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PSYCHOLOGY

AS A
SCIENCE
Much of what you have learned about
psychology probably comes from the
media. To list a few:
Schizophrenics have more than one
personality.
All effective psychotherapies require clients
to get to the root of their problems in
childhood.
Most people use only about 10% of their
brain capacity.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSR-
uefPmME&p=BBDEEF5A594AD036&playn
ext=1&index=33
The popular psychology industry has
grown tremendously, this means that the
public has gained more access to
psychological knowledge; access to this
information however in many instances
has led to the public being misinformed.

It is our responsibility to distinguish


between what is psychological
information from misinformation.
This appears to be science but it is not scientific,
they are imposters of science.
There are some claims that cannot be measured
scientifically, these we refer to metaphysical
(God, afterlife and soul).
If you try to contest the findings of others and
they consistently find excuses to justify their
findings then they are using pseudoscience not
science (ad hoc immunizing hypothesis).
Scientific claims when inaccurate are eventually
discarded; pseudosciences tend to hold on to
their claims even though proven inaccurate.
Pseudoscience tends to overstate their claims
they use terms such as proven, yet they do not
provide individuals with the outcomes rendered.
Pseudoscience avoids peer review: although this
safeguards against bad research, articles
published in peer-review journals are not always
accurate.
Scientific findings usually build on and connect
other scientific findings; pseudoscience on the
other hand proclaims new ideas and disregard
prior research.
Pseudoscientific claims use scientific styles when
presenting information to their clients which
makes the information seems credible.
There are two ways in which we think about
information- rationally or experientially.
Rational- careful logical reasoning
Experientially- emotional, intuition, gut feelings.
Flawed beliefs:
Our fears about life leaves us vulnerable, we
therefore turn to pseudoscience as it provides
us with hope; some of us tend to embrace the
supernatural as means of helping to address
our anxiety (transcendental temptation).
Many individuals are scientifically illiterate,
therefore when presented with pseudoscience it
is difficult for them to challenge these claims.
Our brains are equipped to find
patterns, bring order or make sense of
the information we are presented
with.. This can however at times lead
us to see things that are not there.
We have a tendency to perceive
meaningful patterns out of
meaningless stimuli (pareidolia).
Finding connections to things that are
unrelated (apophenia). For example a
friend calling when you were thinking
of that friend, coincidence or faith?
Emotional reasoning fallacy: when
we use our emotions to evaluate
the information we receive as
being valid.
In this case we need to be open
minded to data whether or not
they confirm our preconceived
notions.
Bandwagon fallacy: if many people
believe in it then we tend to
believe it also.
Either or fallacy: there are few
psychological questions that can
be answered by one of two
alternatives. This fallacy promotes
this kind of black or white
reasoning.
Not me fallacy: many of us think
that because we are exposed to
the scientific method, then we are immune from
errors.
Costly: Consumers tend to seek out pseudoscience
as opposed to effective treatment.

Animal deaths: pseudoscience promotes the use of


animals in treating illnesses such as headaches,
sexual dysfunction etc, for which there is no
evidence of its effectiveness. The evidence
however is that more animals are dying and even
becoming extinct as a result.

Direct harm: treatment can be harmful to those


who receive it.

Inability to think critically can impact on our


planet.
Noticed a change in
your friend's
behavior.
She has become less
engaged, is easily
agitated, has missed
many days of work
for no apparent
reason, and is less
enthusiastic about
life in general.
What would you do?
What you are doing is research.
Psychologists do research for the same
reasons - they want to know more about
why people behave the way they do.

The only difference is that theirs is


scientific.
Some tend to associate science with
chemistry, biology or physics.
These are bodies of knowledge.
Science is an approach to evidence.
This approach is specific.
Scientists are willing to share their
findings, what Merton (1942) refers to as
communalism.
Merton encourages scientists to engage
in disinterestedness, ensuring that they
are objective when evaluating evidence.
One should be able to measure and
observe the phenomenon that is being
studied.

