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Research methods and Critical thinking. Why do we study psychology?. Uninformed insights are often erroneous Hindsight bias Overconfidence Science of psychology provides informed conclusions based on carefully examined data. Thinking like a scientist. Begins with a scientific attitude

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why do we study psychology
Why do we study psychology?
  • Uninformed insights are often erroneous
    • Hindsight bias
    • Overconfidence
  • Science of psychology provides informed conclusions based on carefully examined data
thinking like a scientist
Thinking like a scientist
  • Begins with a scientific attitude
    • Curiosity
    • Skepticism
    • Humility
thinking like a scientist1
Thinking like a scientist
  • Requires critical thinking
    • Applying skepticism to all information, arguments and conclusions
    • Examination of
      • Assumptions
      • Values
      • Evidence
      • Conclusions
thinking like a scientist2
Thinking like a scientist
  • Productive critical thinking remains open to new ideas and perspectives
    • Avoids cynicism
    • Tolerates uncertainty
    • Looks for the questions that remain to be answered
scientific method
Scientific method



Form a


Evaluate and

refine theory



Analyze and

report results

scientific method1
Scientific method
  • Theories are formed, based on observations of behavior
    • Theories can be used to understand and predict behavior
    • Must be testable!
scientific theories
Scientific theories?
  • Shy people are more likely to succeed in school.
  • Drinking glarfnog will cause intoxication.
  • Autism is caused by vaccinations.
  • Neanderthals were primarily bisexual.
  • Most humans prefer dogs to cats.
  • Schizophrenia is more common in men than in women.
scientific method2
Scientific method
  • Hypothesis is required to test a theory
    • Testable prediction
    • Once tested, a theory can be accepted, rejected, or *most often* revised
scientific method3
Scientific method
  • Hypothesis is tested through one of many research methods
    • Descriptive
    • Correlation
    • Experimental
scientific method4
Scientific method
  • After testing, the results are analyzed and reported
    • Analyzed with statistics
    • Why report findings?
scientific method5
Scientific method
  • After analyzing the results, the original theory is reevaluated and refined
    • New questions asked
    • New hypotheses tested
research methods
Research methods
  • Descriptive research - describes behavior, does not explain it
    • Case study
      • No conclusions!
    • Survey
      • Wording effects
      • Sampling errors
    • Observation
      • Naturalistic
      • Laboratory
research methods1
Research methods
  • Correlation research - examines the relationship between variables
    • Positive correlation
    • Negative correlation
    • No correlation
  • Does not determine causation!
research methods2
Research methods
  • Experimental research - determines causation - how one variable affects another
    • Independent variable
    • Dependent variable
  • Experiments compare randomly assigned groups
    • Experimental groups
    • Control groups
      • Placebos
ethical issues in psychological research
Ethical issues in psychological research
  • Right to privacy
  • Informed consent
    • Use of deception
    • Right to withdraw
  • Animal use
    • Animals are used in studies that cannot be done on humans for ethical or practical reasons
    • ALL animal research is carefully monitored by federal and institutional animal care committees
critical thinking
Critical thinking
  • Psychology versus pseudopsychology
    • Psychology - based on evidence gathered through scientific research
    • Pseudopsychology - “Pop psychology” - focused on satisfying wants
      • Offers simplistic explanations/solutions
      • Not based on credible scientific evidence
      • Often associated with advertising or consumer manipulation
critical thinking1
Critical thinking
  • Learning to evaluate reports and differentiate between psychology and pseudopsychology is an important skill
guidelines for critical thinking
Guidelines for critical thinking
  • Define terms
  • Examine the evidence
  • Analyze assumptions and biases
  • Avoid emotional reasoning
  • Do not oversimplify
  • Consider other interpretations
  • Tolerate uncertainty

Mobile phones 'more dangerous than smoking'

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.

The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks. It draws on growing evidence that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer.

Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimize handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced.

Professor Khurana admits that mobiles can save lives in emergencies, but concludes that "there is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumours". He believes this will be "definitively proven" in the next decade.

He fears that "unless the industry and governments take immediate and decisive steps", the incidence of malignant brain tumors and associated death rate will be observed to rise globally within a decade from now, by which time it may be far too late to intervene medically.

"It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking," says Professor Khurana, Exerpt from:

practicing critical thinking
Practicing critical thinking
  • Identify the article title, author and source.
  • What claim about human behavior or health is being made?
  • What qualifications does the expert have? What claims is he/she making?
  • What research is provided to support the claims being made?
  • Is the title of the article supported?
  • Does this article violate any of the 7 guidelines for critical thinking?
  • What more would you like to know, based on this article?