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Research Methods: Thinking Critically with Psychological Science. The Need for Psychology Science. Do Now. Fact or Falsehood Before attempting the quiz, predict how many you will get correct. Write it down, then take the quiz Complete Handouts 2-3 2-2 / 2-5.
Do Now • Fact or Falsehood • Before attempting the quiz, predict how many you will get correct. • Write it down, then take the quiz • Complete Handouts • 2-3 • 2-2 / 2-5
Why do we have to learn this stuff? Psychology is first and foremost a science. Thus it is based in research. Before we delve into how to do research, you should be aware of a few hurdles that tend to skew our logic.
The Need for Psychological Science Intuition & Common Sense Many people believe that intuition and common sense are enough to bring forth answers regarding human nature. A bullet is fired from a gun across an open field. A bullet is dropped from a person’s hand. Which hits the ground first? Intuition and common sense may help answer questions, but they are not free of error.
Errors of Common Sense & Limits of Intuition Try this! Fold a piece of paper (0.1 mm thick) 100 times. How thick will it be? 800,000,000,000,000 times the distance between the sun and the earth. Personal interviewers may rely too much on their “gut feelings” when meeting with job applicants.
Did We Know It All Along? Hindsight Bias • Hindsight Bias • “I knew it all along” • “Out of sight, out of mind” • “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” • Examples: • Jurors told to ignore information by the judge • Vick is obviously a better quarterback than Kolb • Y2K • I knew the Phillies weren’t going to win the World Series last year. • Handout 2-2
Overconfidence • Overconfidence, together with hindsight bias, can lead to overestimate our intuition • Do Now Quiz • Handout 2-3 Sometimes we think we know more than we actually know. How many of you consider yourself above average drivers? Anagram WREAT WATER How long do you think it would take to unscramble these anagrams? Try to Unscramble the following: O C S H A O T H U S E L V I S R E S U H ETYRN ENTRY GRABE BARGE People said it would take about 10 seconds, yet on average they took about 3 minutes (Goranson 1978).
Psychological Science • How 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 actas they do!
The Scientific Attitude • Three main components: • Curiosity (passion for exploration) • Skepticism(doubting and questioning competing ideas) • Open-Minded Humility(ability to accept responsibility when wrong).
Critical Thinking • Critical Thinking • “Smart thinking” • does not accept arguments and conclusions blindly. • Four elements: • Examines assumptions • Discerns hidden values • Evaluates evidence • Assesses conclusions • Asks: • What’s Your Evidence? • Do Your Conclusions Match Your Evidence?
The Scientific Method A Theory isan explanation that integrates principles and organizes and predicts behavior or events. Good theories explain by: • Organizing a range of observations • Implying hypotheses that offer testable predictions and sometimes practical applications For example, low self-esteem contributes to depression.
The Scientific Method • In Psychology, a Hypothesis is not an “educated guess” or “testable question.” • A Hypothesis is a testable prediction, often prompted by a theory, to enable us to accept, reject or revise the theory. • A statement of relationship among variables. • Examples • People with low self-esteem are likely to feel more depressed. • Participating more in class leads to higher grades
The Scientific Method Research Observations Research would require us to administer tests of self-esteem and depression. Individuals who score low on a self-esteem test and high on a depression test would confirm our hypothesis.
Making Research Scientific • Must be Replicable - Why? • Must be Falsifiable - Hypothesis stated in such a way that it can be rejected (Loch Ness Monster example) • Must be Precise - Use of Operational Definitions • Must be Prudent / Careful - Apply simplest explanation to set of observations (i.e. falling asleep in math class)
Purposes of Psychological Research • To find ways to measure and describebehavior • To understand why, when and how events occur • To apply this knowledge to solving real world problems
Describing Psychological Research • General Terms used: • Variables: the events, characteristics, behaviors, or conditions that researchers measure & study • Subject (or participant): an individual or animal a researcher studies • Sample: collection of subjects researchers study (bc cannot study entire population) • Population: collection of people or animals from which researchers draw a sample • Study sample & generalize to population
Operational Definitions • Statement of procedures (operations) used to define research variables • Defines what the researcher will be observing and manipulating EXAMPLE • Research Question – Do people with higher intelligence have greater academic achievement? • Variable 1 = Human intelligence defined as what an intelligence test measures (IQ Score) • Variable 2 = Academic achievement defined as GPA • Operational Definitions MUST be: • Measurable and Manageable
Operational Definitions Homework – Think of a question related to psychology (behavior & mental processes) for which you want to know the answer. Examples: What makes people happy? Do people’s personalities change over their life? Does involvement in athletics help academic performance? Does excessive texting impede face-to-face interactions? Does student consumption of caffeine in the morning improve first period grades? • With a partner, attempt to operationally define the following: • Happiness - What factors increase happiness? • Aggression - Do video games increase aggression? • Popularity - What makes a person popular in HS? • Good Behavior - What increases good behavior in children?
