GenPsych - Ch02 ScientificMethods

GenPsych - Ch02 ScientificMethods - Class Outline The...

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Class Outline The nature of scientific thinking. Research methods in psychology. Describing and interpreting data. The Nature of Science The scientific method allows us to declare our conclusions to be probable to the point where it is reasonable to treat them as factual . Scientific open-mindedness is the willingness to consider proper evidence and possibly revise our theories. It is NOT the unquestioning acceptance of any possibility in the absence of evidence. We apply the rigorous and systematic methods of scientific study to ensure that our claims are firmly grounded and our revisions reflect an improved understanding of the phenomena under scrutiny. The Research Process Scientific research is a technical refinement of one of the ways that we naturally think: the way that is commonly called “rational”: 1. Ask a question / specify a problem. 2. Carefully and systematically make relevant observations. 3. Form a hypothesis (a claim): Draw the most logical conclusions based on all the observations. 4. Test the hypothesis with data (i.e., more observations). The evidence obtained should be replicable. 5. Formulate a theory by relating the supported hypotheses. 6. Test the theory (with more observations). Scientific Theory Science aims to produce “causal laws” or “models” that enable us to understand and make predictions about the world. A good scientific theory is: Supported by the evidence. Parsimonious (relies on fewer assumptions). Logically coherent. Consistent with other knowledge we trust. Productive of new predictions and ideas. Broad in scope.
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Falsifiability If a theory is not falsifiable, then it can’t be supported by evidence. A theory is falsifiable when it is possible that evidence could contradict the theory. A theory that is too vague to ever make an observable prediction is not falsifiable. A theory that can explain away any and every possible observation is not falsifiable. Research in Psychology is Different from Research in Other Sciences The subjects and the scientists are the same entity. People and society change in response to advances in psychological science. Human rights. Many experiments can’t be performed because the subjects’ human rights are more important than the scientific knowledge obtained. Experiments at the societal or historical level are impossible to conduct. Variables and Hypotheses Variable : Any observable phenomenon that can vary along some dimension. Continuous variable
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course PSYCH 101 taught by Professor Brill during the Spring '07 term at Rutgers.

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GenPsych - Ch02 ScientificMethods - Class Outline The...

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