MPTUO1a: Introduction to Psychology
Week 1 / Unit 1: Scientific Inquiry
This learning week, you will discover perspectives in psychological science, research methods, measurement, and statistics. The following is a sample of the lesson schedule for this week. It is flexible and may change at the instructor’s discretion to accommodate students’ learning needs.
Unit 1 Topics
Introduction to Perspectives in Psychological Science
Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology
- Research Methods
- Chapter 1: Introduction to Psychology and Research Methods in Psychology 101 by Dr. Christopher L. Heffner 
- Chapter 1: Psychology and Science, Part One: What is Psychology? in Psychology: An Introduction by Russell A. Dewey, PhD 
- Chapter 1: Psychology and Science, Part Two: The History of Psychology in Psychology: An Introduction by Russell A. Dewey, PhD 
- Chapter 1: Psychology and Science, Part Three: Critical Thinking in Psychology: An Introduction by Russell A. Dewey, PhD 
- Chapter 1: Psychology and Science, Part Four: Observational and Experimental Research in Psychology: An Introduction by Russell A. Dewey, PhD 
- Observational Research
- Correlation and Prediction
- Predictions Based on “The Actuarial Method”
- Pitfalls in Observational Research
- Questionnaires, Surveys, and Polls
- Other problems with polls
- Experimental Research and its Pitfalls
- Experimental Controls
- Two Powers of Science
- Summary: Observational and Experimental Research
Write descriptions for the following topics in your own words.
Development of psychology as an empirical science
1.1 Define psychology as a discipline and identify its goals as a science.
- Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. The goals of psychology are to describe, explain, predict, and control the behaviors and mental processes of both humans and animals.
- Psychology needed time to consolidate and so took a while to emerge as a scientific discipline. Wilhelm Wundt developed the first psychology lab in 1879.
Major subfields within psychology
- 2.1 Discuss the value of both basic and applied psychological research with human and non-human animals.
- Basic research in psychology typically refers to theory-driven, hypothesis-testing science driven by a quest for fundamental understanding. Applied psychology is motivated more by a desire to solve practical problems and to move the fruits of our scientific labor into the real world.
- Research with nonhuman animals occupies a central and essential role in psychology. … Making the connections among animal studies, scientific progress, and advances in human health is the critical foundation for public understanding of why animal research is valuable.
- 2.2 Describe the major subfields of psychology.
- 2.3 Identify the important role psychology plays in benefiting society and improving people’s lives.
- Essentially, psychology helps people in large part because it can explain why people act the way they do. With this kind of professional insight, a psychologist can help people improve their decision making, stress management and behavior based on understanding past behavior to better predict future behavior
Research methods and measurements used to study behavior and mental processes
- 3.1 Describe the scientific method and its role in psychology.
- Psychologists use the scientific method to conduct their research. The scientific method is a standardized way of making observations, gathering data, forming theories, testing predictions, and interpreting results. Researchers make observations in order to describe and measure behavior.
- 3.2 Describe and compare a variety of quantitative (e.g., surveys, correlations, experiments) and qualitative (e.g., interviews, narratives, focus groups) research methods.
- Qualitative research identifies abstract concepts while quantitative research collects numerical data. But the substantial difference is in the type of action applied and in the size of the sample (respondents).
- 3.3 Define systematic procedures used to improve the validity of research findings, such as external validity.
- Internal and external validity are concepts that reflect whether or not … Internal validity depends largely on the procedures of a study and how rigorously it is performed. … for some characteristic (such as age), reweighting might be used. … implications in terms of whether the results of a study have meaning.
- 3.4 Discuss how and why psychologists use nonhuman animals in research.
- There are important ethical and scientific reasons why animals are sometimes used in psychological and behavioral research. Although human subjects are used in most behavioral studies, there is potentially valuable research that cannot be done with humans. One example is research on drug addiction. Drugs are administered to animals in an effort to discover the behavioral and physical basis of addiction. This preliminary research cannot be done ethically with human subjects.
