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This document contains Chapters 1 to 4 CHAPTER 1 EXPLAINING BEHAVIOR QUESTIONS TO PONDER 1. What is science, and what do scientists do? 2. What is meant by the statement that the scientific method is a way of thinking? 3. How do scientists obtain knowledge on issues that interest them? 4. How do basic and applied research differ, and how are they similar? 5. How are problems framed in research terms? 6. What is confirmation bias, and what are its implications for understanding behavior? 7. Why should you care about learning about research, even if you are not planning a career in research? 8. What are the two steps suggested by Cialdini (1994) for exploring the causes of behavior, and how do they relate to explaining behavior? 9. How do science, nonscience, protoscience and pseudoscience differ? 10. What are the defining characteristics of pseudoscience? 11. What are the main characteristics of scientific explanations? 12. How do scientific and commonsense explanations differ? 13. How do belief-based and scientific explanations differ? 14. What kinds of questions do scientists refrain from investigating? Why do scientists refrain from studying these issues? 15. How can faulty inference invalidate a scientific explanation? 16. What are pseudo explanations, and how do you avoid them? 17. What are the defining characteristics and weaknesses of the method of authority and the rational method? 18. How are the method of authority and rational method used in science? 19. What are the steps involved in the scientific method? 20. Why is the scientific method preferred in science? 21. What are the steps involved in the research process? 22. What important decisions must be made at each step of the research process? CHAPTER OUTLINE What Is Science, and What Do Scientists Do? Science as a Way of Thinking How Do Scientists Do Science? Basic and Applied Research Framing a Problem in Scientific Terms Learning About Research: Why Should You Care? Exploring the Causes of Behavior Explaining Behavior Science, Protoscience, Nonscience, and Pseudoscience Scientific Explanations Commonsense Explanations Versus Scientific Explanations Belief-Based Explanations Versus Scientific Explanations When Scientific Explanations Fail Failures Due to Faulty Inference Pseudo explanations Methods of Inquiry The Method of Authority The Rational Method The Scientific Method The Scientific Method at Work: Using a Cell Phone While Walking The Steps of the Research Process Summary Key Terms science scientist basic research applied research confirmation bias pseudoscience scientific explanation parsimonious explanation commonsense explanations belief-based explanation pseudo explanation circular explanation or tautology method of authority rational method scientific method variable hypothesis deductive reasoning pilot study
CHAPTER GOALS The purpose of Chapter 1 is to introduce your students to the foundations of science and scientific research. The chapter focuses on the differences between scientific and nonscientific explanations (commonsense and belief-based) and the different methods of acquiring knowledge. Students should come away with a sense that the goal of psychology is to uncover scientific explanations for behavioral phenomena, and that the scientific method is the preferred method of finding such explanations. During class periods, you might focus your lectures on the following: 1. How to frame a scientific or practical problem in scientific terms. 2. Why students should care about learning about research, regardless of whether they plan a career involving doing research. 3. How to distinguish between science, nonscience, protoscience and pseudoscience. 4. The defining characteristics of scientific explanations. 5. How scientific explanations differ from commonsense and belief-based explanations. 6. Why scientific explanations are preferred over commonsense and belief-based explanations. 7. How faulty inference processes and pseudo explanations affect the validity of scientific explanations. 8. The defining characteristics of the method of authority, rational method, and scientific method. 9. The problems associated with using the method of authority or the rational method as the principal method of inquiry. 10. The characteristics of the scientific method, and why it is preferred over other methods of inquiry for the acquisition of scientific knowledge. 11. The distinction and overlap between basic and applied research. 12. The steps involved in the research process. IDEAS FOR CLASS ACTIVITIES Framing a Problem in Scientific Terms Everyday events provide a rich source of problems that can be framed in scientific terms. Have students scour a newspaper and identify stories that have psychological implications (e.g., racial prejudice, international conflict, a crime), and have students evaluate how the problem was framed in the news reports. Then have students come up with ways that the same problem could be framed in scientific terms and ultimately tested empirically. Research Findings in the Popular Press Chapter 1 develops the idea that science (generally) and the research process (specifically) are the best ways to acquire knowledge. However, students may remain unconvinced, especially those who don’t see a research future for themselves. You can underscore the importance of understanding scientific explanations and research by having students read and evaluate articles from popular magazines (for example, Time, Newsweek, or Psychology Today). Students could look for the following: How many articles in a particular issue cite scientific research to support the main ideas in the article? This gives students a sense of just how prevalent research is in their lives. After choosing one or two articles to evaluate, students should note what kinds of data were reported in the article. For example, what statistics were reported (averages, frequency counts, standard deviations, and so on)? This will get students used to looking for relevant data reported in articles and help them to identify how research data are reported. This serves as a good lead-in for reading a scientific article (covered in Chapter 3). Have students evaluate whether the author’s conclusions follow logically from the data reported. This will introduce students to reading articles critically. Point out that sources such as Time and Newsweek are secondary sources, and if they are used as the prime source of information, then the method of authority is being used. Ask students to outline any dangers they see in using popular sources as primary sources of information. Students could focus on the idea that research results often are reported selectively in such publications, and details of the methods used to acquire the data often are not given. Identifying and Defining Pseudoscience Have students evaluate examples of pseudoscience using the definition and characteristics provided in Chapter 1. Some ideas for areas of pseudoscience to use are: aromatherapy, facilitated communication, astrology, reflexology, new age therapies, EMDR, phrenology, and ESP. Have students use the following pseudoscience identification checklist for this exercise. Pseudoscience Identification Checklist
Characteristic of Pseudoscience Yes No
Used situation-specific hypotheses to explain away falsification of a pseudoscientific idea or claim.
