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INTRODUCTION

EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY AND


THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
PSYCHOLOGY AS A
SCIENCE
O Scientia – knowledge in Greek. Today, science
has two meanings – content and process

The systematic gathering of data to provide


descriptions of events taking place under specific
conditions, enabling researchers to explain,
predict, and control events

O Scientific Method – steps scientist take to


gather and verify information, answer
questions, explain relationships, and
communicate findings
PSYCHOLOGY AS A
SCIENCE
O Methodology – the scientific techniques
used to collect and evaluate
psychological data

O Data– facts and figures gathered from


observations in research
O Common sense psychology (Heider,
1958)

Everyday, nonscientific collection of


psychological data used to understand the
social world and guide our behavior
Why do we need scientific
methods?
CHARACTERISTICS OF
MODERN SCIENCE
O The scientific mentality

O Gathering empirical data

O Seeking general principles

O Good thinking O Self-Correction

O Publicizing results

O Replication
The scientific mentality
O The goal of prediction rests on an
important assumption: behavior must
follow a natural order; therefore. It can
be predicted.

Determinism
Belief that there are specifiable causes
for the way people behave and that these
causes can be discovered through
research
Gathering Empirical Data

Data that are observable or experienced;


capable of being verified or disproved
through investigation
Seeking General Principles
Seeking of general principles to explain
observations

Laws – general scientific principles that explain


our universe and predict events
Theory – a set of general principles that attempts
to explain and predict behavior and other
phenomena
Good Thinking
Organized rational thought,
characterized by open mindedness,
objectivity, and parsimony; a principal tool
of the scientific method

PARSIMONY
The simplest explanation is preferred
until ruled out by conflicting evidence;
also known as Occam’s razor
Self-Correction
The content of science changes as we
acquire new scientific information, and old
information is reevaluated in light of new
facts
Publicizing Results
Science as a highly public activity

Exchange of information, publishing of


scientific papers, conferences, peer
reviews
Replication
The process of repeating research
procedures to verify that the outcome
will be the same as before
Objectives of Psychological
Science
O Description
O Prediction
O Explanation
O Control
Tools of Psychological
Science
O Observation

O Measurement

O Experimentation
Observation
The systematic noting and recording of
events

What about non-observable behaviors?


Measurement
The systematic estimation of the
quantity, size, or quality of an observable
event
Experimentation
The process undertaken to demonstrate that
particular behavioral events will occur reliably in
certain specifiable conditions

Testable
Capable of being tested;typically used in
reference to a hypothesis. Has three
requirements
1.) procedures for manipulating the setting must
exist
2. Predicted outcome must be observable and
3.) measurable
SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION IN
PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE
O In a scientific context, explanation means
specifying the antecedent conditions of an
event or behavior.

Antecedent Conditions
Circumstances that occur or exist before the
event or behavior to be explained

Treatment Conditions
A specific set of antecedent conditions created
by the experimenter and presented to subjects to
test its effect on behavior
Psychology Experiment
O A controlled procedure in which at least
two different treatment conditions are
applied to subjects whose behavior are
then measured and compared to test a
hypothesis about the effects of the
treatments on behavior
Psychology Experiment
O At least two different treatments so
that we can compare behavior under
varied conditions

O Successful experiments relies heavily


on the principle of control. Other
factors that could be producing the
effect we want to explain are carefully
controlled.
CONTROL
O Used to rule out other explanations to
behavior.

1.) random assignment of subjects to


different treatment conditions
2.) presenting a treatment condition in an
identical manner to all subjects
3.) Keeping the environment, the procedures,
and the measuring instruments constant for
all subjects in the experiment so that the
treatment conditions are the only thins that
are allowed to change.
Establishing cause and effect
O The relation between a particular
behavior and a set of antecedents that
always precedes it – whereas other
antecedents do not – so that the set is
inferred to cause the behavior
From Pseudoscience to
Psychological Science
O Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1926) opened the
first psychological laboratory in Leipzig,
Germany.

O Employed tools of the scientific method


in the study of human sensory
phenomena
Pseudoscience
O A field of study that gives the
appearance of being scientific but has
no true scientific basis and has not
been confirmed using the tools of the
scientific method

O Greek – Pseudo (false)


Pseudoscientific examples
O Phrenology – assessing traits and
dispositions by measuring the size and
location of bumps on the skull.
O Physiognomy – use of facial features
O Mesmerism- believed that fluids in the
body ebbed and flowed by magnetic
principles and that both physical and mental
illness could be cured by realigning these
fluids using magnets
O Spiritualism – purported contact with ghost
and spirits of the dead.
Supplemental
Formulate a research question

State the hypothesis

Test the hypothesis

Draw conclusions based on


findings

Publish research

Replicate study