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Unformatted text preview: Why Study Methodology 1-The reason to study methodology is that it can help you identify fallacies in your own or other people’s thinking. For instance, we are all vulnerable to the confirmation bias, the tendency to look for evidence that supports our ideas and to ignore evidence that does not. Sometimes this bias can have profound personal consequences. Some adults who were physically or sexually abused early in life are afraid to have children because they think that their experience has ruined them. Social workers, judges, and other professionals sometimes make the same assumption: one judge denied a woman custody of her children only because the woman had been abused as a child, even though she had never harmed her children. Judgments such as these rely on the notion that abuse inevitably breed abuse – an inference based mainly on the confirming cases of abused children who later become abusive adults. Is an abused child likely to become an abusive parent? Abused as a Child Yes No Yes Abused children who become abusive parents. Nonabused children who become abusive parents. No Abused children who do not become abusive parents. Nonabused children who do not become abusive parents. People often base their answers solely on confirming cases, represented by the upper left- hand cell of this table. Psychological researchers consider all four types of evidence in the table. 2- A second reason for studying methodology is to become a more critical and sophisticated consumer of psychological findings. You should not accept every reported finding uncritically. What Makes Research Scientific? 1-Precision. Scientists usually start out with a hypothesis, a statement that attempts to describe or explain behavior. Some hypotheses are suggested by previous findings. Others are derived from a general theory. A hypothesis leads to explicit predictions about what will happen in particular situations. In a prediction, vague terms such as anxiety or a threatening situation are given operational definitions: A precise definition in a hypothesis, which specifies the operations for observing and measuring the process or phenomenon being defined. For example, anxiety might be defined as a score in an anxiety questionnaire and a threatening situation as the threat of an electric shock. 2- Skepticism. Scientists do not accept ideas on faith or authority; their motto is “Show me!” 3- Reliance on empirical evidence. The evidence for a scientific idea must be empirical, that is, based on systematic observation. A collection of personal accounts or anecdotes, or an appeal to authority, will not do. 4- Willingness to make risky predictions. A scientist must state an idea in such a way that it can be refuted, or disproved by counter-evidence. This principle is called the principle of falsifiability: the principle that a scientific theory must make predictions that are specific enough to expose the theory to the possibility of disconfirmation, that is, the theory must predict not only what will happen, but also what will not happen. the theory must predict not only what will happen, but also what will not happen....
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This note was uploaded on 01/13/2012 for the course PSYCH 101 taught by Professor Evettesamaan during the Spring '12 term at Harvard.
- Spring '12