No mechanisms for self-correction and consequent stagnation of ideas or claims.
Confirmation of beliefs rather than disconfirming them.
Shifted the burden of proof to critics and away from the proponent of an idea or a claim.
Relied on nonscientific anecdotal evidence and testimonials to support an idea or claim.
Avoided the peer review process that would scientifically evaluate ideas and claims.
Failed to build on an existing base of scientific knowledge.
Used impressive-sounding jargon that lends false credibility to ideas and claims.
Failed to specify conditions under which ideas or claims would not hold true.
Total number of yesses and nos.
Have students bring their results to class and have each lead a discussion about the area he or she analyzed. Identifying the Method of Inquiry In Chapter 1, the issue of the claims of police prejudice was used to introduce students to the application of research to a real-world problem. You can reinforce this point by using another example, perhaps from your own research area or a current event, to show how popular, commonsense explanations fail to explain behavior adequately. Popular magazines and newspapers are good sources for current events that can be discussed in the light of the scientific method. Encourage your students to peruse the newspaper daily for examples of behavior that have been explained in commonsense ways. Have them point out possible flaws in the explanations given for the behavioral event, and suggest ways that a scientific explanation can be developed. Applying the Scientific Method Chapter 1 opens with a description of the case of the police shooting of Jerrod Miller. You can extend the example in the book by having students find current issues (e.g., a case of interpersonal aggression or a political question), and try to follow the steps of the scientific method to uncover answers to some of the questions surrounding the issue chosen. Students should identify where they found their initial information on the issue, develop a testable research hypothesis, and speculate on how they would go about using the scientific method to evaluate their hypothesis. Students could also contrast using the scientific method with using the other methods of inquiry discussed in Chapter 1. Class Discussion Come to class with a controversial question to pose to students. For example, you could ask students if early infant day care is harmful to children, or whether heredity or environment is more important in shaping behavior. Have students give their opinions, and perhaps write them on the board as you go. Discuss whether their opinions are based on common sense, religious belief, or some other source. Next, ask the class how the question being evaluated could be evaluated scientifically. Use this opportunity to introduce your students to the characteristics of the scientific method and the research process. Have students speculate about how they would evaluate the question using the scientific method. CHAPTER 2 DEVELOPING AND EVALUATING THEORIES OF BEHAVIOR QUESTIONS TO PONDER 1. What is the definition of a theory? 2. How does a theory differ from a hypothesis, a law, and a model? 3. What is a computer model, and what are the advantages of designing one? 4. How do mechanistic and functional theories differ? Which type is better, and why? 5. What are the defining characteristics of quantitative and qualitative theories? 6. What is a descriptive theory? 7. What is an analogical theory? 8. What is a fundamental theory? 9. How do descriptive, analogical, and fundamental theories differ? Which is preferred and why? 10. What roles do theories play in science? Describe each role in detail. 11. What are the defining characteristics of a “good” theory? Describe each characteristic in detail. 12. What is meant by confirmation and disconfirmation of a theory? 13. How are theories tested? 14. What is the difference between a confirmational and a disconfirmation strategy? How are they used to test a theory? 15. What is strong interference, and how is it used to test a theory? 16. How do theory-driven research and data-driven research differ? 17. What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of theory-driven and data-driven research? CHAPTER OUTLINE What Is a Theory? Theory Versus Hypothesis Theory Versus Law Theory Versus Model Mechanistic Explanations Versus Functional Explanations Classifying Theories Is the Theory Quantitative or Qualitative? At What Level of Description Does the Theory Operate? What Is the Theory’s Domain? Roles of Theory in Science Understanding Prediction Organizing and Interpreting Research Results Generating Research Characteristics of a Good Theory Ability to Account for Data Explanatory Relevance Testability Prediction of Novel Events Parsimony Strategies for Testing Theories Following a Confirmational Strategy Following a Disconfirmational Strategy Using Confirmational and Disconfirmational Strategies Together Using Strong Inference Theory-Driven Versus Data-Driven Research Summary Key Terms
theory hypothesis law model mechanistic explanation functional explanation quantitative theory qualitative theory descriptive theory analogical theory fundamental theory domain confirmational strategy disconfirmational strategy strong inference
CHAPTER GOALS The main goals of Chapter 2 are to explain what scientific theories are, to distinguish theories from laws and from hypotheses, to describe how theories differ, and to show students how to evaluate theories of behavior. Students should understand that the phenomena we observe represent the superficial aspects of behavior which, in turn, represent deeper processes. To adequately explain the processes that underlie behavior, we need to know what those processes are, and how they interact. This deeper level of understanding is provided by theory. In this chapter, we extensively discuss how theories fit into the research process. The student should understand what the different types of theories are, the role of theory in science, how theories are developed, what constitutes a good or bad theory, how theories are evaluated, and the relative merits of theory-driven versus data-driven research. Points to emphasize include the following: 1. Defining a theory. Students should understand what a theory is and how the scientific term differs from the more colloquial use of the term. Students should also be able to distinguish between a theory, hypothesis and model. 