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Please be aware that this is a student-generated wiki designed for review for my students' AP exams. Come in, look around, and enjoy yourself...just be aware of the nature of this wiki. Even though most everything is correct, I advise caution before citing this as an authoritative source.

Research Methods

-If you introduce information, BE SURE to contextualize. For instance this:

A case study on chimpanzees showed their capacity for understanding language

gives us no information which helps us understand the case study. If you include this type of information, include WHAT makes it a case study.

-If you define something it's fine to quote (please don't paraphrase or make up your own definition), but you MUST cite your source!

-If you plagiarize you will receive at minimum an F on the wiki assignment. If you have questions about what constitutes plagiarism, consult me or your student planner.

Thanks. -pbm

Why We Use Psychological Research
  • Merely using our natural human intuition and gut feelings we will quickly give into hindsight bias and overconfidence. Psychological research is conducted to restrain from error, Myers explains, and to ensure valid critical thinking through the use of the scientific method.
  • Critical thinking requires determining whether a conclusion is based simply on a subjective opinion, an anecdote, or on reliable scientific evidence.
  • The case study, surveys, experiments and observational methods are all used because they help the researcher stay clear from personal judgments and subconsciously confirming previous ideas, questions or thoughts. More specifically, avoiding hindsight bias and rather scientifically addressing the hypothesis, or testable question.
Who Uses Psychological Research
  • Biological psychologists use these research methods to study how the mind and brain function together and/or separately.
  • Cognitive psychologists use these to attempt to understand the way we think, perceive and solve problems and to also understand how our emotions and thoughts tie into and change our course of behavior and the actions we take.
  • Social psychologists examine people interaction's with other people to see how it affects their reactions with their social environment.
  • Humanistic psychologists use research to look at the whole human being in terms of the individual and the observer. They believe that behavior is based on one's perception of themselves. Humanistic psychology is also referred to as the "third force."
  • Developmental psychologists use this research to study the abilities from "womb to the tomb" (notes)
  • Clinical psychologists study, assess, and treat disorders. Most of them have their PH.D and about half of them work for agencies and institutions while the other half of them do private practic. They cannot prescribe medication but they show you other ways of dealing with the issues (notes).
  • Industrial psychologists advise on the behavior in work of everyday lives
  • Personality psychologist use it to understand one's traits(Why they act the way they do)
The Scientific Attitude
According to Myers, underlying all science is a hard-headed curiosity, a passion to explore, and understand without misleading or being misled.
  • Scientists and psychologists approach the world of behavior with a curious skepticism and ask two questions: What do you mean? How do you know? (Translated as "Show me the evidence")
  • It is stated that not only does the scientific attitude require skepticism but also humility, because we may have to face the fact we're wrong and reject our own ideas. It is through humility, curiosity, and skepticism that modern science is able to advance. (Meyers 23)
  • Scientists can have big egos and cling onto their original assumptions, but what makes scientists and psychologists so much alike is their humble scrutiny of competing ideas. As a community scientists check and recheck one another's findings. (Meyers 23)
  • Among competing ideas, skeptical testing can determine which ideas best match the facts, as Myers notes the Polish proverb, "to believe with certainty, we must begin by doubting" (meaning without skepticism an idea is not proven to the extent it should be). (23)
  • Scientific attitude prepares us to do critical thinking, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, and assesses conclusions (Makes us think smarter)
  • Critical thinking (Smart Thinking)- thinking that does not blindly accept arguments and conclusions. Rather it examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, and assesses conclusions, according to Myers.
  • Ex: Electroconvulsive ("shock") therapy is often a very effective treatment for severe depression & brain damage can leave a person able to learn new skills, yet be unaware of such.
  • James Randi exemplifies skepticism, as Myers puts it. The reason being is that he was tested and debunked a variety of psychic phenomena. (Myers 23)

The Scientific Method
With a scientific attitude, psychologists will make observations, form theories, and articulate new theories for further observations, thus incorporating the scientific method. A couple factors apply to this method such as:
  • Hypothesis - a testable prediction, often implied by a theory(which is an explanation using general principles that organizes and predicts behaviors or events), according to Myers.
    • "By enabling us to test and reject or revise the theory, such predictions give direction to research" (Myers 24).
  • Hindsight bias- Psychologist refer to it as the 20/20 hindsight vision formerly known as the " I- Knew- It- All -Along Phenomenon" (Finding out that something has happened makes it seem inevitable) (Myers 20).
    • Once people know a target word they became overconfident and think that they got the solution in 10 seconds when on average it really takes about 3 minutes (Myers). When asked how sure we are of a factual question people tend to be more confident than they are correct i.e. Is Paris north or south of Boston? (Myers).
    • "A scientific theory explains through an integrated set of principles that organizes and predicts behaviors or events" (Myers 24).
    • Good theories must apply testable predictions called hypotheses. By allowing us to test and conduct experiments on the theory, these predictions lead us to research. (Myers 24)
    • According to Myers, a theory can only be useful if it effectively organizes a range of self-reports and observations and implies clear predictions that anyone can use to check the theory or to derive practical applications.
    • Research strategies that psychologists often employ are descriptive, correlative (linear relationships), experimental methods
    • They use observations to describe behavior, correlations to predict behaviors, and experiments to explain behavior (Myers 25)
    • Psychologist will often provide operational definitions of their concept- "a statement of the procedures(operations) used to define research variables". ( Myers 24) This allows for other people to do the same experiement to see if they will get the same result (replicate their observations).(Meyers 25)
    • Replicate - if operational definitions are accurate, this gives other researchers to expand on the subject to test for reliability. Replication is repeating a research study, but with different participants in different situations, to see if the findings extend to other participants and circumstances. (Myers) This ensures that what was being tested holds true, and wasn't influenced by other variables.
    • Being able to replicate an experiment is important because if the same experiment is done with "different participants and materials" and the results end up being similar to the findings of the experiment before, "then our confidence in the findings reliability grows". (Myers)
    • The "I-Knew-It-All-Along" Phenomenon was displayed with a study done at Iowa State University. Students were shown a video of a man entering a store right before murdering a external image arrow-10x10.png security When they were asked to identify the man (the man's picture was not included) all students made false identifications. Those told that they had made correct identifications then claimed they felt four times more confident when making the identification. (Myers 20)
    • We are often overconfident of our judgments because we are biased towards information that confirms them. (Myers)
    • Overconfidence-the tendency to be more confident than correct - to overestimate the accuracy of one's beliefs and judgments (Myers 391) (one tends to think they know more than what they actually do)

