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observation of behavior in its natural setting

two variables change in different directions, with one becoming larger as the other becomes smaller; a negative correlation is not the same thing as no correlation

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when observations may be skewed to align with observer expectations

description of what actions and operations will be used to measure the dependent variables and manipulate the independent variables

personal judgments, conclusions, or attitudes that may or may not be accurate

subjects of psychological research

article read by several other scientists (usually anonymously) with expertise in the subject matter, who provide feedback regarding the quality of the manuscript before it is accepted for publication

people’s expectations or beliefs influencing or determining their experience in a given situation

overall group of individuals that the researchers are interested in

two variables change in the same direction, both becoming either larger or smaller

method of experimental group assignment in which all participants have an equal chance of being assigned to either group

68 Chapter 2 | Psychological Research

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random sample




single-blind study

statistical analysis




subset of a larger population in which every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected

consistency and reproducibility of a given result

repeating an experiment using different samples to determine the research’s reliability

subset of individuals selected from the larger population

experiment in which the researcher knows which participants are in the experimental group and which are in the control group

determines how likely any difference between experimental groups is due to chance

list of questions to be answered by research participants—given as paper-and-pencil questionnaires, administered electronically, or conducted verbally—allowing researchers to collect data from a large number of people

well-developed set of ideas that propose an explanation for observed phenomena

accuracy of a given result in measuring what it is designed to measure


2.1 Why Is Research Important? Scientists are engaged in explaining and understanding how the world around them works, and they are able to do so by coming up with theories that generate hypotheses that are testable and falsifiable. Theories that stand up to their tests are retained and refined, while those that do not are discarded or modified. In this way, research enables scientists to separate fact from simple opinion. Having good information generated from research aids in making wise decisions both in public policy and in our personal lives.

2.2 Approaches to Research The clinical or case study involves studying just a few individuals for an extended period of time. While this approach provides an incredible depth of information, the ability to generalize these observations to the larger population is problematic. Naturalistic observation involves observing behavior in a natural setting and allows for the collection of valid, true-to-life information from realistic situations. However, naturalistic observation does not allow for much control and often requires quite a bit of time and money to perform. Researchers strive to ensure that their tools for collecting data are both reliable (consistent and replicable) and valid (accurate).

Surveys can be administered in a number of ways and make it possible to collect large amounts of data quickly. However, the depth of information that can be collected through surveys is somewhat limited compared to a clinical or case study.

Archival research involves studying existing data sets to answer research questions.

Longitudinal research has been incredibly helpful to researchers who need to collect data on how people change over time. Cross-sectional research compares multiple segments of a population at a single time.

2.3 Analyzing Findings A correlation is described with a correlation coefficient, r, which ranges from -1 to 1. The correlation coefficient tells us about the nature (positive or negative) and the strength of the relationship between two or more variables. Correlations do not tell us anything about causation—regardless of how strong the relationship is between variables. In fact, the only way to demonstrate causation is by conducting an experiment. People often make the mistake of claiming that correlations exist when they really do not.

Chapter 2 | Psychological Research 69



Researchers can test cause-and-effect hypotheses by con

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