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CAS 301 CH 1-5 Notes Bundle

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CAS 301 CH 1-5 Notes Bundle CAS 301

Cal State Fullerton

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Chapters 1-5 Methods in Behavioral Research (12e) - Cosby
Inquiry & Methodology in Child Development
Sarana Roberts
research methods, Behavioral, research
75 ?




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This 33 page Bundle was uploaded by Caru on Tuesday September 27, 2016. The Bundle belongs to CAS 301 at California State University - Fullerton taught by Sarana Roberts in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see Inquiry & Methodology in Child Development in Child and Adolescent Studies at California State University - Fullerton.


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Date Created: 09/27/16
CAS 301: Week 1 Chapter 1 - Scientific Understanding of Behavior ● Importance of Research Methods ○ How do we evaluate the findings of various reports? ■ We must critically evaluate the research methods of the reports -> evaluate the methods employed, and decide whether the conclusions are reasonable ○ Many occupations require the use of research findings ■ Ex. mental health professionals - use research to make good decisions about the treatment methods of their patients ■ Must be able to read the literature and apply it to their professional lives ■ Ex. businessmen - use research to make decisions about marketing strategies, ways of improving employee productivity and morale, and methods of selecting and training new employees ■ Educators must always keep up with the newest research to implement the most beneficial teaching strategies ○ Scientific research has become increasingly prominent in public policy decisions ■ Politicians propose legislation based on research findings ■ Ex. Brown vs. Board of Education ● U.S. Supreme Court banned school segregation ​● Social Science Brief was prepared by psychologists as evidence -> one study showed that both light and dark-skinned children preferred to play with light-skinned dolls ○ Behavioral research on human development has influenced U.S. Supreme Court decision related to juvenile crime ■ 2005 ~ Roper v. Simmons: juveniles cannot face the death penalty ● Evidence showing that the brain, social, and character differences between adults and juveniles make juveniles less culpable than adults for the same crimes ○ Research is also important when developing and assessing the effectiveness of programs designed to achieve certain goals ■ Ex. increase retention of students in school, influence people to engage in behaviors that reduce their risk of contracting HIV, or teach employees how to reduce the effects of stress ■ Research tells us if these programs successfully meet their goals ○ Research methods can provide us with the best answers to questions ● Ways of Knowing ○ Many people rely on ​intuition​ and ​authority​ as primary ways of knowing ○ Intuition ■ We often use intuition and anecdotal evidence to draw general conclusions about the world around us ● Ex. A married couple tries for years, unsuccessfully, to conceive a child. They decide to adopt; however, within a short amount of time, they find out that the woman is pregnant. This observation leads people to believe that adoption increases the likelihood of pregnancy among couples who are having difficulties conceiving a child. This seems intuitively, and people usually have an explanation for this effect - ex. Adoption reduces a major source of marital stress -> the stress reduction increases the chances of conception ■ Relying on intuition means you unquestioningly accept what your own personal judgement or a single story about one person’s experience tells you ■ This approach takes many forms: ● Finding an explanation for our own behaviors or those of others ○ Ex. You keep having conflicts with your roommate and say, “he hates me” or “having to share a bathroom creates conflict” ● Used to explain intriguing events that you observe ○ See adoption example above ■ Problem: numerous cognitive and motivational biases affect our perceptions, and so we may draw erroneous conclusions about cause and effect ● Scientific research shows that there is no relationships between adoption and subsequent pregnancy -> we continue to hold this belief because of the ​illusory correlation​(occurs when we focus on two events that stand out and occur together) ○ When an adoption is closely followed by a pregnancy, our attention is drawn to the situation, and we are biased to conclude that there must be a causal connection ○ Illusory correlations are also likely to occur when we are highly motivated to believe in the causal relationships ○ ILLUSORY CORRELATIONS ARE NOT SCIENTIFIC - a scientific approach requires much more evidence before conclusions can be drawn ○ Authority ■ We are more likely to be persuaded by a speaker who seems prestigious, trustworthy, and respectable than by one who appears to lack such qualities ■ Many people are all too ready to accept anything they learn from the Internet, news media, books, government officials, celebrities, religious figures, or even a professor ■ The scientific approach rejects the notion that one can accept on ​ faith the statements of any authority - more evidence is needed ○ Empiricism ■ The scientific approach to acquiring knowledge recognizes that both intuition and authority can be sources of ideas about behavior ● Scientists do not unquestioningly accept anyone’s intuitions - including their own ● Do not accept on faith the pronouncements of anyone, regardless of that person’s prestige or authority ■ Scientists are very skeptical about what they see and hear - scientific ​skepticism​ means that ideas must be evaluated on