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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Reading Notes

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PSYC 2030
Krista Phillips

September 10, 2012 Chapter #1 Notes: Behavioral Research and the Scientific Method Why Study Research Methods and Data Analysis?  Traditionally reading, writing (‘riting), and arithmetic (‘rithmetic) are viewed as three R’s – fundamentals of education – now “researching” is considered the fourth (HULT, 1996)  Researching in high school involves systematically searching for and retrieving information  In college science courses it’s different – it’s still a systematic approach to exploring a question – it’s the scientific method  Varies from one research discipline to another (anthropology, biology, psychology)  Five reasons to know about scientific method if you’re not planning to become a researcher: 1) Our modern way of life closely related to science and technology, we enhance our understanding of the full range of this influence by learning about logic and evidence used by researchers to open up the world to scrutiny and explanation. i.e. paintings more meaningful when we know something about processes and creative ideas involved with its production. E.g., more meaningful to know that scientific poll of voters found Candidate X ahead of Candidate Y by 4 percentage points with a 5% margin of error… etc. 2) Not clearly understanding how researchers cast and address questions sometimes costs us. People in positions such as teachers, politicians, doctors, lawyers etc., have influence on our daily lives. Few people are aware of how researchers in various fields go about creating and testing hypotheses and theories that alter our understanding of the world. Understanding how this works can – studying conceptual basis of various research methods and having opportunity to conduct an empirical study and then to analyze and interpret it – will begin to sensitize us to difference between well-grounded scientific conclusions and dubious claims masquerading as generalizable facts – the latter is common. 3) To acquire information and skill that can be used later. You can use this in every day life – such as when viewing a website, you can learn to better evaluate credibility on this, what’s reported in the press, analyze numbers (statistical facts that are erroneous). Can learn how to avoid seeing something that isn’t there and not seeing something that is there (Type ½ errors. 4) Study and do research to learn about limits of particular studies and methods, not only those used in behavioral research. This includes limits imposed by institutional review boards for ethical purposes. Also covers techniques of how to overcome limitations. 5) Some students may find studying and doing behavioral research enjoyable and may pursue a career in it. Box 1.1 The Provisional Nature of Scientific Knowledge  All research is limited in some way no matter how carefully designed  Expansion of scientific knowledge is in a constant state of improvement  Philosophers and hsitorians of science speculate on the characteristics of this unending cycle of development  E.g., Thomas S. Kuhn: physicist turned scientific historian believes major advances in science appear as “paradigm shifts” resulting from revolutionary insights into the physical world in which we live  E.g., Karl Popper: Austrian-born British philosopher of science who compared progress in science with Charles Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest”. He believes scientific knowledge develops through a continuous process of empirically testing logical conjectures and eliminating those inferences that fail to survive these rigorous trials.  All scientists agree that: scientific knowledge is relative and provisional What Alternatives Are There to the Scientific Method?  Scientific method not the onl
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