[Home]   PSY 101    [Psychology Images]   Class 17: Research I Looking for Laws/Looking for Causes  [OUTLINE]
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?

What would you need to do to answer these questions?

A. Looking for Laws: The Scientific Approach to Behavior

Goals of science are

1 Measurement & Description of some phenomenon (good but not yet enough)

2. Understanding & Prediction = Lawfulness

  • Hypotheses
  • Variables

3. Application of Laws & Control (Doing something with the laws)

Theory in science ≠ "theory" in ordinary language

[Theories of Aerodynamics & Germs/Disease]

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.

2. Select the Research Method & Design the Study

  • Experiment?

Non-Experimental Methods

  • Case Study? 
  • Naturalistic Observation? 
  • Survey? 
Participants (subjects)

3. Collect the Data

  • Record how each subject completes the same task(s)
  • Direct Observation
  • Questionnaire (Survey)
  • Interview
  • 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
  • Conferences
  • Books, etc. 

 Advantages of a Scientific Approach to Research

B. Looking for Causes: Experimental Research

What 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

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.


[Moss-Racusin results]
  • 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

D. Types of Design

E. Advantages & Disadvantages of Experiments

Advantage: Powerful: Cause & Effect can be isolated
Disadvantage: Artificial
Disadvantage: Some or even many variables can't be manipulated for practical or ethical reasons