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PSYCHOLOGY AND SCIENCE

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Title: PSYCHOLOGY AND SCIENCE Author: Windows User Last modified by: BRGS Created Date: 6/26/2009 2:16:11 PM Document presentation format: On-screen Show – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: PSYCHOLOGY AND SCIENCE


1
PSYCHOLOGY AND SCIENCE
2
Learning Objectives
  • To explain what is meant by the scientific
    approach
  • To discuss whether or not psychology is a science
  • To apply the scientific approach to the different
    approaches and topic areas in psychology
  • To evaluate the use of the scientific approach in
    psychology

3
The features and principles of the scientific
approach
  • There is a popular belief that psychology is NOT
    a science that it is common sense, lacks the
    precision of the traditional sciences and does
    not have a definable subject matter.
  • To assess whether or not psychology is a science,
    we must first examine the features of the
    scientific approach and to consider how
    psychology measures up to these.

4
A PARADIGM
  • Features of the scientific approach

5
A Paradigm
  • A paradigm is a collective set of assumptions
    about a subject and its method of enquiry
  • Kuhn (1970) believes that a subject can only be a
    science if the majority of its workers agree and
    work within a paradigm
  • He suggested 3 stages in the development of a
    science.
  • Which stage would Kuhn suggest that psychology
    falls into? Explain your answer

6
A paradigm
  • Kuhn would suggest that psychology is in the
    pre-science stage as the majority of its
    researchers do not work within a paradigm.
  • There are many conflicting perspectives regarding
    the subject matter, their assumptions about human
    behaviour and experience, and their methods of
    enquiry.
  • E.G. Cognitive psychologists focus upon the study
    of human mental processes using mainly
    experimental methods whereas Humanists focus upon
    individual human motivation and experience often
    using the case study method

7
However...
  • Most psychologist are in broad agreement about
    the overall subject matter of psychology the
    study of mind and behaviour.
  • Palmero (1971) would argue that psychology has
    already gone through revolution and
  • several paradigm shifts structuralism
  • (identifying conscious thought and
  • experience) to behaviourism and now
  • back to cognitive psychology.

8
Theory and hypothesis testing
  • Features of the scientific approach

9
A Theory
  • Explains observable behaviours and events using
    an integrated set of general principles and
    predicts observations.
  • They provide understanding by organising facts
    and find patterns
  • It is then possible to make predictions or
    hypotheses from the theory which can then be
    tested
  • A theory should be falsifiable and subjected to
    attempts and refutation

10
A hypothesis
  • Is a testable predictive statement which
    specifies the relationship between events or
    variables.
  • TASK 2 Consider the importance of hypothesis
    testing in scientific research

11
TASK 2 the importance of hypothesis testing
  • It allows for testing of theories to support or
    refute them
  • The degree of support determines the amount of
    confidence in the theory
  • Theories need to be tested by empirical studies
  • They help to guide theory
  • They allow for falsification of a theory
  • EXAM QUESTION Outline what is meant by
    hypothesis testing and explain its role in
    scientific research (4 marks)

12
LINKS to the approaches
  • Which of the approaches make clear testable
    hypotheses and produce objective evidence to
    support or refute the them?
  • BEHAVIOURISM
  • SLT
  • BIOLOGICAL
  • COGNITIVE
  • Which of the other approaches (could it be
    argued) do not produce clear testable hypotheses?
  • FREUDIAN theory one of the problems with the
    theory is that whatever the finding, Freudian
    theory can always offer an explanation and cannot
    be refuted.

13
EMPIRICAL METHODS AND REPLICATION
  • Features of the scientific approach

14
Empirical methods
  • The scientific method is empirical based on the
    collection of data through direct sensory
    experience (experiments and observations)
  • Empirical methods must also be OBJECTIVE the
    ability to carry out an investigation without
    allowing personal interpretation or bias to
    influence the process.
  • TASK 3 What methods used in psychology can be
    regarded as objective? Give at least two examples
    from topics you have studied (explain why they
    are objective)

15
TASK 3
  • THE EXPERIMENTAL METHOD CAN BE REGARDED AS
    OBJECTIVE
  • EXAMPLE 1 Behaviourism
  • Pavlov investigated the laws of learning by
    measuring the amount of saliva produced by dogs
    in response to the sound of a bell. This
    experiment was conducted under controlled
    conditions
  • Skinner investigated how behaviour could be
    shaped by the use of rewards and punishments. He
    developed research methods for the experimental
    analysis of behaviour Skinner boxes

16
TASK 3
  • EXAMPLE 2 Cognitive Psychology
  • Mental processes such as memory, attention and
    problem solving are studied using laboratory
    experiments.
  • e.g. Psychologists, such as Miller, have studied
    the capacity of memory by recording the number of
    words recalled from a word list under controlled
    conditions.

17
TASK 4
  • What methods may NOT be regarded as OBJECTIVE?
    Give an example.
  • THE CASE STUDY METHOD
  • e.g. Maslows theory of motivation used the case
    study method to gain a detailed understanding and
    insights this method is open to the subjective
    interpretation of the researcher
  • PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION and UNSTRUCTURED
    INTERVIEWS
  • e.g. Margaret Mead (1935) an investigation of
    gender role behaviour in three tribal
    communities. Her methods were open to subjective
    interpretation and researcher bias

18
The empirical method and objectivity
  • Objectivity is harder to achieve in psychology
    than in the other science because
  • Psychology deals with living conscious human
    beings
  • Methods that are considered to be objective can
    be contaminated with experimenter bias
  • Participants taking part in an experiment may
    respond to demand characteristics

19
Replication
  • Methods and findings should be able to be
    repeated with the same/different participants and
    on different occasions.
  • Experimental are carried out rigorously and in
    detail so that other researchers can replicate
    and verify the work.
  • TASK 5 Why do you think replicability of
    findings is an important feature of the
    scientific approach?

