Curiosity, Creativity, and Commitment
If you are going to understand the science of psychology, you must first understand science. Science is a process of inquiry – a particular way of thinking. Science is an intellectual process aimed at understanding the natural universe.
Tenacity- is a willingness to accept and maintain ideas as valid knowledge despite contrary evidence and/or lack of supporting evidence.
Intuition- is the direct acquisition of knowledge without intellectual effort or sensory processing.
Authority- is the acceptance of ideas as valid knowledge because some respected source claims they are valid.
Rationalism- is a way of acquiring knowledge through reasoning. The major limitation of rationalism is that the premises must be true, as determined by some other evidence, to arrive at the correct conclusions.
Empiricism- involves gaining knowledge through observation. Empirical observations in science are not limited to direct observations; we can also observe phenomena indirectly through the observation of their impact on other objects, like thermometers.
Each individual scientist, in each research project, must make thoughtful judgments of how best to contribute to science and to humanity.
Research is a process of injuiry
What distinguishes scientific research from other research is its integration of empirical and rational processes.
Basic Assumptions of Science
1. A physical universe exists
2. The may be randomness and thus unpredictability in the universe, but it is primarily an orderly system
3. We can discover the principles of this orderly universe through scientific research
4. Knowledge of the universe is always incomplete. All knowledge and theories are tentative
Facts are those events that we can observe directly and repeatedly. Most facts observed in psychology are behaviors: verbal and nonverbal behavior, physiological activity, social behavior, and so on. Observation is the empirical process of using one’s senses to recognize and record facts. An internal condition is no directly observable fact; we inferred it from the observations of behavior. An inference is an intellectual process in which we derive conclusions from observed facts or from other ideas.
Inferred events, such as gravity, electricity, intelligence, memory, and anxiety, are all rational ideas constructed by the researcher. Such ideas are constructs. Constructs are used by scientists as if they exist in fact and as if they really have a relationship with observable events, used analogically. Confusing a construct for a fact is a logical error know as reification of a construct. A construct relates to observed facts in two ways: we derive it from the observations, and we use it as a basis for predicting future observations.
Inductive and Deductive Thinking
When we reason from the particular to the general, we are using inductive reasoning, when we use the more abstract and general ideas to return to specifics-that is, to make predictions about future observations-we are using deductive reasoning.
A researcher who begins with empirical observations and then infers constructs is engaged in inductive reasoning. Using constructs as a basis of making predictions about new, specific observations is deductive reasoning. A scientist must use both processes to build and validate conceptual models. We can view the entire scientific research enterprise as a framework within which scientists can carry out inductive and deductive reasoning under the most precise conditions.
Theories and Models in Science
A theory is a formalized set of concepts that summarizes and organizes observations and inferences, provides tentative explanations for phenomena, and provides the bases for making predictions. To be scientific, a theory must be testable, that is, it must make specific predictions that scientists can test empirically. Good theories are functional, strong, parsimonious, and valid. Theories are the glue that holds science together and the framework that enables researchers to build on the work of others.
Theories that emphasize induction, called inductive theories, stay close to the empirical data (e.g. B.S Skinner). The more traditional theory, deductive theories, emphasizes deductions from constructs. These deductions are hypotheses, which scientists test empirically through research. Most psychological theories are functional theories that place approximately equal emphasis on induction and deduction.
A fourth type of theory is the model. Models share the following characteristics:
1. Models are simplified representations of phenomena and have point-to-point correspondence with some of the characteristics of the phenomena.
2. Models provide convenient, manageable, and compact representations of the larger, complex, and mostly unknown reality.
3. Models are incomplete, tentative, and analogical.
4. Models, and manipulations of models, help scientists to organize information, illustrate relationships among parts, create new ideas, and predict new observations.
Scientists judge models and theories primarily by how useful they are in organizing information, explaining phenomena, and generating accurate predictions.
Levels of Constraint
Naturalistic observation requires the researcher to observe the behavior or participants in their natural environment and to not change or limit the environment or the behavior of the participants.
Case-Studies are somewhat more constrained than naturalistic observation, case studies still allow the researcher a good deal of flexibility to shift attention to whatever behaviors seem interesting and relevant.
In Correlational research researchers are interested in quantifying the relationship between two or more variables; they must use precise and consistent procedures for measuring each variable.
Differential research involves comparing two or more groups of participants. We must measure the variables in exactly the same way in each group; that is, the settings and observational procedures must be constrained across groups. The variable that defines the groups is a preexisting variable that is not under the researcher’s control (e.g. clinical diagnosis, IQ, gender).
In Experimental research, the researcher compares performance of participants under different conditions. Researchers randomly assign participants to conditions. Learn more about experimental designs and the logic of hypothesis test here
As we move from low to high constraint research, the procedures and findings become more precise. The precision-versus-relevance problem means that researchers should carry out their research at the highest constraint levels possible and then test the findings in natural settings.