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Science of Psychology Chapter 1 Introduction and Research Methods



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The Science of Psychology Chapter 1 Introduction and Research Methods Module Objectives Why is Psychology a Science What is the scientific method How do researchers design a study Why should I believe what researchers say Let s Start with Some Critical Thinking Psychology requires the ability to think critically about different problems Consider the following scenarios and use your critical thinking skills A man is found hanging in an otherwise empty locked room with a puddle of water under his feet How did he do it Did you get it He stood on a block of ice until it melted which explains the puddle under his feet Try this one A policeman was walking past a house He heard someone cry Don t shoot me John Don t shoot There was one gunshot The policeman entered the house and saw a lawyer priest and an engineer gathered around a dead body The priest was immediately arrested How did the policeman know What DO you think The police officer knows that the Priest is John because the lawyer and the engineer were both WOMEN The Science of Psychology When Psychologists perform research they begin by asking questions The Science of Psychology Psychology is based on two premises of science 1 Empiricism Acquiring information through careful observation 2 Theory development Collecting interrelated ideas and observations Psychology as a Science Psychologists must engage in careful observation when studying behavior and mental processes What does that mean They must put aside personal feelings or biases They must gather information systematically They must be able to replicate their results Systematic observation is setting up our study so that we eliminate or reduce bias We must keep our minds open but not so open that our brain falls Oberg out 1995 Why can t scientists base their research off of casual everyday observations People watching Skepticism combines two opposing attitudes an openness to new ideas combined with a willingness to subject these claims to scrutiny Everyday Observations What appears on the back of a 1 bill What is the shape of a stop sign What way does Lincoln face on the penny In which hand does the Statue of Liberty hold her torch How many tines are there on a regular dinner fork What shape is the Garden State Parkway sign How Did You Do On the back of a dollar bill you will find 2 circles which make up the Great Seal of the US 1 left circle is the pyramid with the eye and the right circle is the bald eagle 2 A stop sign is an octagon 8 sides 3 Lincoln faces to the right on the penny 4 Lady Liberty holds the torch in her right hand 5 There are four tines on a dinner fork 6 The GSP sign is a circle What we casually observe without a systematic plan can often be inaccurate Answer the following questions to illustrate this point don t cheat Unfortunately casual observation is subject to bias that can distort information We notice behavior that fits our stereotypes Why is Research Conducted The purpose of scientific research is to create new knowledge and increase our understanding of human behavior This knowledge is applied in all areas of society to provide solutions In science research strategies are categorized as either basic or applied Basic research is designed to advance general understanding Applied research is designed to solve practical problems How Do Scientists Collect and Evaluate Evidence Psychologists follow strict standardized scientific procedures so that others can understand interpret and repeat their findings Science is derived from the Latin word meaning knowledge We gain scientific knowledge by testing hypotheses Research designed to test hypotheses goes through a series of steps Psychologists follow strict standardized scientific procedures so that others can understand interpret and repeat test their findings This process involves several specific steps to ensure the results are valid How is research conducted The Scientific Method allows psychologists to explore psychological issues systematically by using objective means Think on your own What does it mean to be OBJECTIVE The scientific method is a tool box of skills that scientists have developed to prevent themselves from confirming their own biases The Scientific Method 1 Formulate a research question by stating a question and performing a literature review 2 Develop a operationally defined and testable hypothesis 3 Research Design is selected to test the hypothesis 4 A statistical analysis must be performed on the data to determine if the findings support or reject the hypothesis 5 The research is published in a peer reviewed scientific journal 6 After one or more studies on a topic researchers generally advance a theory to explain their results Scientific Method in Psychology Before research begins a problem must be identified Researchers then perform a literature review and look at previously performed work The Psychologist must choose and formulate a question to be answered Make a Prediction 2 Develop a testable hypothesis or a specific prediction about how one factor is related to another This MUST be a testable prediction that is operationally defined meaning the variables in are stated precisely in measurable terms Example Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine before the exam will increase my score Students often discuss wonderful questions they would like to research but what s crucial in this research process is that the question be testable How to make a testable prediction is where the challenge lies Let s practice What is a testable hypothesis for this nursery rhyme Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water Jack fell down and broke his crown Jill came tumbling after What is your Hypothesis What could help us understand why Jack and Jill fell down the hill Perhaps we could hypothesize that fetching water causes falls There is a correlation or a relationship between the terrain and the likelihood of falling Or Perhaps this explains the fall The hypothesis must be testable but also operationally defined These allow a more specific measurement by defining a numerical value Operational definitions allow Psychologist s to study intangible concepts by making them more concrete countable and observable Examples of Operational Definitions Aggressive behavior the number of times a child punches a punching bag over the course of one hour Happiness the number of times a person smiles while watching a Disney movie Intelligence a score on an IQ test Anxiety the number of pencils a


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