Group 02- Psychology's Scientific Method

Dema Issa
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Just as every other scientist, psychologists follow the same five scientific methods: 1) Asking a question and observing a phenomenon. 2) Forming hypotheses. 3) Testing through the research. 4) Conclusions drawn from experiment. 5) Evaluating the theory.
When observing, there must be a motive, a variable, or anything that can change in order for any studies to be conducted. Theories (broad ideas) and hypothesis (educated guesses) are then established in order to attempt to explain the observation. In order to measure the variable on the same scale as other researches; an operational definition is created. After a number of studies from trials and error or after testing points accumulate with similar results while also using different methods along with replicated results from other scientists is considered reliable and dependable information. Though the conclusion is drawn from the experiments, the ending is far from near as scholars refer back and question the studies. Some ways to do so is called a meta-analysis. This method involves researchers to combine the results of several different studies on similar topic in order to establish the strength of an effect.

There are three types of research that psychologists commonly use. Descriptive research is one as its methods include observation, surveys, interviews, and case studies. It reveals important information about people’s behaviors and attitudes. (Case studies are an in-depth look at single individual lives conducted by clinical psychologists as the individual’s life cannot be duplicated and tested upon other individuals.) [Example of case study: Pavlov's "Drooling" dogs, different reflexes, and a little more.] The second research method is correlational research; this purpose is to examine whether and how two variables change together. The letter r represents the correlational coefficient; a statistic that tells us strength and direction in between two variables. (+ sign tells us as one variable increases, the other does so as well. – sign tells us as one increases, the other decreases.) Correlation does not necessarily mean that the one of the two observed variables are the cause of change. This is where the third variable problem comes into play; it is a variable that has not been measured while observing the other two variables. Such studies help to generalize the subject and may involve factors such as biological sex, personality traits, genetic factors, and ethnic backgrounds. Correlational research helps to study people in their natural environment with their everyday lifestyles (this is known as experience sampling method.) Longitudinal design is a systematic observation that involves the measures of the variables in multiple waves over time and is another factor in correlational research. The last research is an experimental research; this is used to determine whether a causal relationship exists between variables. An experiment is a procedure where variables are manipulated to influence another variable. An independent variable is the actual manipulation of the experiment (the cause) and the dependant variable is the possible factor that changes from the result of the manipulated variable (effect). One method used in this research is the random assignment; this is where researchers assign participants to be grouped by chance. Within the studies; there is an experimental group (where the group is exposed to the change that the independent variable represents) and a control group (where the group is manipulated.) External validity covers whether the experimental methods and the results exist and apply to the “real world.” Internal validity covers whether if the experimental methods are bias free and studies the logical errors that may render the results suspect (as biases and expectations may alter results.) Participant’s knowledge of the experimental procedures may change the results of an experiment as they behave by how they think expectations for them are to be. The placebo effect is when the participant’s expectations, rather than the experimental treatment, produce an outcome. Double blinded experiment is a way that both, the participant and researcher are unaware of the control group and experimental group until results are calculated. (This is a bias free scenario.)
Brief explanation of research methods from another source:

In order to analyze and interpret information, psychologists use statistics. There are two forms used in this area. Descriptive statistics reveal the overall characteristics of the data and variation among them and is a mathematical sequence. Most techniques in this area of study begin with the mean, or the average. It is calculated by the addition of all the group scores and then dividing it by the amount within the group. The median is the “middle score sample” after being arranged from highest to lowest. The mode is the score that occurs most often in the group. Measures of dispersion describe how much the scores in a sample differ from one another. One way to measure this is through a range, the difference between the highest and lowest scores. Another way to measure it is through how much scores in a sample differed from the mean of the sample.

Psychologists follow rules of conduct; they must abide by ethical research. This was developed after crucial and brutal attempts of the study of science became known to the public after World War II. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Informed consent – all participants must know what they will be involved in and what risks may develop. They have the right to withdraw from the study at any time for any reason.
  • Confidentiality
  • Debriefing- researchers should inform the participant of the study’s purpose and the methods they used after completing the research.
  • Deception- a heavily debated concept; though when practiced, they must inform the participant the deception will not harm them and must be told the true nature of the study right after the research’s completion.
Here is a video project done by students putting the idea of this summary into a rap (view the video on youtube if lyrics are preferred):

There are ways to think critically about psychological research. Some ways include avoiding “over generalized” studies that involve little information; some ways to avoid this is to include sexes, ethnical representation, age, number of participants, etc. Another critical thought would be to distinguish between group results and individual needs- avoid categorizing an individual based on the “normal” factor scale in one area. Remain skeptical of words indicating causation until the particular research is studied more. Considering the source of psychological information is another way to think logical when it comes to researching psychology.

Watch this video to get a better understanding of psychology's reserach methods and for examples of case

Questions & Answers:
1.Q: what are the 5 scientific methods that psychologists use?
A: Asking a question 2)formation of hypotheses. 3) testing (through research) 4) conclusion derived from experiment. 5) Evaluate the theory
2. Q: what are the most common used types of research?

A: discriptive research correlational research experimental research 3. Q:what are the codes of ethics that psychologists must go by? A: informed consent, confidentiality, debreifing, deception 4. Q: how can scientists think logically? A: avoid over generalization, distinguish between groups and individuals, remaining cautious of 'causation', psychological sources 5. Q: how do psychologists interpert their information? A: through mathematical ways with statistcs. 6. Q: define independant and dependant variable A: independent variable is the actual manipulation of the experiment (the cause) and the dependant variable is the possible factor that changes from the result of the manipulated variable (effect).

Book source:King A. Laura. The Science of Psychology- An Appreciative View 2nd edition. New York:McGraw Hill. 2011.