Today’s Goal: Learn how psychologists conduct research
Learning Targets: I can list and explain the steps scientists follow in conducting scientific research.
Conducting Research/M&M Activity
The Steps of Research:
Forming a research question. – How many M&M’s are in the bag?
- Generally arise from general experience.
- Best if directed towards behavior.
- Some questions arise out of psychological theory.
Forming a hypothesis
After a psychologist asks a research question they form a hypothesis about the answer.
Hypothesis: An educated guess.
- A prediction of assumption about behavior that is tested through scientific research.
- Hypothesis: An educated guess.
- The accuracy about a hypothesis can be tested by research.
- Often worded in if/then statements.
- Because it is only a an educated guess a hypothesis must be tested.
- After a psychologist asks a research question they form a hypothesis about the answer.
Testing the hypothesis
- This is where the experiment is conducted and data is collected.
- Because psychology is a science, psychological knowledge rests on carefully examined human experience.
- No matter how good a hypothesis sounds and no matter how many people believe it, a hypothesis cannot be considered correct until it has been scientifically tested and proved right.
- Psychologists examine the evidence and draw their own conclusions.
- A variety of methods can be used to test a hypothesis.
Analyzing the results
- After psychologists have tested their hypothesis, they analyze the results.
- They ask what their findings mean.
- Data that was collected during the testing phase is analyzed.
- Psychologists look for patterns and relationships in the data and try to decide if they data supports their hypothesis or not.
Once the research has been analyzed they draw conclusions about their questions and hypothesis.
- These conclusions are useful in the development and validation of the theories in psychology.
- When their observations do not support their hypothesis they must change the theories or beliefs on which the hypothesis was derived.
- Psychologists must be willing to adjust their hypothesis if their findings make it necessary to do so.
- Once the research has been analyzed they draw conclusions about their questions and hypothesis.
Replication: To repeat a research study to and produce the same results as before.
- For the findings of a study to be confirmed the study must be replicated.
When scientists replicate a study, but obtain different results than were obtained the first time, the findings of the first study are questioned.
- Example: Extrasensory Perception (ESP) studies
- Sometimes scientists repeat a study under slightly different circumstances.
Today’s Goal: To discover the difference between Surveys, Samples, and Populations
Learning Targets: I can explain the survey method and the importance of proper sampling techniques.
Chapter 2 Section 2 Notes
- When psychologists want to find out about people’s attitudes and behaviors, one possible way to gather information is to ask people directly.
The Survey Method
- Survey: a research technique for acquiring data about the attitudes or behaviors of a group of people, usually by asking questions of a representative, random sample.
- People are asked to response to a series of questions about a subject.
- Surveys may be written or given orally.
- Many surveys are done on the computer.
Problem with the survey method: Findings may not be accurate.
- People may lie about their attitudes or behavior.
- May fear their responses will not be kept confidential.
- Some may try to please the interviewers.
- They may not understand the question as well.
Beliefs can conflict with behavior.
- Examples: TV and Tooth brushing.
Populations and Samples
- When researchers conduct any type of study they must consider what groups or groups of people they wish to examine and how respondents will be selected.
- To accurately predict an outcome, it is necessary to study a group that represents the target population.
- Target Population: The total group to be studied or described and from whom samples may be drawn.
It would be costly and difficult-if not impossible-to interview or question every member of a population.
Instead researchers study a sample.
- Sample: A representative segment of a target population.
- Instead researchers study a sample.
Psychologists and other scientists select samples scientifically to ensure that the samples accurately represent the populations they are supposed to represent.
- A sample should be similar to the target population so that the researchers can make accurate predictions about the population from which the sample is drawn.
- Psychologists and other scientists select samples scientifically to ensure that the samples accurately represent the populations they are supposed to represent.
Researchers obtain a sample that represents the target population by using a random sample.
- Random Sample: A survey population, selected by chance, which fairly represents the general population.
- Each member of the population has an equal chance of being chosen.
- If the random sample is big enough, chance are that it will accurately represent the whole population.
Researchers also use stratified samples.
- Stratified Sample: a sample drawn in such a way that known subgroups within a population are represented in proportion to their numbers in the general population.
- Ex. If 12% of the population is African American, then 12% of the participants in the survey should be African American
Keep in mind that a large random sample (1000+ people) will usually represent the general population fairly well.
- It must be completely random for this to work.