ex) In the present day the concept of a computer weighing less
than 30 pounds is completely feasible, a quote from Myers brings up an excellent point though aquote from Popular Mechanics,1949 "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons(Myers 22)"
ex) Richard Goranson asked people to unscramble three anagrams:
  • WREAT -----> WATER
  • ETRYN ------> ENTRY
  • GRABE------> BARGE
  • DUTSY ------> STUDY
  • The hindsight bias makes the answer seem more obvious once a person knows the target external image arrow-10x10.png word causing one to become overconfident. People thought that it only took them a minimal 10 seconds to see the solution, when in reality the average subject spent 3 minutes coming up with the solution in general. (Myers 22).

The Case Study
As Meyers states, the case study is one of the oldest methods of research. It is a experimental tool in which a psychologist studies one individual in great depth in hope of revealing things true of all of us (Meyers 26).

  • For example, much of what we first learned about our brain came from studies that were made to people who had gone through an injury of some sort to their different parts of the brain.
  • Sigmund Freud started his theory of personality from case studies, such as the Psychosexual stages where this particular theory shows how adults personality is determined by their childhood experience (http://www.simplypsychology.org/Sigmund-Freud.html)
  • Jean Piaget developed the stages of cognitive development using research he gathered from several case studies he did involving children of various ages. (http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/cognition/piaget.html)
  • "anecdotal cases-dramatic stories, personal experiences, even psychological case examples- have a way of overwhelming general truths" (Myers 27).
  • A few detailed case studies on chimpanzees have demonstrated that chimpanzees in general have the capacity for understanding language, which is an example for how some case studies can reveal certain things that are true about a general population (Myers).
  • A famous case study that allowed psychologists to determine the different functions of sections in the brain is the case of Phineas Gage, whose frontal lobes were injured in an accident and consequently experienced dramatic changes in personality. He went from being mild-mannered to irrational, revealing that the frontal lobes are important in impulse control.
  • ex. Although car accidents and cancer lead to hundreds more child deaths than kidnappings and school shootings, in countries where there have been widely recognized examples of the latter two situations, people were more likely to rate being "scared" of kidnappings and school shootings than car accidents and cancer. Individual cases can suggest fruitful ideas. (Myers 27).
  • "..To discern the general truths that cover individual cases, we must answer questions with other methods" (Myers 27). If we were to only rely on a case study to prove our point, it might not have validity, so when someone else does the same experiement they might get a different result.
  • The way that psychologists views the facts of case studies is far different from what the general public would view these facts.Where ordinary people would make generalizations based on the facts in a case study, psychologists would be hesitant to jump to any conclusion because they employ the scientific attitude of "curious skepticism" and don't come to conclusions based on one significant case study without first finding a significant amount of evidence in support of their hypothesis.
  • According to Myers, case studies can also suggest hypothesis for further study, they sometimes mislead us: An individual may be atypical. Unrepresentative information can lead to mistaken judgments and false conclusions.
  • Another famous case study allowed psychologists to determine how relationships play a very important role in an individual's growth and development is the case of Genie. Her entire childhood was spent being locked away in her bedroom isolated from the society while also being repeatably beaten. This study showed how isolation from birth can have a negative effect on the development of the human body both mentally and physically. Furthermore, Genie's inability to use proper grammar, after many years of being in an enhanced learning environment, proved to be evidence to Eric Lenneberg's theory that the capacity to acquire language is based on critical periods when growing up.
  • We must be wary of the information we take from case studies because the person taking part in the study may not be the representation of the entire population or certain group that we could be trying to study.
The Survey
Commonly used with descriptive and correlative* studies. Unlike the case study, this method of research touches on topics in less depth.
A survey is typically used to gain the information on a behavior or opinion by asking a question using a random sample of people. Surveys can be biased in many ways including: a response on the participant's part to please the survey conductor, (for example if the conductor give background on the information that favours one view over the other or wears specific clothing to sway the results this will produce a measurement/ response bias) a response on the participant's part to please their peers (if asked in a group), the order of the choice of answers on a paper survey (ex. If given a survey asking you to favor a political leader based upon their contributions to society but you didn't know of any of them or about any of the contributions that they've made, most people are more likely to chose the name listed first), and voluntary response bias (for example, a member of Congress wants to know whether voters would support a legislation. He sends out 200 letters asking about it and receives 120 back. This is voluntary response bias because those most passionate and opinionated about the legislation will be the most likely to write back and their responses will likely systematically differ from those of the other voters). Another example of a bias could be a measurement bias; the question asked as, "Do you support the building of a waste plant near the city?" and having only "Yes" or "No" as optional answers, when "No opinion" could also be an option. (AP Stats Bible)
  • a survey " asks people to report their behavior or opinions". (Myers)
  • surveys may be distributed to participants in multiple ways including: on paper, over the internet, or delivered orally.
An example, Harris and Gallup polls which have related 72 percent of Americans think there is too much TV violence, 84 percent favor equal job opportunities for homosexual people, 89 percent say they face high stress, 95 percent believe in God, and 96 percent would like to change something about their appearance. (Meyers 27)

