Research Strategies: How Psychologists Ask and Answer Questions Module 2

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Research Strategies: How Psychologists Ask and Answer Questions Module 2. How Do Psychologists Ask and Answer Questions? The Scientific Method Goals and Tools of P sychology Description Correlation Experimentation. Why Do Psychology?. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


EXPLORING PSYCHOLOGY (7th Edition in Modules) David Myers

1Research Strategies: How Psychologists Ask and Answer Questions

Module 212How Do Psychologists Ask and Answer Questions?

The Scientific MethodGoals and Tools of Psychology

DescriptionCorrelationExperimentationWhy Do Psychology?3How can we differentiate between uniformed opinions and examined conclusions?

The science of psychology helps make these examined conclusions, which leads to our understanding of how people feel, think, and act as they do!What About Intuition & Common Sense?Personal interviewers may rely too much on their gut feelings when meeting with job applicants.

4Taxi/ Getty ImagesMany people believe that intuition and common sense are enough to bring forth answers regarding human nature.Intuition and common sense may aid queries, but they are not free of error.

Hindsight Bias and Overconfidence5Hindsight Bias is the I-knew-it-all-along phenomenon. After learning the outcome of an event, many people believe they could have predicted that very outcome. Anything seems commonplace once explained.

Overconfidence: Sometimes we think we know more than we actually know.

Both hindsight bias and overconfidence lead us to overestimate our intuition.

5Anything seems commonplace, once explained. Dr. Watson to Sherlock Holmes.Two phenomena hindsight bias and judgmental overconfidence illustrate why we cannot rely solely on intuition and common sense.The Scientific Attitude6The scientific attitude is composed ofcuriosity (passion for exploration),skepticism (doubting and questioning) andhumility (ability to accept responsibility when wrong).

Critical thinking does not accept arguments and conclusions blindly. It examines assumptions, evaluates evidence and assesses conclusions.

6Preview Question 6: What attitudes characterize scientific inquiry?7The Scientific ApproachMost people have greater difficulty thinking of psychology and other behavioral sciences as science. In part this is because many people misunderstand what science is. Research involving molecules and chromosomes seems more scientific than research involving emotions, memories, or social interactions, for example.

Whether an area of study is scientific has little to do with the topics it studies. Rather science is defined in terms of the approaches used to study the topic.

8Can we study EVERYTHING scientifically?Is there life after death?Are there angels?

9Solvable Problems Science only deals with solvable problems. Researchers can investigate only those questions that are answerable, given current knowledge and research techniques.

In sum, to be considered scientific:the questions addressed must be potentially solvableobservations must be systematic and empiricalresearch must be conducted in a manner that is publicly verifiable

Pseudoscience involves evidence that masquerades as science but that fails to meet one or more of the three criteria used to define science. 10How Do Psychologists Ask & Answer Questions?Psychologists, like all scientists, use the scientific method to construct theories that organize, summarize and simplify observations.Theory11A theory is an explanation that integrates principles and organizes and predicts behavior or events.

For example:Social Learning Theory People learn through observing others' behavior. 11If we were to observe that depressed people talk about their past, present, and future in a gloomy manner, we may theorize that low-self-esteem contributes to depression.Hypothesis12A hypothesis is a testable prediction, often prompted by a theory, to enable us to accept, reject or revise the theory.

For example:One hypothesis from the Social Learning Theory: People who watch violent films display more aggressive behavior. Research13Research would require us to administer surveys or experiments.

For example:

Conduct a research study to examine if there is a relationship between frequency of watching violent films and aggressive behaviors.14The Scientific MethodOperational Definitiona statement of procedures (operations) used to define research variables

How you are going to measure aggression is your operational definition for aggression.

Operational definition for violent films.

15Exampleviolent movies and aggression

Hypothesis?There is a relationship between frequency of watching violent films and aggressive behaviors

Operational definition of variables? Exposure to violent movies: number of times a person watches violent movies in a week in the last 3 monthsAggression: Frequency of behavior that aims to harm other people.

16Research Process

(1) Theory: Social learning theoryPeople learn through observing others' behavior.

(2) Hypothesis:People who watch violent films display more aggressive behavior.

(3) Research and observations:Is there a relation between frequency of watching violent films and aggressive behaviors17The Scientific MethodReplicationrepeating the essence of a research study to see whether the basic finding extends to other participants and circumstances

usually with different participants in different situations

Example18Goals of PsychologyTo describe behavior and mental processesTo predict behavior and mental processesTo explain and understand behavior and mental processesTo influence/control behavior and mental processes19Descriptive MethodsTo describe human and animal behavior and mental processes Case study Surveys Observations (naturalistic or lab)Goals and Tools of PsychologyDescriptive Methods20Case StudyA technique in which one person is studied in depth to reveal underlying behavioral principles.Example: Is language uniquely human?

Susan Kuklin/ Photo Researchers20Preview Question 8: How do psychologists observe and describe behavior?Descriptive Methods21Case StudyResearchers make case studies to examine rare cases:Example: school shooting

Case studies can suggest hypotheses for further studies. Problems: Cannot make generalizations. Conclusions can be misleading. 21Preview Question 8: How do psychologists observe and describe behavior?SurveyA technique for ascertaining the self-reported attitudes, opinions or behaviors of people(usually done by questioning a representative, random sample of people) Examples:Media surveysKo University student satisfaction survey

22http://www.lynnefeatherstone.orgDescriptive Methods22SurveyWording can change the results of a survey.

