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Chapter 1 Thinking Critically with Psychological Science PowerPoint® Presentation by Jim Foley
Topics and Questions The history and growth of psychology The big question: Nature vs. Nurture Biopsychosocial levels of analysis Psychology’s subfields Avoiding three “common sense” thinking errors How do I explain dreams? Anxiety? The abilities and funny behavior of babies? The Scientific Attitude: Curiosity, Skepticism, Humility The Scientific Method Description, Correlation, and Experimentation Frequently Asked Questions about Psychology Applying psychology to learning the text: SQ3R
From speculation to science: The Birth of Modern Psychology Aristotle (4 th century BCE) had ideas about how the body and mind work. His method: making guesses. Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) added two key elements to help make psychology a science: 1.carefully measured observations 2.experiments
Push a button when a ball dropped (based on when they heard the ball hit a platform): 1/10th of a second. Push a button when consciously aware of hearing the ball hit the platform: 2/10ths of a second. Wilhelm Wundt’s 1879 experiment measured the time it took for people to: Why were the times different?
Structuralism Edward Titchener, like his teacher Wundt, used data from introspection, reporting on sensations and other elements of experience. Structuralism: Using these introspective reports to build a view of the mind’s structure
Functionalism: The school of thought that Psychological processes have a function: helping us survive as individuals, adapt as a species The developer of functionalism, William James (1842-1910), asked: How did the human style of thinking and behavior enable our ancestors to live long enough to reproduce? James mentored another pioneer William James
Mary Whiton Calkins (1863-1930) became a memory researcher and the first female president of the APA. She studied with William James but was denied a Harvard PhD. Why? Because of her gender. Psychology Pioneers Mary Whiton Calkins
Psychology Pioneers Margaret Floy Washburn, PhD Margaret Floy Washburn (1871-1939): The first female to earn a Psychology PhD The second female APA president Author of The Animal Mind.
Shifting definitions of “psychology” Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener, around 1900: “The science of mental life.” John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner, behaviorists, 1920’s: “The scientific study of observable behavior.” Cognitive psychologists, 1960’s, studied internal mental processes, helped by neuroscience. Now we combine these definitions: “The science of behavior and mental processes.”
Behaviorists study and experiment with observable behavior. Watson experimented with conditioned responses. Skinner studied the way consequences shape behavior. Like other behaviorists, he saw little value in introspection. Trends in Psychological Science: Behaviorism John B. Watson B. F. Skinner
Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis: He studied and helped people with a variety of mental disorders. More about Freud when we study personality and therapy Sigmund Freud Trends in Psychology: Freudian/Psychoanalytic Psychology
Humanists: Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers (1960s): studied people who were thriving rather than those who had psychological problems. developed theories and treatments to help people to feel accepted and to reach their full potential. Carl Rogers Abraham Maslow Trends in Psychology: Humanism
The Growth of Psychology Psychology’s pioneers have come from many fields: physiology, philosophy, medicine, and biology. Advances in psychology also have been made in many countries Psychology has spread rapidly; there are 71 member nations in the IUPS. The subjects studied in psychology have multiplied too… as we shall see in this course.
The Big Issue in Psychology: N-N To what extent are our traits already set in place at birth (our “Nature”)? And to what extent do our traits develop in response to our environment/ experience (our “Nurture”)? The Nature- Nurture Question:
vs. NatureNurture Plato: Ideas such as “the good” and “beauty” are inborn. Descartes: Some ideas are innate. Charles Darwin: Some traits become part of our nature through natural selection: they help us survive long enough to pass the traits to the next generation. Aristotle: All knowledge comes through the senses. John Locke: The mind is a blank slate (blank chalkboard or screen) “written on” by experience.
NatureNurture We have differences that are shaped by our environment. We share a common origin that gives us an inborn human nature in common. +
“Nurture works on what Nature endows.” The Roles of Nature and Nurture:
Biology Plus Environment.. are part of psychology’s three “biopsychosocial” levels of analysis. The deep level, Biology: genes, brain, neuro- transmitters, survival, reflexes, sensation The outer level, Environment: social Influences, culture, education, relationships In the middle, Psychology: thoughts, emotions, moods, choices, behaviors, traits, motivations, knowledge, perceptions
The three levels as influences on some psychological phenomenon Example: DepressionExample: IntelligenceExample: Enjoying Soccer Example: Shyness
Cognitive perspective Social-cultural Behavioral genetics Neuroscience Psychodynamic Behaviorist Evolutionary There are many perspectives for describing psychological phenomena: From different angles, you ask different questions: How reliable is memory? How can we improve our thinking? Could our behavior, skills, and attitudes be “downloads” from our culture? Could our behavior, skills, and attitudes be genetically programmed instincts? What role do our bodies and brains play in emotions? How is pain inhibited? Can we trust our senses? Do inner childhood conflicts still plague me and affect my behavior? How are our problematic behaviors reinforced? How do our fears become conditioned? What can we do to change these fears and behaviors? Why are humans prone to panic, anger, and making irrational judgments?
