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The Application of Scientific Method in Psychology

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Hannah King

on 21 October 2013

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Transcript of The Application of Scientific Method in Psychology

The Application of Scientific Method in Psychology
Definition of a 'Science'
The word 'science' derives from the a Latin word meaning 'knowledge' - science therefore, is seem to be concerned with what we know to be true, rather than what we believe to be true.
The Scientific Method
Popper proposed t
he hypothetico-deductive method
- also known as
the scientific method.
This method allows some theories to be supported and others to be rejected, via the process of
hypothesis testing.
Validating Knowledge - PEER REVIEW
Psychological research is shared via publication in a journal.
Science is generally seen to be a trustworthy
body of knowledge
and the
method of obtaining that knowledge.
The Major Features of a 'Science'
OBJECTIVITY
Scientists aim to be objective i.e. conduct research that is free of opinion and bias.

REPLICABILITY
The ability to check and verify scientific information. It is essential that researchers provide details of how they conducted their investigations to ensure fairly easy and accurate replications.

THEORY CONSTRUCTION
Science aims to collect facts and use them to generate theories. Theories are used to explain and make predictions about behaviour.
USE OF EMPIRICAL METHODS
Science uses the empirical methods of observation and measurement that rely on direct sensory information.
The Hypothetic-Deductive Method
Researcher identifies a problem (from observations, previous research or just a commonsense idea)
A hypothesis is proposed (must be a prediction and testable)
A study is designed to test the hypothesis
The results are analysed to see if they support the hypothesis
Modify and repeat the process in light of whetehr the hypothesis was supporte or not
Develop a theory
Thomas Kuhn (1962) criticised Popper's view of how scientific knowledge progresses. Kuhn argued that even when a theory is falsified, the scientific communtiy still clings to it. This is because knowledge is part of an established and accepted paradigm.
Most sciences hinge around one way of seeing things called a paradigm and this one way dorects all the different types of research in the field-for example, believing the world is flat.
Only when enough refutbale evidene or alternate theories have been put forward will this change-resulting in a revolution or paradigm shift which moves science forward.
Is the Scientific Method appropriate for Psychology?
Some psychologist criticise using the scientific method because:
People cannot be studies in the same way as physical phenomena
- people interact with researcher; inanimate objects do not.
Conventional research tends to involve studyng people in artificial environments
- as a result, the behaviour that is observed in unnatural behaviour.
The scientific method emphasises control and therefore tries to study one variable in isolation.
Critics argue that this is impossible - for example, we cannpt study a person's memory in isolation from their feelings or past experiences.
The focus on empirical methods means that people are treated as passive participants
whereby their feelings or thoughts are ignored. This mkaes the data collected very superficail.
Some critics claim that objectivity is impossible
. The researcher cannot put aside their beliefs and values when designing a study or analysing the data from it.
A journal is a scientific publication which is produced on a regular basis and acts as a permanant record of research. There are many different scientific journals that are concerned with either very general topics or more specific topics.
Having a study published means that the scientific community has given it a seal of approval. In order to gain this approval, the study must go through a system of PEER REVIEW.
http://www.bps.org.uk/publications/journals/journals
WHAT IS PEER REVIEW?
Peer review is the process by which psychological research papers, before publication, are subjected to independant scrutiny by other psychologists who are experts in the same field. Peers consider the research in terms of its validity, significance and originality.
Peer review is central to validating new knowledge. It is important process throughout the whole of the scientfic community.
Is Psychology a Science?
Why is peer review important?
It is difficult for authors and researchers to spot every misatke in a piece of work. Showing the work to others increases the probability that weaknesses will be identified and addressed.
It helps to prevent the dessemination of irrelevant findings, unwarranted claims, unacceptable interpretation, personal views and deliberate fraud.
Peer reviewers also judge the quality and the significance of the research in a wider context.
This process ensures that published research can be taken seriously becasue it has been independantly scrutinised by fellow researchers.
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Research is conducted
Researcher prepares a manuscript of the study and sends it to a journal
Editor of the journal ends the manuscript to experts in the study's topic area. The experts undertake the peer review.
The experts assess all the aspects of all the study (e.g. the design, procedure, conclusions etc.) and then return the manuscript to the editor along with comments and recommendations.
Based on these comments and recommendations, the editor, not the peers, decides whether the research should be:
Accepted for publication
Revised and the re-submitted for peer review
Rejected
The Peer Review Process
Problems with Peer Review Validation
In a small number of cases, it does not detect fabrication or malpractise
Research that does not 'fit' with the previous work is often seen as suspect and can be rejected.
Peer review is subject to bias by the reviewer. There is some evidence of instituitional and gender bias.
Peer review tends to favour research which has supported the research hypothesis. This means that research that has rejected the research hypothesis tends to be discarded.
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