The point to remember: hindsight bias and overconfidence often lead us to over estimate our intuition. But scientific inquiry, fed by curious skepticism and by humility, can help us sift reality from illusions.
The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to explore observations and answer questions. Scientists use the scientific method to search for cause and effect relationships in nature. In other words, they design an experiment so that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable way.
Do Background Research: Rather than starting from scratch in putting together a plan for answering your question, you want to be a savvy scientist using library and Internet research to help you find the best way to do things and insure that you don't repeat mistakes from the past.
Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment: Your experiment tests whether your hypothesis is true or false. It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. You conduct a fair test by making sure that you change only one factor at a time while keeping all other conditions the same.
You should also repeat your experiments several times to make sure that the first results weren't just an accident.
Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion: Once your experiment is complete, you collect your measurements and analyze them to see if your hypothesis is true or false.
Scientists often find that their hypothesis was false, and in such cases they will construct a new hypothesis starting the entire process of the scientific method over again. Even if they find that their hypothesis was true, they may want to test it again in a new way.
Communicate Your Results: you will communicate your results to others. Professional scientists do almost exactly the same thing by publishing their final report in a scientific journal or by presenting their results on a poster at a scientific meeting.
Even though we show the scientific method as a series of steps, keep in mind that new information might cause a scientist to back up and repeat steps at any point during the process. A process like the scientific method that involves such backing up and repeating is called an iterative process .
Bias can creep in and alter expectations in favor for the hypothesis.
When testing a theory one must be careful not to allow bias to alter the outcome in favor of or against the hypothesis.
“ Having theorized that depression springs from low self-esteem, we may see what we expect. We may perceive depressed people’s neutral comments as self-disparaging.”
The Scientific Method: What are Operational Definitions?
Operational definitions (OD) – a statement of the procedures (operations) used to define research variables. For example, human intelligence may be operationally defined as what an intelligence test measures.
Clear, concise OD allow other researchers to replicate a scientific study.
If upon replication, similar results are gained, reliability increases.
Reliability is the extent to which a test yields consistent results.
In the end, a theory is useful if it (1) effectively organizes a range of self reports and observations and (2) implies clear predictions that anyone can use to check the theory or to derive practical applications.
Naturalistic Observation – “observing and recording behavior in naturally occurring situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation.”
How to systematically and objectively describe behavior:
Correlation – is the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus of how well either factor predicts the other. The correlation coefficient is the mathematical expression of the relationship, ranging from -1 to +1.
Correlation and Causation – Correlations point us toward predictions, but usually imperfect ones. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation. Ex: Length of marriage correlates positively with hair loss in men. Does this mean that marriage causes men to lose their hair?
Usually there is a third factor for this and many other cases.
How to systematically and objectively describe behavior:
Illusory Correlations -
A perceived non existent relationship (you perceive a relationship but in reality none really exists.)
Explains superstitions, beliefs.
More likely to notice and remember the occurrence of two events in sequence
Can be easily deceived by estimating that there is a correlation amidst random events.
Bottom line: When we notice random coincidences, we may forget that they are random and instead see them as correlated. Thus, we can easily deceive ourselves by seeing what is not there.
Q2 . Does behavior depend on one’s culture and gender?
Ans : Even when specific attitudes and behaviors vary across cultures, as they often do, the underlying processes are much the same. Biology determines our sex, and culture further bends the genders. However, in many ways woman and man are similarly human.
Q3. Why do psychologists study animals, and is it ethical to experiment on animals?
Ans : Studying animals gives us the understanding of many behaviors that may have common biology across animals and humans. From animal studies, we have gained insights to devastating and fatal diseases. All researchers who deal with animal research are required to follow ethical guidelines in caring for these animals.
Q6. Some question that psychology can be used as a tool to manipulate others.
Ans: Power (no matter what kind: knowledge, status, wealth, etc.) can be used for both good and evil.
However it is a choice that one makes as to how he/she will use that power. It can be used to deceive others, but although psychology can be used as a tool of deception, its main purpose is to enlighten.