the basis of careful logic and results from scientific investigations ■ The fundamental characteristics of the scientific method is empiricism - the idea that knowledge is based on observations ● Data are collected that form the basis of conclusions about the nature of the world ● The scientific method embodies a number of rules for collecting and evaluating data ○ The Scientific Approach ■ Characteristics of a scientific inquiry: ● Data play a central role ○ Knowledge is primarily based on observations ○ Search for observations that will verify or reject ideas about the world ○ Develop theories, argue that existing data support their theories, and conduct research that can increase our confidence that the theories are correct ○ Observations can be criticized, alternatives can be suggested, and data collection methods can be called into question ○ “Show me, don’t tell me” ● Scientists are not alone ○ Scientists make observations that are accurately reported to other scientists and the public ○ Other scientists will conduct research that replicates and extends these observations ● Science is adversarial ○ Good scientific ideas are testable -> they can be supported or they can be falsified by data(​ alsifiability​) ○ If an ideas is falsified when it is tested, science is thereby advanced because this result will spur the development of new and better ideas ● Scientific evidence is peer reviewed ○ Before a study is published, other scientists who have the expertise to carefully evaluate the research review it ○ Reviewers recommend whether the research should be published ○ The review process ensures that research with major flaws will not become part of the scientific literature ○ Integrating Intuition, Skepticism, and Authority ■ The scientific approach provides an objective set of rules for gathering, evaluating, and reporting information ■ Allows ideas to be refuted or supported by others ■ Intuition and authority are still important ● Scientists often rely on intuition and assertions of authorities for ideas for research ● It is okay to accept the assertions of authority as long as we do not accept them as scientific evidence ○ Scientific evidence is often unobtainable(ex. Religious figure or text asks us to accept certain beliefs on faith) ○ Some beliefs cannot be tested and thus are beyond the realm of science ○ In science, ideas must be evaluated on the basis of available evidence that can be used to support or refute the ideas ■ Ask whether opinions can be tested scientifically or whether scientific evidence exists that relates to the opinion ● Ex. whether exposure to violent media increases aggression ~ only an opinion until scientific evidence is gathered ■ When someone claims to be a scientist, should we be more willing to accept what he or she has to say? ● Ask about the credentials of the individual ○ It is usually wise to pay more attention to someone with an established reputation in the field and attend to the reputation of the institution represented by the person ● Ask about the researcher’s funding source ○ Ex. a drug company supports the effectiveness of a drug manufactured by that company ○ Closely examine the methods of the study ■ Be wary of ​pseudoscience​(“fake” science in which seemingly scientific terms and demonstrations are used to substantiate claims that have no basis in scientific research ● Ex. a product or procedure will enhance your memory, relieve depression, or treat autism or post traumatic stress disorder ○ The fact that these are all worthy outcomes makes us very susceptible to believing pseudoscientific claims and forgetting to ask whether there is a valid scientific basis for the claims ● Facilitated Communication ○ Used by therapists working with children with autism ○ Children lack verbal skills for communication ○ A facilitator holds the child’s hand while the child presses keys to type messages on a keyboard ○ Produces impressive results ○ Well-designed studies revealed that the facilitators, not the children, controlled the typing ● Hopes are raised and promises will not be kept ● Often has dangerous techniques ○ Ex. in facilitated communication, a number of facilitators typed messages accusing a parent of physically or sexually abusing the child ■ Some parents were convicted of child abuse ■ The scientific research on facilitated communication was used to help the defendant parent ■ Cases such as this have led to a movement to promote the exclusive use of e​ vidence-based therapies​(therapeutic interventions grounded in scientific research findings that demonstrate their effectiveness) ● Things to look for when evaluating claims: ○ Untestable claims that cannot be refuted ○ Claims rely on imprecise, biased, or vague language ○ Evidence is based on anecdotes and testimonials rather than scientific data ○ Evidence is from experts with only vague qualifications who provide support for the claim without sound scientific evidence ○ Only confirmatory evidence is present; conflicting evidence is ignored ○ References to scientific evidence lack information on the methods that would allow independent verification ■ We are susceptible to false reports of scientific findings circulated via the Internet ● Claim to be associated with a reputable scientist or scientific organization ● Ex. report supposedly from the World Health Organization claimed that the gene for blond hair was being selected out of the human gene pool -> blond hair would be a disappearing trait ● Goals of Behavioral Science ○ Four goals: ■ Describe behavior ■ Predict behavior ■ Determine the causes of behavior ■ Understand or explain behavior ○ Description of Behavior ■ Can be something directly observable ● Ex. running speed, eye gaze, or loudness of laughter ■ Can also be something less observable ● Ex. self-reports of