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Chapter One. The Scientific Understanding of Behavior. What is Science and why do we study it ?. Science is the process of formulating specific questions and then finding answers in order to gain a better understanding of the world. Science as a process of inquiry.

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Chapter One

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chapter one

Chapter One

The Scientific Understanding of Behavior

what is science and why do we study it
What is Science and why do we study it ?

Science is the process of formulating specific questions and then finding answers in order to gain a better understanding of the world

science as a process of inquiry
Science as a process of inquiry
  • provides us with a means of addressing questions and provide answers that can be useful in understanding the world around us.
  • uses systematic, disciplined thinking to gain knowledge which we call the Scientific Method.
methods of acquiring knowledge
Methods of Acquiring Knowledge
  • Tenacity
  • Intuition
  • Authority
  • Rationalism
  • Empiricism
  • Science
Tenacity a willingness to accept ideas as valid knowledge b/c these ideas have been accepted for so long or have been so often repeated that they acquire an aura of truth
Intuition operates without intellectual effort or sensory processing, it’s a form of direct-access knowledge
Authority the acceptance of an idea as valid knowledge because some respected source claims it is valid

Tenacity, intuition,and authority make few demands on information and processes. When we use these three methods of acquiring knowledge, we believe it because:

  • “ It has always been true”---tenacity
  • We “feel” it is so---intuition
  • A respected figure says its true—authority.
Rationalism a way of thinking in which knowledge is developed thru reasoning.

----information is carefully stated and logical rules are followed to arrive at an acceptable conclusion

example of the use of rationalism
Example of the use of Rationalism
  • --All crows are black (the major premise)
  • --This is a crow (the minor premise)
  • --Therefore, this crow is black (the conclusion)
rationalism example two
Rationalism: Example Two
  • --All 4 year old children develop fears of the dark
  • --Lisa is a 4 year old child
  • --Therefore, Lisa has developed fears of the dark
Empiricism involves gaining knowledge through observation
  • Empiricism is the fundamental characteristic of the scientific approach as it is knowledge based on observation.
  • Empiricism gives us a series of facts, but does not tell us how to put them together or what they mean.
goals of scientific behavioral research
Goals of Scientific Behavioral Research
  • to describe behavior
  • to predict behavior
  • to determine the causes of behavior
  • to understand or explain behavior
1. Description of Behavior-scientists begin

with careful observation .

Three types of evidence:

  • Temporal Precedence
  • Co-variation of cause and effect
  • Elimination of alternative explanations.

2. Prediction of Behavior--once it has been observed with some regularity that two

events are systematically related to one another, it becomes possible to make predictions.

3 determining the causes of behavior
3. Determining the Causes of Behavior….

--we may be able to accurately predict the occurrence of a behavior, but that does not mean we can accurately predict its cause.

In order to change a behavior, we need to know the cause….

4 explanation of behavior
4. Explanation of Behavior
  • In order to know why a behavior occurs, we must study that behavior through different methods of research.
  • Explaining behavior in one set of circumstances through research does not guarantee that it is the only explanation which generates the need for additional research.
basic vs applied research
Basic vs. Applied Research
  • Basic research tries to answer fundamental questions as to the nature of behavior. –this type of research is conducted to gain knowledge and further science and theory.

e.g. cognitive, physiological and social psychologists.

Applied and basic research from a symbiotic relationship.
  • Much of applied research is based on theories and techniques developed by basic research.
  • Some advances studied using basic research are due to results found in applied research.
Applied Research—conducted to address practical problems and come up with potential solutions.

e.g. Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, Forensic Psychologists.