Different perspectives on a single issue: Six Blind Men and an Elephant
Let’s play: “What’s my perspective?” “Obsessive- compulsive disorder is a problem in the orbital cortex.” “No, it’s a sign of unresolved childhood issues.” “No, OCD is an inherited condition.” “Compulsions start as habits and are rewarded by the anxiety relief they bring.” “OCD comes from our natural instinct to control our environment.” “OCD thinking and behavior is a reaction to our fast-paced, out- of-control lifestyles.” “No, OCD is a matter of mental habits and errors that can be corrected.”
Psychology’s Subfields Applied Clinical Psychology Counseling Psychology Educational Psychology Industrial-Organizational Community Psychology Clinical Psychology Basic research Biological Developmental Cognitive Personality Social Positive Psychology
Psychology’s Subfields Research Examples Type of research Biological Developmental Cognitive Personality Social Positive Psychology Study how the stages of cognitive and emotional development vary in autism Explore the structural problems in the brain that may be part of autism Clarify the difficulties autistic children have with understanding sarcasm Decide whether traits like neuroticism need to be measured differently in autism Find how autistic children can learn social skills as procedures if not by intuition Explore what motivates people and contributes to life satisfaction
Applied Clinical Psychology Counseling Psychology Educational Psychology Industrial-Organizational Community Psychology Clinical Psychology Psychology’s Subfields Applied Help someone achieve career goals despite family conflict and self-doubt Use exposure therapy to decrease phobic reactions in a traumatized client Evaluate aptitudes and achievement to plan for a student with learning problems Figure out how a factory can improve coordination of tasks, roles, and personalities Help coordinate a city’s efforts to understand and prevent elder abuse Use exposure therapy to decrease phobic reactions in a traumatized client
Psychology in context with other professions Psychiatrists are physicians, M.D.s or D.O.s. They can prescribe medication. In addition to psychologists, professionals in social work, counseling, and marriage and family therapy may be trained to do psychotherapy.
The Need for Psychological Science: Overview Typical errors in hindsight, overconfidence, and coincidence The scientific attitude and critical thinking The scientific method: theories and hypotheses Gathering psychological data: description, correlation, and experimentation/causation Describing data: significant differences Issues in psychology: laboratory vs. life, culture and gender, values and ethics
When our natural thinking style fails: Hindsight bias: “I knew it all along.” Overconfidence error: “I am sure I am correct.” The coincidence error, or mistakenly perceiving order in random events: “The dice must be fixed because you rolled three sixes in a row.”
Hindsight bias is like a crystal ball that we use to predict… the past. I knew this would happen… You were accepted into this college/university Classic example: after watching a competition (sports, cooking), if you don’t make a prediction ahead of time, you might make a “postdiction”: “I figured that team/person would win because…” When you see most results of psychological research, you might say, “that was obvious…” Hindsight Bias
These sayings all seem to make sense, in hindsight, after we read them. Out of sight, out of mind S/He who hesitates is lost No [wo]man is an island Actions speak louder than words You’re never too old to learn Curiosity killed the cat Opposites attract There’s no place like home Absence makes the heart grow fonder Look before you leap Good fences make good neighbors The pen is mightier than the sword You can’t teach an old dog new tricks The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence Seek and ye shall find Birds of a feather flock together But then why do these other phrases also seem to make sense?
Hindsight “Bias” The mind builds its current wisdom around what we have already been told. We are “biased” in favor of old information. For example, we may stay in a bad relationship because it has lasted this far and thus was “meant to be.” Why call it “bias”?
Overconfidence Error: Predicting performance We overestimate our performance, our rate of work, our skills, and our degree of self-control. Overconfidence Error: Judging our accuracy When stating that we “know” something, our level of confidence is usually much higher than our level of accuracy. Overconfidence is a problem in preparing for tests. Familiarity is not understanding If you feel confident that you know a concept, try explaining it to someone else. Test for this: “how long do you think it takes you to…” (e.g. “just finish this one thing I’m doing on the computer before I get to work”)? How fast can you unscramble words? Guess, then try these: ERSEGAHEGOUN
Result of this error: reacting to coincidence as if it has meaning Perceiving order in random events: Example: The coin tosses that “look wrong” if there are five heads in a row. Danger: thinking you can make a prediction from a random series. If there have been five heads in a row, you can not predict that “it’s time for tails” on the next flip Why this error happens: because we have the wrong idea about what randomness looks like. If one poker player at a table got pocket aces twice in a row, is the game rigged?