perceptions of attractiveness ■ Researchers are often interested in describing the ways in which events are systematically related to one another ■ If parents enforce rules on amount of recreational computer use, do their children perform better ins school? ○ Prediction of Behavior ■ once events are systematically related to one another, it becomes possible to make predictions ■ one implication of this process is that it allows us to anticipate events ■ the ability to predict often helps us make better decisions ■ Ex. if you study the Behavioral Science research literature on attraction and relationships we will learn about factors that predict long-term relationship satisfaction. You may be able to then use that information when predicting the likely success of your own relationships ○ Determining the Causes of Behavior ■ Correctly identifying a behavior doesn't mean you correctly identified its cause ■ a child's aggressive behavior may be predicted by knowing how much violence child views on television ● unless we know that exposure to television violence is a cause of behavior we cannot assert that aggressive behavior can be reduced by limiting the use of violence on the television ■ Elliot and Niesta 2008 ● men find women wearing red are more attractive than the women wearing a color such as blue ● Does red clothing cause the perception of greater attractiveness? ● Or is it possible that attractive women choose to wear brighter colors and less attractive women choose to wear darker colors? ■ To know how to change a behavior, we need to know the causes of the behavior ■ three types of evidence used to identify the cause of a behavior (Cook and Campbell 1979) ● ​Temporal precedence ~ ​there is a temporal order of events in which the cause precedes the effect. ○ ex. we need to know that television viewing occurred first and aggression second ● Covariation of cause and effect​ ~ when the cause is present,the effect occurs; when the cause is not present, the effect does not occur ○ Ex. We need to know that children who watch television violence behave aggressively and that children who do not watch television violence do not behave aggressively ● Elimination of ​ lternative explanations​ ~ nothing other than a causal variable could be responsible for the observed effect; no possible alternative explanation for the relationship ○ Suppose children who watch a lot of television violence are left alone more than children who do not watch television violence -> increase aggression that has an alternative explanation: lack of parental supervision ■ ​Explanation of Behavior ● Even if we know that television violence is a cause of aggressiveness we need to explain this relationship ● is it due to imitation or modeling of the violence seen on TV? ● If it's a result of psychological desensitization to violence and its effects? ● Or does watching TV violence lead to a belief that aggression is a normal response to frustration and conflict? ● Additional research is carried out by testing theories that are developed to explain particular behaviors ● Basic and Applied Research ○ ​Basic Research ■ Basic research​ ~ Try to answer fundamental questions about the nature of behavior ● address to medical issues concerning phenomena such as cognition, emotion, motivation, learning, neuropsychology, personality development, and social behavior ○ Applied Research ■ Applied research ​~ conducted to address issues in which there are practical problems and potential solutions ■ program evaluation​ ~ assesses the social reforms and innovations that occur in government, education, the criminal justice system, industry, healthcare, and mental health institutions ○ Comparing Basic and Applied Research ■ ​ most applied research is guided by the theories and findings of basic research investigations ■ One of the most effective treatment strategies for specific phobia-an anxiety disorder characterized by extreme fear reactions to specific objects or situations-is called exposure therapy ■ People who suffer from a phobia are exposed to the object of their fears in a safe setting while a therapist trains them in relaxation techniques in order to counter-program their fear reaction CAS 301 - Week 2 Chapter 2: Where to Start ● The motivation to conduct scientific research derives from a natural curiosity about the world ● Research Questions, Hypotheses, and Predictions ○ Research questions​ ~ used to identify and describe the broad topic they are investigating ■ research is conducted to answer the question ■ A good research question identifies the topic of inquiry specifically enough so that hypotheses and predictions can be made ■ hypothesis is also a question -> makes a statement about something that may be true ● more specific versions of research questions -> directly testable whereas a research question may not be ● Hypothesis​ ~ the tentative idea or question that is waiting for evidence to support or refute it ● Propose hypothesis -> gather and evaluate data in terms of whether the evidence is consistent or inconsistent with the hypothesis ● Prediction​ ~ a guess at the outcome of a hypothesis ○ prediction confirmed = hypothesis is supported, ​but not proven ○ Prediction is not confirmed = researchers reject the hypothesis or conduct further research using different methods ● continually studying a hypothesis, and finding the same results, using a variety of methods leads to more confidence in the correctness of the hypothesis ○ Who We Study: A Note on Terminology ■ Participants = subjects =​ the individuals who participate in research projects ■ Respondents​ ~ The individual who take part in the survey research ■ Informants​ ~ people who help researchers understand the Dynamics of particular cultural and organizational settings ○ Sources of Ideas ■ Five sources