PSYC 203 - The Basics

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why should research methods be taken at the undergraduate level

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why should research methods be taken at the undergraduate level

  • provides a foundation for understanding information presented in other classes

  • familiarize students with particular language used to describe research

  • makes you a more informed and critical thinker

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nonscientific ways of knowing

  • authority

  • reason

  • empiricism

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unscientific way of knowing where we accept the validity of information from a source that we judge to be an expert

e.g. children believing their parents

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unscientific way of knowing where we arrive at a conclusion by using logical and sensible thinking

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reasoning on false premises can lead to…

false conclusions

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a priori method

a way of knowing in which a person develops a belief by reasoning and reaching an agreement with others who are convinced of the merits of. the reasoned arguement

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an unscientific way of knowing where the process of learning things through direct observation or experience

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empiricism can be influenced by


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belief perseverance

the tendency to hold onto ones beliefs even in the fact of contradictory information

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confirmation bias

tendency to seek out and pay special attention to information that supports one's beliefs, while ignoring information that contradicts a belief

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availability heuristic

experiencing unusual or memorable events which causes us to overestimate how often these events occur

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attributes of science as a way of knowing

  • assumes determinism

  • assumes discoverability

  • makes systematic observations

  • produces public knowledge

  • produces data-based conclusions

  • produces tentative conclusions

  • asks answerable questions

  • develops theories that can be falsified

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all events have causes

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statistical determinism

states that events can be predicted, but with only a probability greater than chance

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all causes and other phenomenon's can be discovered through scientific means

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systematic observations

observations less affected by bias than everyday thinking

made by using (a) precise definitions of the phenomena being measured (b) reliable and valid measuring tools (c) accepted research methods and (d) a system of logic for drawing conclusions and fitting those conclusions into general theories

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production of public knowledge

replication of objective results increases public confidence that a psychological phenomenon is true

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eliminating human factors in research such as expectation and bias

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data-based conclusions

conclusions about behavior must supported by evidence gathered through some scientific procedure

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tentative nature of scientific conclusions

conclusions from data-driven research are always tentative, subject to revision based on future research

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empirical questions

questions answerable with data through systematic observations and techniques to characterize specific methodology

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falsification principle

for a theory to be considered scientific, it must be able to be tested and conceivably proven false

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refers to any field of inquiry that appears to use scientific methods and tries hard to give that impression, but is actually based on inadequate, unscientific methods and makes claims that are false or overly simplistic

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pseudoscience is characterized by…

  • a deliberate attempt to associate itself with true science

  • reliance on anecdotal and testimonial evidence

  • developing theories that are too vague to be adequately tested with scientific methods

  • fail the test of falsification

  • tend to explain complicated phenomena in overly simplistic concepts

  • large popular appeal

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goals of research in psychology

  • aims to provide clear and detailed descriptions of behavioral phenomena

  • aims to develop laws that enable scientists to predict behavior with probability greater than chance

  • aims to provide adequate explanations of the causes of behavior

  • aims to apply principles of behavior learned through research

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purpose of ethics systems

set of "standards of governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession"

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principles of the Belmont report (first code of ethics)

  • respect for persons

  • beneficence

  • justice

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5 principles of the APA ethics code

  • beneficence and nonmaleficence

  • fidelity and responsibility

  • integrity

  • justice

  • respect for people's rights and dignity

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beneficence and nonmaleficence (APA)

researchers must constantly weigh the benefits and costs of the research they conduct and seek to achieve the greatest good in their research with little harm done to others

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fidelity and responsibility (APA)

researchers must be aware of their responsibility to society and reminds them to maintain the highest level of professionality

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integrity (APA)

researchers must be scrupulously honest

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justice (APA)

researchers must treat everyone in the research enterprise with fairness and maintain a level of expertise the chances of bias in their work

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respect for people's rights and dignity (APA)

researchers must be vigorous in their efforts to safeguard confidentiality and protect the rights of research volunteers

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IRB (institutional research board)

formal process that attempts to judge the costs (intrusion on those contributing data to the study) and benefits of research experiments (scientific value)

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the role of the IRB is to determine the..

risk encountered by paricipants

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no risk (IRB)

observation/no interference

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minimal risk (IRB)

as in everyday risk

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at risk (IRB)

greater risk than everyday life

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why are IRB’s controversial

  • extent to which IRB's should be judging the details of research procedures and designs

  • researchers complain that IRB's are overzealous in their concerns about risk

  • sometimes overemphasize a biomedical research model to evaluate proposals

  • lack of consistency

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informed consent

refers to the idea that human participants should be given enough information about the study's purpose and procedures to decide if they wish to volunteer

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the intentional misleading of subjects or the withholding of full information about the nature of the experiment

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use of deception is only granted if…

the study cannot be achieved otherwise

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occurs when the researcher answers any questions the participants may have in regards to the study

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2 purposes of debriefing

  • dehoaxing

  • desensitizing

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revealing to participants the true purpose of the study and the hypothesis being tested

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reducing stress or other negative feelings that might have been due to participation in the study

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ethical obligations for research with humans

  • develop a study in which the benefits outweigh the costs

  • avoiding doing anything that would harm participants

  • gain informed consent

  • assure volunteers they can quit the study at any time, without penalty

  • provide some form of debriefing

  • assuring participants about confidentiality and their anonymity

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problems with research online