Making our ideas more accurate by being scientific What did “Amazing Randi” do about the claim of seeing auras? He developed a testable prediction, which would support the theory if it succeeded. Which it did not. The aura-readers were unable to locate the aura around Randi’s body without seeing Randi’s body itself, so their claim was not supported.
Scientific Attitude Part 1: Curiosity Hypothesis: Curiosity, if not guided by caution, can lead to the death of felines and perhaps humans. Definition: always asking new questions “That behavior I’m noticing in that guy… is that common to all people? Or is it more common when under stress? Or only common for males?”
Scientific Attitude Part 2: Skepticism Definition: not accepting a ‘fact’ as true without challenging it; seeing if ‘facts’ can withstand attempts to disprove them Skepticism, like curiosity, generates questions: “Is there another explanation for the behavior I am seeing? Is there a problem with how I measured it, or how I set up my experiment? Do I need to change my theory to fit the evidence?”
Scientific Attitude Part 3: Humility Humility refers to seeking the truth rather than trying to be right; a scientist needs to be able to accept being wrong. “What matters is not my opinion or yours, but the truth nature reveals in response to our questioning.” David Myers
Critical thinking refers to a more careful style of forming and evaluating knowledge than simply using intuition. Along with the scientific method, critical thinking will help us develop more effective and accurate ways to figure out what makes people do, think, and feel the things they do. “Think critically” with psychological science… does this mean “criticize”? Why do I need to work on my thinking? Can’t you just tell me facts about psychology? The brain is designed for surviving and reproducing, but it is not the best tool for seeing ‘reality’ clearly.
Critical thinking: analyzing information, arguments, and conclusions, to decide if they make sense, rather than simply accepting it. Look for hidden assumptions and decide if you agree. Look for hidden bias, politics, values, or personal connections. Put aside your own assumptions and biases, and look at the evidence. See if there was a flaw in how the information was collected. Consider if there are other possible explanations for the facts or results.
How Psychologists Ask and Answer Questions: The Scientific Method The scientific method is the process of testing our ideas about the world by: If the data doesn’t fit our ideas, then we modify our hypotheses, set up a study or experiment, and try again to see if the world fits our predictions.
Scientific Method: Tools and Goals Some research findings revealed by the scientific method: The brain can recover from massive early childhood brain damage. Sleepwalkers are not acting out dreams. Our brains do not have accurate memories locked inside like video files. There is no “hidden and unused 90 percent” of our brain. People often change their opinions to fit their actions. The basics: Theory Hypothesis Operational Definitions Replication Research goals/types: Description Correlation Prediction Causation Experiments
Theory: the big picture Example of a theory: “All ADHD symptoms are a reaction to eating sugar.” A theory, in the language of science, is a set of principles, built on observations and other verifiable facts, that explains some phenomenon and predicts its future behavior.
Hypotheses: informed predictions “Testable” means that the hypothesis is stated in a way that we could make observations to find out if it is true. A hypothesis is a testable prediction consistent with our theory. What would be a prediction from the “All ADHD is about sugar” theory? One hypothesis: “If a kid gets sugar, the kid will act more distracted, impulsive, and hyper.” To test the “All” part of the theory: “ADHD symptoms will continue for some kids even after sugar is removed from the diet.”
Danger when testing hypotheses: theories can bias our observations We might select only the data, or the interpretations of the data, that support what we already believe. There are safeguards against this: Hypotheses designed to disconfirm Operational definitions Guide for making useful observations: How can we measure “ADHD symptoms” in the previous example in observable terms? Impulsivity = # of times/hour calling out without raising hand. Hyperactivity = # of times/hour out of seat Inattention = # minutes continuously on task before becoming distracted
The next/final step in the scientific method: Replication You could introduce a small change in the study, e.g. trying the ADHD/sugar test on college students instead of elementary students. Replicating research means trying the methods of a study again, but with different participants or situations, to see if the same results happen.
Research Process: an example
Scientific Method: Tools and Goals The basics: Theory Hypothesis Operational Definitions Replication Research goals/types: Description Correlation Prediction Causation Experiments Now that we’ve covered this We can move on to this
Research goal and strategy: Description Strategies for gathering this information: Case Study: observing and gathering information to compile an in-depth study of one individual Naturalistic Observation: gathering data about behavior; watching but not intervening Surveys and Interviews: having other people report on their own attitudes and behavior Descriptive research is a systematic, objective observation of people. The goal is to provide a clear, accurate picture of people’s behaviors, thoughts, and attributes.
