Introduction - Arlington Public Schools

Perspectives in Psychology and
Scientific thought and study.
Psychology and Behavior
 Psychology is the study of behavior.
Behavior is defined as the way people
think, feel or act, so psych is the study of
 Different schools of thought in Psychology
approach that study for varying perspectives
or approaches. More on that later…..
Types of Psychologists
 Industrial/organizational: help people and
businesses by more efficient.
 Developmental: study how people develop through a
 Research: does research, often in colleges.
 Applied: applies the research, like
 Clinical: treats people with disorders.
 Psychiatrists: M.D.s, they are the only ones who can
perscribe drugs, often work with clinicals.
Psychology’s Big 3
 Stability Vs. Change: were you shy or
outgoing when a child, are you now, willyou be
when your 80?
 Rational vs. Irrational? Ever told yourself that
you shouldn’t eat that? Did you? Ever argue so
much it’s counter-productive?
 Nature vs. Nurture? How much of who you
are is genetic? How much learned from the
Current Perspectives: The
ways people study behavior.
 Neurobiological: Anything to do with the brain or
 Evolutionary: Behavior is designed to get your
genes to the next generation.
 Behaviorism: Behavior is learning through
reinforcements. Interested in observable behaviors.
 Psychodynamic: Early Childhood Experiences,
UNCONSIOUS impulses; Sex and Aggression.
 Behavior-Genetics: How much of any behavior is
Learned and how much inherited/genetics.
Current Perspectives:
 Cognition: that little voice in your head that makes
decision. Think Thinking.
 Sociocultural: How behavior is affected by the
group membership.
 Humanism: People are good; Free Will; SELF.
 Eclectic: the most often used. A combination of the
above, used in a complimentary fashion.
 Your are on a boat that overturns. It
contains your 5-year old and your 1 year
old children (of the same sex). The boat
sinks and you can only safe one. Which
one do you save?
 The same boat (you are slow learner)
contains your 40 year old and 20 year old
children. Boat sinks. Which one do you
 When you get married, would you prefer
someone five years older, or five years
 Of the following six, choose the three top
characteristics of your future spouse:
Will make a lot of money.
Good sense of humor
Caring and responsible
Really hot
Exciting personality
 You and your spouse are the proud
parents of a new child. The
Grandparents are really happy. Which set
will be kinder to the child:
 The mother of the mother
 The mother of the father.
 Who will mourn more at the death of a
 Father
 Parents of the father Parents of mother
 Younger parents
older parents
 Which will elicit more grief:
 Death of a son
death of a daughter
 Death of unhealthy child or healthy
Scientific method offsets
limits to intuition.
 Overconfidence: People think they are
right more often than they are.
 Hindsight Bias: I knew it all along. This
is why you need hypothesis.
 Random events often appear
 False consensus: we overestimate how
much others agree with us.
More limits to intuition,
not on this test.
 Belief bias: We will twist logic to make our beliefs
 Belief perseverance: takes overwhelming amount of
contradictory info to change established belief. First
impressions really do count.
 Confirmation Bias: seeking out supporting info for our
beliefs, ignoring contrary info.
 Attention to vivid BIG examples: availability heuristics.
 In group Bias: our group is good their’s is bad “mirror
image effect.”
 Fundamental attribution error: they did because
they’re bad, I did because the situation called for it.
 More Invested, the more committed.
Skepticism and humility
 These are all reasons you must look at
the world with skepticism and humility.
The brain has evolved to survive, not to
be correct.
Scientific Study
 Theory: Principle that help to organize, predict,
and explain facts, based on previous study: a
statement of belief.
 Operational Definitions:
 Defines the abstract terms in the study: what is
love? What is aggression? (door slamming?
Cutting? Kicking a trash can? Hitting the steering
 Also, spells out the specific procedures in the study.
 Allows for replication: repeating the study by other
Types of studies
Descriptive Studies
 No variable manipulated.
 Case Studies: lots of information from one
person; often intake interviews. Usually not
generalizable.(test answer)
 Naturalistic observations: watching chimps in
the wild; children behind two way mirrors;
teens at the mall.: no manipulation, just
observation and recording
Correlational Studies:
 Surveys seek to measure links between groups of
individuals, groups and their attitudes, behaviors and
 Often rely on self-reports.
