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Introduction to Psychology and Research Methods

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Title: Introduction to Psychology and Research Methods


1
Chapter 1
  • Introduction to Psychology and Research Methods

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2
What is Psychology?
  • Psychology
  • Psyche Mind
  • Logos Knowledge or study
  • Definition The scientific study of behavior and
    mental processes
  • Behavior Overt, i.e. can be directly observed
    (crying)
  • Mental Processes Covert, i.e. cannot be directly
    observed (remembering)

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3
Empiricism The Goals
  • To measure and describe behaviors
  • To gather empirical evidence Information gained
    from direct observation and measurement
  • To gather data Observed facts

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Scientific Observation
  • Definition Designed and structured to answer
    questions about the world
  • Research Method A systematic procedure for
    answering scientific questions

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Critical Thinking Key Principles
  • Few truths transcend the need for empirical
    testing
  • Evidence varies in quality
  • Authority or claimed expertise does not
    automatically make an idea true
  • Critical thinking requires an open mind

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Critical Thinking
  • Ability to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize
    information
  • What would you expect to see if the claim were
    true?
  • Gather evidence relevant to the claim
  • Evaluate the evidence
  • Draw a conclusion
  • Oftentimes used in research

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7
What Might a Psychologist Research?
  • Development Course of human growth and
    development
  • Learning How and why it occurs in humans and
    animals
  • Personality Traits, motivations, and individual
    differences
  • Sensation and Perception How we come to know the
    world through our five senses

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What Might a Psychologist Research? (cont.)
  • Comparative Study and compare behavior of
    different species, especially animals
  • Biopsychology How behavior is related to
    biological processes, especially activities in
    the nervous system
  • Gender Study differences between males and
    females and how they develop
  • Social Human and social behavior

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What Might a Psychologist Research? (cont.)
  • Cultural How culture affects behavior
  • Evolutionary How our behavior is guided by
    patterns that evolved during our history

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What Are the Goals of Psychology?
  • Description of Behaviors Naming and classifying
    various observable, measurable behaviors
  • Understanding The causes of behavior(s), and
    being able to state the cause(s)
  • Prediction Predicting behavior accurately
  • Control Altering conditions that influence
    behaviors in predictable ways
  • Positive Use To control unwanted behaviors,
    (e.g., smoking, tantrums, etc.)
  • Negative Use To control peoples behaviors
    without their knowledge

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11
Fig. 1.1 Results of an empirical study. The graph
shows that horn honking by frustrated motorists
becomes more likely as air temperature increases.
This suggests that physical discomfort is
associated with interpersonal hostility. Riots
and assaults also increase during hot weather.
Here we see a steady rise in aggression as
temperatures go higher. However, research done by
other psychologists has shown that hostile
actions that require physical exertion, such as a
fist fight, may become less likely at very high
temperatures. (Data from Kenrick MacFarlane,
1986.)
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History of Psychology (Brief!) Beginnings
  • Wilhelm Wundt Father of Psychology
  • 1879 Set up first lab to study conscious
    experience
  • Introspection Looking inward (i.e., examining
    and reporting your thoughts, feelings, etc.)
  • Experimental Self-Observation Incorporates both
    introspection and objective measurement Wundts
    approach

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History of Psychology Structuralism
  • Wundts ideas brought to the U.S. by Tichener and
    renamed Structuralism
  • Structuralists often disagreed, and no way to
    prove who was correct!
  • Structuralists Introspection was a poor way to
    answer many questions

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History of Psychology Functionalism
  • William James (American) and Functionalism
  • How the mind functions to help us adapt and
    survive
  • Functionalists admired Darwin and his Theory of
    Natural Selection Animals keep features through
    evolution that help them adapt to environments
  • Educational Psychology Study of learning,
    teaching, classroom dynamics, and related topics

