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Chapter 2

PSYC 1010 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Thematic Apperception Test, Naturalistic Observation, Participant Observation

Course Code
PSYC 1010
Rebecca Jubis

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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:
oMust develop measurement techniques that make it possible to describe behaviour
clearly and precisely
2) Understanding and Prediction:
oUse hypothesis: tentative statement about two or more variables (prediction)
Variables: measureable conditions, events, characteristics or behaviour
that are controlled/observed in a study
oUnderstanding = explaining why something happened
3) Application and Control:
oTry to use research to solve practical problems
- Theory: a system of interrelated ideas to explain a set of observations
oBrings understanding about behaviour
oMust 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
oTheory may have to revised or discarded
Steps in a Scientific Investigation
- Scientific investigations are systematic
oFollow an orderly pattern
Step 1: Formulate a Testable Hypothesis
- Expressed as predictions (may be based on previous research)
- Must be testable
oHypothesis 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
oEx: experiment, case study, surveys, naturalistic observation
- Determine the type of participants you want involved

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oParticipants/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
oUsually delivered in a meeting and published in a scientific journal
oAllows 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:
oClarity and precision
Specificity guarantees that others know exactly what their hypothesis is
referring to
Increases communication and ideas
oRelative intolerance of error (greatest advantage)
Test all of their theories
Treat any new theories of someone else’s 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
oTwo 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)
oDetects cause-and-effect relationships
Independent and Dependent Variables
- Experiments want to know how does X affect Y?
oX = independent variable (experimenter manipulates this to observe its effects on
another variable, Y)
These effects are predicted in the hypothesis
oY = dependent variable (thought to be effected by the manipulation of the
dependent variable, X)

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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
oThe 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
Extraneous Variables
- It is not possible to ensure experimental and control groups are exactly the same except in
regards to the independent variable
oIt 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
oVariables that could have an effect on the outcome of the results (influence the
dependent variable of a particular study) are called extraneous variables
oConfounding 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 don’t 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
oSubjects must have an equal change at being part of the experimental or control
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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