Chapter summary imageHow do psychologists conduct scientific, meaningful, and ethical research?

HOW IS THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD USED TO STUDY PSYCHOLOGY?

  • Scientists aim to reduce error and bias in their psychological studies by employing the principles of empiricism and the scientific method.
  • The six steps of the scientific method that psychologists generally follow are identifying the problem, conducting background research, formulating a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, analyzing the results, and reporting the results.

WHY ARE RESEARCH METHODS IMPORTANT TO THE STUDY OF PSYCHOLOGY?

  • Psychologists use scientific methods to carry out research, reducing the problems of hindsight bias and the false consensus effect.
  • When carrying out empirical research, psychologists use existing facts and theories to come up with new hypotheses.

WHAT ARE SOME TYPES OF RESEARCH STRATEGIES?

  • Experiments, correlational studies, and descriptive studies (naturalistic observation, laboratory observation, case studies, and surveys) are used to conduct different types of research.
  • Research can take place in a laboratory or in the field.
  • Data collection may be self-reported or observational.

HOW CAN STATISTICAL METHODS HELP US GATHER AND ANALYZE DATA?

  • Descriptive statistics are used to summarize data sets and provide information about measures of central tendency, measures of variability, and frequency distribution.
  • Inferential statistics are used to provide information about the statistical significance of data.

HOW CAN WE MINIMIZE BIAS?

  • A degree of error is inevitable in any psychological research and is taken into account during statistical analysis.
  • Researchers can minimize bias by using representative samples, taking reliable measurements, and avoiding subject- and observer-expectancy effects.

WHAT ETHICAL ISSUES DO PSYCHOLOGISTS FACE?

  • When conducting a study, a psychologist needs to consider three issues: a person’s right to privacy, the possibility of harm or discomfort, and the use of deception.
  • Researchers must follow the Canadian Psychological Association’s code of ethics if they wish to publish their work in scientific journals.