Case Study Examining one individual in depth Benefit: can be a source of ideas about human nature in general Example: cases of brain damage have suggested the function of different parts of the brain (e.g. Phineas Gage seen here) Danger: overgeneralization from one example; “Joe got better after tapping his foot, so tapping must be the key to health!”
Observing “natural” behavior means just watching (and taking notes), and not trying to change anything. This method can be used to study more than one individual, and to find truths that apply to a broader population. Naturalistic Observation
The Survey Definition: A method of gathering information about many people’s thoughts or behaviors through self-report rather than observation. Keys to getting useful information: Be careful about the wording of questions Only question randomly sampled people Wording effects the results you get from a survey can be changed by your word selection. Example: Q: Do you have motivation to study hard for this course? Q: Do you feel a desire to study hard for this course?
What psychology science mistake was made here? Hint #1: Harry Truman won. Hint #2: The Chicago Tribune interviewed people about whom they would vote for. Hint #3: in 1948. Hint #4: by phone.
Random Sampling If you want to find out something about men, you can’t interview every single man on earth. Sampling saves time. You can find the ratio of colors in this jar by making sure they are well mixed (randomized) and then taking a sample. population sample Random sampling is a technique for making sure that every individual in a population has an equal chance of being in your sample. “Random” means that your selection of participants is driven only by chance, not by any characteristic.
Correlation General Definition: an observation that two traits or attributes are related to each other (thus, they are “co”- related) Scientific definition: a measure of how closely two factors vary together, or how well you can predict a change in one from observing a change in the other In a case study: The fewer hours the boy was allowed to sleep, the more episodes of aggression he displayed. A possible result of many descriptive studies: discovering a correlation In a naturalistic observation: Children in a classroom who were dressed in heavier clothes were more likely to fall asleep than those wearing lighter clothes. In a survey: The greater the number of Facebook friends, the less time was spent studying.
Correlation Coefficient The correlation coefficient is a number representing how closely and in what way two variables correlate (change together). The direction of the correlation can be positive (direct relationship; both variables increase together) or negative (inverse relationship: as one increases, the other decreases). The strength of the relationship, how tightly, predictably they vary together, is measured in a number that varies from 0.00 to +/- 1.00. Close to +1.0 (strong negative correlation) (no relationship, no correlation) Guess the Correlation Coefficients (strong positive correlation) Height vs. shoe size Years in school vs. years in jail Height vs. intelligence Close to 0.0 Close to
If we find a correlation, what conclusions can we draw from it? Let’s say we find the following result: there is a positive correlation between two variables, ice cream sales, and rates of violent crime How do we explain this?
Correlation is not Causation! “People who floss more regularly have less risk of heart disease.” “People with bigger feet tend to be taller.” If this data is from a survey, can we conclude that flossing might prevent heart disease? Or that people with heart- healthy habits also floss regularly? Does that mean having bigger feet causes height?
If self-esteem correlates with depression, there are still numerous possible causal links:
So how do we find out about causation? By experimentation Testing the theory that ADHD = sugar: removing sugar from the diet of children with ADHD to see if it makes a difference The depression/self- esteem example: trying interventions that improve self- esteem to see if they cause a reduction in depression Experimentation: manipulating one factor in a situation to determine its effect
The Control Group If we manipulate a variable in an experimental group of people, and then we see an effect, how do we know the change wouldn’t have happened anyway? We solve this problem by comparing this group to a control group, a group that is the same in every way except the one variable we are changing. Example: two groups of children have ADHD, but only one group stops eating refined sugar. By using random assignment: randomly selecting some study participants to be assigned to the control group or the experimental group. How do make sure the control group is really identical in every way to the experimental group?
To clarify two similar-sounding terms… First you sample, then you sort (assign) Random assignment of participants to control or experimental groups is how you control all variables except the one you’re manipulating. Random sampling is how you get a pool of research participants that represents the population you’re trying to learn about.
Placebo effect Placebo effect: experimental effects that are caused by expectations about the intervention How do we make sure that the experimental group doesn’t experience an effect because they expect to experience it? How can we make sure both groups expect to get better, but only one gets the real intervention being studied? Working with the placebo effect: Control groups may be given a placebo – an inactive substance or other fake treatment in place of the experimental treatment. The control group is ideally “blind” to whether they are getting real or fake treatment. Many studies are double-blind – neither participants nor research staff knows which participants are in the experimental or control groups.
