Chapter 2 Outline

Chapter 2 Outline - 2. How Psychologists Do Research What...

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2. How Psychologists Do Research What Makes Psychological Research Scientific? Key characteristics of the ideal scientist o Precision - Scientists start out with a general theory , an organized system of assumptions and principles that purports to explain certain phenomena and how they are related. From a hunch or theory, the psychological scientist derives a hypothesis , a statement that attempts to describe or explain a given behavior. A hypothesis, in turn, leads to predictions about what will happen in a particular situation. In a prediction, terms are given operational definitions , which specify how the phenomena in question are to be observed and measured. o Skepticism - Scientists do not accept ideas on faith or authority. Caution, however, must be balanced by openness to new ideas and evidence. o Reliance on empirical evidence - An idea must be backed by empirical evidence. o Willingness to make “risky predictions” - A scientist must state an idea in such a way that it can be refuted. This principle of falsifiability does not mean that the idea will be disproved, only that it could be if contrary evidence were to be discovered. A willingness to risk disconfirmation forces the scientist to take negative evidence seriously and to abandon mistaken hypotheses. All of us are vulnerable to confirmation bias , or the tendency to look for and accept evidence that supports our pet theories and assumptions and to ignore or reject evidence that contradicts our beliefs. o Openness - Scientists must be willing to tell others where they got their ideas, how they tested them, and what the results were so that other scientists can replicate their studies and verify-or challenge-the findings. Descriptive Studies: Establishing the Facts Representative sample - a group of participants that accurately represents the larger population that the researcher is interested in A researcher can use special selection methods to ensure that the sample contains the same proportion of men, women, blacks, whites, poor people, rich people, Catholics, Jews, etc. as the general population A sample’s size is less critical than its representativeness Descriptive methods allow researchers to describe and predict behavior but not necessarily to choose one explanation over competing ones o Case study - a detailed description of a particular individual based on careful observation or formal psychological testing Case studies illustrate psychological principles in a way that abstract generalizations and cold statistics never can, and they produce a more detailed picture, however, information is often missing or hard to interpret, the observer who writes up the case may have certain biases that influence which facts get noticed or overlooked, and the person who is the focus of the study may have selective or inaccurate memories.
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Case studies are usually only sources, rather than tests, of hypotheses o Observational study - a study in which the researcher carefully and systematically
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This note was uploaded on 02/05/2011 for the course PS 101 taught by Professor Hoffman during the Fall '07 term at BU.

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Chapter 2 Outline - 2. How Psychologists Do Research What...

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