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Psyc 101 Chapter 2-2

To consider how the scientific method (theory, hypothesis) is applied to

1) Louise Hay, best selling author believes that everything that happens to
us(accident and disease) is the result of thoughts we choose to think.
2) Empiricism: How to Know Stuff Two kind of doctors for ancient Greek.
a) Dogmatists (from dogmatikos, meaning “belief”), who thought that the best way
to understand illness was to develop theories about the body’s functions

b) Empiricists (from empeirikos, meaning “experience”), who thought that the best
way to understand illness was to observe sick people.

dogmatism to describe the tendency for people to cling to their assumptions,

empiricism to describe the belief that accurate knowledge can be acquired through

3) 2.2The Scientific Method

scientific method which is a procedure for finding truth by using empirical

theory, which is a hypothetical explanation of a natural phenomenon

-cannot be evaluated by the scientific method
- Can only be affirmed but never proven

Examples 1) bats navigate by making sounds and then listening for the echo
2) moon was formed when a small planet collided with the Earth
3) brain responds to traumatic events by producing chemicals that facilitate
Each of these theories is an explanation of how something in the natural world

Rule of parsimony: Simplest theory that explains all the evidence is the best
hypothesis: A falsifiable prediction made by a theory. The word falsifiable is a critical
part of that definition
The scientific method suggests that the best way to learn the truth about the world is to
develop theories, derive hypotheses from them, test those hypotheses by gathering
evidence, and then use that evidence to modify the theories

2.3 empirical method: A set of rules and techniques for observation. These empirical
challenges arise because people have three qualities that make them unusually difficult to study

a) Complexity- feelings, and actions

Cognitive complexity is the psychological characteristic or variable that shows how
complex or simple the frame and perceptual skill of a person are. It is the extent to
which a person differentiates and integrates an event.

b) Variability-No two individuals ever do, say, think, or feel exactly the same thing
under exactly the same circumstances, which means that when you have seen
one, you have most definitely not seen them all.

c) Reactivity- But people often think, feel, and act one way when they are being
observed and a different way when they are not. When people know they are
being studied, they do not always behave as they otherwise would.
2-4 Measurement
What two things does measurement require?
1. Define the property we wish to measure.
2. Find a way to DETECT it

Every unit of time has an operational definition, which is a description of a property in

concrete, measurable terms

instrument: Anything that can detect the condition to which an operational

definition refers

Principles of Psychometrics (good measurement)

Validity, Reliability, and Power

validity: The goodness with which a concrete event defines a property.

For example, the concrete event called frequency of smiling is a valid way to define the
property called happiness

reliability: The tendency for an instrument to produce the same measurement

whenever it is used to measure the same thing.
For example, if a person smiles just as much on Tuesday as on Wednesday, then
a smile-detecting instrument should produce identical results on those two days

power: An instrument’s ability to detect small magnitudes of the property

If a person smiled just slightly more often on Tuesday than on Wednesday, then a
good smile-detector should produce different results on those 2 days

Measurement There are two steps in the measurement of a property.

2-5 Demand Characteristics
demand characteristics: Those aspects of an observational setting that cause
people to behave as they think someone else wants or expects.


1) Naturalistic observation is a technique for gathering scientific information

by unobtrusively observing people in their natural environments.

PROBLEMS--- 1) one of the things psychologists want to observe simply do

not occur naturally
2) some of the things that psychologists want to observe can
only be gathered from direct interaction with a person, for example, by
administering a survey, giving tests, conducting an interview

2) People are less likely to be influenced by demand characteristics when they

cannot be identified as the originators of their actions, and psychologists often
take advantage of this fact by allowing people to respond privately
(e.g., by having them complete questionnaires when they are alone) or
anonymously (e.g., by not collecting personal information, such as the person’s
name or address).

3) One way to avoid demand characteristics is to measure behaviours that people

are unable or unlikely to control. For example, our pupils contract when we are
bored (left) and dilate when we are interested (right), which makes pupillary
dilation a useful measure of a person’s level of engagement in a task.

4) Subjects kept blind-- Keeps them from behaving how they think they should
because they don't know exactly what is being tested for. More innocent
- psychologists use cover stories or misleading explanations to keep people in
the dark. Might use Filler items to mislead.

5) Experimenters kept blind---because if they have certain expectations then their

results will be biased

6) Double-blind: An observation whose true purpose is hidden from both the

observer and the person being observed.
2-6 Graphic Representations

Frequency distribution: A graphical representation of measurements arranged by the

number of times each measurement was made.

Although a frequency distribution can have any shape, a common shape is the bell
curve, which is technically known as the Gaussian distribution or the normal
normal distribution: A mathematically defined distribution in which the frequency of
measurements is highest in the middle and decreases symmetrically in both directions.
2-7 Descriptive

Brief summary statements that capture the essential information from a

frequency distribution are called descriptive statistics.
Two important kinds of descriptive statistics:
a) central tendency of a frequency distribution
b) variability in a frequency distribution

Central tendency are statements about the value of the measurements that tend
to lie near the centre or midpoint of the frequency distribution.
The three most common descriptions of central tendency are:

a) mode (the value of the most frequently observed measurement);

b) mean (the average value of all the measurements);
c) median (the value that is in the middle, i.e., greater than or equal to half the
measurements and less than or equal to half the measurements)