Chapter 1

Chapter One
The Scientific
Understanding of Behavior
What is Science and why do we study it ?
Science is the process of formulating
specific questions and then finding
answers in order to gain a better
understanding of the world
Science as a process of inquiry
provides us with a means of addressing
questions and provide answers that can
be useful in understanding the world
around us.
uses systematic, disciplined thinking to
gain knowledge which we call the
Scientific Method.
Methods of Acquiring Knowledge
Tenacity  a willingness to accept ideas as
valid knowledge b/c these ideas have
been accepted for so long or have been so
often repeated that they acquire an aura of
Intuition  operates without intellectual
effort or sensory processing, it’s a form of
direct-access knowledge
Authority  the acceptance of an idea as
valid knowledge because some respected
source claims it is valid
Tenacity, intuition,and authority make few
demands on information and processes. When
we use these three methods of acquiring
knowledge, we believe it because:
“ It has always been true”---tenacity
We “feel” it is so---intuition
A respected figure says its true—
Rationalism  a way of thinking in which
knowledge is developed thru reasoning.
----information is carefully stated and logical
rules are followed to arrive at an
acceptable conclusion
Example of the use of Rationalism
--All crows are black (the major premise)
--This is a crow (the minor premise)
--Therefore, this crow is black (the
Rationalism: Example Two
--All 4 year old children develop fears of
the dark
--Lisa is a 4 year old child
--Therefore, Lisa has developed fears of
the dark
Empiricism  involves gaining knowledge
through observation
Empiricism is the fundamental
characteristic of the scientific approach as
it is knowledge based on observation.
Empiricism gives us a series of facts, but
does not tell us how to put them together
or what they mean.
Goals of Scientific Behavioral
to describe behavior
to predict behavior
to determine the causes of behavior
to understand or explain behavior
1. Description of Behavior-scientists begin
with careful observation .
Three types of evidence:
1) Temporal Precedence
2) Co-variation of cause and effect
3) Elimination of alternative explanations.
2. Prediction of Behavior--once it has been
observed with some regularity that two
events are systematically related to one
another, it becomes possible to make
3. Determining the Causes of
--we may be able to accurately predict the
occurrence of a behavior, but that does
not mean we can accurately predict its
In order to change a behavior, we need to
know the cause….
4. Explanation of Behavior
In order to know why a behavior occurs,
we must study that behavior through
different methods of research.
Explaining behavior in one set of
circumstances through research does not
guarantee that it is the only explanation
which generates the need for additional
Basic vs. Applied Research
Basic research tries to answer
fundamental questions as to the nature of
behavior. –this type of research is
conducted to gain knowledge and further
science and theory.
e.g. cognitive, physiological and social
Applied and basic research from a
symbiotic relationship.
Much of applied research is based on
theories and techniques developed by
basic research.
Some advances studied using basic
research are due to results found in
applied research.
Applied Research—conducted to address
practical problems and come up with
potential solutions.
e.g. Industrial/Organizational Psychologist,
Forensic Psychologists.