Emerged when ideas in philosophy were


combined with findings and methods in
the field of physiology.
An approach to knowledge that
relies on a systematic method of
generating hypotheses, collecting
data, and explaining the data.
Describe,
Explain,
Predict,
and control some behaviors
Accuracy- gathering and evaluating information in
a careful, precise and error-free manner.
Note that scientists tend to use phrases such as suggests, appears,
raises the possibility. Good scientists dont use terms such as
prove, they display humility when describing their findings.

Objectivity- obtaining information in a manner


that is free from biases.
Skepticism- comes from the Greek term
skeptikosto consider carefully. Good scientists
accept findings as accurate only after they have
been verified over and over again.
Open- Mindedness- changing one views- even
those that are strongly held- in the face of
evidence thats these views are inaccurate.
Good scientists recognize when they are wrong and free themselves
from belief perseverance.
Some people do not think that they need
to study psychology to understand
human behaviour. After all, isnt most of
what psychology talk and write about
obvious? Or common sense?

How much of your intuition or knowledge


base about human behaviour
scientifically based?
Lets find out....
A drunken person can sober up by taking a
shower and drinking coffee.
Shaving makes hair on your face or legs grow
back thicker, darker and faster.
Murders, suicide, and mental disorders are
more likely to occur when the moon is full.
You cannot fool a lie detector (polygraph).
You stand more of a chance of getting help if
you are in trouble if there are three or more
persons around you than if there is only one
person who sees you need assistance.
Smiling a lot makes you happy.
Getting upset over lifes daily hassles can
make you more likely to get colds,
intestinal disorders and other illnesses.
It is possible to inherit the predisposition
to be an alcoholic.
Conclusions based on
common sense or folk
wisdom is subjective,
inconsistent and
contradictory.
According to French writer Voltaire,
Common sense is not entirely common
Our intuition frequently has flaws.
We are often unaware of this, treating it
as the truth until others challenge us.
Common sense is often trusted because
of what Ross calls our nave realism-
seeing is believing.
Although our intuition at times serves a
vital purpose, it can deceive us;
preventing us from seeing the world as
is.
Cognitive biases: logical errors in thinking.
Confirmation bias The tendency to verify our
own views. We notice and remember mainly
information that confirm what we already believe.
Belief perseverance
Hindsight bias- when we overestimate how well
we could have predicted outcomes we felt we
knew.
Overconfidence- overvalue our ability to make
correct predictions.
Heuristic- mental shortcuts we take to
better understand our worlds.
Representative heuristic- we tend to place
things in the same category if they appear to be
superficially similar.
Availability heuristic Emphasizing what
comes to mind first or most readily. These things
are usually more memorable, but because
something is more memorable doesnt mean that
it is the truth.
Rational vs. Intuitive Thought- The
danger of gut-level thinking.
Common sense is not always wrong, it helps
us to assess if someone is trustworthy, helps
to formulate hypotheses that we can
therefore test.
We however need to be cautious,
understanding when to trust our common
sense and when not to.
Being equipped with these critical thinking
tools will aid in the process of being more
informative individuals.
What is a theory?
The systematic explanation of a phenomenon.
A theory is a general principle or a collection of
interrelated general principles that is put forward as an
explanation of a set of known facts and empirical
findings.
A common misconception is that a theory explains
one specific event. Or that it is an educated guess.

What is a hypothesis?
A hypothesis is any statement, proposition or assumption
that serves as a tentative explanation of certain facts.
When we make reference to critical
thinking, it is not that we are saying that
you should attack the psychological
claims.
It simply means that you should have
skills necessary to carefully and open-
mindedly evaluate claims.
There are six critical ways of thinking
that is introduced by Lilienfeld et al
(2008).
1. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary
evidence: David Humes, Scottish philosopher
suggests that if we are to accept a claim that
contradicts what we know we must be
presented with persuasive evidence.
2. Falsifiability: According to Sir Karl Popper
science philosopher, a claim must be capable
of being disproved.
3. Principle of parsimony- Occams Razor: named
after British philosopher and monk Sir William
of Occam. This calls for simple logistics; if
presented with two explanations of the data
one should choose the simplest one.
4. Replicability: this means that the findings
can be duplicated by other researchers.
5. Ruling out rival hypotheses: we need to
ensure that we have looked at all possible
explanations.
6. Correlation does not mean causation:
because variables are related to each
other, it does not mean that they cause
each other. If we do this then it is
correlation-causation fallacy.
Experimental methods produce
measurable quantitative data.