2. The tentative nature of theories. Students should understand that even well-established theories can be overthrown if new evidence contradictory to the theory comes to light. 3. The fact that theories can be proven false but can never be proven true. We recently heard a “creation scientist” state that creation theory had been proven true. The statement said more about the speaker’s understanding of science than it did about the theory. Students need to be shown why theories cannot be proven true, and they need to understand why this does not weaken the force of scientific theories. 4. The different types of theory and how to distinguish them. Descriptive, analogical, and what we term “fundamental” theories represent different levels of understanding. Descriptive theories merely propose a relationship without really explaining why the relationship exists; they are “surface” descriptions. Analogical theories attempt to relate the variables in the theory through analogy with known processes. Fundamental theories propose unobserved processes to explain the observed relationships. The processes themselves give rise to observable effects that, if they are in fact observed, provide indirect evidence for the existence of the proposed processes. 5. The distinction between a qualitative theory and a quantitative one. 6. What roles theories play in science. 7. The difference between following a confirmational versus disconfirmational strategy when testing a theory. 8. The role theory plays in guiding scientific research. 9. Why theories known to be inadequate often continue to be used (useful, no replacement in sight). 10. The dangers of letting theory drive research rather than the data, and vice versa, and the advantage of combining the two approaches. IDEAS FOR CLASS ACTIVITIES Identifying Theories, Hypotheses and Models Have students find an example of a theory in psychology and summarize its major ideas and characteristics. Have them determine: 1. Whether the theory is quantitative or qualitative, 2. The level of description at which the theory operates, 3. The scope or domain of the theory, 4. How the theory differs from a hypothesis or model. Some ideas for psychological theories students can user are: Terror management theory, equity theory, cognitive dissonance theory, attachment theory, cognitive-developmental theory (e.g., Piaget), Clark Hull’s theory of learning, Maslow’s hierarchical theory of personality, and Gibbon’s scalar expectancy theory of reinforcement. Are Theories Necessary? Have students read B. F. Skinner’s article, “Are Theories of Learning Necessary?” (the reference appears in the back of the text), and come to class prepared to debate the issue raised by the article. You can note the conditions that existed at the time the article was written (failure of Hullian theory to adequately account for all forms of learning, etc.), and use Skinner’s argument to raise the question of when it is appropriate to attempt theory construction. Was Skinner too severe in his criticism? Is a science without theory really a science? What does Skinner propose to substitute in place of theory? Strong Inference Discuss Platt’s suggestion that all we need to make progress in any science is to follow his program of “strong inference,” or systematic elimination of rival hypotheses until only one (presumably the correct one) is left. What happens to strong inference when extraneous variables cannot be as rigorously controlled as they are in molecular biology? Is the apparent lack of progress in theoretical development within many fields of psychology due to a failure to follow Platt’s methods, or might the complexity of relationships and lack of adequate control over the relevant variables have more to do with it? Platt suggests that we attempt to develop several theories to account for our data, and then rigorously pit the alternative theories against one another. Discuss the advantage of this approach over simply developing a theory and then testing its predictions. The “competing theories” approach can be found in many studies on the “Observing Response” in the operant conditioning literature. An excellent example is: Wilton, R. N., & Clements, R. 0. (1971). The role of information in the emission of observing responses: A test of two hypotheses. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 16, 1–166. Paradigm Shift? Kuhn (1964) suggested that scientists conduct their research under a set of implicit assumptions that constitute, in effect, a theory of the phenomena they study. This theory determines which research questions are important. When the theory is overthrown by a new view, a paradigm shift is said to occur. Under the new paradigm, new research questions become important, and many issues that were important under the old view become irrelevant. Many now claim that American psychology is currently undergoing such a paradigm shift from the purely associationistic view that predominated under behaviorism to a view that emphasizes mental processes. Discuss this “cognitive revolution” with the class. Does it represent a true paradigm shift as Kuhn would define one? In what ways does the cognitive view change one’s approach to conducting research? CHAPTER 3 GETTING IDEAS FOR RESEARCH QUESTIONS TO PONDER 1. How can experience help you come up with research ideas? 2. How can unsystematic observation help you develop research ideas? 3. How can systematic observation help you develop research ideas? 4. In what two ways can a theory help you develop research ideas? 5. How can applied issues suggest research ideas to you? 6. What are the characteristics of an empirical question? 7. Why is it necessary to define your terms operationally? 8. What makes a research question important and why should you ask important questions? 9. Why should you conduct a literature review before you begin to design your study? 10. What are the differences between the different types of periodicals, and on which should you rely most heavily (and why)? 