of ideas: common sense observation of the world around us, theories, past research, and practical problems ■ Common Sense ● Common sense​ ~ the things we believe to be true ○ Ex. opposites attract; birds of a feather flock together ● Valuable - can show that the real world is much more complicated than our commonsense ideas would have it ○ Ex. Pictures can aid memory under certain circumstances, but sometimes pictures detract from learning ● conducting research to test common sense ideas often forces us to go beyond a common sense theory of behavior ■ Observation of the World Around Us ● Winograd and Soloway (1986) ○ Studied whether it is a good idea to put things in special places ○ found that people are likely to forget where something is placed when two conditions are present: ■ the location where the object is placed is judged to be highly memorable ■ the location is considered a very unlikely place for the object ○ thus, it may seem like a good idea at the time, but storing something in an unusual place is generally not a good idea ● taking a scientific approach to a problem can lead to new discoveries and important applications ● ​Serendipity​ - the occurrence of something by sheer luck ■ Theories ● Theory ​~ consist of a systematic body of ideas about a particular topic or phenomenon ○ form a coherent and logically consistent structure that serves two important functions ■ organize and explain a variety of specific facts or descriptions of behavior ■ generate knowledge by focusing our thinking so that we notice new aspects of behavior ○ Generates hypotheses about behavior ○ a scientific theory is grounded with actual data from prior research as well as numerous hypotheses that are consistent with the theory ■ the hypothesis can be tested through further research = falsifiable( data can support or refute hypothesis) ● modified as new research defines the scope of the theory ■ Past Research ● researchers can use the body of past literature on a topic to continually define and expand our knowledge ● becoming familiar with a body of research on the topic is perhaps the best way to generate ideas for new research ● almost every study raises questions that can be addressed in subsequent research ● the research may lead to an attempt to apply the findings in a different setting, study the topic with a different age group, or to use a different methodology to replicate the results ● Look for inconsistencies in research results that need to be investigated or study alternative explanations for the results ■ Practical Problems ● Research is often stimulated by practical problems that can have immediate applications ○ Ex. survey bicycle riders to determine the most desirable route for a city bike path CAS 301 - Week 3 Chapter 3: Ethics in Behavioral Research ● Ethical practice is fundamental to the conceptualization, planning, execution, and evaluation of research ● Not considering the ethical implications of a project risks harming individuals, communities, and behavioral science ● Milgram’s Obedience Experiment ● Stanley Milgram conducted a series of studies (1963, 1964, 1965) to study obedience to authority -> called it a “scientific study of memory and learning” ● One person would be the teacher and the other would be the learner ○ Drawing for parts was rigged -> the learner was always a man named Mr. Wallace, who was an accomplice of Milgram ● Electrodes were attached to Mr. Wallace and the teacher was placed in front of a shock machine ● Mr. Wallace was given a series of word pairs and was tested to see if he could identify which words went together ● Every time Mr. Wallace got an answer wrong, the teacher had to deliver a shock via the machine -> the voltage of the shock increased with each wrong answer ● If the teacher wanted to quit, the experimenter urged them to continue, using a series of verbal prods that stressed the importance of continuing the experiment ● Despite being called a “scientific study of memory and learning”, it was actually a study of whether participants would continue to obey the experimenter by administering ever higher levels of shock to the learner ● About 65% of the participants continued to deliver shocks all the way up to 450 volts ● The results have implications for understanding obedience in real-life situations, such as the Holocaust and the Jonestown mass suicide ● Historical Context of Current Ethical Standards Modern codes of ethics in behavioral and medical research have their origins in three important documents ○ The Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki ■ Nuremberg Trials were held to hear evidence against the Nazi doctors and scientists who had committed atrocities while forcing concentration camp inmates to be research subjects ■ The legal documents that resulted from the trial became known as the ​ uremberg Code( ​ a set of 10 rules of research conducted help prevent future research atrocities) ■ The Nuremberg Code did not have any enforcement structure or endorsement by professional organizations -> not generally seen as applicable to general research settings ■ The World Medical Association developed a code known as the Declaration of Helsinki(1964) ● Broader application of the Nuremberg ● Included a requirement that journal editors ensure that published research conform to the principles of the Declaration ■ Neither document explicitly addresses behavioral research and were generally seen as applicable to medicine ■ Scientific community debated whether Milgram’s study was ethical ■ Tuskegee Syphilis(1932-1972) ● 399 African American men in Alabama were not treated for syphilis in order to track the long-term effects of the disease ● Not an isolated incidence -> another study was done from 1946 to 1948 in Guatemala ○ Men and women of the study were infected