Non-experimental methods can


sometimes give quantitative data
but information is more likely to be
descriptive or qualitative in nature.
1. Archival research

2. Observational research

3. Surveys

4. Case studies

5. Correlational research

6. Experimental research
This method of data collection involves a
systematic search of record that have been
collected for other purposes.

Archival research is a
Good starting point for research
Good way to generate research hypotheses
and
A good way to test predictions in times and
places which are otherwise inaccessible
There are two basic methods:

1. Naturalistic observation- unobtrusive observation


of behaviour as it occurs in real life environments.

Advantage: high external validity that is we can


generalize the findings to other real life settings.
Disadvantage: low internal validity, we cannot
make causal inferences.

2. Participant observation- here the researcher


actually gets involved in the scene being
observed, and exercises a deliberate influence on
the behaviour.
Involve detailed study of one or small
number of people, usually over an
extended period of time.

Information is used to formulate principles


or reach conclusions that can aid in
understanding a particular phenomenon.
The advantage: provides the psychologists with
insights into different aspects of behaviour,
sometimes into rare and special cases that we
cannot recreate in the laboratory.
Disadvantage: cannot generalize as
psychologically individuals are unique.
Surveys- a systematic way of asking people about a
topic- getting people to indicate what they are
thinking or feeling.

There are two kinds of surveys;


1. Interviews- face-to- face interaction
2. Questionnaires- written forms on which respondents
indicate their opinions or rate their perceptions of
an issue on a scale

Surveys allow for representative samples and a


multivariate approach but,
questions must be carefully phrased as well as
ensuring the accuracy of subjects responses
Halo effect/horns effect
Leniency effect
Error of central tendency effect
Measures the
relationship between two
or
more variables, looking
at events that appear to
be related to each other.

It is useful for finding


variables that co- vary
(one changes as the
other changes) but it
does not mean that one
causes another.

Correlation DOES NOT


mean causation.
The more hours a high The more years of
school student works education a person
during the week, the receives, the higher
fewer Fs he or she gets in his or her yearly
class. income is.
It involves careful observation and statistical
analyses to test correlation.

You get what is called a correlation coefficient


which is indicated by r.

Correlations range from 1.00 - + 1.00


(represents the strength/magnitude of the
correlation) the closer they are to 1,
regardless of or + the stronger the correlation.
+ means that the variables go together
0 means that the variable dont go together
- means the variable go in opposite direction
Correlation means relationship, so the
purpose of a correlational study is to
determine if a relationship exists, what
direction the relationship is, and how
strong it is.

It can not make any assumptions of


cause and effect (no causation).
In Correlational Studies, the relationship is
between two variables. There are three
possible results of a correlational study: a
positive correlation, a negative correlation,
and no correlation. These are usually shown
in graphs.

The correlation coefficient is a measure of


correlation strength and can range from
1.00 to +1.00.
Positive Correlations: Both variables
increase or decrease at the same time. A
correlation coefficient close to +1.00 indicates
a strong positive correlation.

Negative Correlations: Indicates that as the


amount of one variable increases, the other
decreases (and vice versa). A correlation
coefficient close to -1.00 indicates a strong
negative correlation.

No Correlation: Indicates no relationship


At times we tend to perceive that a
correlation exists between variables when
there are no evidence for it.
Such as:
Dont open the umbrella over your head in the
house you wont get married.
Full moon and increase in mental illness.
Arthritis pain increases with rainy weather.
Up to this point, all the methods
mentioned allow us to examine the
relationship between two or more
variables.

