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Research Methods.

by: Mariam Nagi

Research Methods. PSY100

Mariam Nagi
University of Toronto

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About this Document

These are the lecture notes for chapter 2.
Dax Urbszat
Class Notes
25 ?




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Mariam Nagi on Sunday September 25, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSY100 at University of Toronto taught by Dax Urbszat in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see in Psychology at University of Toronto.


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Date Created: 09/25/16
Research Methods We are bombarded with information, most of which is poorly presented. The media presents information only if it is entertaining/attractive. In order to differentiate which news is coming from good, credible sources, we must learn how to think critically. Peer-reviewed journals are the best source of information. They are reviewed objectively without any internal bias. Characteristics of Good Psychological Research 1. Theoretical framework. A set of interconnected ideas that have hypotheses. A hypothesis is a question. A good theory has a lot of hypotheses. A good theory is never finished. Ex: Gravity. It started with Newton, then Einstein, and has moved on to quantum mechanics and string theory … it’s constantly being studied. The theory of gravity hasn’t finished yet. There are still things we don’t know. 2. Standardized procedure. A procedure that’s the same for all subjects except where variation is introduced to test hypothesis. Any results that I see are results of how I manipulated the independent variable. No one study is good enough on its own; there’s always a chance of it being a fluke. Research always has to be done by different researchers; it should be able to be replicated. We can’t rely on the findings of just one study. 3. Generalizability. How well can we generalize this study to the rest of the world? This is the external validity of the study. We need to undergo a procedure that is sensible and relevant to circumstances outside the lab. For example, we can’t use university students as subjects in an experiment regarding jurors and their tendency for discrimination because their mindsets are different. University students are exposed to diversity which lowers their prejudice tendency. So we can’t use them to make a general study in the experiment. What can we get away with that is realistic while exerting as much control as we can? 4. Objective measurements. Measures that are reliable (produce consistent results) and that are valid (that assess the dimensions they purport to assess). Are the things we are using to measure valid and reliable? Do they measure what they say they’re going to measure? For example, galvanic skin detectors are examples of valid and reliable measures because they can measure anxiety levels according to how sweaty one’s palms are and other external responses. An invalid measure is a polygraph—the so called ‘lie detector’. It is really only measuring the heart rate, breathing, pulse, etc. It doesn’t actually tell if one is lying or not. Psychological Research  Naturalistic observation. Observing the world around you. You must be unobtrusive so as not to affect the behavior of your subjects. The problem with this method is that you can’t know for sure why your subjects are behaving the way you are simply by watching them. You can’t really make a definitive claim.  Surveys. This is the best way to gain information. But it’s also the most corruptible and easiest to manipulate. It depends on who writes the surveys; they often manipulate the words to get what they want. For instance, Nestle posted a survey in which they asked pediatricians whether or not peanuts should be consumed by toddlers aged 2 and under. Nestle did this to boost their sales as the general consensus was ‘yes’.  Case study. When one person/thing/phenomenon is studied. Case studies are done with no evidence and are not experimental. The results can’t be trusted because it is just one study and therefore cannot be generalized. This often leads to trial and error and people making assumptions and claims based on anecdotal evidence (a personal experience).  Correlations. Measure of association between two variables (-1<r<+1). not accurate.  Correlational research. Establishes whether there’s a relationship between 2 or more variables. Cannot infer casuality. 1. Directional problem. 2. Potential for third variable (confounds the result). For example, in a comparison between self- esteem and GPA, IQ has the potential to be the third variable. High IQ can either raise/lower self-esteem and/or GPA. The directional problem is between self- esteem and GPA. Does high self-esteem lead to a higher GPA or vice versa?  Experimental research. Random assignment: ensures that every participant has an equal chance of being assigned to any of the conditions. For example, the claim that where you sit influences your marks. It’s thought that sitting in the front increases your chance of getting a higher mark, but what if the students at the back are keener than the ones at the front? What if the students at the front have English as their second language? They are confounded by any number of variables. That’s why we need probability to randomly assign these variables throughout the class, so that the results are based only on the manipulation of the independent variable (which is the level of anxiety induced in each group). It’s better to work with a large sample of subjects because there’s less chance of a fluke.


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