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Chapter 1 Notes

Leah Brown

Psych 310

January 8, 2010

Chapter 1 Notes

I. Psychology- science of behavior; science = knowledge (content-facts and process- gathering data, noting relationships and offering explanations)

A. Need for scientific methodology

~Methodology- scientific techniques used to collect data and evaluate psychological data (facts and figures gathered in research)

~Common sense psychology- everyday non scientific data gathered that shapes our expectations and beliefs and directs our behavior towards others.

~Sources (unreliable) and explanations (imperfect) are two important factors that constrain gathering data as commonsense psychologists.

B. Nonscientific sources of data

~the sources (friends, relatives, media, books, etc we use as gather common sense psychologists seem credible, but in reality are not reliable sources for valid info about behavior. We rarely test this data gathered because it comes from a seemingly trustworthy source, instead we seek confirmatory instances of behavior.

~we are more likely to believe info that comes from certain types of people- popular, attractive, high status, experts, confident.

~we use our own observations and interactions with others as other sources of data, not just other people.

~we learn to predict consequences and direct behavior to desired goals.

~we are often unaware of factors that influence our attitudes and behaviors

C. Nonscientific Inference

~we assign traits to others as we interact with others. When we understand others behaviors, there is a strong bias to overlook situational data in favor of data that substantiate trait explanations (example- a girl is wearing another expensive dress, therefore she is vain about her appearance, fail to consider her mother is a dress designer). Making trait predictions about a person becomes more accurate the longer you know the person.

~perceiving others by their traits can be useful in predicting their behavior, but can lead to over estimation in cross situational behavior

~are traits or situations better predictions of behavior? Traits à long term behavior, situations à momentary behavior.

~Stereotyping- problem with predicting behavior (non scientific inference), additional problemsà people cant use data to estimate the true probabilities of events. Over confidence bias- predictions, guesses, and explanations tend to feel much more correct than they really are, the more data we have available the more confidence we have.

~inferential biases possibly brains way of coping with immense volume of info (shortcuts)

~Scientific method-steps scientists take to gather/verify info, answer questions, explain relationships and communicate info to others.


II. The Characteristics of Modern Science

A.    The Scientific Mentality

~behavior must follow a natural order so it can be predicted.

~Research psychologists share the belief that there are specifiable causes for the way people behave and that these causes can be discovered thru research- this belief = determinism.

B.     Gathering Empirical Data

~empirical data- data that are observable or experienced

~gathering empirical data in a systematic and orderly way is preferable to commonsense data but it can not guarantee the correct conclusions.

C.     Seeking General Principles

~observations, data, etc. would be useless with out general principles to structure them. When these principles have generality to apply to all situations = law.

~Theory- devising and testing an interim explanation (the explanation itself). Theories unify diverse scientific facts into schemas that can be used to predict new examples of behavior. Theories can explain many but not all instances of behavior. New theories that replace older theories have greater explanatory power. Behavior sciences explained more by better and better theories, rather than laws.

D.    Good thinking

~a predisposition to find only what we are looking for. An approach to collection and interpretation should be systematic, objective and rational, scientists avoid letting beliefs or explanations influence. Good thinking means you have to be open to new ideas even when they contradict our beliefs and attitudes.

~follows the rules of logic

~parsimony- (aka Occams razor) simplicity precision and clarity of thought (entities should not be multiplied with out necessity. Avoid making unnecessary  assumptions to support an argument. When 2 arguments are equally defensible the simplest explanation is preferred until it is ruled out by conflicting data.

E.     Self Correction

~the more evidence we have to support a particular explanation or theory, the more confidence we have in that theory.

~cognitive priming theory- has replaced social learning theory because it can explain more varied behaviors.

~Falsification- (Popper) scientists challenge existing explanations and theories by testing predictions for behavior that follow logically from them (if a test showed that a prediction-aka hypothesis- is false them the original theory should be modified or abandoned for one that explains the new findings.

~Modus tollens- procedure of falsification. Statements can be proven false by one contrary observation

F.      Publicizing Results

~scientific journals and papers, conferences,

            E. Replication

~we should be able to repeat our procedures with the same results (if data was gathered objectively and good thinking was followed). More common in physical than behavioral sciences.


III. The Objectives of Psychological Science

~four major objectives of research conducted in psychology: description, prediction, explanation, and control.

~Description- the initial step toward understanding an phenomenon. (stars/human behavior). A systematic unbiased account of observed characteristics of behavior.

~Prediction-  refers to the capability of knowing in advance when certain behaviors would be expected to occur- to be able to predict tem ahead of time- because we have identified other conditions they are associated with.

~Explanation- when we have explained a behavior we also understand what causes it to occur. Knowledge of conditions.

~Control- refers to the application of what has been learned about the behavior. You can use what you have learned about a behavior to change or improve that same behavior.

~Applied research- research designed to solve real world problems. VS basic research- designed to test theories or explain psychological phenomena in humans and animals.


VI. The Tools of Psychological Science

~3 main tools of scientific approach- observation, measurement, experimentation.

A.    Observation

~the systematic noting and recording of events (only events that are observable can be studied scientifically).

