Detailed Learning Objectives 1. Understand that experience usually has no comparison group and usually has confounds. 2. Learn to avoid the two common pitfalls of basing conclusions on intuition: thinking the easy way and thinking what we want. 3. Be cautious about accepting the conclusions of authority figures (especially conclusions that are not based on research). 4. Understand why researchers should include a comparison group, control for confounds, and strive to evaluate information without bias. 5. Find research-based information in PsycINFO and other sources. 6. Know the forms that research- based information can take: empirical journal articles, review journal articles, books, and chapters in edited books.
The Research Versus Your Experience
Compared to what? Experience is confounded Controlled research is better than experience
Compared to what? (Experience doesn’t have a comparison group.) Dr. Rush never compared the bleeding cure to no treatment.
Researchers ask: Compared to what??? Experience Doesn’t Have a Comparison Group
Does volunteering keep you young? 76 percent of people who volunteer feel younger than their age. Does reading the safety guide in the airplane keep you safe? 70 percent of people who survived air crashes read the in-pocket safety manual before their flight. Crandall, “Six weeks to a younger You” LHJ, 2011 Compared to What?
Experience Is Confounded When we evaluate our own experience, we are not able to control for multiple, co-occurring effects on our moods or behaviors.
Research, Compared to Experience Researchers include a comparison group, control for confounds, and strive to evaluate information without bias.
Homework Examples in Learning Actively #1 Comparison matrices: Compared to what? What confounds are present? Herbal supplements for ADHD (HW)
The Research Versus Your Intuition
Thinking the easy way Thinking what we want The intuitive thinker versus the scientific reasoner
Thinking the Easy Way The good story (we accept a conclusion just because it makes sense) The present/present bias (we focus on positive instances more than negative ones) The pop-up principle (availability heuristic—things that come easily to mind guide our thinking)
Thinking What We Want Cherry-picking the evidence (we seek and accept only the evidence that supports what we already think) Asking biased questions (we ask questions that are more likely to give the desired answers) Being overconfident (being confident is not the same as being correct) Confirmatory hypothesis testing. This therapist suspects her client has an anxiety disorder. What kinds of questions should she be asking that would both potentially confirm and potentially disconfirm her hypothesis?
Trusting Authorities on the Subject
a. “I’m positive my cousin has an eating disorder! I hardly ever see her eat anything other than diet bars.” b. A friend asks you, “Did you hear about the study conducted by RAND? It showed that the more sexually explicit TV a teenage girl watches, the greater her risk of teen pregnancy.” c. “It’s so clear that my favorite candidate won that debate! Did you hear all the zingers he delivered?” d. “I read online that many cases of autism are caused by the MMR vaccine children get when they are 2.” What Kind of Reasoning Is This?
e. “There are way more dogs than cats in this city. That’s all you see in the parks—dogs, dogs, dogs!” f. “Tanning beds cause skin cancer? Maybe in rats— but I’m a person, and I’ve been using tanning beds for about two years. I don’t even have any new freckles.” g. “I’m afraid of flying—planes are so dangerous!” h. “I read in the newspaper’s science section that people who multitask with computers, cell phones, and other people actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out information they don’t need.” What Kind of Reasoning Is This?
Finding and Reading the Research
Consulting scientific sources Finding scientific sources Reading the research Finding research in other places
Consulting Scientific Sources Types of research information written for a scientific audience: Empirical journal articles Review journal articles Edited books Full-length books