- Sometimes researchers do not use a sample that represents an entire population.
Sometimes a researchers my want to know about only one group of the population.
- It could also happen if it is impractical or impossible to obtain a random or stratified sample.
- Researchers who do this are cautious about generalizing their findings to groups other than the sample group.
- Researchers cannot learn from the preferences of all people by studying one group.
- Researchers have little control over who responds to surveys or participates in research studies.
- Bias: A predisposition to a certain point of view.
- People who volunteer to be in a study often have volunteer bias.
- Volunteer bias: the concept that people who volunteer to participate in research studies often differ from those who do not volunteer.
- More willing to disclose personal information.
- May be more interested in research then non volunteers.
- May have more spare time to participate in studies.
- Volunteer bias could slant results in a particular direction.
HOMEWORK: Answer these 2 questions to the best of your ability:
- Give an example of a survey that might produce different results depending on whether the participants volunteered or were selected randomly. How might the results differ, and what would account for these differences?
- Explain the survey method and the importance of proper sampling techniques.
Today’s Goal: Discover methods of observation
Learning Targets: I can compare and contrast various methods of observation. AND I can discuss the use of correlation in analyzing results.
Bell Work: Get into a group of 4 and await further instructions.
Chapter 2 Section 3 Notes
Methods of Observation
- Almost everyone makes observations.
- We tend to make generalizations about human behavior and human nature when we observe.
- Our personal observations can be haphazard.
- Psychologists use more careful methods of observation.
The Testing Method
- Several types of tests measure various elements of human behavior such as abilities, interest, and personality.
- Advantages: Convenient method for researchers to gain insight to certain aspects of an individual’s abilities or behavior.
- Disadvantages: Does not always provide a complete representation of individual’s true abilities or personality.
The Case-Study Method
- Researchers conduct in-depth investigations of individuals or small groups and generalize broader principles that apply to the larger population.
- Advantages: Provides insight into specific cases.
- Disadvantages: May focus on isolated circumstances or events that cannot be replicated. People interviewed in case studies may distort their past experiences. Researchers may unintentionally encourage people to answer questions a certain way.
- A group of participants are observed at intervals over an extended period of time, often years or even decades.
- Advantages: Enables researchers to see how individuals change over time.
- Disadvantages: Time-consuming and expensive. Participants may not be available for the duration of the study.
- Researchers compare the differences and similarities among people in different age groups at a given time.
- Advantages: Less-time consuming then the longitudinal method for studying changes over time.
- Disadvantages: Differences between the embers of the sample cannot necessarily be attributed to age or development.
The Naturalistic-Observation Method
- Researchers observe the behavior of people or animals in their natural habitats.
- Advantages: Enables researchers to witness the behavior of people or animals in settings that are not artificial.
- Disadvantages: Researchers have no control over the setting of the events that occur.
The Laboratory-Observation Method
- Participants are observed in a laboratory setting.
- Advantages: Enables researchers to precisely control certain aspects of the study.
- Disadvantages: Laboratories cannot duplicate real-life environments.
- Once psychologists have made observations they must analyze and interpret them.
Psychologists often use correlations:
- The relationship between variables.
- They measure how closely one thing is related to another.
- The stronger the correlation is the more the two things are related.
Positive and Negative Correlations
Positive Correlation: a relationship between variables in which one variable INCREASES as the other variable also INCREASES.
- Graph goes up from left to right.
- Example: The more sleep you get, the better you do in school.
Negative Correlation: an unpleasant stimulus between two variables in which one variable INCREASES as the other variable DECREASES
- Graph goes down from left to right.
- Example: The more stress you have, the more likely you are to get ill.
- Think of a date between a couple. If the two people have a positive relationship they “go together.” But, if the two people develop a negative relationship they “go in opposite directions,” rather then continue to date.
- Positive Correlation: a relationship between variables in which one variable INCREASES as the other variable also INCREASES.
Limits to Correlations
- CORRELATION DOES NOT REVEAL CAUSE AND EFFECT
- Just because two things are related does not necessarily mean that one causes the other.
- HOMEWORK: With a partner determine a workable research question. (Example, What is the average size of the group in which students congregate during lunch, and does the size of the group vary according to the gender of its members”) Then make and record the required observations (use naturalistic observation so you should be unobtrusive). Please observe at least 3 groups and record your observations. Be prepared to share your findings with the class tomorrow.