 No manipulation, recorded, looking for relationships.
 The Purpose of surveys is to be able to make
 If I know you are a depressed, I can predict you have low self
 If you are a democrat, you are more likely to believe the
government should help the poor.
 Are the reverse of these true to; maybe, maybe not.
Correlation DOES NOT
mean Causation
 Correlation only measure the relationship
between two things: say:
 Smoking cigarettes and dying of lung
What is the Operational
Definition of Sex? (college
 Deep kissing?
 Oral Contact with
 Touching genitals?
 Oral Contact with
 Anal Intercourse?
 Vaginal Intercourse
 2%
 3%
 14%
 40%
 81%
 99%
Terms to know
 Population: This is the entire group being studied. In
the sex example: that would be teenagers.
 Random Sample: if you guys had been selected
randomly, you would be representative of the
population, teenagers, and received the survey.
 For a sample to be random, each member of the population
needs to have an equal chance of being drawn: that’s the test
 Samples DO NOT have to be equally balanced by race,
gender, intelligence, socio-economic group etc., just chosen
Correlation: shows the relationship
between group and attitude and
strength of that relationship.
 In our case, there is a very strong
correlation between teens and the belief
that anal/vaginal intercourse is sex.
There also is a correlation between teens
and the belief that oral sex is sex, but it’s
not as strong.
 Correlation coefficients: a statistical
measure that shows the strength and
direction of the relationship.
Correlation coefficients
 Are measured on a scale of:
 The number gives you the strength of the
relationship; whether it is positive or negative
gives you the direction of the relationship
(more on that later).
 +1 or (-1) means a 100% lock of a relationship,
all teens think intercourse is sex or (no teen
thinks that intercourse is sex). 0 means the
relationship doesn’t exist and therefore isn’t
 Anytime a coefficient exceeds .2 (or -.2) there
is a relationship; .5 (-.5)or higher a very strong
relationship. In our example probably a .95,
meaning I can pretty much predict if you’re a
teen, you think intercourse as sex. As for oral
sex…hmmmm…maybe a .3 or .4.
Correlation Coefficients:
Positive and negative.
 The relationship can be measured in either direction.
Sometimes the more a behavior happens, the less
something else happens: that’s a negative correlation.
 If both items go up OR DOWN at the same time, it’s a
positive correlation. If one goes up and the other down
or one goes down and the other up, it’s negative.
 The more antioxidants you take, the lower your cancer rate.
Antioxidants go up, cancer goes down: a negative
 The more exercise you get, the happier you are, both go up: a
positive correlation.
Examples: you guess,
positive or negative or 0
(meaning no relationship)
The relationship between:
Your first test score and final grade.
The speed in which you take a test and your score.
Wearing seat belts and dying in car accidents.
Good looks and happiness.
Ice cream consumption and crime rates in a
Midwestern town.
 Hair loss and length of marriage.
 Self-esteem and depression.
 Between drinking diet coke and obesity.
The other way correlation
can be described:
Ilusory Correlations: seeming
correlations that aren’t.
 Catching a cold and cold weather or
being wet and cold.
 Full moon and bizarre behavior.
 Not studying and getting good grades.
 Old people/women and bad driving.
 Making three shots in a row and being on
a hot streak.
Problems with Survey
 Wording effect: Different results because of how
survey is worded:
 77% percent interested in plants and trees, 39%
interested in botany.
 Difference between saying “prohibiting abortion” and
“protecting the life of an unborn child, changes
responses by 20%.
 A majority of Americans agree we “should not allow
speeches against democracy” but a minority were in
favor of “forbidding” the same.
 Same is true using the same wording for x-rated movies, peep
shows and putting salt on highways.
Other wording effects
 Might not understand the words.
 The order in which the statements are given.
The person asking the questions can even affect results:
When asked “whether the problems faced by black
Americans were brought on by themselves.” When
white interviewer 62% agree, with black interviewer
When asked if they were pro choice: when a man asked
64% of women agreed; when a woman asked 84%
People more likely to “help someone in need, than
support welfare.”
Other issues
 Halo effect: people answer the way they think
they should.
