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The Science of Psychology. Psych 231: Research Methods in Psychology. Download (full text available at library) and read the article for lab THIS week ( Raz, Kirsch, Polard, & Nitkin-Kaner,2006). Announcements. Discussion - the interpretation and implications of the results

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The Science of Psychology


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    1. The Science of Psychology Psych 231: Research Methods in Psychology

    2. Download (full text available at library) and read the article for lab THIS week (Raz, Kirsch, Polard, & Nitkin-Kaner,2006) Announcements

    3. Discussion - the interpretation and implications of the results • Reading checklist 1 a) Does YOUR interpretation or the authors' interpretation best represent the data? b) Do you or the author draw the most sensible implications and conclusions? • References - full citations of all work cited • Appendices - additional supplementary supporting material The anatomy of a research article

    4. Write down the names of three scientists • What field of science do they belong to? • Write down the name of a famous psychologist • Dr. Sigmund Freud, Dr. Phil • Do they represent the standard psychologist? • NO! • Psychology is a diverse discipline • APA has 53 different divisions of psychology • And each of these has many different subgroups Psychology as a science

    5. What is science? • What are the goals of science? • Is psychology a science? • Yes • Studies the full range of human behavior using scientific methods • Applications derived from this knowledge is scientifically based Psychology as a science

    6. Psychology’s goals are similar to the goals of the physical sciences (e.g., physics and chemistry) • Psychologists are concerned with the behavior of people (and animals) rather than the physical world. • How is psychology different from the physical sciences? • Human (and animal) behavior is typically much more variable than most physical systems. • Statistical control • Methodological control Psychology as a science

    7. Description of behavior • Describe events, what changes what might affect change, what might be related to what, etc. • Prediction of behavior • Given X what will likely happen • Control of behavior • For the purpose of interventions(e.g., how do we prevent violence in schools) Goals of psychology

    8. Causes of behavior • Sometimes predictions aren’t enough, want to know how the X and the outcome are related • Develop specific theories • Explanation of behavior • A completetheory of the how’s and why’s • Given the diversity of psychology, some argue that we may never have a universal theory • This is a problem in other disciplines too Goals of psychology (cont.)

    9. “My theory by A. Elk. Brackets Miss, brackets. This theory goes as follows and begins now. All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much thicker in the middle and then thin again at the far end. That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too.” Theories Link to entire Monty Python’s “My theory” transcript

    10. Theory: • “An interrelated set of concepts that is used to explain a body of data and to make predictions about the results of future experiments” • Hypothesis: • Are specific predictions that are derived from theories (more specific than the theories) (Stanovich, 2007: How To Think Straight About Psychology) Theories Link to entire Monty Python’s “My theory” transcript

    11. Properties of a good theory

    12. Organizes, Explains, & Accounts for the data • If there are data relevant to your theory, that your theory can’t account for, then your theory is wrong • either adapt the theory to account for the new data • develop a new theory that incorporates the new data Properties of a good theory

    13. Organizes, Explains, & Accounts for the data • Testable/Falsifiable – can’t prove a theory, can only reject it “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” Properties of a good theory

    14. Beware theories that are so powerful/ general/ flexible that they can account for everything. These are not testable Omnipotent Theory

    15. Beware theories that are so powerful/ general/ flexible that they can account for everything. These are not testable • Karl Popper claimed that Freudian theory isn’t falsifiable • If display behavior that clearly has sexual or aggressive motivation, then it is taken as proof of the presence of the Id • If such behavior isn’t displayed, then you have a “reaction formation” against it. So the Id is there, you just can’t see evidence of it. • So, as stated, the theory is too powerful and can’t be tested and so it isn’t useful Omnipotent Theory

    16. Organizes, Explains, & Accounts for the data • Testable/Falsifiable • Generalizable – not too restrictive • The theory should be broad enough to be of use, the more data that it can account for the better • The line between generalizability and falsifiability is a fuzzy one. Properties of a good theory

    17. Organizes, Explains, & Accounts for the data • Testable/Falsifiable • Generalizable • Parsimony (Occam’s razor) • for two or more theories that can account for the same data, the simplest theory is the favored one “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.” Properties of a good theory

    18. Organizes, Explains, & Accounts for the data • Testable/Falsifiable • Generalizable • Parsimony • Makes predictions, generates new knowledge • a good theory will account for the data, but also make predictions about things that the theory wasn’t explicitly designed to account for Properties of a good theory

    19. Organizes, Explains, & Accounts for the data • Testable/Falsifiable • Generalizable • Parsimony • Makes predictions, generates new knowledge • Precision • makes quantifiable predictions Properties of a good theory

    20. Induction – reasoning from the data to the general theory • So in complete practice this approach probably needs a new theory (or an adapted one) for every new data set • Deduction – reasoning from a general theory to the data • Here the theory (if it is a “good” one) is sometimes viewed as more critical than the data. • It also will guide the choice of what experiments get done Using theories in research

    21. Typically good research programs use both Theory “Data driven research” Induction Deduction “Theory driven research” Data The chicken or the egg?

    22. Basic (pure) research - tries to answer fundamental questions about the nature of behavior • e.g., McBride & Dosher (1999). Forgetting rates are comparable in conscious and automatic memory: A process-dissociation study. • Applied research – Theory sometimes takes a backseat. This is research designed to solve a particular problem • e.g., Jin (2001). Advertising and the news: Does advertising campaign information in news stories improve the memory of subsequent advertisements? Research Approaches

    23. Basic research Applied research • Think of this is as a continuum rather as two separate categories. • Often applied work may bring up some interesting basic theoretical questions, and basic theory often informs applied work. Research Approaches

    24. Download (full text available at library) and read the article for lab THIS week (Raz, Kirsch, Polard, & Nitkin-Kaner,2006) • Basic Methodologies • Making observations and conducting experiments • Read Chapters 6 and 7 Next Week