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Myers PSYCHOLOGY Seventh Edition in Modules Module 2 Research Strategies: How Psychologists Ask and Answer Questions James A. McCubbin, Ph.D. Clemson University Worth Publishers

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Observation zThe simplest scientific technique is observation. It is systematic. This means that you watch for specific behaviors and record what you see. z For example you might be asked to document the color of the cars that go by your house between the hours of 5 pm and 7 pm. zAn example would be that you are asked to watch or observe two dogs playing in your backyard and write down what you see. The information that you collect is called data.

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Data Collection zThere are many ways that data can be collected. Data might be collected with a video recording device, by administering a questionnaire or using a checklist. z The important thing is that it has to be collected so that other scientists who wish to repeat the observations can do so. No experiment is conducted with this method. The researcher does not attempt to change the environment during the data collection phase. The data are analyzed, and researchers look for interesting or important patterns. This technique can be used in studies of children.

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Types of Observation zThere are three types of observation – naturalistic observation, controlled observation and clinical observation.

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Naturalistic Observation zNaturalistic observation is observational research that takes place in a natural or everyday setting such as a school. Usually there is an effort to minimize the observer’s impact by carrying out observations secretly or from a hidden vantage point

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Examples zObserving and recording the behaviour of students in the cafeteria zObserving and recording the behaviour of geese in the field zObserving and recording the behaviour of children at recess in the playground

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Controlled Observation zControlled observation occurs when observational research is carried out under carefully arranged conditions. Each subject is exposed to the same situation to see differences between individual reactions.

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Examples zObserving and recording the behaviour of students in the cafeteria when someone is crying or not crying zObserving and recording the behaviour of geese in the field when a horn is blaring and is not blaring zObserving and recording the behaviour of children at recess in the playground when there is an adult supervisor present and not present

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Clinical Observation zClinical observation consists of observations made by a skilled clinician interacting with a patient or client. The clinician takes notes on the interaction, usually immediately after the interview or meeting with the client.

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Bias zYour observations may be influenced by what you want to discover. This is called researcher bias. Bias occurs whenever any factor unfairly increases the likelihood that the researcher will reach a particular conclusion. Researchers try to avoid bias.

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The Need for Psychological Science Critical Thinking thinking that does not blindly accept arguments and conclusions examines assumptions discerns hidden values evaluates evidence assesses conclusions The Amazing Randi—Skeptic

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Participant Bias zResearchers must also watch out for participant bias. This it the tendency for research participants to respond in a certain way because they know they are being observed or they believe they know what the researcher wants.

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Case Studies zResearchers who study individuals in depth are using the case study method. This method is prone to bias. Sometimes a case study is all that can be done. zFor example, the only way to get information on the effects of child abuse is to find people who have reported abuse and study that person or group of people. Since no two cases are ever exactly alike, there is always some doubt as to the real effects.

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Description Case Study observation technique in which one person is studied in depth in the hope of revealing universal principals Is language uniquely human?

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Correlational Studies zThere are many times when it’s useful to know if two things or variables are related. The research technique that is used is the correlational study.

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Correlation Correlation Coefficient a statistical measure of the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus how well either factor predicts the other Correlation coefficient Indicates direction of relationship (positive or negative) Indicates strength of relationship (0.00 to 1.00) r = +.37

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Correlation Scatterplot a graphed cluster of dots, each of which represents the values of two variables the slope of the points suggests the direction of the relationship the amount of scatter suggests the strength of the correlation little scatter indicates high correlation also called a scattergram or scatter diagram

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Correlation Perfect positive correlation (+1.00) No relationship (0.00)Perfect negative correlation (-1.00) Scatterplots, showing patterns of correlations

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Correlation Height and Temperament of 20 Men Subject Height in Inches Temperament Subject Height in Inches Temperament

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Correlation Scatterplot of Height and Temperament Temperament scores Height in inches

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Correlation Three Possible Cause-Effect Relationships (1) Low self-esteem Depression (2) Depression Low self-esteem Depression (3) Distressing events or biological predisposition could cause or and

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Illusory Correlation Illusory Correlation the perception of a relationship where none exists ConceiveDo not conceive Adopt Do not adopt disconfirming evidence confirming evidence disconfirming evidence confirming evidence

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Other forms of data collection zOne of the easiest forms of data collection is administering a questionnaire. This is very similar to taking a poll. Professionals usually conduct surveys and polls, while amateurs administer questionnaires.

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Description Survey technique for ascertaining the self-reported attitudes or behaviors of people usually by questioning a representative, random sample of people False Consensus Effect tendency to overestimate the extent to which others share our beliefs and behaviors

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The Need for Psychological Science Hindsight Bias we tend to believe, after learning an outcome, that we would have foreseen it the “I-knew-it-all-along” phenomenon Overconfidence we tend to think we know more than we do

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Description Population all the cases in a group, from which samples may be drawn for a study Random Sample a sample that fairly represents a population because each member has an equal chance of inclusion

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Longitudinal and Cross- sectional studies zLongitudinal studies follow the same group of individuals over many years. zCross-sectional studies compare people of different ages at one time. zThese studies are techniques of particular use to developmental psychologists, who study how individuals change throughout the lifespan.

