Using the scientific method Psych 231: Research Methods in Psychology Library Labs: Milner rooms 164d (for the psycINFO lecture) North East classroom 3rd floor (to meet with the GAs) Next weeks labs: Download and read the Assefi & Garry (2003) article before labs
Lab Announcements Going to hold off and talk about this in the next lecture when discussing APA style Reading a research article Claim: People perform best with a good night of sleep. How might we go about trying to test this claim?
What are the things (variables) of interest? What is the hypothesized relationship between these variables? How should we test it? How do we observe the behavior? What research design should we use? Conducting Research: An example Observational approaches: How do we observe the behaviors of interest?
Naturalistic observation Participant observation Survey & interviews Archival data Systematic (contrived) observation General research approaches Naturalistic Observation: Observation and description of behaviors within a natural setting Jane Goodall Good for behaviors that dont occur (as well) in more
controlled settings Often a first step in the research project Can be difficult to do well Dian Fossey Observational Methods Participant Observation: The researcher engages in the same behaviors as those being observed May allow observation of behaviors not normally accessible to outside observation Internal perspective from direct participation But could lead to loss of objectivity
Potential for contamination by observer Observational Methods Survey methods: Questionnaires and interviews that ask people to provide information about themselves Widely used methodology Best way to collect some kinds of information: Descriptive, behavioral, and preferential e.g., demographic information, recreational behavior, and attitudes
Large amounts of data can be collected quickly with relatively little cost (effort, time, etc.) But theyre often not as cheap as you may think Done correctly, can be a very difficult method Observational Methods Archival data: Rather than making direct observations, researcher examines existing public or private records If the appropriate existing records can be found, no need for data collection Data set may be more extensive than what you could collect yourself However, you are limited to the data that exists, may be no way to collect follow-up data
Data may be of observations that you cannot (ethically) collect or manipulate E.g., murder rates, who marries whom, etc. Word of caution: be aware of how and where the data were collected Observational Methods Advantages
Complex patterns of behavior in particular settings Useful when little is known about the subject of study May learn about something that never would have thought of looking at experimentally Disadvantages Causality is a problem Threats to internal validity because of lack of control Every confound is a threat Lots of alternative
explanations Directionality of the relationship isnt known Sometimes the results are not reproducible Observation without manipulation Systematic (Contrived Observation): The observer sets up the situation that is observed
Observations of one or more specific variables made in a precisely defined setting Much less global than naturalistic observations Often takes less time However, since it isnt a natural setting, the behavior may be changed Observational Methods Case studies Correlational
Looking for a co-occurrence relationship between two (or more) variables Quasi-experimental Intensive study of a small set of individuals and their behaviors Experimental designs with one or more non-random variables Experimental Investigating the cause-and-effect relationship between two (or more) variables through the manipulation of variables General research approaches
Intensive study of a single person, a very traditional method Typically an interesting (and often rare) case Phineas Gage Sept 13, 1848 Explosion propelled a railroad tamping rod through his brain This view has a number of disadvantages
There may be poor generalizabilty There are typically a number of possible confounds and alternative explanations Descriptive: Case Histories Measure two (or more) variables for each individual to see if the variables co-occur (suggesting that they are related) Used for: Predictions
Reliability and Validity Evaluating theories Problems: Cant make casual claims Correlational Methods Wed like to say: variable X --causes--> variable Y To be able to do this: There must be co-variation between the two variables The causal variable must come first
Directionality problem Happy people sleep well Or is it that sleeping well when youre happy? Need to eliminate plausible alternative explanations Third variable problem Do Storks bring babies? A study reported a strong positive correlation between number of babies and stork sightings Causal claims Theory 1: Storks deliver babies
Theory 2: Underlying third variable Manipulating and controlling variables in laboratory experiments Must have a comparison At least two groups (often more) that get compared One groups serves as a control for the other group Variables Independent variable - the variable that is manipulated
Dependent variable - the variable that is measured Control variables - held constant for all participants in the experiment The experimental method Advantages Precise control possible Precise measurement possible
Theory testing possible Can make causal claims Disadvantages Artificial situations may restrict generalization to real world Complex behaviors may be difficult to measure The experimental method
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