with syphilis and then treated with penicillin ■ The ​Belmont Report​ was formed due to the public demand for action ● Current ethical guidelines for both behavioral and medical researchers have their origins in​ he Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research ● Defines the principles and applications ● Three basic ethical principles: ○ Beneficence ■ Research should have benefits ■ Risks should be minimal ​ ​ ● Important to maintain trust between participants and researchers ■ Principle C: Integrity ● States “Psychologists seek to promote accuracy, honesty and truthfulness in the science, teaching and practice of psychology. In these activities psychologists do not steal, cheat or engage in fraud, subterfuge or intentional misrepresentation of fact.” ■ Principle D: Justice ● States “Psychologists recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the process, procedures and services being conducted by psychologists” ● Tuskegee Syphilis study and the study in Guatemala violated this principle ○ There was a cure for syphilis, but the penicillin was withheld from the patients ■ Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity ● States “ Psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination” ● Must try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases ● Cannot knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon prejudices ● One of the ethical dilemmas in the Milgram study was that the participants didn’t know they were participating in an obedience study ● Assessment of Risks and Benefits ○ Risk-benefit analysis​ - the examination of potential risks and benefits that are likely to result from the research ■ Risks​ include psychological or physical harm and loss of confidentiality; also includes the cost of not conducting the study ■ Benefits​ can be direct(educational benefit, acquisition of a new skill, or treatment for a psychological or medical problem), material(monetary payment, a gift, or even the possibility of winning a prize in a raffle), the satisfaction of being a part of a scientific investigation ○ Risks in Behavioral Research ○ Physical Harm ■ Rare, but possible ■ Many medical procedures fall into this category ● Ex. administering a drug such as alcohol or caffeine ■ The risks in such procedures require that great care be taken to make them ethically acceptable ■ There must be clear benefits that outweigh the potential risks ○ Stress ■ Psychological stress is more common than physical stress ■ Researchers must ask whether all safeguards have been taken to help participants deal with the stress ■ A debriefing session usually follows to address any potential problems that may arise during the research ○ Confidentiality and Privacy ■ Confidentiality​ is an issue when the researcher has assured subjects that the collected data are only accessible to people with permission ■ Researcher must carefully plan ways of coding data, storing data, and explaining the procedures to participants so there is no question concerning the confidentiality of the research ■ Invasion of p​ rivacy​ becomes an issue when the researcher collects information under circumstances that the subject believes are private ● Ex. observing people as they walk ● Informed Consent ○ Informed consent​ - potential participants in a research project should be provided with all information that might influence their active decision of whether or not to participate in a study ○ Informed Consent Form ■ Checklist: ● Purpose of the research ● Procedures that will be used including time involved ● Risks and benefits ● Any compensation ● Confidentiality ● Assurance of voluntary participation and permission to withdraw ● Contact information for questions ■ Must be written so that participants understand the information ■ Should be written in simple and straightforward language ■ Should not be written in the first person -> use second person(“you”) ○ Autonomy Issues ■ If a child is to participate, consent forms from both the parent and the child are required ■ Coercion is a threat to autonomy ● An incentive can sometimes be seen as coercion ○ Withholding Information and Deception ■ Providing too much information could invalidate the results of the study ■ Acceptable to withhold information that does not affect the individual's decision to participate ■ In some situations, informed consent is not necessary or possible ● Ex. observing the number of same-sex and mixed-sex study groups in a library ■ Deception​ - occurs when there is active misrepresentation of information about the nature of a study ■ Informed consent may also bias the sample ● Ex. Milgram experiment ~ prior knowledge about the true goal of the experiment would have led to different results ○ Is Deception a Major Ethical Problem in Psychological Research? ■ Reasons for decrease in elaborate deception like in the Milgram experiment: ● More researchers have become interested in cognitive variables rather than emotions ● General level of awareness of ethical issues has led researchers to conduct studies in other ways ● Ethics committees at universities and colleges now review proposed research more carefully -> elaborate develop is likely to be approved only when the research is important and there are no alternative procedures available ● The Importance of Debriefing ○ Debriefing​ - occurs after completion of the study; opportunity for the researcher to deal with issues of withholding information, deception, and potential harmful effects of participation ■ Only way researchers can follow the guidelines in the APA Ethics Code ○ Opportunity for researcher to explain the purpose of the study and tell the results ● Institutional Review Boards ○ Institutional Review Board(IRB) ​is responsible for review of research conducted within the institution ■ Local review