* It's a correlational study, not a correlation study. Please do not "fix" this again, as I'm tired of changing it. -pbm.
  1. Wording effects
    • Specific word use can vary in a person's response
        • In a national survey, only 27 percent of Americans approved of "government censorship" of media sex and violence, but when asked if there should be more restriction on what goes on public television, 66 percent approved
      • People are more likely to approve the wording "not allowing" things rather than "forbidding" or "censoring" them. Consequently, people are more approving to such wording as "aid to the needy" rather than that of "'welfare," and that of "revenue enhancers" compared to that of "external image arrow-10x10.pngtaxes." (Meyers 27)
        • According to Myers, the delicate matter of wording questions gives critical thinkers the task of reflecting on how the phrasing of a question might have affected the opinions respondents express.
    • Often time in research and studies, researchers will have predetermined biases or ideals that may lead to unintentional prejudice in the question.
      • "Prejudice can creep in when a researcher unconsciously words questions in such a way that the answers support his or her contention or opinion. Various questions of this type are leading questions, loaded questions, and double-barreled questions." (Taflinger, http://public.wsu.edu/~taflinge/evistats.html#4).
    • Loaded language: Language that is often used in journalism or when asking questions that alters the reaction to the question by the participant
      • Example: A question concerning abortion could be "loaded" by stating "You don't support killing babies do you?"
    • Because wording questions is such a delicate matter, critical thinkers will reflect on how the phrasing of a question might have affected the opinions respondents expressed (Myers 27).

  1. Sampling
    • Through everyday experience, trying to find the correct group to survey gets difficult, due to a biased mentality of attitudes and habits.
      • False consensus effect - the tendency to think everyone has the same mindset in belief, values, and attitude as you
      • Ex: Vegetarians will think more people are vegetarians than will meat-eaters (Myers)
      • A way to prevent the false consensus effect would be to use a representative sample of people.
    • Trying to find a small but valid amount of people to survey can easily be arranged by techniques such as:
      • Population - a generalization of the group the question and/or survey is meant for
        • Freshman college students, Hispanic adults, African American women
        • The population is what the sample is pulled from, what the experimenter wants to generalize
        • Opportunity Sampling is a very easy way to find subjects to take part in research although there are disadvantages such as not having a representative sample which could lead to bias results.
        • to find a representative sample of a whole population, you could make its a," random sample, one in which every person in the entire group has an equal chance of participating." (Meyers 28)
        • Although larger samples will yield more reliable estimates an unrepresentative sample cannot be "compensated" for by simply adding more subjects/people. (Myers, 28)
        • Individual samples can be unrepresentative, by random chance. For example we may get a sample of students that turn out to all be seniors, but that is extremely rare, so in the long run all samples do end up being representative.
        • The sample size should be sufficiently large so as the resulting data adheres to the rule of replication, statistically speaking. However, the sample size needed does not necessarily depend on the population size.
      • Overgeneralizing- The best basis for generalizing is from representative sample of cases.(Meyers, 28)
        • Representative samples of a population's opinions/ideas cannot be obtained from a questionnaire because only the most conscientious people with a heightened interest about the subject dealt with in the questionnaire will respond to it.
        • National surveys are a great medium for the random-sampling principle
      • Random Sample - a sample that gives each subject an equal chance of being included. Because of this, random sample represents the population.
        • E.g., imagine a barrel containing 60 million white beans mixed with 40 million red beans. A scoop that randomly sampled 1500 of them would contain about 60% white and 40% red beans, give or take 2 or 3% (Meyers 28)
        • Since gathering a random sample often proves to be an arduous task, some don't make the effort
        • Shere Hite's book Women and Love reported survey findings based on only a 4.5% response rate from mailings to an unrepresentative sample of 100,000 women (Meyers 29)
        • The response was affirmatively unrepresentative due to combination of Hite's modest, self-elected return and the women initially contacted being members of women's organizations

Observational Methods
  • These research methods are used in natural and managed settings where recordings are made on whatever behavior made by the subject is noticed by the observers who are rarely involved in the setting themselves.
*there are five examples of observational methods the participant, non-participant, structured, unstructured, and naturalistic. The observational method is the middle ground between a highly thought out experimental method but it is not as free as an interview type of method.
  • Naturalistic Observation: observing and recording behavior in naturally occurring situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation (Myers).
    • According to the book, naturalistic does not explain behavior, it describes it.
    • Naturalistic observations can be anything from observing certain animals at the zoo to observing the behavior's of people in a grocery store. Basically, anything that is observed in its natural element. (Myers 29)
    • Naturalistic Observation is the opposite of experimenting
    • Naturalistic Observation can be used to describe behavior and can also be used with correlational research
    • When observing, a researcher can either be "overt"- inform or make the participants aware that they are being observed. Or they can "covert"- not inform the participants they are being observed. In an overt study we can find risks of Reactivity, or changes in the behavior of the participant being observed, because of the fact that they know they are being watched.
    • Hawthorne effect -is a type of reactivity where the participant "changes" or "modifies" their behavior because they are aware that they are being studied, not because of the experiment
      • in an overt observation the researcher risks having the reactivity take place and therefore possibly ruin the validity of his research
      • Example: In the Milgram Study, volunteers were tested in their willingness to obey an authority figure when they were told to shock the other person in the room when they gave an incorrect answer. If the volunteer had known that they were being studied, they probably would have not administered the shock.