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The Need for Psychological Science Psychologists, like all scientists, use the scientific method to construct theories that organize observations and imply testable hypotheses

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The Need for Psychological Science Theory an explanation using an integrated set of principles that organizes and predicts observations Hypothesis a testable prediction often implied by a theory

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The Need for Psychological Science

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Operational Definition a statement of procedures (operations) used to define research variables Example: intelligence may be operationally defined as what an intelligence test measures

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The Need for Psychological Science Replication repeating the essence of a research study to see whether the basic finding extends to other participants and circumstances usually with different participants in different situations

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Description

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Experimentation Experiment an investigator manipulates one or more factors (independent variables) to observe their effect on some behavior or mental process (the dependent variable) by random assignment of participants the experiment controls other relevant factors

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Experimentation Experimental Condition the condition of an experiment that exposes participants to the treatment, that is, to one version of the independent variable Control Condition the condition of an experiment that contrasts with the experimental treatment serves as a comparison for evaluating the effect of the treatment

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Confounding Variables zThe individual differences among participants are the largest category of a special kind of variable known as confounding variables. zThese are variables other than the IV that could produce a change in the DV. Confounding variables must be controlled for. You must eliminate as many of these as possible before you get your sample so that your results are accurate.

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Control zExperimenters use a variety of techniques to minimize the effects of confounding variables. The researcher must account for the following: zindividual differences among participants zenvironmental differences such as lighting, noise and temperature zDid both groups study at the same time of day? Were the room temperature and lighting conditions the same for both groups?

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Experimentation Random Assignment assigning participants to experimental and control conditions by chance minimizes pre-existing differences between those assigned to the different groups

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Experimentation Independent Variable the experimental factor that is manipulated the variable whose effect is being studied Dependent Variable the experimental factor that may change in response to manipulations of the independent variable in psychology it is usually a behavior or mental process

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Expectation Effects zExpectation effects include making sure that participants are not aware of the hypothesis of the experiment. If they were, their expectations could influence the outcome. zDid the experimental group expect to do better? Did the researchers expect the experimental group to do better?

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Procedures zTo control for such effects, experimenters use three different procedures the single blind procedure, the double blind procedure and the placebo.

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Single Blind Procedure zExperimenters often use a blind or masked procedure, which means that they don’t tell participants what the hypothesis is until after the data are collected.

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Double blind Procedure zIn this procedure the people collecting the data don’t know the expected outcome of the research or which participants are in which group and the participants don’t know if they are in the experimental group or the control group.

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Placebo zExperimenters use this special kind of control in all drug studies. It involves a non-active substance or condition that is administered instead of the drug.

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Review We are conducting an experiment to test the hypothesis that students assigned to use their MP3 player each day in the library while studying will have lower average grades at the end of the semester than students banned from using their MP3 player. z The IV is the presence or absence of the MP3 player. z The DV is the average grades at the end of the semester. z Students were randomly selected from the entire population of students who use the library to study. z We randomly assigned students to either the experimental group (using the MP3 player) or the control group (not using the MP3 player). zAll environmental conditions are as similar as possible.

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Reliability and Validity zThere are safeguards required for experiments to make sure that the research is both valid and reliable. zResearch is valid when it measures what the researcher set out to measure; it is accurate. zResearch is reliable when it can be replicated; it is consistent.

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Experimentation

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Review of Experimental Method z1. Develop the hypothesis. z2. Create operational definitions for the independent and dependent variables. z3. Randomly select a sample of participants from the population. z4. Randomly assign the participants to the experimental and control groups. z5. Expose the experimental group, but not the control group, to the IV. If necessary, use a placebo with the control group to balance expectations. z6. Control for other confounding variables by using a double-blind procedure and treating both groups the same except for exposure to the IV. z7. Learn the impact of the IV by measuring the DV for both groups and use statistical analysis.

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Examples zRead the following scenarios and determine if the method used is correlational, experimental or observational. z1. Professor Black is interested in understanding the relationship between self-esteem and anxiety in group situations. z2. Researchers at the University of Manitoba are interested in studying relationships among employees at Boeing Aircraft. These researchers decide to go and observe the interactions of coworkers in the factory. z3. Professor Guptah wishes to study the effects of food deprivation on learning in rats. z4. Dr. Cheung and her colleagues wish to study the aggressive behaviour of elementary school children by observing the children at play. z5. A group of researchers from a child advocacy group wishes to examine the relationship between exposure to televised violence and later aggressive behaviour in children by asking parents to report on how much television their child watches and what types of programs their child has watched. z

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Examples continued z6. Dr. Beauchamp wishes to investigate the effects of a new training program at McDonald’s on employees’ job performance. z7. A group of researchers wishes to study the organizational culture of successful schools. z8. Dr. Cortez is interested in the relationship between the different strategies that a therapist uses and how effective those strategies are. z9 A group of researchers is interested in the effects of caffeine drinks like Red Bull on test performance. z10. Dr. Courchene is interested in studying peer influence among high school students by recording their clothing choices, hairstyles.