The variable we are able to manipulate independently of what the other variables are doing is called the independent variable (IV). If we test the ADHD/sugar hypothesis: Sugar = Cause = Independent Variable ADHD = Effect = Dependent Variable The variable we expect to experience a change which depends on the manipulation we’re doing is called the dependent variable (DV). Did more hyper kids get to choose to be in the sugar group? Then their preference for sugar would be a confounding variable. (preventing this problem: random assignment). The other variables that might have an effect on the dependent variable are confounding variables. Naming the variables
An experiment is a type of research in which the researcher carefully manipulates a limited number of factors (IVs) and measures the impact on other factors (DVs). *in psychology, you would be looking at the effect of the experimental change (IV) on a behavior or mental process (DV). Filling in our definition of experimentation
Correlation vs. causation: the breastfeeding/intelligence question Studies have found that children who were breastfed score higher on intelligence tests, on average, than those who were bottle-fed. Can we conclude that breast feeding CAUSES higher intelligence? Not necessarily. There is at least one confounding variable: genes. The intelligence test scores of the mothers might be higher in those who choose breastfeeding. So how do we deal with this confounding variable? Hint: experiment.
Ruling out confounding variables: experiment with random assignment An actual study in the text: women were randomly selected to be in a group in which breastfeeding was promoted +6 points
Comparing Research Methods Research Method Basic PurposeHow Conducted What is Manipulated Weaknesses Summary of the types of Research DescriptiveTo observe and record behavior Perform case studies, surveys, or naturalistic observations NothingNo control of variables; single cases may be misleading CorrelationalTo detect naturally occurring relationships; to assess how well one variable predicts another Compute statistical association, sometimes among survey responses NothingDoes not specify cause-effect; one variable predicts another but this does not mean one causes the other ExperimentalTo explore cause- effect Manipulate one or more factors; randomly assign some to control group The independent variable(s) Sometimes not possible for practical or ethical reasons; results may not generalize to other contexts
Drawing conclusions from data: are the results useful? After finding a pattern in our data that shows a difference between one group and another, we can ask more questions. Is the difference reliable: can we use this result to generalize or to predict the future behavior of the broader population? Is the difference significant: could the result have been caused by random/ chance variation between the groups? How to achieve reliability: Nonbiased sampling: Make sure the sample that you studied is a good representation of the population you are trying to learn about. Consistency: Check that the data (responses, observations) is not too widely varied to show a clear pattern. Many data points: Don’t try to generalize from just a few cases, instances, or responses. When have you found statistically significant difference (e.g. between experimental and control groups)? When your data is reliable AND When the difference between the groups is large (e.g. the data’s distribution curves do not overlap too much).
Question: How can a result from an experiment, possibly simplified and performed in a laboratory, give us any insight into real life? FAQ about Psychology Laboratory vs. Life Diversity Answer: By isolating variables and studying them carefully, we can discover general principles that might apply to all people. Question: Do the insights from research really apply to all people, or do the factors of culture and gender override these “general” principles of behavior? Answer: Research can discover human universals AND study how culture and gender influence behavior. However, we must be careful not to generalize too much from studies done with subjects who do not represent the general population.
Question: Why study animals? Is it possible to protect the safety and dignity of animal research subjects? FAQ about Psychology Ethics Answer: Sometimes, biologically related creatures are less complex than humans and thus easier to study. In some cases, harm to animals generates important insights to help all creatures. The value of animal research remains extremely controversial. Question: How do we protect the safety and dignity of human subjects? Answer: People in experiments may experience discomfort; deceiving people sometimes yields insights into human behavior. Human research subjects are supposedly protected by guidelines for non-harmful treatment, confidentiality, informed consent, and debriefing (explaining the purpose of the study).
Question: How do the values of psychologists affect their work? Is it possible to perform value- free research? FAQ about Psychology The impact of Values Answer: Researchers’ values affect their choices of topics, their interpretations, their labels for what they see, and the advice they generate from their results. Value-free research remains an impossible ideal.
An Application of Psychology: Improving your test performance Scientific studies show us that: The retrieval practice effect/testing effect Testing yourself boosts retention of material. Put it in your own words, make connections Actively processing material helps master it. Spread studying over multiple days Spaced rehearsal, interspaced with other subjects, is more efficient than cramming. If the concept looks familiar… not good enough People tend to overestimate their mastery.
Applying this knowledge: Use SQ3R to master a textbook Survey Scan/Skim what you are about to read, especially chapter outlines and section heads. Question Ask questions that the text might answer; write guesses. Read Look for the answer to your questions, reading a manageable amount at a time. Rehearse Recall what you’ve read in your own words. Test yourself with quizzes. Review Look over text and notes and quickly review the main ideas of the whole chapter.