  • Ex: Whiten and Byrne used natural observation, when they saw a baby baboon fake an attack from another baboon, as a way for the mother to scare the other baboon from the food

  • One well known example of a naturalistic observation study was done in the 1990s by Robert Levine and Ara Norenzayan. This pair successfully compared the pace of life in 31 countries. These psychologists analyzed the pace of everyday life collecting data on the measurements of people's average walking speed on city sidewalks, the speed at which postal clerks external image arrow-10x10.png responded to a simple request, and the accuracy of clocks public settings. These observations required the researchers to observe how people acted/behaved in their natural settings. This particular study displayed an association between pace of life and culture and climate.(Meyers 30)
  • 1. According to Myers descriptions can be revealing and have for example used them to find how humans are not the only ones who use tools but gorillas do use them sometimes too.
  • 2.Naturalistic observation does not explain behavior. It describes it (Myers).
  • There are five examples of observational methods the participant, non-participant, structured, unstructured, and naturalistic. The observational method is the middle ground between a highly thought out experimental method but it is not as free as an interview type of method.
  • In Naturalistic observation the lack of control that the researcher has over the situation may leave room for more than one interpretation of the cause and effect (Meyers 29)

Field Work: This involves leaving the laboratory in order to leave towards an external environment in order to interview or observe something specific such as a culture or a species of animal.
  • If the researcher does this with a culture in mind, expect the researcher to attempt to learn their languages, folklore, and social structures.
  • Certain protocols must be made in order to reduce any risk of the researcher having an observation bias and in order to avoid theorizing explanations of the actual workings of a culture
  • Culture - shared ideas and behaviors that one generation passes on to the next
Correlation is an estimated measure to compare if two variables are related, it does not reveal cause and effect.
Positive correlation: an increase in one variable is associated with the increase of the other variable
Negative correlation: One variable increases as the other variable decreases

This means that the researchers are not actually manipulating variables, but rather observing any differences that may occur (The Princeton Review). By using the results from surveys and naturalistic observation a psychologist can can determine whether or not a behavior or trait can be seen as having a correlation with another behavior or trait.
Psychologist use numbers to describe the strength of a relationship expressed as a correlation. But they caution against illusory correlations and incorrectly inferring cause and effect.(Myers 30)

The Formula for Correlation is: (1/n-1) * the sum of (X - Average X)/Standard Deviation of X)) and (Y - Average Y)/Standard Deviation of Y))

Correlation indicates the possibility of a cause-effect relationship, but it does not prove causation (Myers)
  • The only way to prove causation between two factors is to establish a well-designed, controlled experiment.
  • A widely applicable example is the positive correlation between years of education and level of income. This may lead one to believe that getting a higher degree will absolutely earn them more money, but there is always the chance of going bankrupt or winning the lotto external image arrow-10x10.png that disagrees with this popular assumption (ehow.com).
  • Examples
  • The SAT- While it may predict college success, it may not be the cause of it.
  • The more people get vaccinated for an illness the less illness occurs (negative correlation)
  • Pearson Correlation coefficient- is a descriptive statistic that describes the linear relationship between two attributes (Princeton Review)

  • Correlation Coefficient- a statistic that can show how well one factor is able to predict the occurrence of another
    • Although the correlation coefficient tells us nothing about cause and effect, it could help us see the world more clearly by revealing the actual extent to which two things relate. (Myers)
    • Correlation can only imply association between two variables, but we can sometimes find the results significant enough for publication and these associations are often the the basis for medical knowledge or such
    • One such example would be knowing how much aptitude scores correlate with school success, thus telling us how well the scores predict school success. (Meyers 30)
  • Illusory Correlation- when people believe there is a relationship between two things and when both factors are linked on several instances it will reinforce the belief that one thing affects the other. Ex. When a basketball player wins many games with his lucky Basketball socks on he believes they have something to do with his performance. (Study Guide by Straub, Pg. 29).
    • o An illusory correlation can help us explain our superstitious beliefs. The textbook describes a belief that if you adopt a child you are more likely to conceive. We never actually notice that there may be couples who never conceive after adopting or even the couples that are able to conceive without adopting. Thus, an illusory correlation occurs because we rely too heavily on confirming the evidence and ignore other potential factors and information. (Myers 33)
    • People tend to believe random coincidences to be correlated, when indeed they may not be. People are prone to convincing themselves of seeing a relationship between two situations that might not be related at all (Myers).
    • Illusory correlation occurs because people naturally are eager to make sense of the world. (Myers)
    • "Random sequences usually do not look random." (Myers)
      • Ex: A person has just as great of chance of being dealt a hand of 10 through ace, all hearts, as they are any other combination (1 in 2,598,960.) (Myers)
    • Basically, "given enough random events, something weird will happen," but that does not mean that it is any bit more unlikely than any other occurance. (Myers)
    • Surprisingly enough, the chance of flipping a penny 100 times and getting all heads is the same as the chance of flipping a penny 100 times and getting 50 heads and 50 tails.
    • Misinterpreting random sequences is common in sports and investing.
    • for example: there have been studies that show a strong association between church attendance and longevity, however, there may be lurking variables that lead to longevity, such as belief in safe and moral behavior, such as staying away from alcohol, which can lead to longevity. It may not necessarily be the church attendance, but the people's beliefs.

