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research_methods_fall_2006 - Methods of Psychological...

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Methods of Psychological Research: Inference and Knowledge in Society and Science Caton Roberts, Ph.D. What Is Scientific “Knowledge”? * Systematic and Controlled Observation, Inference, Tentative Conclusions *Difference from naïve/everyday knowledge: *Conclusions are continually revised/revisited with fresh observations and re-examination of knowledge claims in light of current scientific theories *Critical Thinking: * “I can find no evidence that the intensity of a belief is any measure of its validity” Sir Francis Bacon *Ideas, theories, and “knowledge” are put at risk of “falsification” through rules of scientific method *“ The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking Albert Einstein Common Research Methods in Psychology: *Descriptive Research Methods (4 types, below) *Experimental Methods Descriptive Research Methods *Case Studies Careful Description based on repeated observations: Freud, Sacks, Clinical studies *Naturalistic Observation: Ethology Researchers “Ecological Validity” *Surveys (see Hite example below, and discussion of class survey experience)
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*Correlational Methods Correlational Methods as Description *A correlation is an association between two variables, expressed as a coefficient of association (r) which varies from +1 to –1 *Visualizing associated scatterplots (figure 2.16 page 66) “Perfect” correlations: Strong Correlations (consider “panel c” as a SAT/Freshmen grade scatterplot. http://www.fairtest.org/facts/satvalidity.html ) Moderate Correlations: r-squared and the “explanatory meaning” of a correlation coefficient *Hence there are Positive, Negative, and Negligible Correlations Between Variables *A correlation is a mathematical representation which “describes” the strength of relationship between two variables. *Limits of Correlations: Correlational Data can suggest causes but are Insufficient Grounds for Causal Inference 3 Examples: “Statistical Significance” in Correlational and Experimental Research:
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*Significance and chance findings: p < .05 p < .01 p < .001 *“Significant” correlations indicate predictability of variables: *Statistical significance vs. practical or theoretical value: Two “problems” with inferences of causation from correlational data
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