Chapter 3: Developing Ideas for Research in Psychology
Basic vs. Applied research
Basic research- describing, predicting, and explaining the fundamental principles of
behaviour and mental processes. (Just doing research to acquire more knowledge)
Example 1: skinner box (rats)- pressing bar for food- gathers more information on how
organisms learn through operant conditioning
Applied research- it has direct and immediate relevance to the solution of real-world
Example 1: doing researching to solve actual real life problems- take the information
learned from basic research and put into practical application or practise into the real
world. So when skinner did his research with rats in the skinner box (basic research) what
eventually happened was that the learning principles that were acquired were than put
into practice in real life situations.
Lab vs. Field Research
Lab- allows the researcher greater control; conditions of the study can be specified more
precisely, and participants can be selected and placed in different conditions of the study
• More control
• Criticized for being artificial and far removed from everyday life
Field- the environment more closely matches the situations we encounter in daily living.-
has better external validity
Conditions in a field can not be duplicated in a lab, it corrects misconceptions that occur
Basic research is usually conducted in a lab and applied research is usually conducted in
a field BUT NOT ALWAYS
Example`: interested in how people decide what seat there going to use when they go to
the library or when they get on a bus. If you were to do field research u would actually sit
down in the library or a bus and actually record what seats are being taken at first as
people come in. But you can do the same type of research in a lab, only difference here is
to basically say such and such seats were filled, where do u think you would mostly
likely sit. Mundane vs. Experimental realism
Mundane realism- refers to how closely a study mirrors real-life experiences-
Example: Milligrams study on obedience- he thought he was shocking other individuals
when he wasn’t at all (it doesn’t have a lot of mundane realism). Because you don’t see
people going up to people asking to go physically shock or harm another human being
Experimental realism- concerns the extent to which research study (whether in lab or in
a field) “has an impact on the subjects, forces them to take the matter seriously, and
involves them in the procedures” – researcher can draw valid conclusions about
• How much a person gets into the experiment- come apart of it –emotionally –
subject is serious about the being apart of the experiment
• Milligrams study had a lot of experimental realism-because each subject believed
they were delivering a electric shock to others and were anxious
Quantitative vs. Qualitative- (most research is quantitative)
Quantitative- data is collected and presented in the form of numbers- average scores for
different groups on some task, percentages, graphs
Qualitative- studies that collect interview information, case studies, and observational
1) They are answerable with data
2) Terms must be precisely defined
What is the relationship between belief in God and fear of death?
Does belief in God influence the pain threshold of terminally ill patients?
What is the effect of having an altruistic sibling on ones tendency to donate blood?
Construct- A hypothetical factor that can’t be observed directly.
• We infer its existence
• Ex. Intelligence is a construct, personality trait, anxiety – we assume these things
exist because we assume we can actually test these things in a indirect kind of
way – cant see with out own eyes
• There are many ways in describing constructs – you can define a construct in 10
different ways for example.
• Can’t directly measure, it’s not tangible.
• Abstract idea that has been created **OPERATIONAL DEFINITION (come up with a precise definition) – all concepts
should be defined- different ways in which things can be defined.
• Anxiety- heightened sense of arousal- how much should something be
heightened? What’s arousal? – can be measured through increase in heart rate,
tensed muscles, or a particular pattern of answers on a survey about anxious
• Example: Amount of heartbeats per second- you might say I’m going to measure
someone’s heart rate right now – telling them something you assume is going to
increase their level of anxiety, I’m now going to measure their hear rate once
again . So I’m going to define anxiety as an increase in heart rate – if you get an
increase of 10 beats per minute that’s how I’m going to define anxiety
(physiological operational definition).
• Another example: number of times that people bite their nails in a 50 minute
period, that can be a operational definition of anxiety
• Self- report- on a scale of 1-7 how anxious do you feel?
• Number of times people stutter when giving a certain speech
• Another example: Say you are doing an experiment on altruism where you
pretend to trip down some stairs or something and to see if people "help" you. The
word help needs to be operationally defined. It could be only when people help
you up, or it could be if people just offer to help and ask if you are OK. You can
define it in any of the ways that you have mentioned. The important thing is that
you are specific in your definition (as you have been) so that anyone who wants to
replicate your study would know how to measure "helping".
• Occurs when the results of several studies, each defining it’s terms with slightly
different operational definitions, converge on the same conclusion
• Converging- means things coming together, to a focal point, and so the question
here is, you might have 5 different researchers operationalizing the term in a
slightly different way, but yet their results that are predicted through your
hypothesis all come out as predicted. If that actually happens that’s basically a
good thing – way of making you have more confidence that this construct really
• If you say frustration causes aggression and 5 different researchers went about
producing frustration in different ways and I still found that all of those 5
different types of supposeded frustrations all led to, (all converged) to the same
results, same conclusions then that’s making you feel more confident that this
thing called frustration does exist and can probably be actually created in a variety
of different ways
• Frustration= IV , aggression= DV, you have to operationlize each- how you going
to define frustration?
• Example: make someone frustrated by making them sit in a room, and crank up
the temperature- its going to be too warm= frustration • Or length off time someone is sitting in a traffic jam= frustration+ aggression-