A scatterplot is a graph of various dots indicated by the values of two variables in the specific study. A slope is drawn in these dots.
  • Correlation Coefficient- a statistical measure of the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus of how well either factor predicts the other. (Myers 31).
  • Negative Correlation- a negative correlation can be represented by a downward position of the slope. This does not mean that there is a weak correlation between the two variables. This simply means that as one variable decreases, the other variable is increasing.
    • A negative correlation means two things relate inversely, according to Myers.
    • ex. As tooth brushing goes up, tooth decay goes down. (Myers 31)
    • if there is a negative correlation, both the correlation coefficient and slope of the least squares regression line must be negative.
      • ex: r= -.9, which means that there is a negative correlation and a strong correlation.
  • Positive Correlation- a positive correlation can be represented by an upward position of the slope. This does not mean there is a strong correlation between the two variables. This means that as y increases, x increases as well, or vice versa.
    • ex. The more food you consume, the higher your weight goes.
    • the signs of the correlation coefficient and slope of the least squares regression line must be positive.
      • r=.88, which means that there is a positive correlation and a strong correlation.
  • No Correlation- an absence of correlation can also can be represented when the dots are randomly scattered, showing no sign of slope.
    • r=0, but this can be due to a curvilinear pattern rather than there being no association at all. This just means that there is no linear association.
    • an example of no correlation is height of a person and what kind of tarzan slam they like.
To figure out cause and effect of our day to day behaviors and attitudes, psychologists use experiments. Experimentation manipulates the many independent variables.
  • By (1) manipulating the factors of interest and (2) holding constant other confounding factors (Myers), researchers can isolate the effects of the explanatory variable to see whether there is causation in a relationship
  • Experiment- a research method in which an investigator manipulates one or more factors (independent variables) to observe the effect on some behavior or mental process (dependent variable), according to Myers.
    • An experiment has at least three different conditions: randomization of subjects, independence of subjects ( are there enough subjects used so there's no chance of them knowing each other), and a comparison or control group.
    • We have to keep in mind that correlative studies and experiments differ from one another. An experiment manipulates a factor to determine its effect and correlative studies uncover naturally occurring relationships. (Myers)
    • "If behavior changes when we vary an experimental factor, then we know the factor is having an effect. Unlike correlative studies, which uncover naturally occurring relationships, an experiment manipulates a factor to determine its effect". (Myers 38)
  • Double-Blind Procedure- A type of a experimental procedure where neither the researcher or the participants know whether or not they were given a treatment or a placebo. The double-blind procedure is most commonly used in drug studies, and this procedure is used to make sure that the researcher cannot influence the participants response.
    • A double-blind procedure reduces the chance of Experimenter Bias, which is when the experimenter unconsciously treats the control and treatment groups differently, in order to have a greater chance of confirming his/her hypothesis. (Barron's Review Book)
    • When a researcher conducts a double-blind or single-blind experiment, they must reveal their true motives and intentions to the subjects when the experiment is over. This is a right that the participants must be told.
    • Example: Doctors wish to test out a new pain killer drug that has just been developed. They decide to do an experiment in which they get two groups of people who are currently in some type of pain. The doctors would administer one group a placebo, and the other group the new pain killer drug, however, the doctors themselves are not aware of which one is which, making it a double-blind procedure.
  • Single-Blind Procedure- a single blind procedure is the method of research where only one side of the experiment (either the subject or experimenter) has full knowledge of the experiment such as what the subject is exposed to in the experiment.
    • it is crucial that the researcher does not have an expectation of what the outcome should be because it may cause bias, which can alter the outcome of the experiment.
    • The placebo effect is involved in the "single-blind procedure" in that the researchers know whether or not the inert substance is an active agent or not.
    • ex: A member of the control group may show side effects of a pill taken because the mind can be tricked into it
Placebo- is an inert substance or condition that is given as a test of whether the participant, who is under the impression that a treatment is in effect,behaves the same as he/ she would if the treatment were actually present [according to our Myers Study Guide]
  • Placebo Effect- experimental results caused by expectations alone; any effect on behavior by the administration of an inert substance or condition, which is assumed to be an active agent. (Myers 38) Placebos are often necessary in experiments as they allow a basis for comparison to the treatment and should be administered randomly to participants without the participant's knowledge.
    • Something incredibly similar to the Placebo Effect (but without the use of placebos) is the Hawthorne Effect, which states that just selecting people for an experiment may affect the performance of the subjects, regardless of what is actually done to them. (Barron's Review Book)
    • An example of a placebo effect would be to give out alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to a group of participants without informing them that there are non-alcoholic drinks present. Not telling the participants who has the placebo effect will let the observer know if the actual experiment has true validity or not.
    • Although placebos are often successful for its purpose, there are times when they prove to be unreliable.
  • Experimental Psychology- uses scientific methods to research mind and behavior. Research such diverse subjects as cognitive processes, animal behavior, neuroscience, and personality (psychology.about.com).
  • The Experimental Condition of an experiment is when the participants are exposed to the independent variable being observed. Example: " In the study of the effects of a new drug on reaction time,participants in the experimental condition would actually receive the drug being tested."[ Myers Study Guide]
  • Control Condition- is when the treatment of interest or independent variable, is withheld so that the comparison to the experimental condition can be made.
    Example: "The control condition for an experiment testing the effects of a new drug on reaction time would be a group of participants given a placebo (inactive drug or sugar pill) instead of the drug being tested ." [Myers Study Guide]
  • Independent Variable - the experimental factor that is manipulated; the variable whose effect is being studied
    • Examples: age,weight , personality (Myers 39)
  • Dependent Variable - the experimental factor - in psychology, the behavior or mental process -- that is being measured; the variable that may change in response to manipulations of the independent variable
    • Examples: dosages of medicine, timing of something (Myers 39)
  • Independent Variable - this is the factor in the experiment being manipulated as well as having their effect on the subject being studied.
    • assigning participants to experimental control conditions by chance {Myers}
    • doing this minimizes pre-existing differences between those assigned to the different groups {Myers}
    • randomizing is also key in allowing researchers to attribute any differences in the subjects' responses to the different treatments being tested (The Princeton Review)
    • Although a key term in experimentation, a truly random sample is unattainable.
  • Replication-
    • repeating the essence of a research study to see whether the basic findings generalizes to the other participants and circumstances {Myers}
    • usually with different participants in different situations.{Myers}
  • Reliability- a test that can show consistent repeated results or similar results is "reliable".
  • Validity- can be measured by an entire test, not necessarily just one trial, and shows all the possible out comes for that test, "range".
    • Internal Validity- certainty with which the results of an experiment can be attributed to the manipulation of the independent variable (Talamo)
    • External Validity- extent to which the findings of a study can be generalized to other contexts (Talamo)
  • Conceptual Definition- theory or issue being studied ( Talamo)
  • Operational Definition- how the theory of issue will be directly observed or measured in the study (Talamo)
  • Debriefing- after the experiment, the participants are told the exact purpose of the experiment, and any deception that may have been used.
  • Common problem: Sometimes not feasible; results may not generalize to other contexts.
Ethical Concerns [1]
  • APA: The American Psychological Association creates rules for using humans and animals for research or experiment.
  • At academic institutions a study involving humans and/or animals must be first approved by the IRB (institutional review board) of the institution, which makes sure that no ethical guideline are breached.
  • Some APA guidelines involving animal studies include:
    • The presence of a defined scientific objective
    • The proper and humane treatment of animals
    • The study should minimize any possible harm the animal may experience
      • Animal protection organizations, such as Psychologist for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, advocate naturalistic observation of animals rather than laboratory manipulation. However, many researchers say this is not the morality of a good versus evil but of compassion (for animals) versus compassion (for people). (Meyer 48)
  • Some APA guidelines involving human research include:
    • The participants must voluntarily agree to the conditions of the study, and if deception is involved, the patients must be debriefed after the study.
    • Debriefing the subjects as to the objective and results of the study, especially if deception was involved.
    • not putting the subjects in way of any harm, both mentally and physically.
      • Stanley Milgram's conformation studies, did not take this into account. After the participants were debriefed that they could have potentially killed or seriously injured the confederate being shocked with such high levels of voltage if the study was indeed real, many subjects were mentally and emotionally disturbed that they may have caused such serious harm.
    • In some studies the subjects will be guaranteed anonymity and confidentiality, based on the context of the study.
    • Fully explaining what the experiment was after will be helpful to the subject.