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History of Psychology Behaviorism and Cognitive
Behaviorism
  • Behaviorism Watson and Skinner
  • Psychology must study observable behavior
    objectively
  • Watson studied Little Albert with Rosalie Raynor
    Skinner studied animals almost exclusively
  • Cognitive Behaviorism Ellis and Bandura
  • Our thoughts influence our behaviors used often
    in treatment of depression

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History of Psychology Gestalt
  • Gestalt Psychology The whole is greater than
    the sum of its parts.
  • Studied thinking, learning, and perception in
    whole units, not by analyzing experiences into
    parts
  • Key names Wertheimer, Perls

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Fig. 1.2 The design you see here is entirely made
up of broken circles. However, as the Gestalt
psychologists discovered, our perceptions have a
powerful tendency to form meaningful patterns.
Because of this tendency, you will probably see a
triangle in this design, even though it is only
an illusion. Your whole perceptual experience
exceeds the sum of its parts.
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History of Psychology Freud
  • Psychoanalytic Freud
  • Our behavior is largely influenced by our
    unconscious wishes, thoughts, and desires,
    especially sex and aggression
  • Freud performed dream analysis and was an
    interactionist (combination of our biology and
    environment makes us who we are)
  • Repression When threatening thoughts are
    unconsciously held out of awareness
  • Recent research has hypothesized that our
    unconscious mind is partially responsible for our
    behaviors

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History of Psychology Neo-Freudians
  • New or recent some of Freuds students who broke
    away to promote their own theories
  • Key names Adler, Anna Freud, Horney, Jung, Rank,
    Erikson

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History of Psychology Humanism
  • Humanism Rogers and Maslow
  • Goal of psychology is to understand subjective
    human experience
  • Each person has innate goodness and is able to
    make free choices (contrast with Skinner and
    Freud)
  • Determinism Behavior is determined by forces
    beyond our control

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Humanism Some Concepts
  • Self-image Your perception of your own body,
    personality, and capabilities
  • Self-evaluation Positive and negative feelings
    you have about yourself
  • Frame of Reference Mental or emotional
    perspective used for evaluating events
  • Self-actualization (Maslow) Fully developing
    ones potentials and becoming the best person
    possible

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Psychology Today
  • Biopsychology Our behavior can be explained
    through physiological processes
  • Uses brain scans to gather data (MRI, PET)
  • Looks at neurotransmitters
  • Cognitive Study thoughts, memory, expectations,
    perceptions, and other mental processes
  • Positive Study of human strengths, virtues, and
    optimal behavior

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Fig. 1.4 Operational definitions are used to link
concepts with concrete observations. Do you think
the examples given are reasonable operational
definitions of frustration and aggression?
Operational definitions vary in how well they
represent concepts. For this reason, many
different experiments may be necessary to draw
clear conclusions about hypothesized
relationships in psychology.
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Fig. 1.5 Psychologists use the logic of science
to answer questions about behavior. Specific
hypotheses can be tested in a variety of ways,
including naturalistic observation, correlational
studies, controlled experiments, clinical
studies, and the survey method. Psychologists
revise their theories to reflect the evidence
they gather. New or revised theories then lead to
new observations, problems, and hypotheses.
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Cultural Awareness
  • Many thoughts and behaviors are influenced by our
    culture
  • Psychologists need to be aware of the impact
    cultural diversity may have on our behaviors
  • What is acceptable in one culture might be
    unacceptable in another
  • Cultural Relativity Behavior must be judged
    relative to the values of the culture in which it
    occurs
  • Norms Rules that define acceptable and expected
    behavior for members of various groups

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Many Flavors of Psychologists
  • Psychologists Usually have masters or doctorate
    Trained in methods, knowledge, and theories of
    psychology
  • Clinical Psychologists Treat more severe
    psychological problems
  • Counseling Psychologists Treat milder problems,
    such as adjustment disorders
  • Not all psychologists perform therapy!

