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Chapter Two: Research Methods

Prefrontal Lobotomy ~ surgical procedure that severs fibres connecting the frontal lobes of the brain from the
underlying thalamus
- many health professionals were convinced that this procedure was an effective treatment for schizophrenia
- evidence of effectiveness was based almost entirely on subjective reports

Heuristics and Biases
Heuristics ~ mental shortcuts that help us to streamline our thinking and make sense of our world
- we are all mentally lazy and trying to conserve our mental energies by simplifying the world
- heuristics cause problems when we use them too often or in inappropriate situations oversimplification
- representativeness ~ heuristic that involves judging the probability of an event by its superficial similarity to a
prototype like goes with like
- base rate ~ how common a characteristic or behaviour is in the general population
~ must consider how similar a person is to person in that same category (comp sci major) and
also the base rate
- availability ~ heuristic that involves estimating the likelihood of an occurrence based on the ease with which it
comes to our minds

Cognitive Biases Systematic errors in thinking
Hindsight Bias ~ tendency to overestimate how well we could have successfully forecast unknown outcomes
Overconfidence ~ tendency to overestimate our ability to make correct predictions

The Scientific Method

Naturalistic Observation ~ watching behaviour in real-world settings
- high in external validity ~ extent to which we can generalize findings to real-world settings
- lack internal validity ~ extent to which we can draw cause-and-effect inferences from a study

Case Study ~ research design that examines one person or a small number of people in depth, often over an
extended time period
- helpful in providing existence proofs ~ demonstrations that a given psychological phenomenon can occur
- study rare or unusual phenomena that is difficult to reproduce in the lab
- do not lend themselves to systematic tests of hypotheses about why a phenomena occurred
- cannot rely on them too heavily to draw conclusions

Correlation Designs
~ research design that examines the extent to which two variables are associated
- correlations can be positive, zero, or negative
- value of correlation ranges between -1 and +1
- to find out how much one variable is accounted for by another variable, we square the correlation

- scatterplot ~ grouping of points on a two-dimensional graph in which each dot represents a single persons data
- illusory correlation ~ perception of a statistical organization between two variables where none exists (no
relation between full moon and strange occurances)

Great Fourfold Table of Life
A. Upper left-hand cell (full moon + crime occurred)
B. Upper right-hand cell (full moon + no crime occurred)
C. Bottom left-hand cell ( no full moon + crime occurred)
D. Bottom right-hand cell (no full moon + no crime occurred)
- we pay too much attention to the upper left-hand cell (confirms our expectations)

Experimental Designs
Experiment ~ research design characterized by random assignment of participants to conditions and manipulation
of an independent variable
- random assignment ~ randomly sorting participants into two groups
- experimental group ~ the group of participants that receives manipulation
- control group ~ the group that doesnt receive manipulation
- independent variable ~ variable that an experimenter manipulates
- dependent variable ~ variable that an experimenter measures to see whether the manipulation has an effect
- confound ~ any difference other between the experimental and control groups other than the independent
- causes the experiment to be invalid
- we are able to infer cause-and-effect relationships if weve conducted the study correctly (can only draw casual
conclusions if it fits the definition of an experiment)

Meta-Analysis ~ investigation of the consistency of patterns of results across large numbers of studies conducted
in different labs
- no single study provides all the answers to a scientific question
- file drawer problem ~ tendency for negative findings to remain unpublished

Pitfalls in Experimental Design

The Placebo Effect ~ improvement resulting from the mere expectation of improvement
- patients must remain blind to which condition theyve been assigned ~ unaware of whether they are in
experimental or control group

The Nocebo Effect ~ harm resulting from the mere expectation of harm
- ex. Individuals who are allergic to roses sneeze when presented with fake roses

The Experimenter Expectancy Effect AKA Rosenthal Effect ~ phenomenon in which researchers hypotheses
lead them to unintentionally bias the outcome of a study
- double-blind ~ when neither researchers nor participants are aware of whos in the experimental or control group

