Psych2: Research Methods

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  1. phenomena
    things that can be observed
  2. scientific method
    systematic procedure of observing and measuring phenomena to answer questions about what happens, when it happens, what causes it, and why.

    theory > hypothesis > research >support theory or refute theory (discard or revise & retest)
  3. theory
    model of interconnected ideas and concepts that explains what is observed and makes predictions about future events
  4. hypothesis
    • a specific prediction of what should be observed in the world if a theory is correct
    • must be testable
  5. research
    scientific process that involves the systematic and careful collection of data
  6. data
    • objective observations or measurements
    • provides a test for whether the hypothesis is likely to be supported
  7. replication
    repetition of an experiment to confirm the results
  8. Sigmund Freud
    • The Interpretation of Dreams:
    • theory that all dreams represent the fulfillment of an unconscious wish
    • (but it was not testable)
  9. Jean Piaget
    proposed a theory of infant and child development that suggested that cognitive development occurs in a fixed series of "stages" from birth to adolescence
  10. Torsten Wiesel & David Hubel
    • (seredipity - findings by accident)
    • cats' nerve cells in brain areas associated with vision by having cats look at dots
    • wasn't producing any activity in that area of the brain until the projector jammed and the visual "edge" on the screen stimulated these brain cells
  11. variable
    • something in the world that can be measured and can vary
    • defined by operational definitions that identify and quantify variables so they can be measured (like what each number represents in a rating scale (not satisfied, satisfied, etc.))
  12. descriptive studies
    • (observational studies)
    • involve observing and classifying behavior, either with no intervention by the observer (naturalistic observation) or with intervention by the observer (participant observation)

    advantages: good for early stages of research, to determine whether a phenomenon exists

    disadvantages: errors in observation can occur due to observer expectations (observer bias) or observer's presence changes behavior being witnessed (reactivity)
  13. naturalistic observation
    a passive descriptive study in which observers do not change or alter ongoing behavior
  14. participant observation
    a type of descriptive study in which the observer/researcher is actively involved in the situation
  15. longitudinal studies
    involve observing and classifying developmental changes that occur in the same people over time, either with no intervention by the observer or with intervention by the observer

    advantages: provide information about effects of age on same people, allowing researchers to see developmental changes

    disadvantages: expensive, take a long time, and may lose participants over time
  16. cross-sectional studies
    involve observing and classifying developmental changes that occur in different groups of people at the same time

    advantages:faster and less expensive than longitudinal studies

    disadvantages: unidentified variables may be involved (third variable problem)
  17. observer bias
    systematic errors in observation that occur because of an observer's expectations
  18. experimenter expectancy effect
    actual change in the behavior of the people or animals being observed that is due to observer bias 

    (like students training rats - one group thought they had trained rats, the other did not - "trained" rats were taught faster
  19. correlational study
    • research method that examines how variables are naturally related in the real world, without any attempt by the researcher to alter them
    • can not assume casual connection

    (ex: comparing soldiers' performance learning something new after some have had traumatic experiences and some have not)

    advantages: rely on naturally occurring relationships, may take place in a real-world setting

    disadvantages: cannot be used to support casual relationships, directionality problem, third variable problem
  20. directionality probelm
    when researchers find a relationship between two variables in a correlational study, they cannot determine which variable may have caused changes in other variables

    (ex: does sleeping more cause less tress of does less stress cause better sleep?)
  21. third variable problem
    when experimenter cannot directly manipulate the independent variable and therefore cannot be confident that another, unmeasured variable is not the actual cause of the differences in the dependent variable

    (ex: maybe having a high energy level causes women who work longer hours to still want to have fun after work)
  22. experiment
    a study that tests casual hypotheses by measuring and manipulating variables

    advantages: can demonstrate casual relationships

    disadvantages: often take place in an artificial setting
  23. control (or comparison) group
    participants in a study that receive no intervention or an intervention different from the one being studied
  24. experimental (or treatment) group
    participants in the study that receive the intervention
  25. independent variable
    in and experiment, the variable that is manipulated by the experimenter to determine its impact on the dependent variable
  26. dependent variable
    in an experiment, the measure that is affected by manipulation of the independent variable
  27. confound
    anything that affects a dependent variable and may unintentionally vary between the experimental conditions of a study