Q: Should cigarette ads be allowed on television? Q: Should cigarette ads be forbidden on television?(allowed vs. forbid)23Wording EffectsSurveyIf each member of a population has an equal chance of inclusion into a sample, it is called a random sample (unbiased).If the survey sample is not random, the results may not be representative. Examples:Media surveysKo University student satisfaction survey 24 Random Sampling25Random SamplingPopulationall the cases in a group, from which samples may be drawn for a study

Random Samplea sample that (fairly) represents a population because each member has an equal chance of inclusionRandomly pick from the student list

Naturalistic Observation26Descriptive Methods

26Naturalistic Observationobserving and recording behavior in naturally occurring situations (or in more controlled environments) without trying to manipulate and control the situation

Examples: Observing and recording the behavior of animals in the wildObserving preschool childrens social behaviors Recording self-seating patterns in a multi-racial school lunch room.27Descriptive Methods27Descriptive Methods28To describe human and animal behavior and mental processes Case study Surveys Observations (naturalistic/lab)Summary29Goals of Psychology2. To predict behaviors, thoughts, feelings, change and so on

Mainly by way of assessing the relationship between two or more variablesCorrelational studies 30Definition of VariableVariableAny characteristic or attribute that varies in amount and kind

Examples:AgeWeightHeight Self-esteem Reaction time in a learning experimentStress levelAchievement motivationCorrelation31Correlation Coefficient is a statistical measure of the relationship between two variables.When one trait or behavior accompanies another, we say the two correlate.Correlation coefficientIndicates directionof relationship(positive or negative)Indicates strengthof relationship(0.00 to 1.00)r =0.37+Prediction313232PredictionPositive correlation: one variable incerases, the other one also increases, or vice versa.Example: r = +.22 (age and intelligence)

Negative correlation: one variable decreases, the other one increases.Example: r = -.85 (self-esteem and depression)


Correlation34 Q: Which of the following correlation coefficients reflects the strongest correlation?A) +.10B) -.64C) +.35D) -.1035Correlations do not permit inferring causality

3636 Violence viewingActualized violenceActualized violenceViolence viewingORInferring CausalityIf we know that two variables are highly correlated, can we determine the causal relationship between them?

Correlation does not mean causation!3737Instability at homeViolence viewingActualized violenceA third variable could cause A and B:3838orAnother Example

3939In order to determine causality we must turn to experimental methods.CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION4040Goals of Psychology3. To explain and understand behavior and mental processes


Like other sciences, experimentation is the backbone of psychological research. Experiments isolate causes and their effects.4141ExperimentationExperiment an investigator manipulates one or more factors (independent variables) to observe their effect on some behavior or mental process (the dependent variable). 4242ExperimentationIndependent Variable (IV)the experimental factor that is manipulatedthe variable whose effect is being studied

Dependent Variable (DV)the experimental factor that may change in response to manipulations of the independent variable


ExperimentationWacth violent filmsAggressive behavior 4444ExperimentationExperimental Conditionthe condition of an experiment that exposes participants to the treatment (to one version of the independent variable)

Control Conditionthe condition of an experiment that does not expose participants to the treatment serves as a comparison for evaluating the effect of the treatment4545

Example:The Bobo Doll ExperimentParticipants: 72 3- and 6-year-old children.The total of 72 children were split in to 2 groups.One group was put into an aggressive model scenario: the adult attacked the Bobo doll by hitting it. Another group was used as a control group and not exposed to any adult model at all.4646

Example:The Bobo Doll ExperimentMeasure: The final stage of the experiment took place in a room in which the child was left alone for 20 min. with a series of aggressive and non-aggressive toys to play with. Results: Children exposed to the aggressive model were more likely to act in physically aggressive ways than those who were not exposed to the aggressive model. 4747Figure 7.1

Watch nothingWatch violent model/movieMeasure aggressive behaviorsExperimental ConditionControl Condition4848Many factors influence our behavior. Experiments (1) manipulate factors that interest us, while other factors are kept under (2) control. Effects generated by manipulated factors isolate cause and effect relationships.

by random assignment of participants the experiment controls other relevant factors

Exploring Cause & Effect4949Figure 7.1

Watch nothingWatch violent movieMeasure aggressive behaviorsExperimental ConditionControl ConditionOther variables here can be:socioeconomic background (income)5050ExperimentationRandom Assignmentassigning participants to experimental and control conditions by chanceminimizes pre-existing differences between those assigned to the different groups5151ExperimentationSingle-Blind Procedurethe research participants are uninformed (blind) about what treatment, if any, they are receiving.

Do antidepressant drugs really work?Placebos can have significant antidepressant effects To show superior efficacy to placebo

5252ExperimentationPlaceboan inert substance or condition that may be administered instead of a presumed active agent, to see if it triggers the effects believed to characterize the active agent.5353ExperimentationDouble-Blind Procedureboth the research participants and the research staff are ignorant (blind) about whether the research participants have received the treatment or a placebocommonly used in drug-evaluation studies

5454Another ExampleStudy: One of the factors for prejudice is lack of knowledge about members of the other group

Hypothesis: Watching a documentary film about the history of the outgroup will result in change in prejudice (reduce prejudice)

IVDVManipulation (Experimental stimulus)5555


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