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Psychological Research

Learning objectives

 Explain how scientific research addresses questions about

 Discuss how scientific research guides public policy
 Appreciate how scientific research can be important in making
personal decisions
Fact or fiction
Scientific knowledge is empirical

 The hallmark of scientific research is that there is objective

evidence to support a claim, and that the results are replicable
regardless of the observer.
 Use of research information
 We should strive to think critically about the info we encounter
 Objective statements
 Critiques
 Source
 Conflicts of interest
 Peer-reviewed
The process of scientific research

 Inductive Reasoning
 ____________ ___________

 Deductive Reasoning
 ____________  ___________

 Hypothesis: An educated guess

 A hypothesis must be _________ and ___________
The process of scientific research

 Inductive versus deductive reasoning

Inductive Deductive
Begins with making an observation Begins with forming a hypothesis

Used to construct theories, which then Used to test hypotheses

help generate hypotheses
E.g.: you may notice that your favorite E.g.: All living things require energy
fruits—apples, bananas, and oranges— to survive. Ducks are living things.
all grow on trees; therefore, you Therefore, ducks require energy to
assume survive
that all fruit must grow on trees.
The process of scientific research

 Theory
 Set of ideas that proposes an explanation for observed
 Large amount of data

 Hypothesis
 A potential answer to a smaller, specific question
n theory
Hypothesis: low autonomy  score
low on motivation

Hypothesis: low competence  low on Low on relatedness 

ability high on depression
Approaches to research

 Experimental Designs
 Correlational Designs

 Experiments
 Operational definition: how and what we’re
  ability to repeat an experiment
  ability to interpret data
 Two groups
 Experimental
 Control

 Experimental Variables

 Independent:

 Dependent:

 E.g., Johnny is trying to determine whether increasing the

concentration of a medication results in fewer physical
symptoms for patients.
 What is the IV?
 What is the DV?
Experiments: selecting and assigning

 Population versus sample

 Random sample
 Subset of population
 Every member has an equal chance of being selected
 Random assignment
 Participants have an equal chance of being in the control or
experimental group
 Ensures no systematic differences between groups
 Experimenter bias
 We know differences are caused by manipulation

 Reliability and validity

Experiments: reporting findings

 Statistical analyses
 Does your data support your hypothesis?

 Meaningful finding = 5% or less that results were due to

chance (p < or = .05)
 Reporting
 APA – American Psychological Association

 Peer review
 Feedback
 Quality control
 Replication
Designing an experiment: issues to consider

 Biases
 Single blind

 Double blind

 Placebo effect

 Manipulations
 “true” experiment versus quasi experiment

 Ethics
Approaches to research

 Correlational: finding a relationship between variables.

 Observational: lots of information! Limited generalizability.
 Case studies
 Gain tremendous information +

 Deep understanding +

 Limits generalizability -

 Naturalistic observation
 Natural setting
 Critical to be unobtrusive and inconspicuous
• E.g. _____________________________
 Difficult to set up and control
 Observer bias

 Survey
 Larger recruitment
 Limited in what we can ask
 Issues with self-report

 Longitudinal
 Testing same individuals over an extended time period
 Expensive
 Attrition
 Risk factors

 Cross sectional
 Compares multiple segments of population
 Examines differences between groups
Analyzing correlations

 As one variable changes, so does the other

 Measured by: r (correlation coefficient)
 - 1 to + 1
 Positive versus negative
 Strength
 Confound Variables
 “something else”
 Illusory correlations
 E.g. superstitions and “good luck” charms
 Confirmation bias
 then look for evidence to support that hunch, ignoring evidence that
would tell us our hunch is false

 Institutional Review Board (IRB)

 Ensures experiment does no harm

 Requirements
 Informed consent

 Statements of privacy protection

 Human rights training

 Deception
 Purposely misleading participants to maintain the integrity of
the research, should never be harmful
 Debrief
Tuskegee Syphilis study

 Participants: poor, rural, black, male sharecroppers

from Tuskegee, Alabama
 Who: conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service
 Question: Studying syphilis in black men
 Experimental: Syphilis positive
 Control: Syphilis negative
 Denied medical care, and penicillin