Description Case Study Study 1 person (or small group) in depth
Case Study Advantages Disadvantages Can give incomplete or unrepresentative info Sometimes only relies on self-report data can be misleading Can be subjective Usually only 1 investigator may lead to biased results Cannot be used to test theories or treatments Does NOT explain behavior NO Cause & Effect • Good way to generate hypotheses • Can be a source of insight and ideas (Freud, Piaget, etc.) • Suggest further study • Can provide data other methods cannot • Rare phenomena – damage to specific brain areas • Provide illustrative anecdotes • Concrete examples of concepts & principles Keeping up with the Kardashians or John & Kate plus 8 are case studies. Interesting, but what does it really tell us about families in general?
Survey How long is the Amazon River?What is the population of Japan? 500 3000 2 100 Determining many people’s attitudes, opinions or behaviors (Study many people superficially) - usually done by questioning a representative, random sample of people. Handout 2-5 & Discuss examples Effects of: Wording Range of Responses Order
Survey President Obama is a good president. Yes or No? Estimate the % of people in class that you think agree with you False Consensus Effect A tendency to overestimate the extent to which others share our beliefs and behaviors.
Survey Random Sampling If 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 biased, its results are not valid. Representative Sample (Generalizability) In class Sample – m/f? hair color? Coin Flip • Table of Random #s • Potential Problems in Polls? The fastest way to know about the marble color ratio is to blindly transfer a few into a smaller jar and count them.
Survey Advantages Disadvantages Relies on Self-Report Data Can be misleading Saying vs. Doing – behavior can’t be observed directly Low Response Rate? Can be Subjective May lead to Bias Wording? Sample? Does NOT explain behavior NO Cause & Effect conclusions • Provides a good way to generate hypotheses • Can provide info about many people at once • Cheap & relatively easy
Naturalistic Observation • observing and recording behavior in naturally occurring situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation (no interference) • Animals in Wild • Self-seating patterns in lunch room
Naturalistic Observation Advantages Disadvantages Sometimes biased results May be difficult to do unobtrusively Does NOT explain behavior NO Cause & Effect conclusions Does not control for all factors that may influence behavior • Can be useful in generating hypotheses • Provides info about behavior in natural environment Homework – Think of a question related to psychology (behavior & mental processes) that you want to know the answer to. Examples: What makes people happy? Do people’s personalities change over their life?
Correlation • Correlation Does NOT mean Causation • Can be used to predict • How is information obtained • Surveys • Quasi-experiments • Examples • GPA related to Test Scores? • People w/ store credit cards spend more on clothes? • Independent Variables that aren’t Independent (can’t be manipulated) • i.e. gender, age, height, weight • More likely to be used in correlational research
Correlation • Correlation Coefficient • How well does A predict B • Questions to Ask: • Is it positive or negative? (+ / – ) • NOT good or bad – Negative ≠ Weak • What is the strength? (-1.0 to +1.0) • 0 = no relationship • Scatterplot
Positive Correlation Obesity Rate As Variable A goes up (or down) : Variable B also goes up (or down) Work in same direction # of Hours Watching TV per Day
Negative Correlation Grade Point Avg Years in Jail As Variable A goes up: Variable B goes Down (work in opposite directions) Years of Education Alcoholic Drinks Per Week
Correlation Correlation Coefficient = +.62 http://www.stat.tamu.edu/~west/applets/rplot.html
CorrelationCorrelation and Causation • Correlation helps predict • Does not imply cause and effect • Quick Quiz Time • Which of the following correlation coefficients presents the strongest relationship? • A) .02 • B) -.67 • C) .55 • D) -.14
CorrelationDirectionality • Correlation Coefficients • Do not indicate directionality, just the existence of relationship • A to B or B to A • Examples • Eye Movement & Reading Ability • Poor Readers have more erratic patterns • Cereal Eaters • Frosted Flakes – Cancer rate ½ non cereal eaters • Oatmeal – Cancer rate 4x non-oatmeal eaters • Routine Physicals in past 3 years • 2x as likely to report high blood pressure & cholesterol • TV & Childhood Obesity • Degree of obesity rises 2% for every hour of TV watched