However, none of them allow us to


say convincingly that any of those
variables cause any of the others.
Perhaps the simplest form of research is
(Naturalistic) Observation.

It means, observing behavior in their


natural environment. It often involves
counting behaviors, such as number of
aggressive acts, number of smiles, etc.
Useful for describing behaviour
and for suggesting causal
hypotheses that could be tested
in experiments
Unlike correlational research
methods or psychological tests,
experiments can provide
information about cause-and-
effect relationships between
variables.
In an experiment, a researcher
manipulates or changes a particular
variable under controlled conditions
while observing resulting changes in
another variable or variables.
Variable: A factor or element that can
change in observable and measurable
ways.
Independent Variable (IV) the
variable that is manipulated by the
experimenter (input variable)-effects
the experimenter wishes to examine.
Dependent Variable (DV) the
outcome variable (results of the
experiment)-experimenter wants to
find out if this variable depends on
some other factor.
The control group: made up of
individuals who are randomly assigned to
a group but do not receive the treatment.
The measures taken from the control
group are then compared to those in the
experimental group to determine if the
treatment had an effect.
The experimental group: made up of
individuals who are randomly assigned to
the group and then receive the treatment.
The scores of these participants are
compared to those in the control group to
determine if the treatment had an effect.
Experimental Hypothesis: By
defining our variables that we will use
to test our theory we derive at our
hypothesis, which is a testable form of a
theory that guesses about the possible
relationship between two or more
variables.
The researcher manipulates the
independent variable and observes
the dependent variable.
The dependent variable may be
affected by changes in the
independent variable.

In other words, the dependent


variable depends (or is thought to
depend) on the independent
Experimental procedures allow researchers to manipulate
and control factors being studied so that CAUSAL
statements can be made about how variables influences
each other.

These methods allow for the study of social variables under


more carefully controlled and standardized conditions. A
valid experiment is when the level of independent variable
is the only difference between the experimental and the
control group. Any other difference is referred to as a
confound.

There are two ingredients for an experiment


Random assignment of participants to conditions
Manipulation of independent variables

These methods include laboratory, field and natural


experiments
Placebo effect: there will be an effect because it was
expected.

To control for this subjects should not know which group they
are placed into (blind).

Nocebo effect: there will be harm because harm is expected.

The experimenter expectancy/Rosenthal effect: the


researchers hypotheses unintentionally leads them to bias
the outcome of the results. Counter this by not letting the
researcher or participant know which group they are in
(double-blind).

Hawthorne effect: participants change their behaviour


because they knew they were being studied.
Demand characteristics- participants pick up cues from the
experiment that help them guess the hypotheses.
When given the results from the dependent
variable we always have to ask is it reliable
and valid?

Reliability: the consistency of measurement.

Validity: the extent to which a measure assess


what it proclaims to measure.
CONDUCT- Psychologists should avoid causing
participants unnecessary stress and
discomfort.

INFORMED CONSENT- Psychologists should


obtain informed consent from the participants,
specifying the nature of the experiment before
the experiment is conducted.

CONFIDENTIALITY- research records should


be regarded as confidential and not released to
the public without the consent of participants.

COMPETENCE- researchers should work within


their own limits of competence.
DECEPTION- In some cases, full disclosure of the procedures
could influence the nature of the results, in which case only
partial or incomplete information about the procedure is given
to the participants in advance.

Whenever deception is used in experiments, the


experimenters should conduct a debriefing- an
explicit statement to the participants about what
deception was used and why it was necessary.

During the debriefing researchers try to alleviate


any discomfort that might have occurred during
the experimental session, and discuss the research
with them, which is educational to both parties.
Studies examining the impact of deception in
experiments on participants have typically found
that participants do not object to the mild
discomfort that is typically produced, and often,
they find such experiments more interesting than
nondeception experiments.
It was believed that if psychology was a science then
it should apply to all human beings regardless of
where they live, their cultural background, or their
cultural identity.