11. What is the difference between a primary and a secondary source, and why should you not rely too heavily on secondary sources? 12. What are the advantages and disadvantages to using various types of books as sources? 13. Why are scholarly journals the preferred sources for research information? 14. What is the difference between a nonrefereed and a refereed journal? Which is more trustworthy (and why)? 15. How do you assess the quality of a scholarly journal? 16. How can professional conferences provide you with information about research? 17. How can Internet resources be used to track down research information? 18. How do you assess the quality of information found on the Internet? 19. What is the basic strategy you should follow when doing a literature search? 20. In what ways does PsycARTICLES differ from PsycINFO? 21. How do you perform a basic and advanced PsycINFO search? 22. How can you narrow or broaden a PsycINFO search? 23. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing a PsycINFO search? 24. What is PsycARTICLES and how can you use it to search the literature? 25. Besides PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES, what other databases can you use to search the literature? 26. How can you use general Internet sources to find research information and what cautions should you take before using information found on the Internet? 27. How can you search for books using Internet resources? 28. What “other” tools are available for you to perform an online literature search? 29. Why is it important to read a research report critically? 30. What initial appraisals should you make of an article that you are going to read? 31. What should you evaluate when reading the introduction to an APA-style paper? 32. What should you look for when evaluating the method section of an APAstyle paper? 33. What information should you evaluate in the results section of an APA-style paper? 34. What information should you evaluate in the discussion section of an APA-style paper? 35. What should you look for when evaluating the references in an APA-style paper? 36. How do publication practices affect the articles that ultimately get published in journals? 37. What role does statistical significance play in determining what gets published in a journal? 38. What is the file drawer phenomenon and how does it relate to published research? 39. What is peer review and what are the major problems associated with the practice? 40. How can the peer-review process affect the likelihood that a paper will be published in a journal? 41. What evidence is there that the peer-review process affects publication practices? 42. How do values affect the research process? 43. How do you develop hypotheses for research? CHAPTER OUTLINE Sources of Research Ideas Experience Theory Applied Issues Developing Good Research Questions Asking Answerable Questions Asking Important Questions Developing Research Ideas: Reviewing the Literature Reasons for Reviewing the Scientific Literature Sources of Research Information Performing Library Research The Basic Strategy Using PsycINFO Using PsycARTICLES General Internet Resources Computer Searching for Books and Other Library Materials 77 Reading a Research Report Obtaining a Copy Reading the Literature Critically Factors Affecting the Quality of a Source of Research Information Publication Practices Statistical Significance Consistency With Previous Knowledge Significance of the Contribution Editorial Policy Peer Review Values Reflected in Research Developing Hypotheses Summary Key Terms empirical question operational definition literature review primary source secondary source refereed journal nonrefereed journal paper session poster session personal communications PsycINFO PsycARTICLES Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms file drawer phenomenon peer-review CHAPTER GOALS Two of the main goals of Chapter 3 are to show students how to get and develop research ideas. Often students don’t know where to start when thinking about doing research. When asked to think of research ideas, they typically come up with general ideas such as “I want to study memory,” with no idea how to develop the general idea into a testable hypothesis. The chapter introduces students to the kinds of questions they should consider in research and introduces them to the important role that everyday experience and theory play in the research process. Students should understand that there are three broad categories of sources of research ideas: experience, theory, and applied issues. Under the category of experience, students should learn how both unsystematic and systematic observation of behavior could lead to research ideas. They should understand that a theory could lead to research ideas in two ways. First, a theory can lead to research ideas when new combinations of variables are considered. Second, research ideas can be developed when two theories make alternative predictions about behavior. Students should learn that applied issues can also lead to research ideas. When they finish reading Chapter 3, students should have a firm grasp of how research ideas are uncovered. Points to emphasize include the following: 1. How experience, theory, and applied issues can lead to the development of research ideas and testable hypotheses. 