Statistical Reasoning

According to Myers “Today’s statistics are tools that help us see and interpret what the unaided eye might miss.”
Measures of central tendency :
  • Mode- The most frequently occurring score in a distribution. [Myers textbook]
    • ex: {1,4,7,7,12,13,13,13,16,21} the mode would be 13
  • Mean- The arithmetic average of distribution, obtained by adding the scores and then dividing by the number of scores. [Myers textbook]
    • ex: 7+8+12= 27 27/3 9 the mean is 9
  • Median- The middle score in a distribution; half the scores are above it and half are below it. [Myers textbook]
    • ex: 1,3,4,5,8,8,9,11,14 the median is 8
    • ex: 14,27,32,46,60,72 72-14= 58 the range is 58
    • Using this formula, each score is compared to the mean. The result is an index of how spread out the scores are. A relatively small standard deviation (abbreviated SD) indicates that most of the scores are close to the average, while a large SD indicates that they are much more variable.
  • Range-The difference between the highest and lowest numbers, or scores, in a set of data. Range can only provide a limited estimate of variation of scores in a set of data because extreme scores can affect the outcome of the range.
  • Skewed Distribution: extreme data distorts the mean. (Myers)
    • The mean can be an unreliable measure of the center of a distribution if the data is skewed; in this case, because the mean is pulled in the direction of the skew (if a skewed distribution), we would use the median instead.
    • If the tail stems to the right, the distribution is right-skewed
    • If the tail stems to the left, the distribution is left-skewed
    • Normal distributions are unskewed and look like a bell curve.
  • Use consideration when choosing measures of central tendency, for one may be distorted compared to another when containing extreme scores.
  • Variability- refers to how much the numbers in the set differ from each other. (Princeton Review)
  • In a perfect normal distribution the mean, median, and mode are all same. (Princeton Review)
  • Descriptive statistics- summarize data. (Princeton Review)
  • Inferential statistics- allow researchers to test hypotheses about data and to determine how confident they can be in their inferences about the data. (Princeton Review)
  • The mean can be affected significantly by outliers, such that it may no longer remain a representative measure of central tendency. For example, if there are 11 households in an area that you wish to calculate the average income for. If 10 of the households receives and income $50,000 annually and the remaining household receives and annual income of $1,000,000, the average (mean) annual income for that area would be about $136,000. The outlier has skewed the distribution to the right. The household receiving the $1,000,000 would be an outlier that distorts the mean. The median, instead would be a more appropriate measure of central tendency in this case.
    • Additionally, the standard deviation and also the range, which are both measures of variability, are also affected by outliers. The standard deviation is the average variability of the numbers in a data set about the mean.
  • A normal distribution consists of roughly 68% of the values within one s.d. of the mean (or median/mode, since all three are equal in a normal distribution), ~95% of values within two s.d.s of the mean, and ~99% of the values within three s.d.s of the mean. This is known as the Empirical Rule.
Describing Data
  • According to Myer, once researchers have gathered "raw" data, they must organize it
  • An example of ways to describe our data could be a simple bar graph
  • Myers suggests that we be careful when reading or observing a bar graph. Bar graphs can be manipulated to show what they want to show. So when looking at a bar graph or any graph for that matter, it is best to look at the data itself rather than just the picture, to get a true representation of the data you are looking at.
Measures of Variation
According to Myer's "Knowing the value of an appropriate measure of central tendency can tell us a great deal. But it also helps to know something about the amount of variation in the data. Averages derived from scores with low variability are more reliable than averages based on scores with high varialibility.(Meyers 43) Measures of variation tell researchers how much the scores in a distribution are different. Examples of measures of variation would be the range and the standard deviation.