20
TASK 5
  • If we get the same findings over and over we can
    be more confident in their accuracy.
  • Replicability of findings confirms their
    validity.
  • It gives us confidence that the results are
    reliable and builds a body of evidence to support
    a theory.

21
TASK 6
  • Do you think that replicability is harder to
    achieve in psychology than in the other sciences?
  • There are many different variables that must be
    controlled when dealing with human beings
  • Much experimental research has taken place in
    western cultures often when research is
    replicated in eastern cultures very different
    results are obtained
  • The case study method conducted on a single
    person, possible over a number of years is simply
    not replicable because each person is unique and
    changes with time.

22
TASK 6
  • HOWEVER....
  • Field and laboratory experiments can be
    replicated to a certain extent
  • BUT...
  • The findings observed under controlled conditions
    cannot easily be translated to real life settings

23
Generalisation
  • The features and principles of the scientific
    approach

24
Generalisation
  • Refers to the ability of a researcher to make a
    justified extension of their conclusions and
    apply them to other populations and situations.
  • One problem in making the conclusions
    generalisable is obtaining a representative
    sample.
  • TASK 7 What problems do psychologists face in
    obtaining a representative sample?

25
TASK 7
  • Psychologists will struggle to generalise
    findings obtained from a small sample
  • They often have to rely on opportunity or
    volunteer sampling bias may creep into the
    selection process and the research may not have a
    representative sample.

26
The problem of Ecological validity
  • Ecological validity is the extent to which the
    results of the investigation can be generalised
    beyond the immediate research setting
    psychological explanations are often restricted
    to specific times and places.
  • The EXPERIMENTAL method has often been criticised
    fro lacking EV and struggle to generalise the
    finding to life in the real world

27
TASK 8
  • Can you think of any studies in psychology that
    have been criticised for lacking ecological
    validity?
  • Explain why they lack ecological validity.

28
Overt behaviour and subjective experience
  • The features and principles of the scientific
    approach

29
Overt BEHAVIOUR and subjective experience
  • OVERT BEHAVIOUR open to scientific enquiry,
    objective and measurable by others
  • SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE internal, unique to an
    individual and is not open to scientific enquiry
  • TASK 9 Contrast the BEHAVIOURIST and HUMANISTIC
    approaches with respect to overt and private
    experience

30
TASK 9 HUMANISM
  • Investigates an individuals unique perception of
    the world and their understanding of events from
    their own perspective
  • They investigate PRIVATE experiences which are
    NOT open to scientific enquiry.
  • Individuals report on their own feelings (not
    observable), these methods cannot be replicated
    or generalised to other people/situations.
  • They believe that it is only by seeing the world
    through the viewpoint of an individual can we
    really understand why people behave the way they
    do. It gives us a detailed and valid
    understanding of human behaviour

31
TASK 9 behaviourism
  • They investigate observable behaviour to gain
    knowledge about learning.
  • They are only interested in studying OVERT
    behaviour in a scientific way.
  • These processes are open to scientific enquiry
    they measure observable behaviour under
    controlled conditions e.g. PAVLOVs Dogs
  • Behaviourists believe that studying overt
    behaviour is important to the scientific
    approach. It is only through studying observable
    behaviour in an objective way can psychologists
    discover general laws of learning which are
    replicable and generalisable

32
TASK EXAM Questions
  • Answer the PPQs on your handout

33
PEER REVIEW
34
The role of peer review
  • Communication of psychological ideas occurs
    through journals, books and conference
    proceedings.
  • Peer review involves specialists in the field
    reading the article or book and assessing the
    quality of the work, validating the quality of
    ideas, and ensuring that appropriate methodology
    has been used.
  • Typically 2 or 3 psychologists will review the
    work.

35
STRENGTHS AND LIMITATION
36
STRENGTHS
  • By applying the scientific approach to the study
    of behaviour, psychology gains the credibility
    afforded to scientific status.
  • The scientific approach strives for objectivity.
    It provides accurate and generalisable results.
  • It aims to provide general laws of behaviours -
    understanding, prediction and control.

37
strengths
  • It has provided many applications to improve
    peoples lives and solve problems. For example,
    therapies to help people cope with psychological
    disorders or cope with stress may be based on
    objective findings.

38
limitations
  • Adopts a deterministic view of human behaviour,
    looking for cause and effect of every aspect of
    human life it tends to view people more as
    machines!
  • It adopts a reductionist view, assuming that
    thought and behaviour can be reduced to simple
    component parts. Which psychologists would
    suggest that we need to view people as a whole?

39
limitations
  • Many of the empirical methods of enquiry,
    especially laboratory experiments in psychology,
    create artificial situations. Therefore this
    results in a lack of ecological validity and
    presents us with problems in trying to generalise
    the findings beyond the research situation.
  • Adopting a scientific approach when using human
    being as the subject matter may bring
    experimenter bias and demand characteristics that
    is not present in other sciences such as physics.

40
limitations
  • Ethical constraints mean that research which
    might be of scientific interest (e.g. Those that
    may cause fear, anxiety, reduce self esteem, or
    create guilt) cannot be undertaken using people
    as participants.
  • Much of the subject matter of psychology is
    unobservable, hence it cannot be accurately
    measured and is inferential. Can you give any
    examples?
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