2. How to develop good research questions (asking answerable questions, asking the right questions, and asking important questions). Another major goal of Chapter 3 is teaching students how to find and critically read research literature with an eye toward developing testable hypotheses. Your students should gain an understanding of the importance of conducting a literature review and how to go about doing one properly. You should introduce your students to using PsyclNFO PsycARTICLES, and other indexes and Internet resources to locate relevant research. Don’t assume that all your students already know how to use the library and its resources. Students should also learn about how to critically evaluate the research literature they find. They should be able to distinguish between primary and secondary sources, and between scholarly and other types of publications. Students should also learn how to evaluate each section of a journal article. Students should also learn about the publication process including the peer review process and the factors that might affect whether a manuscript gets accepted for publication. IDEAS FOR CLASS ACTIVITIES Observing Behavior and Developing Research Questions For this activity, have students observe behavior in a particular place (such as a mall or a sporting event) and tally the types of behavior they observe. This exercise can be done in two steps. In the first step, students should make casual observations of behavior and develop a list of common behavior seen (e.g., stopping to look into a window, disciplining children, etc.). Based on these preliminary observations, students should develop a behavior tally sheet on which they will record the frequency of each behavior. The second step is to conduct more systematic observations of the behaviors listed on the tally sheets. After all of the data are collected, during class discuss how the observations were made, and ask students to develop research questions that could be addressed scientifically. Using PsyclNFO Having students actually conduct a search of PsyclNFO will reinforce the material in the text and provide a good refresher on how to conduct a literature search. Give students a broad, general topic (e.g., memory, visual perception, or compliance), and have them first use the online version of the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms to narrow the topic (e.g., short-term memory, illusions, foot-in-the-door). Next, have students find five articles using PsyclNFO and write down all of the relevant bibliographical information. Using PsycARTICLES Repeat the above exercise, and have students track down a full text article or articles using PsycARTICLES. Finally, have students find five research sources on a topic of their own choice. Instruct them to find articles relating to research that might be replicated in class. This is especially helpful if you are going to have students come up with their own project(s) for class. Tracking Down Articles Based on Little Information Provide students with minimal information about a source, and have them find the full bibliographic citation using PsycINFO or one of the other indexes (e.g., Social Science Citations Index). For example, give students the names of authors, date of publication, and the general topic, and have them hunt down the full citation. The full citation should include all authors’ names, the title of the article, full name of the journal, year, issue, and page numbers. Here are a few examples: Bizman, A., & Yinon, Y. (2004). Intergroup conflict management Hodson, G., Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (2002). Aversive racism Logan, G. D. (2004). Working memory and task switching Buunk, B. P., Dijkstra, P., Fetchenhauer, D., Kenrick, D. T. (2002). Gender differences in mate selection. An extension of this exercise is to have students pick one of the topics previously used and find five more articles on that topic using PsyclNFO (the five new citations must not be found in the reference section of the original article.). Have students provide the following information: 1. The keywords used in a PsyclNFO search. 2. The full reference for each article found (author names, title of the article, journal name, volume, issue, and page numbers). 3. Any important information found in the PsyclNFO listing that could help narrow or widen the search (e.g., key phrases, major or minor descriptions). Sources Bizman, A., & Yinon, Y. (2004). Intergroup conflict management strategies as related to perceptions of dual identity and separate groups. Journal of Social Psychology, 144, 115–126 . Buunk, B. P., Dijkstra, P., Fetchenhauer, D., Kenrick, D. T. (2002). Age and gender differences in mate selection criteria for various involvement levels. Personal Relationships, 9, 271–278. Hodson, G., Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (2002). Processes in racial discrimination: Differential weighting of conflicting information. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 460–471. Logan, G. D. (2004). Working memory, task switching, and executive control in the task span procedure. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, 218–236. Doing a Literature Search Online Have your students do a literature search using the INGENTA, JSTOR or EBSCO database. Have each student choose a topic to research and generate a list of relevant references. Each student should evaluate the database system for ease of use, quality of information obtained, and availability of articles online or via interlibrary loan. Finally, have students compare the bibliographic information obtained from the two or more of the databases host with the same information obtained with PsyclNFO. What differences exist? Reading an Article A useful exercise is to have students read and analyze the content of a research article. This will get them used to reading primary sources and also show them how a research report should be written (which will be useful when they have to write their own lab reports or papers). You can either assign students to read specific articles you choose, or have them find and analyze their own. Have students do the following while they read the article: 1. Summarize the information contained in the abstract. 2. Write down the major purpose of the study. 3. Summarize the introduction. Have them pay specific attention to the topics presented, the reference citations provided, and how reference citations were used. 4. Evaluate why the author(s) chose to include the information found in the introduction. 5. List the hypotheses of the study. 6. Evaluate whether the hypotheses follow logically from the arguments presented in the introduction. 7. Briefly summarize the information contained in each of the subsections included under the method section. 8. Evaluate whether there is sufficient information in each section to allow the study to be replicated. If they think there is not, have them list what is missing. 