    (ex: number of hours worked may be confounded with how much money the women have to spend on fun activities after work)
  28. population
    everyone in the group the experimenter is interested in
  29. sample
    a subset of a population

    random sampling: each member of populations has an equal chance of being chosen to participate

    convenience sample: people who are conveniently available for the study
  30. selection bias
    when participants in different groups in an experiment differ systematically

    (ex: age differences in women working 5 hr shifts and 10 hr shifts, etc.)
  31. random assignment
    the procedure for placing research participants into the conditions of an experiment in which each participant has an equal chance of being assigned to any level (or groups) of the independent variable
  32. meta-analysis
    a"study of studies" that combines findings of mulitiple studies to arrive at a conclusion
  33. culturally sensitive research
    studies that take into account the ways culture affects thoughts, feelings, and actions
  34. observational technique
    research method of careful and systematic assessment and coding of overt behavior

    • 1. Should it be conducted in the real world or in a lab?
    • 2. How should data be collected? (tallies, notes on what is observed, etc.)
    • 3. Should observer be visible?
  35. reactivity
    (Hawthorne Effect - result of studying workers' productivity in Hawthorne Works plant. Workers were more productive when they knew they were being watched.)

    when the knowledge that one is being observed alters the behavior being observed
  36. case study
    involves the intensive examination of one person or a few individuals or one or a few organizations, typically people or organizations that are somehow unusual

    usually when they are doing something well (making lots of money) or something poorly (loosing lots of money)

    advantages: can provide extensive data about one or a few individuals or organizations

    disadvantages: can be very subjective (cannot generalize from an individual to a populations)
  37. self-report method
    a method of data collection in which people are asked to provide information about themselves, such as in questionnaires or surveys

    advantages: easy to administer, cost efficient, etc.

    disadvantages: people can introduce biases into their answers (self-report bias) or may not recall information accurately
  38. experience sampling
    researchers take several samples of participants' experiences over time
  39. socially desirable responding OR "faking good"
    person responds in a way that is most socially acceptable rather than the truth
  40. better-than-average effect
    people believe things about themselves that are not necessarily true
  41. response performance
    a research method in which researchers quantify perceptual or cognitive processes in response to a specific stimulus

    • -reaction time: longer time = more time for brain to process information
    • -response accuracy: (ex: flashing shape on side of screen the subject was told to pay attention to)
    • -stimulus judgement: comparing two stimuli
  42. psychophysiological assessment
    researchers examine how bodily functions (physiology) change in association with behaviors or mental states (psychology)
  43. polygraphs
    lie detectors - measure bodily states to try and determine if the person is lying or not
  44. electrophysiology
    data collection method that measures electrical activity in the brain

    device that measures electrical activity in the brain is called an electroencephalogram (EEG)
  45. brain imaging
    a range of experimental techniques that make brain structures and brain activity visible

    • positron emission tomography (PET)
    • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  46. positron emission tomography (PET)
    method of brain imaging that assesses metabolic activity by using a radioactive substance injected into the bloodstream
  47. magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    method of brain imaging that produces high-quality images of the brain
  48. functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
    imaging technique used to examine changes in the activity of the working human brain
  49. transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
    the use of strong magnets to briefly interrupt normal brain activity as a way to study brain regions
  50. institutional review boards (IRBs)
    groups of people responsible for reviewing proposed research to ensure that it meets the accepted standards of science and provides for the physical and emotional well-being of research participants
  51. validity
    extent to which the data collected addresses the research hypothesis in the way intended
  52. reliability
    the extent to which a measure is stable and consistent over time in similar conditions
  53. accuracy
    the extent to which an experimental measure is free from error
  54. 2 types of errors
    • random error: value of error differs every time
    • systematic error: value of error is constant
  55. descriptive statistics
    overall summary of data
  56. central tendency
    a measure that represents the typical behavior of the group as a whole
  57. variability
    in a set of numbers, how widely dispersed the values are from each other and from the mean
  58. standard deviation
    the statistical measure of how far away each value is, on average, from the mean
  59. inferential statistics
    a set of procedures used to make judgements about whether differences actually exist between sets of numbers
  60. statistically significant
    when results from a study would be very unlikely to occur if there really were no differences among the groups of subjects
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Psych2: Research Methods
Chapter 2: Research Methods
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