agencies composed of at least five individuals; at least one member must be from outside of the institution ○ Exempt Research ■ Research with no risk is exempt from review ■ Anonymous questionnaires, surveys, and educational tests are all considered exempt research ■ Researchers cannot decide by themselves if their research is exempt -> IRB formulates a procedure to allow a researcher to apply for exempt status ○ Minimal Risk Research ■ Minimal risk​ - the risks of harm to participants are no greater than risks encountered in daily life or in routine physical or psychological tests ■ Elaborate safeguards are less of a concern ■ Approval by the IRB is routine ○ Greater than Minimal Risk Research ■ Subject to thorough review by IRB ■ Complete informed consent and other safeguards may be required before approval is granted ■ Application to IRB must include: ● Description of risks and benefits ● Procedures for minimizing risk ● The exact wording of the informed consent form ● How participants will be debriefed ● Procedures for maintaining confidentiality ■ Even if a project is approved, there is continuing review ■ long -term project = reviewed at least once a year ■ If there are any changes in procedures, researchers are required to obtain approval ● Research with Nonhuman Animal Subjects ○ Scientists argue that animal research benefits humans and point to many discoveries that would not have been possible without animal research ○ Very important and will continue to be necessary to study many types of research ○ Strict laws and ethical guidelines govern research with animals and teaching procedures in which animals are used ○ IACUC​ reviews animal research procedures and ensures that all regulations are adhered to ● Being an Ethical Researcher: The Issue of Misrepresentation ○ Fraud ■ Fraud​ - the fabrication of data ■ Rare ■ Detected when other scientists cannot replicate the results of a study ○ Plagiarism ■ Plagiarism​ - misrepresenting another’s work as your own ■ Must give proper citation of sources ■ Cannot paraphrase without acknowledging the source ■ Word-for-word plagiarism​ - when a writer copies a section of another person’s work word for word without providing quotation marks indicating that the segment was written by somebody else, nor a citation indicating the source of the information ■ Paraphrasing plagiarism​ - words are not directly copied without attribution, but the ideas are copied without attribution Chapter 4: Fundamental Research Issues ● Validity: An Introduction ○ Construct validity​ - concerns whether our methods of studying variables are accurate ○ Internal validity​ - refers to the accuracy of conclusions about cause and effect ○ External validity ​- concerns whether we can generalize the findings of a study to other populations and settings ● Variables ○ Variable​ - any event, situation, behavior, or individual characteristic that varies ○ Any variable must have two or more levels or values ○ Ex. reading a book ■ Variable of word length = the number of letters of each word ■ Can be taken further -> average word length used in paragraphs in the book ○ A psychologist might study the variables cognitive task performance, depression, intelligence, reaction time, rate of forgetting, aggression, speaker credibility, attitude change, anger, stress, age, and self-esteem ○ Some variables will have true numeric, or quantitative, properties ■ Ex. variables for the number of free throws made ○ Other variables identify different categories ■ Ex. gender = male and female ● Operational Definitions of Variables ○ Variables must be defined in terms of specific method used to measure or manipulate it ○ Operational definition​ - the set of procedures used to measure or manipulate it ○ Ex. variable = bowling skill -> operational definition = a person’s average bowling score over the past 20 games ○ Not all variables are easily operationalized ■ Ex. pain ■ Pain is subjective and cannot be directly observed ■ Pain is often measured by the McGill Pain Questionnaire, which has a long and short form ● The short form includes a scale of 0 to 5 with descriptors no pain, mild, discomforting, distressing, horrible, excruciating ● also has a line with end points of “no pain” and “worst possible pain” ● Offers sensory descriptors such as throbbing, shooting, and stabbing ● Typically used for adults ■ Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale is used when working with children over 3 ○ Two benefits in operationally defining a variable: ■ Forces scientists to discuss abstract concepts in concrete terms ● Can result in realization that the variable is too vague to study ■ Helps researchers communicate their ideas with others ● Communication is easier if there is agreement on what is meant by a term in the context of the study ○ Construct Validity ■ Construct validity​ - the adequacy of the operational definition of variables: Does the operational definition of a variable actually reflect the true theoretical meaning of the variable? ● Relationships Between Variables ○ Many research studies investigate the relationship between two variables: Do the levels of variables vary systematically together? ■ Ex. Does playing violent video games result in greater aggressiveness? ○ When both variables have values along a numeric scale, the four most common relationships are: the ​positive linear relationship, negative linear relationship, curvilinear relationship,​ and ​ o relationship ○ Positive Linear Relationship ■ Increases in the values of one variable are accompanied by increases in the values of the second variable ■ Smith and Shaffer(1991) Are fast talkers more persuasive? ● Students listened to a speech delivered at three different speech rates about raising the legal drinking age -> Students initially disagreed with the