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Caution, this assignment is listed at the bottom.


Read the following information on research and complete the designated assignments located at the indicated internet links.


Every intro psych text starts with research methodology in the first chapter. I kind of think of psychologist as having a little bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to being accepted as true scientists. A hundred years ago psychology was not thought of as a real science. You see, when you’re trying to measure thought and behaviors, things can get really fuzzy. For the past century psychologists have worked very hard to incorporate scientific methods into psychological research, and to prove that we are real scientists we talk about it first thing. But, why is knowing about scientific methodology important to you? Because, every day you are bombarded with research from newspapers, radio, and television. The problem is, that you may not know if it is good research or bad research. The only way you will know is if you learn about research.

I like to think of research as divided into 3 parts, collecting data, looking at data to see if there is a pattern, and testing for cause and effect. Data can be collected lots of ways. Surveys, archival research (looking through other sources that have previously recorded information, old newspapers, other research, etc.), case studies, observation, etc.. Then we look to see if there is a pattern, called a correlation. This helps us make an educated guess, called a hypothesis. Then we can test that hypothesis for a cause and effect relationship (an experiment). More detail follows below.



Survey: A descriptive research method for gathering data from people, usually by use of a questionnaire. To be fair, the survey must represent the views of the population being studied. A population can be any way you define it, left-handed baseball players, 2 pack a day smokers between the ages of 18 and 25, all women with breast cancer, a genetic species of lab rat susceptible to diabetes, etc.. We survey a sample of the population because of financial or other constraints which make it is too difficult to survey everyone in the population. Random selection is used to insure that a representative sample is drawn from this population. With random selection and a large enough sample, all the variables within this group (gender, ethnicity, etc.) that we know about and even the one’s we do not know of, will be represented in our sample. This insures that the results will generalize back to the larger group we are studying.

Additionally, fair and unbiased questions must be constructed so as not to lead the respondents into giving us the answers we have preconceived as the "right ones".

Care should also be given to the dynamics of the interviewer-interviewee relationship, being sensitive to gender, race, and other issues that may conflict with candid responses.

Correlation: A statistic that indicates whether 2 variables show a pattern or relationship, varying together in a systematic way. This often involves taking data, gathered by some means, (possibly a survey) and looking for a pattern. This pattern in no way implies cause and effect. The pattern may be described as either positive or negative. Positive means they move up together or down together. Negative means that when one variable moves up, the other variable moves down, they go in opposite directions from each other.


Experiment: A research technique in which all conditions are controlled except one that is manipulated so that the effect of that manipulation can be observed. To conduct an experiment you must generate a hypothesis, As educated guess, stated in concrete, specific and measurable terms, as to a cause and effect relationship. Then an experiment is designed to test this hypothesis. An experiment is the only way to scientifically determine a cause and effect relationship. A population is defined. A representative sample is randomly selected. This sample is randomly sorted into an experimental group and a control group. The independent variable (treatment) is applied to the experimental group only. Otherwise, conditions are held identical. We then look for the anticipated change in behavior, dependent variable, as a result of the treatment. We then draw a conclusion.

Operationally defining something means that you state it in a specific, concrete and measurable way. For example, anxiety could be described as, increased heartbeat, shallow breathing, perspiring, empty feeling in pit of stomach, and restlessness. The reason social science researcher do this is because thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are tough to count and measure. We have to define them in ways that 2 independent observers can count the thing being studied and know that they are talking about the same thing.

Periodic Assignment 1

Write a psychological autobiography (at least 250 words).  This involves looking over your like and viewing it from a psychological perspective.  What was it like to grow up in your family?  How did your parents discipline you?  What kind of relationship did you have with your brothers and sisters?  How do you deal with anger and other emotions?  As we discussed in the first day of class, what psychological issues do you have that you would like to change so that your life was better?