 Sample size: sample must be big enough to be
representative. How big a sample do you think
is necessary for whole U.S.?
 About 1500. That’s all.
 If you had to play Tiger for a million bucks
would you play 18 holes or a single putt from
20 yards. Why?
Correlation doesn’t mean
Causation!!!! Just that a
predictive relationship exists.
 Aggression and playing violent video
games. Pos or neg? Alternative?
 Obesity and tv viewing? Pos or Neg?
 Obesity and diabetes? Pos or Neg?
 I.Q and being a college athlete? Pos and
Neg? Alternative?
 The ONLY study method designed to uncover
cause and effect.
 Most often done in labs for better control.
 Often DO NOT emulate real life conditions.
 Studies one variable (independent variable)
and compares it to another condition that does
not have that variable (control condition).
Sample Experiment
 Let’s say we have a THEORY, an educated
idea about a subject, that people with low selfesteem are more aggressive. First we have to
figure out how to measure self-esteem and
aggression. How we define those terms
specifically within the experiment is called our
Operational Definition. You must spell out
your operational definition, so others can
replicate (redo) your experiment.
Sample Experiment
 Step 1: Population: this is the group you want
to find out information about, in this case,
people in general. But it could be girls, boys,
teens, Americans, Senegalese, anybody, but it
must be stated.
 Hypothesis: Stated prediction of how we think
the experiment will come out: People with low
self esteem will exhibit more aggression
than those with moderate or high selfesteem.
 Essay help:
 When in doubt about experimental parts
you are trying to figure out, look at the
Essay Help
 Remember to only select subjects from
you population. Let’s say I was studying
kids with hyperactive thyroids. Would I
choose my subjects from kids? No, only
kids with hyperactive thyroids, I’d then
divide those kids up into two groups. Be
careful, there is an essay like that.
Sample Experiment
 Sample: the sample is the group you will
actually be doing the experiment on, called the
 The SUBJECTS should be chosen randomly
from the population, so it is a RANDOM
 In a truly random sample each person in the
population has to have an equal chance of
being chosen. In experiments, that is rare
because of logistics (you can’t just drag
randomly chosen people in off the street), in
surveys it’s a little easier. In reality,
experiments generally use paid volunteers.
Essay Hint:
Essay Trap: Samples DO NOT have to be
balanced by gender, intelligence,
socioeconomic class, race, or ANY other
quality of the subjects, just gathered
randomly. This is often a mistake on
essays. Don’t say: “maybe some people
are smarter than others, true enough, but
those types of qualities of the subjects
are balanced by the random selection.
Sample Exp: Assignment
of participants.
 Next, the subjects are divided into two groups:
the Experimental Group and the Control group.
Again this must be done randomly. This is
 Essay trap: Do not confuse the subject
selection (random sample) with assignment of
participants. Assignment is done AFTER
you’ve selected subjects, when you subdivide
them into control and experimental groups.
Sample Experiment:
 Ok, we’ve got our experimental group,
who will have their self esteem lowered,
and the control group who won’t. We will
compare the results of the experimental
group with the controls.
 Now the Independent Variable the
manipulated part of the experiment.
 In our case the IV is low self-esteem, so
we have to figure out how to lower their
self esteem.
 We have our subjects write an essay and
then have an unseen reader tell them
they suck, the worst essay ever, lowering
their self esteem, we hope.
 With our control group, we have them
write the same essay but tell them
because of some technical glitch, their
essays haven’t been scored.
 Next, we measure each groups selfesteem by giving the a Self-Esteem
inventory, designed to measure how they
feel about themselves, If it worked, the
experimental groups self esteem will be
lower than the controls.
Sample Exp: Variables.
 We find the group who was told that
their essays sucked, feel worse
about themselves, have lower selfesteem, than the control group.
 We now measure their aggression
level by allowing them to hold a
button down that we tell all subjects
is administering a shock to the
supposed graders.
Sample Experiment:
 We now compare the difference in how
long the experimental/low self esteem
group holds down the button to the
control groups. This is the results of our
experiment called the DEPENDENT
Let’s Check:
What is our hypothesis?
What is the Population?
How did we get our subjects? And from where?
