importance of statistics in psychology research

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importance of statistics in psychology research

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Submitted by: Salma Umar Roll No: 108 Submitted to: Mrs. Fatima Khurram Dated: 16 01 2013

Psychology students are shocked or some time embraced when they are informed that the Statistics is major subject of Psychology research. But in a very short time when they perform these researches they accept the importance of statistics being a psychologist. They believe that they are enabling to encounter the subject in many of your other classes, particularly those that involve experimental design or research methods.

First let's think about the importance of statistics in general. Statistics allows us to make sense of and interpret a great deal of information. Consider the sheer volume of data you encounter in a given day. How many hours did you sleep? How many students in your class ate breakfast this morning? How many people live within a one mile radius of your home? By using statistics, we can organize and interpret all of this information in a meaningful way. In psychology, we are also confronted by enormous amounts of data. How do changes in one variable impact other variables? Is there a way we can measure that relationship? What is the overall strength of that relationship and what does that mean? Statistics allow us to answer these kinds of questions. Statistics allow psychologists to:

To Organize Data: When dealing with an enormous amount of information, it is all too easy to become overwhelmed. Statistics allow psychologists to present data in ways that are easier to comprehend. Graphical displays such as graphs, pie charts, frequency distributions, and scatter plots make it possible for researchers to get a better overview of the data and to look for patterns that they might otherwise miss.

Describe Data: Think about what happens when researchers collect a great deal of information about a group of people. The U.S. census is a great example. Using statistics, we can accurately describe the information that has been gathered in a way that is easy to understand. Descriptive statistics provide a way to describe what already exists in a given population, such as how many men and women there are, how many children there are, or how many people are currently employed. Make Inferences Based Upon Data: By using what's known as inferential statistics, researchers can infer things about a given sample or population. Psychologists use the data they have collected to test a hypothesis, or a guess about what they predict will happen. Using this type of statistical analysis, researchers can determine the likelihood that a hypothesis should be either accepted or rejected. Secondly, think about all the claims about psychology that you encounter on a

daily basis outside of class. Magazines publish stories about the latest scientific findings, self-help books make proclamations about different ways to approach problems, and news reports often exaggerate or misinterpret psychology research. By understanding the research process, including the kinds of statistical analysis that are used, you will be able to become a wise consumer of psychology information and make better judgments of the information that you come across. Modern psychology couldn't get by without statistics. Some of these simply describe research data and stop there. An example is correlation, which yields a single number that indicates the extent to which two variables are related. Another example is the set of often-complex statistical computations that help researchers decide whether the results of their experiments are likely to be real.

Correlation

In correlation, the resulting number can range from 0 to +1.00 or 0 to 1.00. Where it falls indicates the strength of the correlation. For example, to assess the correlation between height and weight, a researcher would measure the height and weight of each of a group of individuals and then put the numbers into a mathematical formula. This correlation will usually turn out to be noticeable, But the correlation is far from perfect and there are many exceptions. As example, a researcher might assess the extent to which people's blood alcohol content (BAC) is related to their ability to drive. The participants might be asked to drink and then attempt to operate a driving simulator. Their BACs would then be compared with their scores on the simulator, and the researcher might find a correlation.

Role of Statistics

For descriptive statistics such as correlation, the mean, or average, and some others that will be considered in context. The purpose is to describe or summarize aspects of behavior to understand them better. Inferential statistics start with descriptive ones and go further in allowing researchers to draw meaningful conclusions especially in experiments. These procedures are beyond the scope of this research, but the basic logic is helpful in understanding how psychologists know what they know. Again recalling Bandura's experiment of observational learning of aggression, consider just the model-punished and model-rewarded groups. It was stated that the former children imitated few behaviors and the latter significantly more. What this really means is that, based on statistical analysis, the difference between the two groups was large enough and consistent enough to be unlikely to have occurred simply by chance. That is, it would have been a long shot to obtain the observed difference if what happened to the model wasn't a factor. Thus, Bandura and colleagues discounted the possibility of chance alone and concluded that what the children saw happen to the model was the cause of the difference in their behavior.

This logic may seem puzzling to you, and it isn't important that you grasp it to understand the many experiments. Indeed, it isn't mentioned again. The point of mentioning it at all is to underscore that people are far less predictable than chemical reactions and the like, and therefore have to be studied somewhat differently usually without formulas. Psychologists study what people tend to do in a given situation, recognizing that not all people will behave as predicted just as the children in the model-rewarded group did not all imitate all the behaviors. In a nutshell, the question is simply whether a tendency is strong enough as assessed by statistics to warrant a conclusion about cause and effect.

Of course, knowing why statistics are important might not necessarily help with that sense of dread you feel before stepping into your very first stats course. There's good news, though! Even if you don't consider yourself "good at math," you can still succeed in your behavioral stats classes. Sure, you might have to put in some extra effort, but there are plenty of tools and resources out there that can help. Start by discussing your concerns with your instructor. He or she might be able to recommend books, online tools, and on-campus resources that can be helpful. Consider joining or forming your own study group with your classmates. Most importantly, don't overlook the assistance that might be available at your school. Many colleges and universities offer a math lab where students can go to receive extra help and tutoring with any type of math course, including statistics.

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