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Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking: Does It Work?

Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking: Does It Work? Psychological Treatment.

Now that you have learned about a variety of treatment options for psychological disorders, how would you design an experiment to study the effects of Treatments A and B for Disorder X? There are numerous problems with studying the effectiveness of psychotherapy. Controlled studies can be done using an experimental group of people who receive particular psychotherapy and a comparison group of people who are put on a waiting list, but this is less than ideal. The comparison group is not getting the attention from the therapist, for one thing, and so there would be no placebo-effect expectations about getting better because of therapy (Shapiro & Shapiro, 1997).  Also, not all therapies take the same amount of time to be effective. For example, psychoanalysis, even in its short form, takes longer than a behavioral therapy. In a short-term study, behavioral therapy would obviously look more effective. Action therapies such as behavior therapy measure the success of the therapy differently than insight therapies; in a behavioral therapy, the reduction of the undesired behavior is easy to objectively measure, but gaining insights and feelings of control, self-worth, self-esteem, and so on are not as easily evaluated (Shadish et al., 2002). Let's assume your research hypothesis is something like, "Treatment A will be more effective than Treatment B for Disorder X, and both Treatment A and B will be more effective than no treatment for Disorder X." How would you evaluate these treatments? What kind of research methods would you use to be able to speak to cause-and-effect relationships? How are you going to operationalize the treatments and their effects? What data will you need to confirm your hypothesis? For example, let's assume Treatment A consists of 10 one-on-one cognitive behavioral therapy sessions with a psychologist; each session is 50 minutes. Treatment B consists of 10 Internet-based, self-study modules based on cognitive behavioral therapy, each requiring approximately 45 minutes to complete. Although progression through the sessions will be monitored by a psychologist, there will not be any direct interaction with a psychology professional. Based  on the information presented, what data do you need and how will you collect it? You will likely want to make sure you have individuals that have similar symptoms of Disorder X, and if possible, do not have any other disorders. What do you need to keep in mind as you populate your treatment groups and a comparison group? Preferably, these groups need to be close to identical in terms of demographics, including age, level of education, socioeconomic status, gender, etc. Will you randomly assign individuals to each of the three groups? Where will you get your participants? How many individuals do you need in each group? Ideally, you would have 30 or more people in each group. Groups should contain approximately the same amount of people. See Learning Objectives A.1, A.5. Assume you find that either Treatment A or Treatment B has a positive effect on the symptoms of Disorder X. Following the study, how do you accommodate the individuals who were in the comparison group? One way is to offer treatment to the people in the comparison group at the conclusion of the original study. What if the hypothesis is confirmed and Treatment A is more effective than Treatment B? Which treatment do you offer to the comparison group, or do you give them a choice? In this case, you may want to offer both and allow them to choose, explaining the benefits of each and letting the individual decide which they prefer. Regardless of the outcomes of the study, how might you share the results with other psychology professionals? How might you share the information with the public? With students taking an introduction to general psychology class? Would the manner in which you share the information differ based on the hypothesis being confirmed versus some other finding or combination of findings?



 QUESTION: After reviewing the questions raised above, describe how you would share the results of Treatment A versus Treatment B with students who are not psychology majors.   What would be the most relevant points you would share?

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