9. If the article describes an experiment, list the variables manipulated by the researchers and the behaviors measured. If a correlational study is described, list the variables that were measured. 10. Evaluate the adequacy of the measures for testing the hypothesis. 11. Specify any control measures taken to rule out alternative explanations (for example, factors held constant, special subject samples, etc.). 12. List the major findings of the study as reported in the results. 13. Show how statistics were used to determine the significance of the findings (what statistics were reported and how they were used). 14. Summarize and evaluate the information in the discussion. Did the author’s conclusions follow logically from the results reported (why or why not)? Did the author stray too far from the data when speculating on the meaning of the results? Were any alternative explanations offered for the results (if so, what were they)? What future research can be suggested? 15. Indicate whether the study adequately evaluated the hypotheses stated in the introduction. Why or why not? Analyzing an Article If you want your students to use an Internet resource to evaluate a published article, have them go your university’s library Web site or the Internet and find resources on how to critically analyze an article. Have each student analyze an article according to the parameters on the Web site. Each student could then present his or her findings to the class. Evaluating Research Sources You can use the section in Chapter 3 on identifying different types of publications as an in-class exercise to give students practice making distinctions among the different types of journals discussed. Assign students (or groups of students) to analyze the content of one publication from each of the following categories (a few suggested publications are listed for each). Have them use the checksheet provided below to evaluate each source. Scholarly Child Development Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Journal of Experimental Psychology Psychological Review Journal of Abnormal Psychology Substantive News Washington Times Scientific American APA Monitor Chronicle of Higher Education Popular Psychology Today Parents Atlantic Monthly National Review New Republic Sensational National Enquirer National Examiner StarMagazine EVALUATING RESEARCH SOURCES CHECKSHEET
Scholarly Substantive News/General Interest Popular Sensational
Sober, serious look with graphs and tables _____Yes _____No Attractive appearance usually with photograph _____Yes _____No Often have a slick, attractive appearance with many photographs _____Yes _____No Often in newspaper format _____Yes _____No
Reference citations always provided _____Yes _____No Sources sometimes cited _____Yes _____No Sources rarely, if ever, cited _____Yes _____No References to sources often obscure _____Yes _____No
Written by a scholar in the field, or someone who has done research in the field _____Yes _____No Articles written by members of editorial staff, scholar, or freelance writer _____Yes _____No Written by a wide range of authors who may not have expertise in an area _____Yes _____No Written by a variety of authors _____Yes _____No
Language of the discipline, assuming scholarly background of reader _____Yes _____No Language geared toward educated audience but no specialty assumed _____Yes _____No Written in simple language with short articles geared to audience with minimal education _____Yes _____No Elementary, inflammatory language geared to a gullible audience _____Yes _____No
Report original research _____Yes _____No Do not report original research, report on research in format geared to a general audience _____Yes _____No Research may be mentioned, but it may come from an obscure source _____Yes _____No Support may come from pseudoscientific sources _____Yes _____No
Many, but not all, published by professional organization _____Yes _____No Published by commercial publishers or individuals but some from professional organizations _____Yes _____No Published commercially with the intent to entertain the reader, sell products, or promote a viewpoint _____Yes _____No Commercially published to arouse curiosity and play to popular superstition; use flashy astonishing headlines _____Yes _____No
CHAPTER 4 CHOOSING A RESEARCH DESIGN QUESTIONS TO PONDER How are correlational and causal relationships similar, and how are they different? Can a causal relationship be bidirectional? Explain and give an example. What are the defining features of correlational research? Why is it inappropriate to draw causal inferences from correlational data? Under what conditions is correlational research preferred over experimental research? What are the characteristics of experimental research? What is the relationship between an independent and a dependent variable in an experiment? What is the value of doing a demonstration? How do extraneous variables affect your research? What can be done to control extraneous variables? How does a demonstration differ from a true experiment? What is internal validity, and why is it important? What factors threaten internal validity? How do confounding variables threaten internal validity, and how can they be avoided? What is external validity, and when is it important to have high levels of external validity? How do internal and external validity relate to one another? What is a simulation, and why would you use one? How does the realism of a simulation relate to the validity of the results obtained from a simulation? What are the defining features of laboratory and field research? What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of laboratory and field research? CHAPTER OUTLINE Functions of a Research Design Causal Versus Correlational Relationships Correlational Research An Example of Correlational Research: Cell Phone Use and Accidents Behavior Causation and the Correlational Approach Why Use Correlational Research? Experimental Research Characteristics of Experimental Research An Example of Experimental Research: Cell Phone Use While Driving Strengths and Limitations of the Experimental Approach Experiments Versus Demonstrations Internal and External Validity Internal Validity External Validity Internal Versus External Validity Research Settings The Laboratory Setting The Field Setting A Look Ahead Summary Key Terms causal relationship correlational relationship correlational research third-variable problem directionality problem experimental research independent variable treatments dependent variable experimental group control group extraneous variable random assignment demonstration internal validity confounding external validity simulation