  • issues with consent; cannot tell if people read informed consent form

  • problems conducting effective debriefing

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ethical guidelines for research with animals

  • justification of the study is required when potential harm to an animal exists (benefits must outweigh costs)

  • proper acquisition and care of animals, both during and after the study, both during and after the study

  • use of animals for educational rather than research purposes

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presenting work or ideas from another source as your own, with or without consent of the original author, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement

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data falsification

manipulating research data with the intention of giving a false impression

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implications of scientific fraud

  • patients may pay the risk

  • increased cost risks

  • decreased/no benefit

  • if data is false, conclusions and theories will be false

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types of scientific fraud

  • data falsification

  • plagiarism

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3 ways to classify the varieties of psychology

  • the goals

  • the setting

  • the data

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varieties of goals of psychology

  • basic research

  • applied research

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basic research

emphasizes describing, predicting, and explaining the fundamental principles of behavior and mental processes

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applied research

research aimed at the direct and immediate relevance to the solution of real-world problems

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varieties of settings of psychology

  • lab

  • field

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lab research

occurs inside a controlled environment which allows for better control with conditions being specified more clearly

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field research

occurs in a natural, less controlled environment (usually associated with applied) where the environment more closely matches situations we encounter in daily living

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mundane realism

how closely a study mirrors real-life experiences

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experimental realism

the extent to which a research study has an impact on the subjects, forces them to take the matter seriously, and involves them in the procedures

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varieties of data type of psychology

  • quantitative

  • qualitative

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quantitative data

data is collected and presented in the form of numbers (averages, percentages, graphs, etc..)

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qualitative data

results are presented as analytical narratives which that summarize the project's main outcomes (e.g. case studies, interviews, etc...)

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features of empirical questions

  • must be answerable with data

  • terms must be precisely defined (operational definitions!!)

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operational definitions

precise and objective terms which are defined in terms of a set of procedures to be performed

researcher defines how the concepts to be studied "operate" in an experiment

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benefits of operational defintions

  • forces researchers to clearly define the terms of their studies

  • allows studies to be repeated (replication)

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converging operations

our understanding of some behavioral phenomenon's is increased when a series of investigations (all using slightly different procedures and definitions), converge on a common conclusion

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serendiptious events

discovering something while looking for something completely different

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set of logically consistent statements about some phenomena that…

  • best summarizes existing empirical knowledge of the phenomenon

  • organizes knowledge in the form of precise statements and relationships among variables

  • proposes an explanation for the phenomenon

  • serves as the basis for making predictions

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cognitive dissonance

the state of discomfort as a product when people hold two opposing cognitions (thoughts) at the same time

can occur within theories and between theories

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attributes of good theories

  • productivity

  • falsification

  • parsimony

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productive theory

good theories advance knowledge by generating a great deal of research

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the capacity for some proposition, statement, theory or hypothesis to be proven wrong

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theories include the minimum number of constructs and assumptions needed to explain the phenomenon adequately and predict future outcomes

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refers to a study that duplicates some or all of the procedures of a prior study

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types of replication

  • direct - attempted replication of a study's results testing the same type of sample and using the exact procedures and statistical analyses as the original study

  • conceptual - parts of the procedures of a prior study are purposely changed in order to test predictions similar to those in the original study

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the participants of a study

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general group that we want to make a conclusion about

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probability sampling

occurs when every member of a population has an definable chance of being selected for the sample

sampling method that involves randomly selecting a sample, or a part of the population that you want to research

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probability sampling procedures

  • simple random sampling

  • stratified sampling

  • cluster sampling

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simple random sampling

type of probability sampling where each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected as a member of the sample (more sophisticated way of picking names out of a hat)

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advantages of simple random sampling

  • effective

  • fair

  • practical

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disadvantages of simple random sampling

  • may not be useful when you want to measure specific features of the population represented in your sample (stratified sampling solves this!)

  • not practical if the sample is extremely large (cluster sampling solves this!)

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stratified sampling

type of probability sampling where proportions of important subgroups are represented precisely by dividing people into re-determined groups called layers or strata

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best uses of stratified sampling

  • when one group may be over-represented in the sample. aims to represent subgroups proportionally

  • useful for targeting certain groups of individuals when we are trying to examine something specific

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cluster sampling

type of probability sampling where you divide a population into clusters, such as districts or schools, and then randomly select some of these clusters as your sample

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nonprobability sampling

method of selecting units from a population using a subjective (i.e. non-random) method

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types of nonprobability sampling methods

  • convienence sampling (includes purposive sampling, quota sampling, snowball sampling)

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convience sample

nonprobability sampling method where a group of individuals who meet the general requirements of a study and are recruited in a variety of non-random way

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purposive sampling

type of convenience sampling method where a researcher seeks out a particular group of individuals

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quota sampling

type of convenience sampling method which aims to represent subgroups proportionally but in a non-random way

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snowball sampling

type of convenience sampling method where recruiting members of a group based on asking participants to help them recruit more participants through a network of friends

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ways to evaluate measures

  • reliability

  • validity

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when something measures what it intends to measure

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something is reliable if its results are repeatable when the behaviors are remeasured

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content validity

refers to whether or not the actual content of the items on the test make sense in terms of the construct being measured

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face validity

concerns whether the measure seems valid to those who are taking it

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criterion validity

whether the measure is related to some behavioral outcome or criterion that has been established by prior research

further divided into predicitve validity and concurrent validity

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