Chapter1NarrativeSummary - Chapter 1 Summary CHAPTER 1...

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CHAPTER 1 (SUMMARY): THINKING CRITICALLY ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY Overview The scientific attitude reflects an eagerness to skeptically scrutinize competing ideas with an open-minded humility before nature. This attitude, coupled with scientific principles for sifting reality from illusion, prepares us to think critically. Two reliable phenomena—hindsight bias and judgmental overconfidence—illustrate the limits of everyday intuition and our need for scientific inquiry and critical thinking. Psychologists construct theories that organize observations and imply testable hypotheses. Their research methods include case studies, surveys, and naturalistic observation to describe behavior; correlation to assess the relationship between variables; and experimentation to uncover cause-effect relationships. Researchers use statistics to describe their data, to assess relationships between variables, and to determine whether differences are significant. Questions that students commonly ask about psychology are: (1) concerns over the laboratory’s artificiality; (2) the generalizability of research in terms of culture and gender; (3) the purpose of animal studies; (4) the adequacy of research ethics, and (5) the potential misuse of psychology’s knowledge. The Need for Psychological Science The hindsight bias and how it may lead us to perceive psychological research as merely common sense. The hindsight bias, also known as the I-knew-it-all-along phenomenon, is the tendency to believe, after learning an outcome, that one would have foreseen it. Finding out that something has happened makes it seem inevitable. Thus, after learning the results of a study in psychology, it may seem to be obvious common sense. However, experiments have found that events seem far less obvious and predictable beforehand than in hindsight. Sometimes psychological findings even jolt our common sense. How overconfidence contaminates our everyday judgments. Our everyday thinking is limited by our tendency to think we know more than we do. Asked how sure we are of our answers to factual questions, we tend to be more confident than correct. College students’ predictions of their future behaviors and experts’ predictions of political, economic, and military outcomes are similarly overconfident. Despite lackluster predictions, the overconfidence of experts is hard to dislodge. How the scientific attitude encourages critical thinking. The scientific attitude reflects a hard-headed curiosity to explore and understand the world without being fooled by it. The eagerness to skeptically scrutinize competing claims requires humility because it means we may have to reject our own ideas. This attitude, coupled with scientific principles for sifting reality from illusion, helps us winnow sense from nonsense. It carries into everyday life as critical thinking in which we examine assumptions, discern hidden values, evaluate evidence, and assess conclusions. The relationship between psychological theories and scientific research.
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This note was uploaded on 02/14/2010 for the course PSY 101 taught by Professor Jackson during the Spring '08 term at Michigan State University.

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Chapter1NarrativeSummary - Chapter 1 Summary CHAPTER 1...

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