CHAPTER GOALS The major theme to reinforce in Chapter 4 is the distinction between correlational and experimental research. You should first make a special effort to distinguish causal from correlational relationships. Students often have trouble separating the two. After reading Chapter 4, students should know how experimental and correlational research differ in execution and in the inferences that can be drawn from the data. Students also learn in Chapter 4 the factors that affect internal and external validity, the relative advantages and disadvantages of field and laboratory research, what simulations are, and how simulations are used. The following specific points should be discussed in class: 1. The functions of a research design. 2. The defining qualities of correlational and causal relationships between variables. 3. The defining characteristics of correlational research. 4. The strengths and limitations of correlational research. 5. When you would use correlational research. 6. Why causal inferences should not logically be drawn from the results of a correlational study. 7. The reasons why one might use correlational research. 8. The defining characteristics of experimental research and how it differs from correlational research. 9. The features of an experiment that allow you to draw causal inferences. 10. The definition of extraneous variables and why they should be controlled. 11. The strengths and weaknesses of the experimental approach. 12. The distinction between a true experiment and a demonstration. 13. The definition of internal validity. 14. The threats to internal validity including confounding variables and extraneous variables. 15. The definition of external validity. 16. Threats to external validity. 17. The relationship between internal and external validity. 18. The defining characteristics and relative advantages of laboratory and field research. 19. The defining characteristics of a simulation, and how one is conducted. IDEAS FOR CLASS ACTIVITIES Demonstrations versus Experiments Chapter 4 distinguishes between demonstrations and experiments. The example cited in the text (subliminal messages) can be reinforced by presenting your class with another demonstration and analyzing it in class. The following is a brief summary of a demonstration that you can present (the full reference follows): Participants, believing that they were going to complete a personality inventory, were seated in a chemistry classroom facing a large cabinet. There were three signs posted on the cabinet saying: “DANGER,” “KEEP OUT,” and “Attention: Cabinet Contains Hazardous Chemicals Intended ONLY for Animal Research. Possible Harm to Humans if Exposed!!! DO NOT OPEN.” Inside the cabinet was a sealed brown box. After one minute, an “authority figure” entered the room. The authority figure was dressed in a police uniform. The authority figure said to the participant: “I am late for a meeting with your dean. I want you to get in that cabinet and take the box to the president’s office immediately.” The results showed that 13 of 17 participants obeyed the authority figure, despite the signs posted on the cabinet. Ask your class the following questions: 1. What is it about the study that makes it a demonstration and not a true experiment? [There is no control group. Only one level of an “independent variable” was included.] 2. What can be concluded from the results reported? 3. How could the study be made into a true experiment? [Add a control group.] 4. Have your students think of a few hypotheses centering on the issue of obedience to authority. Ask them how the demonstration could be expanded to include an independent variable. Source Sackhoff, J., & Weinstein, L. (1988). The effects of potential self-inflicted harm on obedience to an authority figure. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 26, 347–348. Correlational versus Causal Relationships A major point made in Chapter 4 is that correlational designs do not allow you to draw causal inferences from data. To further reinforce this point, you can have students find examples in the research literature of correlational and experimental research and analyze them. Each student should find one example of a correlational study and one experiment. Have each student analyze his or her articles by evaluating the following: 1. What were the hypotheses evaluated in the study? How were they stated? 2. What was the design of the study? If correlational, what variables were measured? If experimental, what were the independent and dependent variables? 3. How were the data analyzed? 4. What conclusions did the author draw from the data? For this question, have students be particularly vigilant for examples of causal inferences being drawn from correlational data. 5. For the correlational study, have students consider whether the study could be conducted as an experiment. If it can, what would the independent and dependent variables be? Would the experiment be ethical? A Simple Correlational Study In the Study Guide, we suggested that students conduct a simple correlational study to familiarize themselves with correlational research. You can use that idea for a class project looking for a relationship between weather and mood. For a few days, have students keep track of weather conditions (you can have the class decide what they want to measure, how to quantify it, and where to find the information). You could have them record things like precipitation, barometric pressure, and temperature, or simply have them rate the weather on a scale ranging from 1 to 10 (1 = very bad weather, 10 = very good weather). For each day, have students complete the mood checklist measure provided immediately below. Date___________________ Time________________ AM/PM (Circle one) Think back over the