Standard Deviation
A computed measure of how much scores vary around the mean score. (Myers 44).
An example of standard deviation is if a college or university that attracts students of a certain ability level, their intelligence scores would have a smaller deviation than the one found in more diverse community population outside the school. (Myers 44).

Statistical Significance
  • According to Myers, statistical significance means "that the difference we observed is probably not due to chance variation between the samples" and that it "indicates the likelihood that a result will happen by chance" but doesn't "indicate the importance of the result." For example if we find that the probability that the sample statistic is so extreme that the probability of it occurring is less than 5% or 1%, depending on the level of significance being used, we find that the result is statistically significant. This means that the parameter of interest is actually different from what we believed it to previously be.
  • The main purpose for purpose of performing a statistical test of significance is because the psychologists want to know whether the difference between two samples is real and not caused by chance variation (Myers).
  • If there is little differences in the variability of outcomes then it could be reasoned that there is confidence that if any large differences occur in outcomes then they are true or reliable. (Meyer 45).
  • Ex: If in the long run one flipped a coin many times. One would think that over a period of time one would flip about half of the time heads and half of the time tails. With slight variations one might get outcomes of situation 1 (55% Heads, 45%Tails), or situation 2 (48% Heads, 52% Tails) as well as many other possibilities. But if one got results such as 2% Heads and 98% Tails then one could see that it would be very unlikely to occur. If results consistently show up as outlandish as seen then these results are statistically significant.
  • Psychologists normally would consider a result to be statistically significant if a result occurs just by chance 5 or fewer times out of every 100 times a study is done. (Psychology Study Guide)
  • Statistical tests help us to determine significance by indicating the reliability of differences. (Myers)

Making Inferences
According to Myers "Data are 'noisy.' One group's average score (breast-fed babies' intelligence scores) could conceivably differ from another's (the formula-fed babies) not because of any real difference but merely due to chance fluctuation in the people sampled."
  • Representative samples are better than biased samples (Myers)
    • The best basis for generalizing is not from the exceptional and memorable cases one finds at the extremes but from a representative sample of cases. It is important to keep in mind that no research involves a representative sample of the whole human population.(Myers)
  • Less- variable observations are more reliable than those that are more variable (Myers)
    • Example: A basketball player whose points scored were consistent, an average is more reliable when it comes from scores with low variability (Myers)
  • More cases are better than fewer (Myers)
    • Averages based on many cases are more reliable than averages based on only a few cases. (Myers)

  • According to Myer's what makes a difference significant is when they are representative of the population we wish to study, give us consistant rather than highly variable data, and are large rather than small.
  • Those principles extend to the inferences we make about differences between two groups- for example, when we generalize from a gender difference in grades in our sample to the whole campus population.
  • When the difference has statistical significance "the sample averages are reliable and the difference between them is relatively large. (Myers)
  • According to Myers, we can justifiably have the most confidence when we generalize from samples that
    1. are representative of the population we wish to study
    2. give us consistent rather than highly variable data
    3. are large rather than small

Reducing Bias
The systematic favoring of certain outcomes/responses is called bias. While it is impossible to completely eliminate bias in any type of study, it is wise to work to reduce it. The following are methods typically used in order to help reduce bias.
  1. Randomization:
    1. For an observational study, you must randomly select the subjects from the population in order to deem our results statistically significant.
    2. For an experimental study, you must randomly allocate the treatments to the subjects in order to deem our results statistically significant.
    • Randomly assigning people to two groups helps to equalize the groups in age, attitudes, and other characteristics (so that differences in results can be attributed to the treatment)
      • These other characteristics are called lurking variables.
  2. Blocking:
    1. For an experimental study, it is helpful to group similar subjects into homogeneous blocks to reduce the effects of potentially confounding/uncontrollable factors other than the independent variable on the dependent variable, as well as reducing the variability, which increases a precise response. The treatments are then randomly imposed within each
  3. Replication:
    1. For an experimental study, replication consists of making multiple observations for each experimental condition i.e. increasing the number of subjects in each treatment group.
    2. This is utilized to ensure that our results are not skewed due to samples that were peculiar or out of the ordinary. A small sample is less representative of the population, in general, and leads to less reliable results.

