2. Issues of experimental design, variables and operationalization Flashcards Preview

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What is the method in nutshell?

You have a theory that attempts to explain a particular phenomenon of interest. That theory is used to generate a hypothesis (if theory X is true, it follows logically that Y should occur). You test the hypothesis and then, if necessary, update your theory


What are the elements that make up the Scientific Method?

authority, intuition, rationality, empiricism


How is the Scientific Method characterised?

by the development of theories which have explanatory and predictive capacity and which must be testable and refutable


What makes a good theory?

It must make predictions that can be tested and by test the theory can be refuted


What are the objectives of psychological research?

To develop theories that describe, explain and predict aspects of psychological functioning


What does it mean to describe a phenemenon?

portraying the phenomenon accurately


What does it mean to explain a phenomenon?

identifying the cause(s) of the phenomenon


What does it mean to predict a phenomenon?

identifying risk factors of a phenomenon can help you to predict when it might happen


How does one conduct a research?

Identify the phenomena of interest.
Read scientific literature
formulate a research question
identify the best method to address the research question


what are the questions to be asked when reading scientific literature?

is there an established theory that generates predictions about the phenomena?
If not, what evidence is needed to allow a theory to be developed?
If there are competing theoretical perspectives, ask what evidence is needed to establish which theory is correct


what are quantitative studies?

collecting numerical data to answer research questions


What are qualitative studies?

collecting non-numerical data to answer research questions


what are mixed method research?

Employing a combination of quantitative data and qualitative data.
Quantitative data provides an incomplete analysis of what is being investigated.
Qualitative data adds additional level of understanding.


How do quantitative methods work?

you have a hypothesis and then you collect some kind of numerical data to test that hypothesis


what is a variable?

something that varies, takes on different values or categories


what are categorical variables

varies by type or kind e.g. gender religion, university course, type of therapy (NOMINAL MEASUREMENT)


What are continuous variables?

varies by degree or amount e.g. reaction time, height, age, anxiety level (INTERVAL / RATION MEASUREMENT)


What are independent variables?

presumed to cause change in another variable.
It is often manipulated by the researcher


What are dependent variables?

the presumed effect or outcome of the study
The variable that is measured by the researcher and influenced by the IV.


What are the general questions of quantitative research?

are the changes in the IV associated with the changes in the DV?
Or does changes in the IV cause changes in the DV?


What are extraneous variables?

variables that competes with the IV in explaining the outcome of the DV.
They are all of the things that might impact upon a person's ability to perform a task.
It is important to try to control for Extraneous variables


Confounding variables

an extraneous variable that is allowed to co-vary along with the levels of the IV
Having a confound is pretty serious because it means that you really cannot tell whether it is the IV or the confounding that is affecting performance


what are mediation or intervening variables?

occurs between two other variables in a causal chain.
e.g. anxiety causes distraction (mediation variable) which affects memory


moderating variable?

qualify a causal relationship as dependent on another variable
e.g. the impact of anxiety on memory is different for men and women (sex is a moderating variable)


What are the steps to answering a research question?

1. design a study
2. find some participants
3. make measurements
4. analyse the data
5. write a paper explaining what you have done


what are some ways to answer a research question?

naturalistic observation
correlational study
internet study
field experiment
laboratory based experiment


when choosing how to best address a research question, what needs to be considered?

the logistics, ethics and validity


when considering logistics, what question should be asked?

is it possible to do the thing that we want to do?


when considering ethics what question should be asked

is it OK to do the thing we want to do?


when considering validity what is the question that should be asked?

will doing what we want to do tell us anything useful?


what is operationism?

representing constructs by a specific set of operations?


what is the definition of operational?

defining a concept by the operations used to represent or measure it


what is causatin

a condition in which one event (the cause) generates another event (the effect)


what are the criteria for identifying a causal relation?

Cause (IV) must be related to the effect (DC) - Relationship condition
Changes in IV must precede changes in DV - temporal order condition
No other plausible explanation must exist for the effect


what can a well designed and appropriately controlled and conducted experiment allow>

inferences about causality


what is the basic process for inferring causality?

perform an action (manipualte IV)
measure the consequences (changes in the DV)
CONTROL foro ther possible explanations


what should an experiment be?

carefully designed
rigorously controlled


what are some ethical issues

informed consent
right to confidentiality
right to withdraw
do not cause physical or mental harm/distress


what are the advantages of the experimental approach

can make causal inferences, able to manipulate variables and able to control certain variables


what are causal descroptions

identifying the consequence of manipulating an IV


what are causal explanations?

refers to explaining the mechanisms through which the relationship exists


True or false:
The experimental approach is the only scientific method where variables are manipulated?



how are extraneous variables controlled?

holding them constant
using random assignment


What are the disadvantages of the experimental approach?

does not test the effect of non-manipulated variables
and artificiality or generalisability


What does it mean when one says that there is an issue of artificiality and generalisability?

refers to potential problems in generalising findings from laboratory settings to the real world


what are the advantages of internet experiments?

- access to diverse population
-bring the experiment to the participant
- large sample this greater power
- cost saving


what are the disadvantages of internet experiments?

- multiple submissions
- lack of control
- self-selection
- drop out


what is a field experiment?

an experimental research study that is conducted in a real-life setting


what is the advantage of field experiments?

may be easier to generalise findings


what is the disadvantage of field experiments?

less control of extraneous vriables


what is a confederate?

a person who is in leage with the experimenter, unbeknownst to the participant


what are laboratory experiments?

an experimental research study that is conducted in a controlled laboratory setting


what are the advantages of a lab experment

more control over extraneous variables


wht is the disadvantage of lab experiments?

less generalisation related to artificiality


what are the different ways we could manipulate the IV

experimental, individual difference, repeated measure (within and between group) mixed design


what is experimental manipulation?

where the experimenter determines which level of the IV a participant is tested at


what are the two types of experimental manipulation?

even and instructional


what is individual difference manipulation

a characteristic of the participant determines the level of the IV at which they are tested


what is repeated measure (within group) design

each participant is tested at each level of the IV. It is more sensitive and cant always be used


What is a between groups design?

each participant tested at only one level of the IV. less sensitive and often forced to use this design


what is a mixed method design?

more than one IV with at least one IV manipulated between groups and at least one within groups