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Use of Statistics zWithout a basic understanding of statistics you are at a serious disadvantage because statistical information is all around us. For example, you hear that 9 out of 10 dentists want you to use a particular toothpaste, you learn about the earned run averages of the Winnipeg Goldeyes, and you hear that blue is the most favorite color of M and M. The overall purpose of statistics is to make data more meaningful.

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Frequency Distributions zA frequency distribution is an ordered list of scores from highest to lowest or lowest to highest. The data can then be easily presented as a bar graph.

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Measures of Central Tendency z1. Mode zThe mode is the score that occurs most frequently in the distribution. It is not the best source of information because it is possible for the mode to not be even close to the center of the distribution. z2. Mean zThe mean is the most familiar measure of central tendency. It is commonly called the average. You calculate it by adding together all of the scores and then dividing by the number of scores that you added together. The mean can be misleading if there are some really high or really low scores. zMedian z3. The median shows us the middle of a distribution. Once you have put all the scores in order you find the middle scores. The extremely high scores and the extremely low scores will not have an impact on the middle score. z

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Measures of Variation zEven though it is important to know where the center of a distribution falls it is also important to know how different or varied the scores are from the mode, mean and median. z zRange zThe simplest measure of variation is the range. It is the difference between the highest score and the lowest score.

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Standard Deviation zStandard deviation is a measure of the overall variation of a distribution of numbers. The smaller the standard deviation, the more closely the scores are to the mean. The higher the standard deviation the more spread out the scores are. zNormal Distribution zA lot of psychological data can be represented in a graph called a normal distribution, or bell-shaped curve. The right and left sides of the curve are identical. The highest point represents all three measure of central tendency: the mode, the mean, and the median.

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Comparative Statistics zThe two major comparative statistics are percentage and percentile rank. zPercentage compares a score to an imaginary score of 100. zPercentile rank compares one score with other scores in an imaginary group of 100 individuals. It tells you where a particular score stands in that group and how many people had equal or lower scores. z

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Correlation Coefficient zThe correlation coefficient is a number that represents how strong a relationship is between two variables. The number has a value between -1 and +1. zIf the correlation coefficient (r) has a value of -1 then we have a perfect negative correlation. This means that every time one variable increases the other variable decreases by the same amount. zIf r=+1 then we have a perfect positive correlation. This means that every time one variable increases the other variable increases by the same amount. zIf r=0 then there is no correlation.

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Scatterplot zRemember r values can be anywhere between -1 and +1. They are represented in a graph called a scatterplot. The data is mapped as dots on this type of graph.

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Statistical Inference zThe statistics so far in this lesson are called descriptive statistics because they describe data in a way that makes them more meaningful. zAnother kind of statistics that is important for psychologists is called inferential statistics. This lets us make decisions or reach conclusions about a set of data. z

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Three factors: z1. The difference between the two groups’ means. If the means are far apart, the result is more likely to be significant. z2. The number of participants. If each group has only a few people, the results are not as likely to be as significant as they would be if each group has a large number of randomly selected people in it. z3. The standard deviation of the two groups. If the scores of each group are mostly packed closely to each mean, then the results are significant.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Psychology Why do psychologists study animals? Is it ethical to experiment on animals? Is it ethical to experiment on people?

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Human Research Guidelines zInformed consent – Participants must know that they are involved in research and give their consent. It is at this time that participants need to be told about any potential risks. zCoercion - Participation must be voluntary. No one can be forced to be in a study. Participants have the right to refuse to participate or to withdraw at any time from the study. zAnonymity/Confidentiality – Participants’ privacy must be protected. The researcher must never reveal their identities. zRisk – Participants can’t be placed in any significant mental or physical risk. z Debriefing – Participants must be told the purpose of the study and provided with ways to contact the researchers about the study results.

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Animal Research Guidelines zClear scientific purpose – The research must answer a specific, important scientific question. Animals are chosen because they are best-suited. z Humane treatment – The animals must be cared for and housed in a humane way. zLegal possession of animals – The animals used in research must be purchased from legal companies. If wild animals are used they must be trapped in a humane manner. z Minimum suffering - The experimental procedures must be designed to use the least amount of suffering possible.

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Why Use Animals? zPsychologists use animals in research for several reasons. Some of these reasons are: zMany psychologists are simply interested in animal behaviour. zThere are biological and behavioural similarities between animals and humans. By studying animals we can learn things that apply to humans. zBecause the life span of most animals is shorter than humans we can study genetic effects over generations faster than in humans. zResearchers have more control over experiments with animals than with humans.

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