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Chapter 11

PSY 290 Chapter 11: CHAPTER 11

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University of Miami
PSY 290
Stuetzle Rick

CHAPTER 11: SMALL N DESIGNS Research Psychology Began with Small N A. Examples a. Watson and Rayners Little Albert experiment b. Wundts pioneering lab in Leipzig B. Often report the data for each person participating a. No summary statistics combining the data sets b. Meant to show that the phenomenon occurred reliably for each person and not for the average person C. OriginsCats in Puzzle Boxes a. Edward Thorndike studied how cats escape from puzzle boxes i. Shows how psychologys pioneers relied on the detailed study of individual participants ii. Uses parsimonious explanations iii. Paved the way for Skinners behaviorism b. Studying Cats one at a Time i. Built 15 puzzles boxes ii. Cats studied individually and results reported cat by cat 1. Learned to escape via trial and error, with accidental success 2. Behaviors that worked tended to be repeated, while behaviors that were unsuccessful were gradually eliminated c. Using Parsimonious Explanations i. More basic explanation was basic trialanderror learning d. Preceding Skinner Reasons for Small N Designs A. Misleading Results from Statistical Summaries of Grouped Data a. Individualsubject validity: the extent to which a general research outcome applies to any one individual subject in the study i. Lack of this kind of validity can produce erroneous conclusions about behavior b. Learning Curve i. According to continuity theory, learning is a gradual process of accumulating habit strength ii. Noncontinuity theory holds that the children actively try out different hypotheses about the solution during the early trials. At this time, their performance is at chance level (50), but once they hit the correct hypothesis, their performance zooms up to 100 accuracy and stays there iii. Results showed learning is more like the noncontinuity theory. However, some students take longer to learn than others, so if you just look at the averages it would resemble the continuity theory B. Practical and Philosophical Problems with Large N Designs a. Small N designs are sometimes necessary because potential subjects are rare or difficult to find i. Specific psychological disorders b. In animal research, surgical environment might be expensive, procedure time consuming, and ethical issues exert downward pressure on N
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