- Animals are typically used when time requirements, risk, or other conditions make it impossible to use humans. For example, some investigations into the process of aging are not practical with humans, who live 75 to 80 years. Scientists may get deeper insight into some aspects of aging by studying rats, which live an average of two years, or monkeys which live 15 to 20 years, because the shorter life span yields crucial data on aging in a much shorter time.
- Other experiments may require large numbers of subjects of the same size, weight, or genetic make-up, or may restrict subjects to special diets or confine them to a particular environment or set of events. Studies of this sort would not be possible with humans.
Ethical issues in research with human and non-human animals
- 4.1 Identify ethical standards psychologists must address regarding research with human participants.
- APA’s Ethics Code mandates that psychologists who conduct research should inform participants about: The purpose of the research, expected duration and procedures.
- Researchers must ensure that those taking part in research will not be caused distress. They must be protected from physical and mental harm. This means you must not embarrass, frighten, offend or harm participants.
- 4.2 Identify ethical guidelines psychologists must address regarding research with nonhuman animals.
- APA’s 2002 Ethics Code, which takes effect June 1, mandates that psychologists who use animals in research: Acquire, care for, use and dispose of animals in compliance with current federal, state and local laws and regulations, and with professional standards
Basic concepts of data analysis
- 5.1 Define descriptive statistics and explain how they are used by psychological scientists.
- Descriptive statistics employs a set of procedures that make it possible to meaningfully and accurately summarize and describe samples of data. In order for one to make meaningful statements about psychological events, the variable or variables involved must be organized, measured, and then expressed as quantities.
- 5.2 Define forms of qualitative data and explain how they are used by psychological scientists.
- Although this method is by far the most common approach to conducting … and sociology but is now used to study many psychological topics as well. … In qualitative research using grounded theory, researchers start with the data .
- 5.3 Define correlation coefficients and explain their appropriate interpretation.
- Correlation coefficients describe the strength and direction of an association between variables. A Pearson correlation is a measure of a linear association between 2 normally distributed random variables. A Spearman rank correlation describes the monotonic relationship between 2 variables.
- 5.4 Interpret graphical representations of data as used in both quantitative and qualitative methods.
- Quantitative data is information about quantities; that is, information … A scatter plot is a graph in which the values of two variables are … Represented through pictures that explore the data in a visual way; Visual representations focus on … A word cloud is an image composed of words used in a particular …
- 5.5 Explain other statistical concepts, such as statistical significance and effect size.
- Power Analysis, Statistical Significance, & Effect Size … What is power? … will find a statistically significant difference when such a difference actually exists. In other words, power is the probability that you will reject the null hypothesis when you … to the concept, 2) a more thorough guide to effect size, which explains how to …
- 5.6 Explain how validity and reliability of observations and measurements relate to data analysis.
- Reliability refers to the extent that the instrument yields the same results over multiple trials. Validity refers to the extent that the instrument measures what it was designed to measure. … Construct validity uses statistical analyses, such as correlations, to verify the relevance of the questions.
Major Assignments and Deadlines
- First day of class. Monday, August 3.
- Participation. Make a minimum of 2 original discussion posts and 2 responses to your classmates. Due Saturday, August 8, at midnight.
- Participate. Make a minimum of 2 original comments or discussion posts and 2 responses to someone else
- Watch the Unit 1 Videos.
- Study the Unit 1 Slides.
- Review the Unit 1 Resources.
- Review the Unit 1 Study Guide.
- Take 2 Quizzes
- Quiz 1: Introduction to Psychology
- Quiz 2: Research Methods
- Take the Unit Exam due Sunday, August 9, at midnight.
- Models of scientific inquiry. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved June 3, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Models_of_scientific_inquiry
- Heffner, Dr. Christopher L. (2001, April 1). Psychology 101. All Psych. https://allpsych.com/psychology101/
- Dewey, Dr. Russell A. (2017). Psychology: An Introduction. Psych Web. https://www.psywww.com/intropsych/
- The American Psychological Association’s Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (APA TOPSS) course template.
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