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Other Mental Health Professionals
  • Psychiatrists MD usually use medications to
    treat problems Generally do not have extensive
    training in providing talk therapy
  • Psychoanalysts Receive post-PhD. or M.D.
    training in Freudian psychoanalysis at an
    institute
  • Counselor Adviser who helps solve marriage,
    career, work, or school problems
  • Psychiatric Social Workers Many have masters
    degrees and perform psychotherapy
  • Presently a very popular profession

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The Scientific Method
  • Six Basic Elements
  • Observation
  • Defining a problem
  • Proposing a hypothesis (an educated guess that
    can be tested)
  • Gathering evidence/testing the hypothesis
  • Publishing results
  • Building a theory

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Scientific Theory
  • A system of ideas that interrelates facts and
    concepts, summarizes existing data, and predicts
    future observations
  • A good theory must be falsifiable i.e.,
    operationally defined so that it can be
    disconfirmed

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Naturalistic Observation
  • Observing a person or an animal in the
    environment in which they/it live(s)
  • Problems
  • Observer Effect Changes in behavior caused by an
    awareness of a person or animal being observed
  • Observer Bias Occurs when observers see what
    they expect to see or record only selected
    details
  • Anthropomorphic Fallacy Attributing human
    thoughts, feelings, or motives to animals,
    especially as a way of explaining their behavior
    (e.g., Anya, my cat, is acting like that because
    shes feeling depressed today.)

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Fig. 1.11 Elements of a simple psychological
experiment to assess the effects of music during
study on test scores.
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Correlations and Relationships
  • Correlational Studies Find existence of a
    consistent, systematic relationship between two
    events, measures, or variables
  • Correlation Coefficient Statistic ranging from
    1.00 to 1.00 the sign indicates the direction
    of the relationship
  • Closer the statistic is to 1.00 or to 1.00, the
    stronger the relationship
  • Correlation of 0.00 demonstrates no relationship
    between the variables

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Correlations and Relationships (cont.)
  • Positive Correlation Increases in one variable
    are matched by increases in the other variable
  • Negative Correlation Increases in one variable
    are matched by decreases in the other variable
  • Correlation does not demonstrate causation Just
    because two variables are related does NOT mean
    that one variable causes the other to occur

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Experiments
  • To identify cause-and-effect relationships, we
    conduct experiments
  • Directly vary a condition you might think affects
    behavior
  • Create two or more groups of subjects, alike in
    all ways except the condition you are varying
  • Record whether varying the condition has any
    effect on behavior

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Variables
  • Definition Any condition that can change, and
    might affect, experiment's outcome
  • Independent Variable Condition(s) altered by the
    experimenter experimenter sets their size,
    amount, or value these are suspected causes for
    behavioral differences
  • Dependent Variable Demonstrates effects that
    independent variables have on behavior
  • Extraneous Variables Conditions that a
    researcher wants to prevent from affecting the
    outcomes of the experiment (e.g., number of hours
    slept before the experiment)

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Groups
  • Experimental Group The group of subjects that
    gets the independent variable
  • Control Group The group of subjects that gets
    all conditions EXCEPT the independent variable
  • Random Assignment Subject has an equal chance of
    being in either the experimental or control group

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Fig. 1.8 Effects of interference on memory. A
graph of the approximate relationship between
percentage recalled and number of different word
lists memorized.
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Evaluating Experiments Results
  • Statistically Significant Results gained would
    occur very rarely by chance alone
  • Meta-analysis Study of results of other studies

