Unit 2: Research Methods

                          The Scientific Method
: An integrated set of principles that organizes and predicts behavior.
Hypothesis: A testable prediction often implied by a theory.
Operational Definitions: Statements (descriptions) of the procedures used to define research variables.
Replication: Repeating the essence of a study, usually with different participants and in different situations.
Hindsight Bias: The tendency to believe, after learning the outcome, that you knew that was how it would turn out.
Goal of research: To describe, predict, & explain behavior.

I. Research that Describes only

Case Study:
A descriptive technique in which one person is studied in depth in the hope of revealing universal principles.
Naturalistic Observation: Observing & recording behavior in naturally occurring situations without manipulating or controlling the situation.
Survey: A techniques for obtaining self-reported attitudes or behaviors of people, usually by questioning a representative, random sample of them.
     Population: All of the people in a particular group from with a sample may be drawn.
     Random Sample: A subset of people who fairly represent the population because each person has an equal chance of being selected.  Using a random sample increase the generalizability (external validity) of a study.
     Generalizability: The extent to which results of a study can be applied to the outside world.  Also called External Validity.
     False Consensus Effect:
The tendency to overestimate the extent to which others share our beliefs and behaviors.
     Social Desirability Bias: Tendency of subjects to present themselves in a socially desirable light.
II. Research the Describes and Predicts Behavior
(Non-Experimental Designs)

Correlational Research: Research that seeks to measure the RELATIONSHIP between two variables without trying to determine causality or manipulating either of the variables.
     Scatterplot: A graphed cluster of dots, each which represents the values of two variables.  The slope of the dots represents the direction (+ or -) of the relationship while the amount of "scatter" suggests the strength of the correlation.
     Correlation Coefficient: A statistical measure of the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus how well either factor predicts the other. The statistic is always between -1.00 and +1.00.
A Positive correlation coefficient means that as one variable increases, so does the other.
A Negative correlation coefficient means that as one variable increases, the other decreases (i.e., an inverse relationship).

Regardless of the strength of the relationship, correlations cannot tell us that one variable CAUSES changes in the other because:
     1) Variable X could be affecting variable Y OR
         variable Y could be affecting variable X.
     2) Third variables could be affecting BOTH variables X and Y.
     Illusory Correlation: The perception of a relationship between two variables where none truly exists.

Differential Research: Research that involves comparing two or more exiting groups on some variable of interest.  The groups are typically based on some pre-existing subject variable (e.g., gender, age, IQ, personality trait, etc.)


[Home]        [SYLLABUS]        [CALENDAR]       [STUDY GUIDES]       [REVIEWS]     [LINKS]  [HOMEWORK]     [HANDOUTS]           [UNIT CONTENTS]            [RESEARCH]