How were the subjects assigned. Into what?
What is our independent variable?
What is our dependent variable?
What is our operational definition of low self
 What is our operational definition of
Sample Exp: Statistic
 If the dependent variable, the length of time
the experimental group holds down the
shocker, is statistically significant, then our
hypothesis is proven.
 Statistical significance is a P score, which
tells you that the difference between the two
scores, the scores of the experimental and
control groups, could not have happened by
 Essay Hint: always define statistical
significance as “could not have happened by
Confounding variables
 Confounding variable are any variables
that mess up your experiment.
 #1 confounding variable: Experimenter
BIAS: if I’m the experimenter and really
want the experiment to work, maybe I
unconsciously roll my eyes at the
experimental group to make them more
aggressive. This must be controlled.
for experimenter bias
 WHENEVER you are asked to control for
Experimenter BIAS (and you will be about a
million times), ALWAYS answer Double Blind.
 Double Blind: means neither the experimenter
nor the subjects know who is in the
experimental group and who is in the control
 The boss of the experiment needs to hire
someone who is “blind” to conduct the actual
Other confounding variables.
These are in essays coming
 If the person who is conducting the experiment
is different for the two groups: hot guy in one
group, fat old guy in the other. Could that get
different results? Yes.
 The time of day each group is tested: are you
different in the morning than in the evening?
 Assigning your groups by the first to arrive and
those who arrive later.
 ANYTHING where the controls are treated
differently than the experimentals, (other than
the Independent variable of course).
 Placebos are fake variables, so that the
subjects don’t know which group they are in,
always used in drug studies, where the fake pill
is a sugar pill.
 In our experiment, writing the essay is really a
placebo, so they get the same treatment at the
experimental group, except they aren’t told
they suck.
 Placebo effect: as many as 30% of subjects
that receive a placebo get better!!!! Even in our
experiment, just writing the unscored essay
may reduce self esteem, a confounding
Check again:
What is double blind?
What is statistical significance?
What is a confounding variable?
Name three possible confounding variables.
What is the dependent variable?
How do you control for experimenter bias?
What am I trying to avoid by making your write
down your answers?
Measures of Central
 Mean: arithmetic average, like a GPA.
 Median, the middle of a group of scores.
It is better if you have a few outliers
which affect the mean. Say you were
assessing a small population with one
billionaire, the mean income would be
higher than the population indicates.
 Mode; the most often occurring score.
Standard Deviation
 Is a factor that tells you how closely clustered a
set of scores are, how little the range.
 When the standard deviation is used with the
preceding graph and its constants, you can tell
how “normal” any individual score is, by
comparing it to the others.
 Test hint: the smaller the standard deviation,
the closer together the scores.
 Test hint 2: the standard deviation tells you
how close together a set of scores are.
 Psychologist, do no harm.
 Afterward, process the experiment with
subjects, let them know others acted as
they did.
 Get informed consent from them,
particularly minors from their parents.
 You CAN deceive them about what the
experiment is about, and you do so often.
Ethics questions.
Men using a public restroom are observed surreptitiously by a researcher hidden in
a toilet stall, who records the time they take to urinate (Middlemist, Knowles, &
Matter, 1976).
A researcher pretends to be a lookout for gay men having sex in a public restroom.
On the basis of the men’s car license plates, the researcher tracks down the
participants through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Then, under the guise of
another study, he interviews them in their homes (Humpreys, 1975).
Researchers covertly film people who strip the parts from seemingly abandoned
cars (Zimbardo, 1969).
Researchers hide under dormitory beds and eavesdrop on college students’
conversations (Henle & Hubbell, 1938).
 Participants waiting for an experiment are
videotaped without their prior knowledge
or consent. However, they are given the
option of erasing the tapes if they do not
want their tapes to be used for research
purposes (Ickes, 1982).
 Researchers stage a shoplifting episode
in a drug store, and shoppers’ reactions
are observed (Gelfand, Hartmann,
Walder, & Page, 1973).
 Researchers embarrass participants by
asking them to sing “Feelings” (Leary,
Landel, & Patton, 1996).
 Researchers approach members of the
other sex on a college campus and ask
them to have sex (Clark & Hatfield,