a. Explain how psychologists conduct research to describe, explain, predict, and control behavior.
b. Describe the types of research methods used by psychologists, include: experiment, survey, case study, and observation.
c. Identify the basic elements of an experiment, include: independent and dependent variables, types of experimental control (blind/double-blind procedures, placebo controls).
d. Explain the differences between a correlation and an experiment.
e. Classify the types and uses of statistics in psychological research, include: descriptive statistics.
f. Interpret graphic data representations.
g. Explain ethical issues in psychological research.
Understanding Research is the second program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program examines how we know what we know. You'll explore the scientific method, the distinction between fact and theory, and the different ways in which data are collected and applied, both in labs and in real-world settings.
Naturalistic observation is a research method that is used by psychologists and other social scientists.
The technique involves observing subjects in their natural environment. It can be used if conducting lab research would be unrealistic, cost-prohibitive, or would unduly affect the subject's behavior.
Interviews are different from questionnaires as they involve social interaction. Unlike questionnaire methods, researchers need training in how to interview.
Researchers can ask different types of questions which in turn generate different types of data. For example, closed- ended questions provide people with a fixed set of responses, whereas open-ended questions allow people to express what they think in their own words.
A questionnaire or survey is a data collection tool used to gather information about individuals. Surveys are commonly used in psychology research to collect self-report data from study participants. A survey may focus on factual information about individuals, or it might aim to obtain the opinions of the survey takers.
A survey can be used to investigate the characteristics, behaviors, or opinions of a group of people. These research tools can be used to ask questions about demographic information about characteristics such as sex, religion, ethnicity, and income.
Closed-ended questions provide people with a fixed set of responses, whereas open-ended questions allow people to express what they think in their own words.
Life history interviewing is a qualitative method of data collection where people are asked to document their life over a period of time. It is a personal account of their life, in their own words and using their own personal time lines.
Case studies are in-depth investigations of a single person, group, event or community. Typically, data are gathered from a variety of sources and by using several different methods (e.g. observations & interviews).
The case study research method originated in clinical medicine (the case history, i.e. the patient’s personal history). In psychology, case studies are often confined to the study of a particular individual.
The information is mainly biographical and relates to events in the individual's past (i.e. retrospective), as well as to significant events which are currently occurring in his or her everyday life.
The case study is not itself a research method, but researchers select methods of data collection and analysis that will generate material suitable for case studies.
Standardized tests are used in psychology, as well as in everyday life, to measure intelligence, aptitude, achievement, personality, attitudes and interests. Attempts are made to standardize tests in order to eliminate biases that may result, consciously or unconsciously, from varied administration of the test.
Physiological psychology studies many topics relating to the body's response to a behavior or activity in an organism. It concerns the brain cells, structures, components, and chemical interactions that are involved in order to produce actions.
Experimental studies in psychology refers to work done by those who apply experimental methods to psychological study and the processes that underlie it.
Experimental psychologists employ human participants and animal subjects to study a great many topics, including (among others) sensation & perception, memory, cognition, learning, motivation, emotion; developmental processes and social psychology.
In the experimental method, researchers identify and define key variables, formulate a hypothesis, manipulate the variables and collect data on the results. Extraneous variables are carefully controlled to minimize a potential impact on the outcome of the experiment.
The experimental method involves manipulating one variable to determine if changes in one variable cause changes in another variable. This method relies on controlled methods, random assignment and the manipulation of variables to test a hypothesis.
There are a few different types of experiments that researchers might choose to use. The type of experiment chosen might depend on a variety of factors including the participants, the hypothesis and the resources available to the researchers.
Lab experiments are very common in psychology because they allow experimenters more control over the variables. These experiments can also be easier for other researchers to replicate. The problem, of course, is that what takes place in a lab is not always identical to what takes place in the real world.
Sometimes researchers might opt to conduct their experiments in the field. For example, let's imagine that a social psychologist is interested in researching prosocial behavior. The experimenter might have a person pretend to faint and observe to see how long it takes onlookers to respond.
This type of experiment can be a great way to see behavior in action in realistic settings. However, it makes it more difficult for the researchers to control the variables and can introduce confounding variables that might influence the results.
APA's Ethics Office promotes ethics throughout the field of psychology. The office supports the Ethics Committee in adjudicating ethics cases, offers educational programming, provides ethics consultations, and serves as a resource to members and the Association in addressing new ethical dilemmas as psychology grows and evolves as a discipline. If you are an APA member, the Ethics Office is here to serve you. Please let us know how we may best do so.
Because living subjects, animals or humans, are often part of psychological experiments, researchers must weigh potential risks to the participants against potential benefits to science and society.
A description of research procedures, potential risks, and expected benefits that is given to human participants. Participants must read, understand and sign it, indicating that they have been informed and consent to participate.
A procedure conducted at the end of an experiment in which the researcher provides human participants with as much information about the study as possible, making sure no participant leaves feeling confused, upset, or embarrassed.
For some types of research it is not possible to tell participants the details of the study without biasing the results. While there may be reasons to temporarily "deceive" participants, the American Psychological Association enforces clear guidelines about deception in research.
In response to heightened concerns about the use and treatment of animal participants, the American Psychological Association and other organizations involved in research have established ethical standards and guidelines for animal experimentation.
Ethics matters in academic and scientific research. The study of ethics is no less and no more important in research than it is in any other practice that has the potential of causing harm or creating good for others. It is expected that practitioners will better understand how to be responsible researchers through the study of ethics.
The study of ethics helps people think more clearly about professional expectations and encourages them to examine the assumptions that serve as the basis for conventional behavior. The hope is that the researcher's increased consciousness of his or her role will translate into more ethical action.
Through completing this section, successful participants will be able to:
Season 2 - Episode 2
Release Date: July 21, 2012
Network: The Science Channel
Categories: TV Documentary Drama
Project MK Ultra, also called the CIA mind control program, is the code name given to a program of experiments on human subjects that were designed and undertaken by the United States Central Intelligence Agency—and which were, at times, illegal.
Season 1 Episode 1
Release Date: 2006
Duration: 90 min
Categories: TV Documentary
CBC News world's The Big Picture marks the much-anticipated return to television of award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker Avi Lewis. In The Big Picture, Lewis premieres documentaries that spark passion and controversy, igniting debates you won't want to miss.
Plot: Why would four young men watch their friend die, when they could have intervened to save him? Why would a woman obey phone commands from a stranger to strip-search an innocent employee? What makes ordinary people perpetrate extraordinary abuses, like the events at Abu Ghraib?
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