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Hindsight Bias

The tendency for people to exaggerate how much they could have predicted an outcome after knowing that it occurred.


Problems With Common Sense

1. Can be contradictory (there is a commonsensical explanation for nearly ant conclusion and its opposite - 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' vs. 'out of sight, out of mind)
2. We may differ in what seems commonsensical and there is no way to resolve this between individuals.
3. Common sense is often based on private, careless observation, or upon wholly non-empirical bases (folklore/parental teaching).
4. Some only credit "unexpected findings" as scientific and the rest are simply common sense.


The Scientific Method

-Theory: an explanation using an intreated set of principles that organizes observations.
-Hypothesis: a testable prediction implied by a theory.
Research Process: Theories lead to hypotheses lead to research and observations which confirm/reject/revise theories.


Research/Empirical Questions

Those that can be answered through objective observations.


Research Strategies

1. Simple observation: observing the world around you and asking questions about why people think/behave as they do.
2. Personal Experience
3. Serendipity: act of discovering something while looking for something else.
4. Need to solve a practical problem (floods>levees)
5. Common Sense (as a source for ideas only)
6. Other research (studies can be interrelated)
7. Replication: seeing if a finding can be observed again w/ different participants and under different circumstances.


Operational Definitions

a specific statement of the procedures used to define research variables, so as to allow others to replicate the original observations.


Research Design

1. Case study: an in depth investigation of a single (or very few) subjects/participants.
2. Survey: an investigation of many cases in less depth by asking people to report opinions and behaviors.
3. Naturalistic Observation: recording behavior in its natural environments, and describing it in detail.
4. Experimental Methods: to explore case and effect ny manipulating one or more factors, while holding other factors constant. (independent/dependent/control variables)
5. Correlational methods: to observe naturally occurring relationships between variables. (correlation does not imply causation: temporal precedence between the two variables, third-variable problem)


Research Ethics

Is it Ethical to Experiment on People?
1. Obtain informed consent.
2. Protect from harm.
3. Maintain confidentiality.
4. Debrief (but not required to give ALL information)
Non-Human Subjects (3 R's)
1. Replacement: use alternatives when possible.
2. Refinement: minimize/eliminate animal distress.
3. Reduction: employ designs/procedures that require fewest number of animals possible.



1. Mean: total sum of all the scores divided by the number of scores.
2. Median: midpoint.
3. Mode: most frequently occurring.
4. Range: gap between the lowest and the highest.


Standard Deviation

How much individual scores differ from the mean. Bell-shaped distribution=normal curve.


When is an Observed Difference Reliable

1. Representative samples are better than biased samples.
2. Less-variable observations are more reliable than those that are more variable.
3. More cases are better than fewer.


Statistical Significance

When sample averages are reliable and when the difference between them is relatively large.