Hawthorne Effect ~ phenomenon in which participants knowledge that theyre being studied can affect their
ex. Worker productivity study
- demand characteristics ~ cues that participants pick up from a study that allow them to generate guesses
regarding the researchers hypotheses
- Minimizing the Effect:
~ covert observation researchers conceal themselves
~ participant observation researchers become members of a group and then observe the
behaviour of other group members

Random Selection ~ procedure that ensures that every person in a population has an equal chance of being
chosen to participate

Evaluating Measures, Determine:
Reliability ~ consistency of measurement
Validity ~ extent to which a measure assesses what it purports to measure
- reliability is necessary for validity

Self Report Measures and Surveys
- often called questionnaires ~ assess personality traits, mental illness, and interests
- surveys ~ measure peoples opinions and attitudes
- the way a question is phrased is very important
- easy to administer
- work reasonably well for personality traits and behaviours
- researches assume that all responses are accurate and honest
~response sets ~ tendencies of participants to distort their responses to questionnaires
~positive impression management ~ making ourselves seem better than we are
~malingering ~ tendency to make ourselves appear psychologically disturbed (to receive benefits)

Rating Data
Halo Effect ~ tendency of ratings of one positive characteristics to spill over to influence the ratings of other
positive characteristics
Leniency Effect ~ tendency of raters to provide ratings that are overly generous
Error of Central Tendency ~ an unwillingness to provide extreme ratings

Ethical Issues in Research Design
- wanted to determine the effects of un-treated syphilis
- subjects were 399 poor African men who had been diagnosed with syphilis
- researchers never informed the men that they had syphilis, that it was treatable, or that they were being studied
- at the end of the study, 28 men dies of syphilis, 100 died of complications, 40 wives had become infected, and
19 kids were born with syphilis

Ethical Guidelines for Human Research:
Informed Consent ~ informing research participants of what is involved in a study before asking them to
Educating Participants
- full debriefings are usually required to be performed at the end of the study, also

Ethical Issues in Animal Research
- 7-8% of psychological research depends on animals
- Canadian researchers must follow guidelines set out by the Canadian Council for Animal Care

~ application of mathematics to describing and analyzing data

Descriptive Statistics ~ numerical characterizations that describe data
- central tendency ~ measure of the central scores in a data set, or where the group tends to cluster
~ standard deviation ~ how far each point deviates from the mean
~ dispersion ~ gives us a sense of how loosely or tightly bunched the scores are

Inferential Statistics ~ mathematical methods that allow us to determine whether we can generalize findings
from our sample to the full population
- statistical significance - perform a variety of tests, use a .05 level of confidence, when deciding whether a
finding is believable (only accept if the finding would have occurred by change 1/20 times)
- practical significance real work importance. A finding can be statistically significant but have no importance
to real-work predictions.

ESP and Psychic Abilities
ESP ~ perception of events outside the known channels of sensation
- zener card studies ~ presented pattern card to subjects, asked them to guess which card would appear
(precognition), which one another subject had in mind (telepathy), and which one was hidden from view
(clairvoyance). Results were said to be positive, however they could not be replicated
- ganzfeld technique ~ an experimental setup devised to reduce background noise to increase sensitivity to ESP
signals. You enter a chamber and sit in a chair, eyes are covered with ping pong ball halves, red flood light
directed towards your eyes, and white noise piped in your ears through headphones. By placing you in a uniform
sensory field, permits researchers to uncover weak ESP effects. Down the hall, someone tries to mentally transmit
a picture to you, you report every mental image you see. Finally, you are shown 4 pictures, one that the other
person has seen, and you must choose the one that matches the mental imagery you experienced. Anything over
25% strongly suggested ESP.
- fallacy of positive instances ~ tendency to recall events that appear to be striking coincidences and ignore or
forget events that dont