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Critical Thinking 2


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How you can analyze and interpret information you receive everyday to understand its validity.

How you can analyze and interpret information you receive everyday to understand its validity.

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  • 1. Using Psychology Everyday How you can analyze and interpret information you receive everyday to understand its validity.
  • 2. Eight Questions to Analyze and Interpret Everyday Information
    • What is asserted or claimed to have occurred?
    • What evidence is offered to support the assertion or claim?
    • What is being compared, and is the comparison a fair one?
    • What problems exist with the sample of people and products studied?
    • Were representative test conditions used?
    • Were extraneous variables controlled?
    • How consistently did the event occur?
    • Was the statistical information presented and used appropriately?
  • 3. 1. What is Asserted or Claimed to Have Occurred?
    • An assertion is a statement claiming something to be true without offering objective proof
    • Often assertions are based on incomplete information, partial or faulty analysis, or manipulated data
    • Determining the accuracy of an assertion depends on the outcome of gathering and analyzing additional evidence
    • Treat what was said as one of several possible explanations, and examine the claim in more detail
    • Begin by identifying the type of claim that was made
  • 4. Four Types of Claims
    • Two or More Events Are Related
    • If two things appear to be associated, it doesn’t mean that one caused the other: apples and oranges
    • One Event Caused the Other to Occur
    • Determining cause/effect relationship depends on how certain criteria are met
    • Is change in one associated with or related to change in the other?
    • Did the cause actually occur before the effect?
    • Does the effect cease to occur when the cause is absent or removed?
    • Have other plausible and alternative explanations been ruled out?
    • Two or More People, Products, or Events Share the Same Characteristics
    • Never accept the assertion that two things are alike until you explore how they’re different
    • Two or More People, Products, or Events Are Claimed to Be Different
    • One person’s claims that two things are different shouldn’t be taken as evidence that they do
  • 5. 2. What Evidence is Offered to Support the Assertion or Claim?
    • What is the Source of the evidence?
    • Personal experience and opinion
    • Personal biases distort observations
    • Testimonials
    • Many believe that a public figure wouldn’t endorse something unless it performed as claimed
    • Expert opinion
    • Most often, an expert’s opinion is window dressing. Is the expert speaking about an area in which s/he has expertise
    • Research findings
    • Facts and figures are only as good as the methods, processes, and procedures used to produce them
  • 6. 3. What is Being Compared, and is the Comparison a Fair One?
    • Evaluating comparisons when preexisting differences exist among groups
    • The problem with comparing groups on the basis of preexisting characteristics is that they are seldom equal on all factors
    • Evaluating comparisons when groups are purposely made to be different
    • The difference between experimental groups
    • Control group: the baseline group; the group set aside without the effect
    • Experimental group: the group where the independent variable is manipulated
    • The difference between variables
    • Independent variable: the manipulated factor(s)
    • Dependent variable: the measures taken of the effects of independent variables
  • 7. Effects to Take Into Account
    • Extraneous Variables
    • Cofactors that could interfere with the variable under study
    • The placebo effect
    • Personal biases
    • The “Hawthorne Effect”
    • Three Problems with Comparison Conditions
    • A control group is absent
    • The comparison conditions lack a critical factor
    • One group is accidentally or purposely given characteristics that enhance a favorable outcome
  • 8. 4. What Problems Exist with the Sample of People and Products Studied?
    • People and products tested should be representative of the larger population
    • One intent of data collection is to be able to develop conclusions that apply to the largest number of people
    • Two ways to get a representative sample population
    • Select a random sample of people with predetermined characteristics
    • Select people or things because they have certain characteristics of interest
  • 9. 5. Were Representative Test Conditions Used?
    • Often nonrepresentative test conditions are used
    • Variables that affect products and behavior seldom have the same influence under all conditions limit the ability to generalize
