Chapter 2 The Research Enterprise in Psychology Outline Notes

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Rutgers University
Professor Stephen Killianski

LookingforLaws: The Scientific ApproachtoBehavior Wednesday,November 21, 2012 9:15PM • The scientific approach assumes that events are governed by some lawful order • Goals of the Scientific Enterprise ○ Measurement and description  the first goal of psychology is to develop measurement techniques that make is possible to describe behavior clearly and precisely ○ Understanding and prediction  scientists understand events when they can explain the reasons for the occurrence of the events □ hypothesis- a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables  variables- are any measurable conditions, events, characteristics, or behaviors that are controlled or observed in a study ○ Application and control  once a phenomenon is understood, psychologists can exert more control over it and apply research findings to practical problems in schools, businesses, factories, and mental hospitals ○ To build toward a better understanding of behavior, psychologists construct theories  theory- is a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations □ theories permit psychologists to make the leap from the description of behavior to the understanding of behavior ○ In a typical study, investigators test one or two specific hypotheses derived from a theory  if their findings support they hypotheses, confidence in the theory that the hypotheses were derived from grows • Steps in a Scientific Investigation 1. Formulate a Testable Hypothesis 1. translate a theory or an intuitive idea into a testable hypothesis 2. variables must be clearly defined by providing operational definitions of the relevant variables 1. operational definition- describes the actions or operations that will be used to measure or control a variable 1. establish precisely what is meant by each variable in the context of a study 2. Select the Research Method and Design the Study 1. figure out how to put the hypothesis to an empirical test 2. once researchers have chosen a general method, they must make detailed plans for executing their study 1. participants(subjects)- are the persons or animals whose behavior is systematically observed in a study 3. Collect the Data 1. data collection techniques- procedures for making empirical observations and measurements 1. include direct observation, questionnaires, interviews, psychological tests, physiological recordings, and examination of archival records 2. technique largely depends on what is being investigated 4. Analyzethe Data and Draw Conclusions 1. researchers use statistics to analyze their data and to decide whether their hypotheses have been supported 5. Report the Findings 1. scientific progress can be achieved only if researchers share their findings with one another and with the general public 2. final step in a scientific investigation is to write up a concise summary of the study and its findings 1. journal- a periodical that publishes technical and scholarly material, usually in a narrowly defined area of inquiry 3. process of publishing scientific studies allows other experts to evaluate and critique new research findings • Advantages of the Scientific Approach ○ Clarity and precision  enhances communication about important ideas ○ Relative intolerance of error ○ ResearchMethods- consists of various approaches to the observation, measurement, manipulation, and control of variables in empirical studies  are general strategies for conducting studies LookingforCauses: Experimental Research Thursday,November 22, 2012 3:29PM • Experiment- a research method in which the investigator manipulates a variable under carefully controlled conditions and observes whether any changes occur in a second variable • Schachter's Experiment ○ Testing to see whether individuals with anxiety want to associate with others or be by themselves • Independent and Dependent Variables ○ Independent Variable (X)- a condition or event that an experimenter varies in order to see its impact on another variable  Controlled or manipulated by the experimenter  Hypothesized to have some effect on the dependent variable ○ Dependent Variable (Y)- variable that is thought to be affected by manipulation of the independent variable  Usuallya measurement of some aspect of the participants' behavior • Experimental and Control Groups ○ Experimental Group- consists of the subjects who receive some special treatment in regard to the independent variable ○ Control Group- consists of similar subjects who do not receive the special treatment given to the experimental group ○ Both groups are alike in everything except for the variables created by the manipulation  Any differences between the two groups would be the result of the independent variable • Extraneous Variables ○ Control and experimental groups do not have to be identical in every respect  Experimenters concentrate on ensuring that experimental and control groups are alike on a limited number of variables that co uld have a bearing on the results of the study ○ ExtraneousVariables- any variables other than the independent variables that seem likely to influence the dependent variable in a specific study ○ Confounding of Variables- occurs when two variables are linked together in a way that makes it difficult to sort out their specific effects  When extraneous is confounded with an independent, a researcher cannot tell which is having what effect on the dependent vari able  Confounded variables can greatly wreck experiments □ To prevent some of the mistakes, subjects are usually assigned to experimental and control groups randomly  Randomassignment- occurs when all subject have an equal change of being assigned to any group or condition in the study • Variationsin Designing Experiments ○ Sometimesadvantageous to use only one group of subjects who serve as their own control group (Within-Subjects design)  Effects of the independent variable are evaluated by exposing this single group to two conditions: □ Experimental condition □ Control condition ○ It is possible to manipulate more than one independent variable in a single experiment  Have different combinations of independent variables  See whether or not the two variables interact □ Interaction- the effect of one variable depends on the effect of another ○ It is also possible to use more than one dependent variable in a single study  To get a more complete picture of how experimental manipulations affect subjects' behavior • Advantages and Disadvantages of Experimental Research ○ Advantages  Permits conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships between variables ○ Disadvantages  Experiments are often artificial □ Not conducted in real life experiences  Can't be used to explore some research questions □ Somefactors cannot be manipulated because of ethical concerns and practical realities LookingforLinks: Descriptive/Correlational Research Thursday,November 22, 2012 9:56PM • Naturalistic Observation ○ NaturalisticObservation- a researcher engages in careful observation of behavior without intervening directly with the subjects  Allowsresearchers to study behavior under conditions that are less artificial than experiments  Engaging in naturalistic observation can represent a good starting point when little is known about the beh
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