position ● As the rate of speech increased, so did the amount of attitude change ● Results: higher speech rates are associated with greater amounts of attitude change ○ Negative Linear Relationship ■ Increases in the values of one variable are accompanied by decreases in the values of another variable ■ Latane, Williams, and Harkins(1979) studied “social loafing”(increasing the number of people working on a task may actually reduce group effort and productivity) ● Asked participants to clap and shout to make as much noise as possible ● Did this alone or in groups of two, four, or six people ● As the size of the group increased, the amount of noise made by each individual decreased ○ Curvilinear Relationship ■ Increases in the values of one variable are accompanied by systematic increases and decreases in the values of the other variable(the direction of the relationship changes at least once); also referred to as nonmonotonic function ■ Grant and Schwartz(2011) studied the relationship number of extroverts in a group and group performance ● Having more extroverts in a team is associated with higher performance, but only up to a point ● With too many extroverts, the relationship becomes negative as there is less and less task focus and a resulting effect on team performance ● Yielded an inverted-U relationship ○ No Relationship ■ The graph is simply a flat line due to no relationship between the two variables ■ Freedman, Klevansky, and Ehrlich(1971) studied the relationship between crowding and task performance ● Unrelated variables may vary independently of one another ● Increases in crowding were not associated with any particular changes in performance ■ Correlation coefficient​ - a numerical index of the strength of relationship between variables ● Important because we need to know how strongly variables are related to one another ○ Relationships and Reduction of Uncertainty ● Nonexperimental Versus Experimental Methods ○ How can we determine whether variables are related? ○ Nonexperimental method​ - relationships are studied by making observations or measures of the variables of interest ■ Ex. asking people to describe their behavior, directly observing behavior, recording physiological response, or even examining various public records such as census data ■ Variables are observed as they occur naturally ■ A relationship between variables is established when the two variables vary together ● Ex. the relationship between class attendance and course grade ○ Experimental method​ - direct manipulation and control of variables ■ Researcher manipulates the first variable of interest and observes the response ■ Ex. Ramirez and Beilock(2011) were interested in the anxiety produced by important “high-stakes” examinations ● Anxiety may impair performance -> important to find ways to reduce anxiety ● Tested hypothesis that writing test worries would improve performance on the exam ● All students took a math test and were then given an opportunity to take the test again ● To make it a “high-stakes” test, students were led to believe that the monetary payout to themselves and their partner was dependent on their performance ● The writing variable was then manipulated -> some students spent 10 minutes before the test writing about what they were thinking and feeling about the test; the other students(control group) sat quietly for 10 minutes before the test ● Results: students in the writing condition improved their scores; the control group’s scores decreased ● With this experimental method, the two variables not only vary together; one variable is introduced first to determine whether it affects the second variable ○ Nonexperimental Method ■ Also known as the ​correlational method​ because it allows us to observe the covariation between variables; examine whether the variables correlate or vary together ■ Not an ideal method when we ask questions about cause and effect ■ We know the two variables are related, but what can we say about the causal impact of one variable on the other? ● Problems: ○ It can be difficult to determine the direction of cause and effect ○ Researchers face the third-variable problem(extraneous variables may be causing an observed relationship) ○ Direction of Cause and Effect ■ Issue of temporal precedence ■ Knowledge of the correct direction of cause and effect in turn has implications for applications of research findings ● Ex. if exercise reduces anxiety, then taking an exercise program would be a reasonable way to lower one’s anxiety ● However, if anxiety causes people to stop exercising, simply forcing someone to exercise is not likely to reduce the person’s anxiety level ■ Direction is often not crucial because the causal pattern may operate in both directions for some pairs of variables ● Ex. similarity causes people to like each other; liking causes people to become more similar ○ The Third-Variable Problem ■ When the nonexperimental method is used, there is the danger that no direct causal relationship exists ■ Ex. exercise may not influence anxiety, and anxiety may have no causal effect on exercise -> known as a ​spurious relationship ■ Third-variable problem​ - any variable that is extraneous to the two variables being studied ■ Ex. high income could allow more people more free time to exercise (and the ability to afford a health club membership) and also lowers anxiety ● If income is the determining variable, there is no direct cause-and-effect relationship between exercise and anxiety ■ Alternative explanation for the observed relationship ■ Reduce validity of a study if present ■ When we know there is an uncontrolled third variable operating, it is called a ​confounding variable ● Confounded = intertwined; cannot determine which of the variables is operating in a given situation ○ Experimental