    • Interaction effect: the tendency for combinations of independent variables to produce behavioral effects that are different from the influence of any one of them acting alone
    • Interaction effects show up in many of our activities, such as facial recognition and recognizing physical characteristics of other ethnic and racial groups
  • 10. 6. Were Extraneous Variables Controlled?
    • We need to know that the outcome was due to the effects of the independent variable
    • Extraneous variables are considered controlled if they affect all of the people or products tested equally
    • When individuals being studied know they are being studied, they can behave in the way they expect the experimenter wants them
    • The Hawthorne Effect
  • 11. 7. How Consistently Did the Event Occur?
    • Probabilities
    • When one event is more or less likely to occur than another
    • A probability statement doesn’t guarantee something will happen
    • It is a best estimate or guess of the chances
    • To assess how often something occurs on the basis of chance, you need to know how often that event might occur if there were no other factors influencing that event
    • Once you know the probability of something occurring on the basis of chance, you can determine the number of products, people, or events that might occur on the basis of chance
  • 12. Living with B l i n d L u c k
    • Blind luck and coincidence are regular features of daily life
    • We spend a lot of time trying to identify patterns in random events or trying to explain them
    • Difficult to accept blind luck because we don’t know what a chance event looks like
    • Random events can occur in streaks
    • Many expect that a “lucky streak” follows “bad luck”
    • Gambler’s fallacy
  • 13. How to Tell a C h a n c e Happening
    • Things that occur with a high degree of frequency are often not due to chance
    • Chance also means the average number of times you can expect something to occur on the basis of blind luck
    • With a small sample, something can occur frequently due to chance
    • Calculate how often an event would occur on the basis of chance
    • Only if something occurs above the 15% level of pure chance can it be caused by some other factor
    • Use statistical tests to help you
    • Statistical significance describes how two events can be different due to factors other than chance
    • Be cautious before making any decisions
    • Were a large number of tests conducted?
    • Were appropriate comparisons or control conditions used?
    • Did extraneous variables influence the outcome?
    • Just because something exceeds chance, the experimental treatment didn’t necessarily produce it
  • 14. 8. Was the Statistical Information Presented and Used Appropriately?
    • Variables don’t always affect a product or person the same way under all conditions
    • Variations in performance are a problem when it comes to describing how a number of people or products actually performed
    • Statistics have the advantage of providing a precise summary and description of performance
    • Care must be taken when interpreting statistics, because it can be presented in a deceptive manner or be purposely distorted to manipulate behavior
  • 15. Understanding Statistics
    • The Average
    • Often misinterpreted and abused
    • Three averages
    • Mean: the sum of all the individual scores divided by the total number of scores
    • Median: the score that has 50% of the scores above it and 50% below it
    • The better estimate of the “average”
    • Mode: the most frequently occurring score in a distribution
    • In general, the Mean and the Median are better than the Mode
  • 16. More on Statistics
    • Percentage
    • What was the number of people, products, or events a percentage was based on?
    • Ranks
    • Two problems with rank orders:
    • “ Best” and “worst” are relative terms
    • The source of the ranks needs to be taken into account
    • Rank ordering of people, products, or events tends to be biased by those doing the ordering
  • 17. More on Statistics
    • Correlations
    • Two events are related
    • Positive and negative correlations
    • Correlations doesn’t mean one event caused the other
    • The illusion of correlation
    • Expectations that certain things must be related
    • Can be based on experience or someone told you what to expect
    • Accurate testing of ideas demands that appropriate comparisons be made
    • Understanding the illusion of correlation helps to avoid developing inaccurate conclusions
  • 18. More on Statistics
    • Correlations (Con’t)
    • Invisible correlations
    • Occurs due to the absence of any expectations that two things will be related
    • Lack of information, denial, and the lack of the ability to properly classify events that affect us are to blame
    • When interpreting correlations, ask, “What other factors might be responsible?”
    • What’s missing from the relationship I’m focusing on?
    • What other factors could be related to those I’m looking at that might have produced the relationship?