making empirical observations and measurements 1 Psychology Chapter 2 Technique Description Direct Observation Observers are trained to watch and record behaviours as objectively and precisely as possible. They have use some instrumentation, such as stopwatch or video recorder Questionnaire Subjects are administered a series of written questions designed to obtain information about attitudes, opinions, and specific aspects of their behaviour Interview A face-to-face dialogue is conducted to obtain information about specific aspects of a subject’s behaviour Psychological Test Subjects are administered a standardized measure to obtain a sample of their behaviour. Tests are usually used to access mental abilities or personality traits Psychological Recording An instrument is used to monitor and record a specific psychological process in a subject. Example: blood pressure, heart rate Examination of Archival Records The researcher analyzes existing institutional records (the archives), such as census, economic, medical, legal, educations and business records o 4. Analyze the Data and Draw Conclusions  Statistics play an essential role o 5. Report the Findings  Advantages of the Scientific Approach o 1. Clarity and Precision  Clarity and precision enhances communication about important ideas o 2. Relative Intolerance of Error  Scientists are trained to be skeptical  Yield more accurate and dependable information 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 a result  Independent and Dependent Variables o We want to find out how X affects Y o Therefore X as independent variable and Y as dependent variable o Independent variable  Is a condition or vent that an experimenter varies in order to see its impact on another variable; “free” to be varied 2 Psychology Chapter 2 o Dependent variable  Is the variable that is thought to be affected by manipulation of the independent variable  Usually a measurement of some aspect of participants behaviour  Experimental and Control Groups o Experimental Group  Consists of subjects who receive some special treatment in regard to the independent variable o Control Group  Consists of similar subjects who do NOT receive the special treatment given to the experimental group  Extraneous Variables o Extraneous Variables  Are any variables other than the independent variable that seem likely to influence the dependent variable on a specific study o 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 o Random assignment  Of subjects occur when all subjects have an equal change of being assigned to any group or condition in the study  Variations in Designing Experiments o 1. It is sometimes advantageous to use only one group of subjects who serve as their own control group  Independent variable are evaluated by exposing this single group to two different conditions  Participants would be alike in extraneous variables  Within-subjects design:  Because comparisons are made within the same group of participants  Between-subject design  When two or more independent groups of subjects are exposed to a manipulation of an independent variable o 2. It is possible to manipulate more than one independent variable in a single experiment  Main advantage: it permits the experimenter to see whether two variables interact o 3. It is also possible to use more than on dependent variable in a single study  To get a more complete picture of how experimental manipulations affects subject’s behaviour 3 Psychology Chapter 2  Advantages and Disadvantages of Experimental Research o 1. Permits conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships between variables  Conclusions about causations  LIMITATIONS:  1. Artificial o Because require great control over proceedings o HOW to address this?  Field experiment  Sacrifice some control over extraneous variables for greater generalizability  2. Experimental method can’t be used to explore some research questions o Rely on descriptive/correlational research methods  Include naturalistic observation, case studies and surveys  Cannot manipulate variables  Therefore cannot use to demonstrate cause-and-effect relationship between variables  Permits investigators to only describe patterns of behaviour and discover links and associations between variables Looking for Links: Descriptive/Correlational Research  Naturalistic Observation o A researcher engages in careful observation of behaviour without intervening directly with the research subjects or participants o Termed this way because behaviour is allowed to unfold naturally in its natural environment o STRENGTH: allows researchers to study behaviour under conditions that are less artificial than in experiments  ALSO: good starting point to an unknown behaviour  Can be used to study animal behaviour o PROBLEM: researchers o
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