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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - The Research Enterprise in Psychology

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PSYC 1010
Rebecca Jubis

Chapter 2: The Research Enterprise in Psychology The Scientific Approach to Behaviour Goals of the Scientific Enterprise - Interrelated goals of psychologists and scientists 1) Measurement and Description: o Must develop measurement techniques that make it possible to describe behaviour clearly and precisely 2) Understanding and Prediction: o Use hypothesis: tentative statement about two or more variables (prediction) Variables: measureable conditions, events, characteristics or behaviour that are controlled/observed in a study o Understanding = explaining why something happened 3) Application and Control: o Try to use research to solve practical problems - Theory: a system of interrelated ideas to explain a set of observations o Brings understanding about behaviour o Must be testable Most are too complex to test in their entirety Must test one or two hypotheses at a time If they support the hypothesis than the theory gains confidence and vice versa o Theory may have to revised or discarded SEE FIGURE 2.1 PG 48 Steps in a Scientific Investigation - Scientific investigations are systematic o Follow an orderly pattern Step 1: Formulate a Testable Hypothesis - Expressed as predictions (may be based on previous research) - Must be testable o Hypothesis is precise, variables are clearly defined Maintained using operational definitions: define what you are studying specifically enough that others know exactly what you are talking about in a certain circumstance May be different from the usual dictionary definition Ex: in the Featured Study sexual attraction was measured in two ways: amount of sexual imagery in participants Thematic Apperception Test and if they called their partner after the experiment Step 2: Select the Research Method and Design the Study - Must decide what type of empirical test will be used o Ex: experiment, case study, surveys, naturalistic observation - Determine the type of participants you want involved o Participants/subjects: people or animals whole behavior is systematically observed in a study Step 3: Collect the Data - There are many data collection techniques (procedures for making empirical observations and measurements) Step 4: Analyze the Data and Draw Conclusions - Observations are usually converted to numbers - Use statistics to analyze data and see whether or not it supports the hypothesis Step 5: Report the Findings - Must write a concise summary of what they found in their study o Usually delivered in a meeting and published in a scientific journal o Allows other academics to discuss and critique new research (possibly even discredit I if enough flaws are found) Gradually weeds out and errors or problems in a finding Advantages of the Scientific Approach - Two major advantages: o Clarity and precision Specificity guarantees that others know exactly what their hypothesis is referring to Increases communication and ideas o Relative intolerance of error (greatest advantage) Test all of their theories Treat any new theories of someone elses with great scrutiny Want empirical data of an idea before accepting it Any conflicts between two theories result in additional research Turns out more accurate info - Research methods: general strategies for conducting studies o Two basic types used in psych include: experimental and descriptive/correlational Looking for Causes: Experimental Research - Experiment: investigator manipulates variable X under carefully controlled conditions to see whether it causes any changes to occur in a second variable (Y) o Detects cause-and-effect relationships Independent and Dependent Variables - Experiments want to know how does X affect Y? o X = independent variable (experimenter manipulates this to observe its effects on another variable, Y) These effects are predicted in the hypothesis o Y = dependent variable (thought to be effected by the manipulation of the dependent variable, X) Experimental Control Groups - Experiments usually have two groups of participants 1) Experimental group: subjects receive some form of special treatment in regard to the independent variable 2) Control group: similar subjects that do not receive the special treatment given to the experimental group o The two groups must be treated exactly the same except in the case of the independent variable. This allows investigators to conclude that any changes between the two that do occur must have been because of the independent variable Extraneous Variables - It is not possible to ensure experimental and control groups are exactly the same except in regards to the independent variable o It is ok if they are only alike in regards to the dependent variable and the end results of the study Ex: hair colour may not be relevant in an experiment having to do with the consumption of food as a stress reliever o Variables that could have an effect on the outcome of the results (influence the dependent variable of a particular study) are called extraneous variables o Confounding a variable: happens when two variables are linked together in a way that makes it difficult to sort out their specific effects Interferes with the results of the study Affects the dependent variable, therefore researchers dont know whether the effects are caused by the independent or confounding variable or both Can be manipulated into a second independent variable Ex: in Featured Study, did the high bridge men call their female interviewers because their attraction was higher due to the fear they experienced on the bridge, or were they already outgoing to begin with (why they even picked the high bridge) Ex: expectation - One way to control extraneous variables: random assignment o Subjects must have an equal change at being part of the experimental or control group Ensures similarities between the groups Assumes that all individual difference variables are being evenly distributed among groups so that the groups are essentially the same, not necessarily individuals Works best when sample size is large Different from random selection, (where individuals are picked randomly) here individuals are grouped randomly Variations in Designing Experiments - Sometimes it is good to use one group of subjects who are their own control group
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