Method ■ Reduces ambiguity in the interpretation of results ■ One variable is manipulated and the other is then measured ■ Independent variable​ - the manipulated variable ■ Dependent variable​ - the variable that is measured ■ Attempts to eliminate the influence of all potential confounding third variables on the dependent variable(control of extraneous variables) ● Achieved by making sure that every feature of the environment except the manipulated variable is held constant ● Any variable that cannot be held constant is controlled by making sure that the effects of the variable are random ○ Experimental Control ■ Experimental control​ - all extraneous variables are kept constant ● If a variable is held constant, it cannot be responsible for the results of the experiment ■ Accomplished by treating participants in all groups in the experiment identically ○ Randomization ■ Randomization​ - ensures that an extraneous variable is just as likely to affect one experimental group as it is to affect the other group ■ Participants are randomly assigned to a group to eliminate the influence of individual characteristics ● Important difference between the experimental and nonexperimental method ■ Any other variable that cannot be held constant is also controlled by randomization ■ Any difference between groups on the observed variable can be attributed to the influence of the manipulated variable ○ Internal Validity and Experimental Method ■ Internal validity​ - the ability to draw conclusions about causal relationships from the results of a study ● Study has high internal validity when strong inferences can be made that one variable caused changes in the other variable ■ Strong causal inferences can be made more easily when the experimental method is used ■ Inferences of cause and effect require three elements: ● Temporal precedence ● Covariation between the two variables ● A need to eliminate plausible alternative explanations for the observed relationship ■ Inferences about causal relationships are stronger when there are fewer alternative explanations for the observed relationships ○ Independent and Dependent Variables ■ Independent variable = the cause ■ Dependent variable = the effect ■ Researchers manipulate the independent variable and see if the dependent variable changes in response ■ When plotted on a graph, the independent variable is always placed on the horizontal axis and the dependent variable is always placed on the vertical axis ■ Some research focuses primarily on the independent variable and its effect on numerous behaviors ■ Other research focuses on a specific dependent variable and how various independent variables affect that one behavior ■ Ex. jury size ● One researcher is interested in the effect of group size on a variety of behaviors ● Another researcher is interested solely in jury decisions and studies the effects of many aspects of the trials ● Choosing a Method ○ External Validity and the Artificiality of Experiments ■ External validity​ - the extent to which the results can be generalized to other populations and settings ■ Can the results of a study be replicated with other operational definitions of the variables? ■ Can the results be replicated with different participants? ■ Can the results be replicated in other settings? ■ In a single study, internal validity is generally in conflict with external validity ● When establishing a causal relationship, a researcher is more interested in internal validity ■ Field experiment ​- the independent variable is manipulated in a natural setting ● Advantage: independent variable is investigated in a natural context ● Disadvantage: the researcher loses the ability to control many aspects of the situation ○ Ethical and Practical Considerations ■ Instead of manipulating variables, such as child-rearing techniques, researchers study them as they occur in natural settings ■ Areas such as divorce and the effects of alcoholism need to be studied but are nonexperimental ■ When such variables are studied, people are often categorized into groups based on their experiences(​ex post facto) ○ Participant Variables ■ Participant variables -​ characteristics of individuals, such as age, gender, ethnic group, nationality, birth order, personality, or marital status; also called ​subject variables​ and ​personal attributes ■ Nonexperimental variables, so they must be measured ● Ex. to study extraversion, you can have someone complete a personality test ○ Description of Behavior ■ Jean Piaget studied the behavior of his own children as they matured ● Created important theory of cognitive development ● Goal was to describe behavior rather than understand its causes ■ Meston and Buss’s(2007) study on the motives for having sex ○ Successful Predictions of Future Behavior ■ Measures can be designed to increase the accuracy of predicting future behavior ■ Research must be conducted to demonstrate that the measure does relate to the behavior ○ Advantages of Multiple Methods ■ No stud is a perfect test of a hypothesis ■ When multiple studies using multiple methods all lead to the same conclusion, our confidence in the findings and our understanding of the phenomenon are greatly increased CAS 301 - Week 4 Chapter 5: Measurement Concepts ● Reliability of Measures ○ Reliability​ ​- the consistency or stability of a measure of behavior ■ Something reliable would continually yield the same result ■ Something is unreliable if it yields varied results ○ True score​ ​- the real score on the variable ○ Measurement error​ - the degree to which a measurement deviates from the true score value ■ High measurement error = low validity ○ In research, you cannot continually test a subject 50 or 100 times; therefore, it is important to use a reliable


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