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Fig. 1.7 The correlation coefficient tells how
strongly two measures are related. These graphs
show a range of relationships between two
measures, A and B. If a correlation is negative,
increases in one measure are associated with
decreases in the other. (As B gets larger, A gets
smaller.) In a positive correlation, increases in
one measure are associated with increases in the
other. (As B gets larger, A gets larger.) The
center-left graph (medium negative
relationship) might result from comparing
anxiety level (B) with test scores (A) Higher
anxiety is associated with lower scores. The
center graph (no relationship) would result
from plotting a persons shoe size (B) and his or
her IQ (A). The center-right graph (medium
positive relationship) could be a plot of grades
in high school (B) and grades in college (A) for
a group of students Higher grades in high school
are associated with higher grades in college.
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Fig. 1.9 The relationship between years of
college completed and personal income
(hypothetical data).
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Placebo Effects
  • Placebo A fake pill (sugar) or injection
    (saline)
  • Placebo Effect Changes in behavior that result
    from belief that one has ingested a drug
  • Placebos alter our expectations about our own
    emotional and physical reactions
  • These expectancies then influence bodily
    activities
  • Relieve pain by getting pituitary to release
    endorphins
  • Also gain some effect through learning

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Controlling Placebo Effects
  • Single Blind Experiment Only the subjects have
    no idea whether they get real treatment or
    placebo
  • Double Blind Experiment The subjects AND the
    experimenters have no idea whether the subjects
    get real treatment or placebo
  • Best type of experiment if properly set up
  • Herbal remedies may be based on placebo effect

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Experimenter Effects
  • Definition Changes in behavior caused by the
    unintended influence of the experimenter
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy A prediction that leads
    people to act in ways to make the prediction come
    true

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The Clinical Method
  • Case Study In-depth focus on all aspects of a
    single case
  • Natural Clinical Tests Natural events, such as
    accidents, that provide psychological data
  • Survey Method Using public polling techniques to
    answer psychological questions

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Table 1.5 Comparison of Psychological Research
Methods
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Sampling
  • Representative Sample Small group that
    accurately reflects a larger population
  • Population Entire group of animals or people
    belonging to a particular category (e.g., all
    married women)
  • Internet Surveys Web based research low cost
    and can reach many people
  • Courtesy Bias Problem in research a tendency to
    give polite or socially desirable answers
  • Samples are not representative

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Pseudo-Psychologies
  • Pseudo means false. Any unfounded system
    that resembles psychology and is NOT based on
    scientific testing
  • Palmistry Lines on your hands (palms) predict
    future and reveal personality
  • Phrenology Personality traits revealed by shape
    of skull and bumps on your head

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Pseudo Psychologies (cont.)
  • Graphology Personality revealed by your
    handwriting
  • Astrology The positions of the stars and planets
    at birth determine your personality and affect
    your behavior
  • Extremely popular today (Whats your sign?)

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Pseudo Psychologies (cont.)
  • Barnum Effect Always have a little something
    for everyone Make sure all palm readings,
    horoscopes, etc. are so general that something in
    them will always apply to any one person!
    (e.g., Crossing Over with John Edward Miss
    Cleo)
  • Uncritical Acceptance Tendency to believe
    positive or flattering descriptions of yourself
  • Fallacy of Positive Instances When we remember
    or notice things that confirm our expectations
    and forget the rest

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Separating Fact from Fiction (Are the Stories in
the National Enquirer True?)
  • Be skeptical
  • Consider the source of information
  • Ask yourself, Was there a control group?
  • Look for errors in distinguishing between
    correlation and causation (are claims based on
    correlational results yet passed off as
    causations?)

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Separating Fact from Fiction (Are the Stories in
the National Enquirer True?) (cont.)
  • Be sure to distinguish between observation and
    inference (e.g., Robert is crying, but do we know
    why he is crying?)
  • Beware of oversimplifications, especially those
    motivated by monetary reasons
  • Single examples are not proof!

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Ethical Guidelines for Psychological Research
  • Do no harm
  • Accurately describe risk to potential subjects
  • Ensure that participation is voluntary
  • Minimize any discomfort to participants
  • Maintain confidentiality

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Ethical Guidelines for Psychological Research
(cont.)
  • Do not unnecessarily invade privacy
  • Use deception only when absolutely necessary
  • Remove any misconceptions caused by deception
    (debrief)
  • Provide results and interpretation to
    participants
  • Treat participants with dignity and respect

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