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ap psych unit 2.1 research methods descriptive method

AP PSYCH Unit 2.1
Research Methods &
Description Methods
1. Why are answers that come from the scien3fic
approach more reliable than those based on intui3on
and common sense?
2. Have you ever been confident in an answer you’ve
given, then been proven wrong, and said to yourself, “I
knew it all along!”?
3. What are the 3 main components of the scien3fic
4. What is good about cri3cal thinking?
Limits of Intuition
• Have you ever played a game involving the rolling of
• Did you roll harder when you needed a high number?
• Did you roll lighter to get a low number?
• Did you know that has absolutely no effect on the
probability of what you will roll?!
• Intui3on is why you did that… So what exactly is
Hindsight Bias
• The tendency to believe, after
learning of an outcome, that one
would have foreseen it.
• “I knew it all along”
• Example: Boss thinking about
job applicants that don’t perform
well on the job
• Part of limits of intuition
Let’s Test Hindsight Bias! Answer these
questions on scratch paper…
• 1. Martin Luther King's age
at death.
• 2. Length of the Nile River.
• 3. Number of original
British colonies in America.
• 4. Number of books in the
Old Testament.
• 5. Diameter of the moon.
• 6. Pounds in a ton.
• 7. Year in which Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart was
• 8. Gestation period (in
days) of an Asian elephant.
• 9. Air distance from
London to Tokyo.
• 10. Deepest (known) point
in the oceans.
• 1. Martin Luther King 39 years
• 2. Nile River - 4187
Miles (6,738 km)
• 3. 13
• 4. Old Testament - 39
• 5. Moon diameter 2160 Miles (3,476 km)
6. 2000 Lbs in a ton
7. Mozart - 1756
8. Elephant - 645 days
9. Tokyo to London 5959 Miles (9,590 km)
• 10. Ocean depth 36198 Feet (11,033 m)
(Ah, Ohhhh, I knew that!)
• We tend to think we know
more than we do.
• Together with hindsight
bias, can lead to
overestimate our
• Example: Boss or job
applicant, once working
there, realizing applicant
was full of it during the
The Scientific Attitude:
3 Components
• Curiosity
• Eagerness skeptically
scrutinize competing
• Humility / Being
Humble, open-minded to
learning errors we might
All of this leads to Critical
Critical Thinking
• Not blindly accepting
arguments and conclusions.
• Ask Questions!
• How do they know that?
• What is this person’s
• Is the conclusion based on
feelings or evidence?
• Does the evidence so
cause and effect?
• Are there any other
possible conclusions?
Think Critically
• You have only an 8-liter
jug and a 3-liter jug.
Both containers are
unmarked. You need
exactly 4 liters of water.
How can you get it, if a
water faucet is handy?
• Answer: Fill the 3-liter jug three
times, each time dumping the
water from it into the 8-liter jug.
• The third time, this will leave one
liter of water in the 3-liter jug, and
the 8-liter jug will be filled.
• Dump the water from the 8-liter
jug down the drain, and then
empty the one liter of water from
the 3-liter jug into the 8-liter jug.
• Now fill the 3-liter jug again and
dump the water into the 8-liter jug.
The 8-liter jug now contains 4 liters
of water.
• Various answers are possible.
Think Critically
• While relaxing on the deck
outside her cabin one
summer evening, Vivian
fell into a deep trance-like
sleep. When she awoke,
she felt as if she had slept
only an hour or two, but it
was now the middle of
How could this be?
• Answer: Vivian was on the
patio of her first class cabin
on a cruise ship.
• She fell asleep just before
the ship crossed the
equator on a trip from
Hawaii to New Zealand.
• The equator is the dividing
line between the opposite
seasons. She fell asleep
north of the equator while
in the middle of summer
and awoke two hours later
south of the equator in the
middle of winter.
The Scientific Method & Using
Observation in Psychology
• Is a hypothesis in psychology the
same as a hypothesis in a biology
• What are the steps of the
scientific method?
• How do I create operational
definitions in my psychological
• How do scientists observe and
describe behavior?
• How should you choose a random
The Scientific Method
Difference Between Theory & Hypothesis
• Theory – An explanation
using an integrated set of
principles that organizes
observations and predicts
behaviors or events.
• Well-established principle
• Product of repeated testing
of hypotheses or
• Can predict general events
• Generally accepted and
extensively tested
• Hypothesis – a testable
• For individual studies
• Makes specific prediction
about specific set of
• Speculative guess that has
yet to be tested
Operational Definitions
• Very important part of psychological
research (you need to know this term
all year for every unit)
• Defines what the researcher will be
observing and manipulating
• Must be measurable and
• Not the same as a dictionary
• For example: What is the dictionary
definition of skinny? What would be
our AP PSYCH operational definition
of skinny?
Generate more operational definitions
on scratch paper, in small groups
• Happiness
• A Smile
• Intelligence
• Popularity
• Good music
• Delicious Food
• Replicate
• Repeating a research study or experiment.
• Increases confidence that the conclusion is reliable.
Case Study
ž Usually examines one individual in depth in
hopes of reveling things true of us all.
ž Positives: Can lead us in the right direction for
other further and different studies extending
from the case study
ž Can be used to study rare phenomena
ž Some times case studies are the only ethical way
to study an idea
ž Negatives: Can mislead us if the individual being
studied is atypical.
ž Usually rely on a single investigators findings…we
have no way of assessing the reliability or validity
of their observations or interpretations
ž No two cases are alike
• These are very efficient because you can collect a great deal of
information from a large group of people
— Self reporting is not always accurate…
participants may provide the response
they think you want to hear and not the
honest response.
— Example: 92% of people say they wash
their hands after using the restroom
every time.
— After conducting a Naturalistic
Observation Study only 77% were found
to wash their hands in the restroom
every time. Also women(88%) are more
likely to wash their hands every time
than men (66%).
Wording Effects:
Watch how things are
worded on surveys,
this will come up later
as framing
Survey: Random Sample
• By taking a representative sample of a given
population we can generalize our results to that
– The population in this case is the group being
studied, from which samples may be drawn.
• A Random Sample is: a sample that fairly represents
a population because each member has an equal
change of inclusion.
– 1500 people can accurately estimate 200 million
Survey: Random Sample
Let’s come up with 3 different ways to get a random sample at
For future reference:
• Random Sample and Random Assignment will come up a lot.
Know the difference. Random Samples are taken from a large
population for observational research or experiments.
• Random Assignment is taking a random sample and randomly
assigning them to either experimental or control groups in
experiments (only experiments, not other research)
Naturalistic Observation
• Observing and recording
behavior in naturally occurring
situations without trying to
control the situation.
– Does not explain behavior, simply
describes it.
– Can provide information for
further research.
Naturalistic Observation:
Possible Observations You Could Conduct:
If you were performing a naturalis3c
observa3on at school, what are some
possible behaviors you could look for at
– Think about things people do at certain
3mes of day
– Think about loca3ons where many
people are together at once and it would
be easy for you to observe
– Think about things younger students do
differently than older students
– Think about what men (boys) do
differently than women (girls)
– Think about what students do differently
than teachers