course of this day. Indicate on the scales below how you felt. Do this by placing an “X” in the appropriate space. Happy _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Sad Active _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Passive Unfriendly _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Friendly* Helpful _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Unhelpful Lethargic _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Vigorous* Unsatisfied _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Satisfied* Trustful _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Untrustful Fed up _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Tolerant* Excitable _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Calm* Warm _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Cold Bold _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Hesitant Uncooperative_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Cooperative* Slow _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Fast* Bad _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Good* Weak _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Strong* Cruel _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Kind* Relaxed _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Tense Busy _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Lazy Negative _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Positive* In general, how would you rate your mood today? Indicate your answer by circling the number on the scale below that best reflects your mood today.
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Very bad OK Excellent
Data Analysis Numerically code each of the bipolar adjectives by assigning the numbers 1 to 7 to the blanks. Re-key those adjective pairs that have the negative adjective first (the ones with a *). Next obtain a sum for all of the adjective pairs. If you re-key the starred adjective pairs, then the LOWER the number, the better the mood. Have students record the data from the checklist and overall rating of mood, along with the weather data, on a data coding sheet. Next, have them run correlations (perhaps using SPSS-PC) between the weather data and mood. Discuss with students what makes this study correlational. Have the students come up with interpretations for their findings, and discuss any methodological issues with them (for example, were the measures adequate?). Have students consider whether their results argue for a causal relationship between weather and mood. If no correlation was found, have students consider the reasons for failing to find a relationship (for example, inadequate measures). If a correlation was found, have them think of alternative explanations for their results (for example, experimenter bias). A Simple Experiment Chapter 4 introduces students to the basics of experimental design. You can reinforce the text by having students conduct a simple two-group experiment and analyze the results. Here is one example (which might serve as a nice follow-up to the obedience exercise previously presented): Have students conduct an experiment on compliance. Have them pick a building entrance on campus that has several doors (perhaps the entrance to the psychology building, library, or student union). During a specified period, have students simply count the number of people using each door. Prepare a sign saying “Please Use Other Door” and post it on one of the doors at the same time the next day, and again have students count the number of people using each door. To analyze the data, have students compare the number of people using the critical door with and without the sign. Students could assess the reliability of the results with a chi-square test. You can use this simple experiment (or one of your own) to illustrate the following points: 1. The major characteristics of an experiment. The presence or absence of the sign constitutes the independent variable, and the number of people using the critical door is the dependent variable. 2. The distinction between the experimental condition (sign present) and the control condition (sign absent), and how a relative comparison is made between the two. 3. If you use our suggested experiment, you will have the opportunity to discuss several aspects of research beyond the simple two-group design. Our sample experiment is a field experiment. You can discuss the differences between laboratory and field experimentation using this experiment as an example of the latter. Also, features of the suggested experiment relate to the issue of internal validity. For example, the experimental and control groups are run on different days. This raises the possibility of an alternative explanation. Also, you can discuss the problem of exercising control over extraneous variables (e.g., the amount of traffic going through the door on different days or at different times) that might affect internal validity. 4. Finally, you can ask your class to develop a hypothesis about compliance and think about how an experiment like that suggested could be carried out. What would the independent and dependent variables be? What steps would be taken to control extraneous and confounding variables? Identifying Correlational and Experimental Research on the Internet For this exercise, have your students find one of the Internet sites that offers research studies in psychology (an excellent source can be found at Have your students participate in a correlational study (e.g., on personality) and/or an experimental study. After they have completed the study, have them answer the following questions: 1. Was the study experimental or correlational? 2. What features made it experimental or correlational? 3. If the study was correlational, what were the main variables measured, and which did they think were predictor and criterion variables? 4. If the study was experimental, what were the independent and dependent variables? 5. Were any measures taken to control extraneous variables? If so, what were they? Instructor Manual for Research Design and Methods: A Process Approach Kenneth Bordens, Bruce Barrington Abbott 9780078035456

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