  • Experimentation on animals may be cruel to those who are bias towards the health of animals. But it is rare for animals who are experimented on to feel pain.
  • Experimentation on humans is not so ethical, because human participants get stressful and can be deceived (lobotomy procedures that had deadly outcomes) . They also have a stronger will power to refuse to be experimented on (but there have been incidents in the past where human will power was not acknowledged such as lobotomy patients with no personal say in the decisions made because they were considered too ill).
  • Psychology is not value free. Our interests, everyday experiences, attitude or preconceptions can bias our observations and interpretations. We often times interpret unfamiliar information to fit our preconceptions. (Myers 51)
False Consensus Effect- When we perceive that everyone agrees with us on a personal view or opinion, even if this is not true. People tend to assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values and habits are normal and that others also think the same way that they do. (Psychology Study Guide)
  • For example, someone may believe that most people are for abortion just because they spend their time with like-minded people.
  • Believing that others support your political opinion from lack of variety.
Most surveys sample a target group. (Myers)
The truest form of sampling is called a "Simple Random Sample" or "SRS" which is representative of the entire target population. Every subject in the population is subject to the same chance of being selected. Thus having a true representation of the people we are actually looking at studying.
Population: All the cases in a group from which samples may be drawn for a study. (Myers)
  • Example; When taking your neighborhood census, your neighborhood is the population.
Research Methods
Descriptive- to observe and record behavior.(Myers)
  • Possible problems when using the descriptive research method is that the observations may be biased. These observations do not attribute causation. This method is used in case studies, surveys, and naturalistic observations.
Correlational- to detect naturally occurring relationships. (Myers)
Experimental- to explore cause and effect. (Myers)
Randomization: Researchers randomly assign subjects to the experimental group and the control group(Myers).
Cause and Effect Relationship: Allows researchers to manipulate one or more experimental factors while holding all the potential independent variables constant(Myers).
  • Researchers test hypothesis* and redefine theories by making observations that describe behavior, detecting correlations that help predict behavior, and doing experiments that help explain behavior. (Meyers 25)
Through the study of females and males, it has been determined that biology determines sex, and then culture further bends the gender. But viewing life through the lens of gender can exaggerate differences. (Myers 48).
  • For example, many researchers believe that women carry on conversations more readily to build a relationships; men usually talk to give information and advice (Myers 48).
Men and woman are psychologically similar.
Whether female or male, they learn to walk at about the same age. They exhibit similar overall intelligence and well-being (Myers 48).
Though men and women are psychologically similar, the way we tend to exaggerate differences varies on what cultural lenses we view gender through. For example, American women are seen to be independent to Americans, but maybe to someone of a different culture where women are not usually encouraged to be independent, they might believe that the American is psychologically discomforted due to not being raised in the specific way women of their culture are raised. Researchers also report gender differences in what we dream, how we express or detect emotions, our risk for alcoholism, depression, and eating disorders which is potentially beneficial. (Meyers 48)

The enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next. (Meyers, 47)
  1. By being aware of the cultural differences found in society psychologists can limit their assumptions that everyone will act/react similarly in situations and thus take a more scientific approach in studies involving human behavior with reduced bias.
  2. Cultural Psychology is also known as ethnopsychology.
  3. Our culture influences, our standards of promptness and frankness, our attitudes toward premarital sex and varying body shapes, our tendencies to be casual or formal along with much more.(Myers*)
  4. Culture can also shape the gender stereotypes by observing and imitating and by being rewarded or punished, such as big boys don't cry or Nicole, you're such a goo mommy to your doll (Myers 129).
    • In the Latin culture, mothers taught their daughters how to cook, sew, and how to properly do chores, because women were expected to stay home and tend to their kids and her husband. The practice of that belief is still done, but isn't punished if the daughter wishes to deviate from that lifestyle as often as it used to.
    • Often in early 19th century American households men were taugh to work or farm while the girls were taught how to be care takers of the children and household. Why was this relavent? To show that even though the cultures are different they still share similar beliefes.
  5. Although specific opinions and behaviors vary across cultures, the underlying processes are much the same. (Myers)
    • The Japanese usually eat their fish raw and Americans eat their fish cooked. In both cases they are eating fish but at the same time different and have different preferences in their culture.Because culture shapes people's understanding of social behavior,actions that seem ordinary to us may seem quite odd to visitors from far away. (Myers 48). This goes back to relating to gender. What is seemed to be normal in one country may seem odd in another due to culture views and values. For example in the United States it is more common for women to keep their maiden last name instead of taking on their husbands last name. Culture wise it is okay and more common than to do that in Mexico where culure values are more reserved. It is rather seen as a bad marriage or a unhappy one.

A larger group of a representative sample is better than a smaller group, but if one has to pick between a small representative sample of 100, to a unrepresentative sample of 500, the smaller representative would be a better choice
  1. ^ Barron's AP Psychology 5th Edition, Robert McEntarffer and Allyson J. Weseley, pg. 66-67