~observations must be made systematically- once the researcher has devised a system for observing, the same system must be applied consistently to each observation.

B.     Measurement

~the assignment of numerical values to objectives or events or their characteristics according to conventional rules. (assigning numbers in research- quantitative research). ~Same unit of measurement needs to be used each time we measure. Use same instruments and same procedure as well.

C.     Experimentation

~process undertaken to test a prediction called a hypothesis that particular events will occur reliably in certain specifiable situations.

~predictions must be testable- must have procedures for manipulating the setting and predicted outcome must be observable.

~must be objective (no bias)

~must be done in an ethical way.


V. Scientific Explanation in Psychological Science

            A. Identifying treatment conditions

~antecedent conditions- aka antecedents, circumstances that come before the event or behavior that we want to explain. If we can indentify these then we can explain behavior in the following way; when XYZ is the set of antecedent conditions, the outcome is a particular behavior.

            B. Comparing treatments conditions

~research participants aka subjects

~only focus on antecedents that have effect on the behavior

~in a psych experiment we create a specific set of antecedent conditions that are called treatments. Compare diff treatment conditions so we can test explanations systematically and scientifically. When we can specify antecedents or treatment conditions that lead to behavior we have explained that behavior.


D.    The Psychology Experiment

~a controlled procedure in which at least two diff treatment conditions are applied to subjects. Have to have 2 diff treatment conditions to compare behavior under varied conditions and to observe the way behavior changes as a result of a change in treatment conditions.

E.     Establishing cause and effect

~greatest value to psychological experiment

~if a set of antecedents always leads to a particular behavior, we can infer that that set of antecedents causes that particular behavior.

~Temporal relationship- time difference between cause and effect. Treatment conditions always come before the behavior, look for differences in behavior after being exposed to the treatment.

~spatial relationship- physical distance between cause and effect is factor in determining whether the cause was the actual cause. (useful but not always correct)

~logical relationship- what seems most likely to have caused the effect/behavior.

~David Hume- argued we can never establish causality from temporal relationships. Just because one event precedes another does not mean the first caused the second.

F.      Necessary VS sufficient conditions

~necessary- has to be present for the effect/behavior to happen

~sufficient- can be a factor in causing the effect/behavior but does not always have to be present for the effect to occur.


Chapter 1 Study Questions

  1. A psychology experiment shows that if the set of antecedents always leads to a certain behavior (and other different antecedents do not), we can only take away that that particular set of antecedents CAUSES that particular behavior (the effect).
  2. Attending class is a necessary condition to receiving a passing grade in the course because the professor stated two conditions to passing the course as requirements(hence the word “and”).
  3. Treatment conditions are the conditions that precede a particular event or behavior that we want to explain. You need two treatment conditions so that you can compare behavior under diverse conditions and so that you can observe the way  behavior changes as a result of the change in treatment conditions.
  4. a). Experimentation was definitely violated in this experiment because she would have had to have made sure that she took the exact same routes the second time she filled up her car; and also the amount of gas used changes depending on how many times you had to stop and go, how many times you had to push the accelerator and how hard you did, etc; not just how many miles you drive.

d). There is no way to observe this logically, so therefore this would be violating observations. The experimenter would have to be assuming that the reason the plant moves is because it is “afraid” of being cut, and this would mean that plants have feelings. But there is no way to prove that the plant moved because of its feeling or because the wind blew or because its weight distribution changed, etc.

11. Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion. Introduction- gives overall orientation to the field of research methods. Method- includes all of the basic procedures used in conducting simple experiments, selecting subjects, and collecting data. Results- reviews the common statistical procedures used to analyze data. Discussion- looks at major issues involved in drawing conclusions from data.


Class Notes 1/8/10


~Empiricism- requires data

~Rationalism- does not require data, it requires logic, it’s theoretical

~Authority- you know something to be true because you were told it was by an authoritative figure

~Intuition/inspiration/revelation- sometimes things just come to us (example discovering you can measure mass by displacement)

Domains of knowledge-

`Unknowable- phenomena that occur that we just don’t know about, and there is no possibility for us to ever know about it

`Unknown- things that we don’t currently know, but we could possibly figure out in the future

`Known- what you know

`Belief- believe things to be true confidently (never 100% certain) but you still believe it to be true

`Faith- idea we live in an orderly universe à Determinism


~Science (uncovering the unknown) - investigations/testing

~Theory- a claim/belief you think is true (ex. Big bang theory)

~Hypothesis- testable prediction of a theory; involves operational definitions àdiff between theory and hypothesis)

~Variables- factors that influence the outcome of something, anything that changes or is not held constant

~Operational definition- definition of a variable, working definition (example temperature is your variable – different ways to define temp: hot, cold, degrees, etc)



            `Controls- things that influence the experiment so it must be held constant

~Results- outcome/data

`Description- explaining what occurred, explaining observations, calculate averages

`Inference- making a step/jump/leap to something that can be assumed from the results, make generalizations and predictions of events or behaviors that should happen, taking results from experiment of a sample of a group of people and make an inference from sample to the general population