That frame of thought has changed and Psychology


has now adapted a multicultural perspective that
examines cultural differences in the role of human
behavior.

We need to realize that what is normal in one culture


is not normal in other cultures.
Psychologists use statistics to analyze
their findings.
There are two types of statistics:
Descriptive statistics: they describe
data
1. Central tendency: shows us where the
group clusters
1. Mean: Average
2. Median: middle score of the data set
3. Mode: most frequent score
2. Dispersion: how loosely or tightly
clustered the scores are.
Inferential Statistics: helps us to
determine whether or not we can
generalize our findings.
Statistical Significance: this helps us
to know if the difference we have
observed is valid and generalizable.
Confidence interval of .05 (1 out of every 20
times)
When the probability that our finding would have
occurred by chance alone is less than 1 in 20 times
then our finding is statistically significant.
A finding can be significant but does not
relate to the real world. For it to do so we
have to keep in mind the sample size.
The bigger the findings the greater the
chance of it being statistically significant.
People can lie with statistics by:
Misrepresenting the central tendency
Using truncated line graph
The base rate fallacy
Papers that have been peer reviewed
Be careful of the source: most reporters are
not scientists.
Trusted psychological organizations include:
American psychological association
Association for Psychological Science.
Look out for excessive exaggeration of
findings and minimizing of the details of
study.
Avoid pseudosymmetry (where scientific
controversy appears when there is none).
A psychologist is a person highly trained in
the methods, factual knowledge, and
theories of psychology. Psychologists usually
have a masters degree or a doctorate.
Psychologists may teach, do research, give
psychological tests, or serve as consultants
to business, industry, government, or the
military.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who treats


mental disorders. Most psychiatrists actually
do psychotherapy, but they are also
qualified to prescribe drugs, which is
something a psychologist cannot do.
APA lists 350 subfields in psychology.
Some of the fields include:
Developmental psychology
Abnormal psychology
Social psychology
Physiological psychology
Experimental psychology
Personality psychology
Clinical psychology
Community psychology
Counseling and school psychology
Industrial- organizational psychology
Engineering and industrial-
organizational psychology
Neuropsychology
Developmental Psychology- Examines the function of
age on behaviour. Examines the age at which
people should be performing certain behaviours
and how events that occur at various ages affect
behaviour.

Abnormal psychology- area in psychology that is


focused on maladaptive behaviour- its causes,
consequences and treatment. It tries to answer
questions like: What is going on in a persons life
that results in unhappiness and disordered
behaviour? What can be done to alleviate this
problem?

Social Psychology- This is the study of the way people


are affected by social situations. The field examines
issues , such as how people form and change
attitudes; how they form impressions about
themselves and each other; why they are attracted
to some people and repelled by others; and how
being in a group affects their behaviours and
beliefs.
Physiological psychology- studies the biological
basis for behaviour. It is concerned with such
issues as how the brain is structured to store
and receive information, how signals are
transmitted through the nervous system to
excite our muscles to action, and our mood and
actions are influenced by hormones

Personality psychologist- focus on explaining


and predicting the unique ways that people
respond to their environment. It also helps to
describe our personality and why it is different
from that of others.

Forensic psychology- concerned with behaviours


that relate to our legal system. Forensic
psychologists work with judges and lawyers who
are trying to improve the reliability of witnesses
and jury decisions, and are also consulted on the
mental competency of accused people.
Neuropsychologists study the relationship
between the brain and a persons
behavior. They specialize in conducting
extensive neurological and psychological
testing useful for determining surgical
candidacy, diagnosing functional and
physical disorders, determining ability to
return to work or school & designing
rehabilitation plans.
Psychology is considered to be a science
because ________
The four main goals of psychology are _________
Psychologists use scientific methods such as
__________
Psychologists adhere to ethical principles of
research, which protects the rights of human
participants by _____________
The major difference between a psychologist
and a psychiatrist is _____________
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