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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Research Methods in Psychology.pdf

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York University
PSYC 2510
Agnieszka Kopinska

Chapter 2: Research Methods in Psychology Monday, September 19, 212:00 PM Research & Understanding - Psychology is empirical - Psychologists seek to better understand human behavior by posing research questions Ways of Knowing - Authority: accepting the validity of a claim because an expert or someone in authority is the source of the information ○ Remember that authorities can be wrong - Use of reason: using logic to determine the truth of a statement ○ Depends on the truth value of the premises ○ Eg., All students love psychology. Students do well in the subjects they love. Therefore, all students will do well in their psychology class. - Experience: personal experiences are valuable but they are limited ○ Possibility of biased interpretations Science as a Way of Knowing - Researchers are humans: they can also be influenced by authority, experience, and the use of reason… - They use research methods to promote the objectivity (and validity) of their research findings Attributes of Scientific Research - Assumes statistical determinism ○ Events can be predicted with a probability greater than chance (not 100%) - Makes systematic observations that involve: ○ Precise definitions of the phenomena being measured ○ Reliable and valid measuring tools and generally accepted research methodology ○ A system of logic for drawing conclusions - Produces public knowledge - Produces tentative conclusions ○ Theories evolve and should be revised based on new data - Falsification: Science develops theories that can be disproven ○ Research questions must be sufficiently detailed to be replicated by other researchers Unit 1 Page 1 Important Concepts - Hypothesis ○ An educated guess about a relationship between variables that is then tested empirically - Variables ○ Any measurable factor, condition, event, trait, or behavior that are controlled or examined/measured in a study ○ E.g., height, weight, depressive symptomatology, cognitions, attitudes, etc. - Theory ○ A system of interrelated ideas Step 1: Formulate a testable hypothesis - Operationally define the variables under study ○ Hypothesis: Teenage girls have lower self-esteem than younger girls vs. ○ Testable Hypothesis: Girls ages 13 to 18 will obtain lower scores on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale than girls ages 6 to 12. Step 2: Select a research method and design - Studies can be conducted in many ways ○ E.g., experiment, survey, case study, observation, archival data - It is important to choose the method that is best suited to the question that you want to answer Step 3: Collect the Data - Data are collected in a variety of ways Unit 1 Page 2 - Data are collected in a variety of ways ○ Direct observations, questionnaires, interviews, psychological tests, physiological recording - Each data collection method has its own strengths and limitations ○ Choose wisely based on your research question, sample characteristics, resources (time, funding, etc.) Step 4: Analyze and Interpret the Data - Data are typically analyzed statistically to determine whether results support hypotheses or fail to support them - Based on statistical results, researchers interpret the findings ○ What does this mean? ○ What other factors have we overlooked that could have explained these findings? ○ What are the limitations of our study? ○ Can these findings be generalized to the real world or other circumstances? ○ Implications for future research? Step 5: Report the Findings - Findings must be shared with the public and the scientific community to foster growth in a field, allow for falsification, and avoid the duplication of efforts - Dissemination of findings - Publication of findings Experimental Research - The researcher manipulates a variable (the Independent Variable or IV) under controlled conditions and observes any changes in a second variable (the Dependent Variable or DV) as a result of the manipulation - How does the IV affect the DV? - Goal is to detect cause-and-effect relationships Experiment Example - A researcher hypothesizes that watching TV for long periods of time can decrease optimism about one's future ○ Condition 1: No TV for 5 days ○ Condition 2: Watch 2 hours of TV per day for 5 days ○ Condition 3: 4 hours of TV per day for 5 days - Gagnier Scale of Optimism at the start and at the end of the study - Independent Variable: Optimism - The TV groups (2 or 4 hrs) were experimental groups ○ Participants were subjected to the experimental manipulation - "No TV group" was the control group ○ Control Group: Group of participants that theoretically display the same characteristics as the participants in the experimental group(s), but do not receive the manipulation or special treatment - We assume that the experimental and control groups are alike except for the experimental manipulation (IV) - It is not possible to ensure that two groups are identical in every respect - Extraneous Variable ○ Any uncontrolled factor tha is not of interest to the researcher but could affect the results ○ E.g., the level of physical activity of participants - Confounding Variable (Confound) ○ Any ext
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