Welcome to Psyc 300A:Understanding Psychological Research I Steven F. Bacon, Ph.D
Intro to the Course • Significant achievements of last 100 years • Psychology and science • Syllabus
Assumptions of Scientists • Nature is orderly and lawful. • This order and these laws can be understood. • Apparent exceptions to the laws only suggest that we don’t fully understand. • Some things don’t lend themselves to scientific understanding; this doesn’t mean they are unimportant.
Goals of Science • To understand nature • Different levels of understanding • Description • Prediction • Explanation (and control)
Attitudes of Scientists • Open-minded • Skeptical • Data drives acceptance (public, democratic) • Authority doesn’t count (power rests with ideas, not people) • Objective • We agree to play by rules, even if they don’t support
Characteristics of Science • Data driven (empirical) • Drawing conclusions based on data, not intuition • Use of scientific method (systematic empiricism): • Observations • Theory • Predictions/hypotheses • Testable and falsifiable hypotheses • Replicable & public
Characteristics of Pseudoscience • Not falsifiable • Results don’t replicate, especially by outsiders • Evidence tends to be anecdotal • Invokes mysterious forces • Challenges are interpreted as attacks • Theory is static • Doesn’t tie with other sciences • Doesn’t require specialized training
Why is Pseudoscience so Popular? • Carl Sagan: “ Pseudoscience is embraced … in exact proportion as real science is misunderstood.” • Pseudoscience is different than erroneous real science
Approaches to Research • Descriptive • Observational studies • Case studies • Surveys • Correlational • Correlational studies • Quasi-experiments • Experiments
Observational Study • Can be naturalistic or in lab • Systematically observing behavior as it occurs, without interfering • Advantages • Seeing “real” behavior • Disadvantages • No control, many influences on behavior • Doesn’t address causation
Case Study • Study a single person in great depth • Advantages • Costs little • Study complexity of individuals • Study rare phenomena • Disadvantages • Little control • Don’t generalize well • Doesn’t address causation
Survey • Ask a group of people questions • Involves sampling • Advantages • Can get lots of info • Can compare with other studies • Relatively easy to do • Disadvantages • Sampling must be done well • Wording of questions can influence • People don’t always tell the truth
Group Activity • Describe how you could investigate the relationship between wealth and happiness using these research approaches: • Observational study • Case study • Survey
Correlational Study • Measure at least two variables as they exist within a sample to see relationships • What is a positive relationship and a negative relationship? • Advantages • Can be rigorous • Can see natural behavior • Can predict behavior • Disadvantage • Can’t get at causation
Experiment • Manipulate one variable (IV) to see effect on another variable (DV) while controlling other variables. • IV and DV, random assignment • Advantages • Can get at causation • Disadvantages • Artificial environment • Sometimes can’t be done or unethical
IV/DV Practice #1 • In order to study the effects of noise on worker productivity, researchers have one group of research participants work in a noisy room and a second group work in a quiet room • What is the IV? What is the DV?
IV/DV Practice #2 • In a study on the influence of self-esteem on interpersonal attraction, college students were either insulted or complimented about their physical appearance just before they went on a blind date. At the end of the date, participants were asked if they’d like to go out again with their date. • What is the IV? What is the DV?
Group Activity: IV and DV (cont) Twenty-nine female and 30 male students listened to either a song with violent lyrics or to a song without violent content. The participants then completed the State Hostility Scale, which indicates the degree of hostility in a person. Higher scores reflect higher hostility. The researchers discovered that participants who listened to violent lyrics showed a higher level of hostility than participants who listened to nonviolent lyrics. (Beins, Activity 4.1, p. 30)
Group Activity: IV and DV (cont) A psychologist wondered how people would respond to people with tatoos, so he studied how long people helped a tatooed stranger who was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt or in a shirt, tie, and dress slacks. In each dress condition, half of the time the tatoo was not visible, and half the time it was visible. The confederate asked for help in reading a map, claiming he had forgotten his glasses. The results showed that people spent the same amount of time with the person when the tatoo was not visible, regardless of attire. When the tatoo was visible, however, people spent more time with the person in sweatshirt and jeans than the person with shirt, tie, and dress slacks. (Beins, Activity 4.1, p. 30)
Feedback • What was the most difficult or confusing thing presented in today’s lecture? • Please write your thoughts on paper and turn it in anonymously