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Experiments and Research in Health Psychology

by: Lindsay Bellinger

Experiments and Research in Health Psychology Psyx 383

Marketplace > University of Montana > Psychology > Psyx 383 > Experiments and Research in Health Psychology
Lindsay Bellinger

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These notes cover chapter two of the text and class work, they cover the experiments and research used in Health Psychology
Health Psychology
Mark Primosch
Class Notes
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Lindsay Bellinger on Monday October 10, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psyx 383 at University of Montana taught by Mark Primosch in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 5 views. For similar materials see Health Psychology in Psychology at University of Montana.


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Date Created: 10/10/16
Health Psychology – Chapter Two Research in Health Psychology Epidemiological Research John Snow and Cholera (1848) - Tracking cholera in different areas of London to research why larger numbers of people were dying in certain areas - Found that one part of the city had 10x higher death rates than other areas - Found that it was due to a contaminated water pipe Descriptive Studies Case studies: - Psychologists study one or more individuals extensively over a considerable period of time in order to uncover principles that are true of people in general - Advantage: o allows the researcher to gather a much more complex and in- detail analysis of certain behaviors that an individual may show which may not be possible in studies using larger groups of people - Disadvantage: o any given person may be atypical, thus limiting the generalizability of the results obtained o Vivid case studies can often overshadow solid scientific evidence that may be more accurate and often more useful Surveys: - Examine individual attitudes and beliefs in larger numbers and in much less depth than case studies - Surveys are often self-report studies, but can also be carried out by the researcher face to face - Advantage: o Quick and easy to conduct o Cheap - Disadvantage: o Experimenter bias: participants may answer the questions in a way that they think the experimenter would want them to answer o The wording and phrasing of the questions may unintentionally alter the participants answer – reduced validity Observational studies: - The researcher observes participant’s behavior and records relevant data - Can be structured or unstructured (structured = in a lab, unstructured = naturalistic observation) - Advantage: o Allows the researcher to gain in depth knowledge, but not as in depth as other methods such as case studies o Naturalistic observations have high ecological validity due to them being in a natural environment and therefore experimenter bias is reduced - Disadvantage: o Often takes a long period of time Correlational: - Descriptive studies often reveal information about two variables that may be related (caffeine consumption and high blood pressure) - To determine the relationship between two variables, psychologists often use the correlation coefficient - Cause and effect/causation? Just because there is a correlation doesn’t mean that one variable caused the other variable (doesn’t mean there is causation) Experimental Studies Key Terms: - Independent variables - Dependent variables - Random Assignment - Control vs experimental group - Expectancy effects (the experimenter expects a certain outcome and so their view is more bias towards seeing what they want to see, or the experimenter can unconsciously interact differently with the participant) - Double-blind (neither the participant or the experimenter know what the subject of the experiment was – decreases expectancy effects and experimenter bias) Quasi-Experimental Studies (quasi meaning similar too) - A study comparing two groups that differ naturally on specific variable of interest - Variables commonly used in quasi-experiments are: age, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status - Experimenters cannot manipulate subject variables therefore meaning it is not a true experiment Developmental studies Cross-sectional study (life span approach) - A study comparing representative groups of people of various ages on a particular dependent variable - Disadvantage: o Cohort effects: something that happens to just one generation of people, this can be addressed by doing longitudinal studies - Longitudinal studies - A study in which the same group of people (same cohort) is studied over a long span of time - Used if researchers want to be sure that age, rather than some other variable is the reason for differences in the characteristics of different age groups - Disadvantage: o Very time consuming o Expensive o High drop-out rates (people leave or move away) o Maturation – people changing over time Behavioral Genetics Research Heritability - The genes that you acquire from your parents - E.g. Alzheimer’s Disease o Monozygotic = 60% chance of also developing Alzheimer’s if one has o Dizygotic = 30-45% chance of developing Alzheimer’s if one has - Family studies - Twin studies - Adoption studies Epidemiological Research Key Terms: - Morbidity - Mortality (death rate) - Incidence (the number of cases of death or disease in a specified period of time) - Prevalence (the overall number of cases, not within a given time) - Etiology (the causes of illness or death) Objectives of Epidemiological Research - Pinpoint etiology of disease and create hypothesis - Evaluate hypothesis - Test the effectiveness of preventative health interventions Epidemiological Research Standard approach/procedure: - Establish/estimate the prevalence or incidence of a disease - Generate hypothesis - Predict the prevalence/incidence - Create interventions Research Methods - Retrospective vs Prospective studies o Retrospective: looking at the past (looking at previous data to look for trends that may relate to your current research) o Prospective: looking forward (looking at a group of people over time and looking for trends that influence the outcomes - similar to a longitudinal study) - Disadvantage: Although both retrospective and prospective studies are helpful in identifying various risk factors for illness, neither study can identify causality in health outcomes - Experimental studies in Epidemiology (three major types) o Natural o Laboratory o Clinical Trials - Meta-analysis o Advantages: pooling multiple samples, robust results if an effect remains after analysis and is easily replicated Inferring Causality - Consistence o Studies that report an association between a risk factor and a health outcome must be replicated otherwise causality cannot be inferred - Alleged cause exists prior to the discovery of disease o E.g. If a woman suddenly increases her alcohol consumption after a diagnosis of breast cancer, the alcohol consumption cannot be seen as the cause of the cancer - Explanation is logical o The explanation must be consistent with physiological findings - A dose-response relationship must exist o Systematic associations between a particular independent variable and a particular dependent variable (e.g. Smoking and breast cancer) - Strength of association suggests causality o Relative risk is statistically defined as the ratio of the incidence or prevalence rate (e.g. relative risk rate of 1.0 = no difference in risk between the two groups of participants, 2.0= exposed group is twice and likely to develop a health outcome) - The incidence/prevalence must drop after the alleged cause is removed/eradicated o The risk of developing a health outcome must be reduced when the variable thought to cause it is removed (e.g. the risk of lung cancer must be shown to decrease when the number of cigarettes smoked is decreased)


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