17: Research I • Looking for Laws/Looking for
Last updated: October 2, 2021
Questions from 1st Week of Course (Remember, all of the answers were FALSE)
How would you research any of these questions?
- #1 Do lie detectors work, that is, can we figure out who is lying and who isn't with a polygraphy?
- #2 Does the full moon cause people to do strange and abnormal things?
- #3 Does listening to Mozart music make infants smarter?
- #4 Do people with opposite personalities attract each other?
What would you need to do to answer these questions?
Goals of science are
1 Measurement & Description of some phenomenon (good but not yet enough)
2. Understanding & Prediction = Lawfulness
3. Application of Laws & Control (Doing something with the laws)
Theory in science ≠ "theory" in ordinary language
- In ordinary language, theory means a kind of "educated guess"
- In science, theory means a well-tested explanation which successfully predicts the phenomenon under review
- All of these are scientific theories: Heliocentrism (Sun is center and Earth revolves around the Sun), aerodynamics, gravity, germ theory of disease, evolution, Special Relativity of Einstein (E = MC^2, i.e., matter can be converted to matter and vice versa), plate techtonics (surface of the Earth floats on core), etc.
- Any scientific law must be "testable" or it is not scientific
- Science is NOT "proving something is true" but attempting to show something (hypothesis) is false
Steps in a Scientific Investigation
1. Formulate a Testable Hypothesis (that is, some reality we claim is true)
Question: Are science faculty subconsciously biased against women?
Hypothesis: Science faculty members ARE subconsciously biased against women.
- operational definition (= we specify how we will measure some concept)
- what do we mean by "bias"?
- Operational definition = how we measure bias
2. Select the Research Method & Design the Study
- Case Study?
- Naturalistic Observation?
3. Collect the Data
- Record how each subject completes the same task(s)
- Direct Observation
- Questionnaire (Survey)
- Psychological Test
- Physiological Recording
- Examining Archival Records
4. Analyze the Data & Draw Conclusions
- Statistics analyze numbers: how much of a difference has to be there for it to be a real difference?
- Qualitative approaches analyze non-numerical data (e.g., themes, etc.)
5. Report the Findings
- Scientific journals, for example, in APA Journals
- Books, etc.
Advantages of a Scientific Approach to Research
- Clarity & precision (not vague or ambiguous)
- Intolerance of error
B. Looking for Causes: Experimental ResearchWhat is an experiment? A research approach in which the investigator controls the conditions under which research subjects or participants experience variables. In an experiment, the research subjects experience identical (or standard) conditions except for the variable under review.
Hypothesis: Science faculty members ARE subconsciously biased against women
Moss-Racusin et al. (2012)
A. Types of Variables
- Independent = Controlled by Investigator
- Dependent = Depends on what happens to the participant
- Independent => Identical application for a laboratory manager position except for name of applicant which is the independent variable (name = gender)
- Male name = John vs. Female name = Jennifer
- Dependent => Participants would read application and then rate the candidate on these dependent variables:
- Competence: How competent? (on a scale of 1 to 7)
- Hireability: How likely would you be to hire this applicant? (on a scale of 1 to 7)
- Mentoring: How willing would you be to mentor this applicant (on a scale of 1 to 5)
- Salary: What would you suggest be the starting salary (in a range between $15,000 and $50,000)
B. Types of Groups in an Experiment
In this science faculty member experiment, the control group might actually be considered those who received the male name, i.e., if we are looking if females are treated differently, the male name group would be the standard against which to judge. Thus, the experimental group would be those who got the female name, i.e., we want to see if they will rate the candidate differently than the control group.
- On each of these dependent variables, there is a significant difference between ratings given male vs. female applicants. Females are always rated below males. The hypothesis is supported.
- Female & male faculty raters did not differ in their overall pattern of ratings.
C. Problems in an Experiment
- Extraneous variables: two variables are competing to explain the outcome: one is acknowledged, the other ignored
- Confounding variable: one variable is actually linked to another variable, but that link is not acknowledged
- Choosing an Experimental Group
- Need for random assignment of subjects so that groups being compared are equal
D. Types of Design
- One (1) Independent Variable
- Two (2) Independent Variables
- More than 2 independent variables (unusual to have more than 2 IVs)
E. Advantages & Disadvantages of Experiments
Advantage: Powerful: Cause & Effect can be isolated
Disadvantage: Some or even many variables can't be manipulated for practical or ethical reasons