Biological Bases

Topics: Scientific method, Experiment, Research Pages: 8 (2371 words) Published: June 18, 2013
This section covers the following topics

Requirements for a good experiment/study
The types of research
Statistical methods for combining research
Section Summary

Research forms the foundation of psychology; much of what we know about psychology today is because of research. There are specific requirements for research. A study or experiment must be both reliable and valid, and the procedure should be ethical according to the American Psychology Association’s standards. Within psychology, there are multiple types of research: case studies, naturalistic observation, experiments, surveys, and more. Once research is completed, descriptive and inferential statistics help researchers to make sense of all of the data.


The Importance of Research

Psychology is based on research in its different forms and methods, and the way that a psychologist conducts research is important because it determines how trustworthy the conclusions of the research are.

There are two categories of research.

Applied research: Research that is done for a clear, practical purpose. For example, a study to determine whether breast-feeding is beneficial to children’s later intelligence is an example of applied research because it has an immediate practical use. Basic research: This builds psychology’s general knowledge base but has no immediate applications. For example, a study determining whether identical twins’ personalities are nature- or nurture-oriented is an example of basic research. Terminology

A theory (in psychology) is an idea that explains some aspect of human behavior and psychology. Theories give psychologists material for new, testable hypotheses. A theory may be supported or disproved through many research studies based on that theory.

A hypothesis is an idea that explains the relationship between two specific variables. A variable is an element that can vary, or change, among different people.

The independent variable is the variable that is being tested. A good way to remember this is that the “I”ndependent variable is the variable that “I” change. The dependent variable is the variable that the experimenter has no control over. In a study on whether or not eating breakfast in the morning makes one live longer, the independent variable is the act of eating breakfast and the dependent variable is the length of life. Confounding variables are differences between the experimental group and the control group that could affect the dependent variable. For example, a confounding variable in the breakfast experiment could be the exercise activity that each of the subjects engages in. Types of Research

Guidelines for Research

A good study must be both reliable and valid. Reliability means that the results are consistent. A reliable study can be repeated over and over again with the same results. On the other hand, a valid study measures what it was intended to measure.

One of the most important aspects of a study is the sampling method. The people who are involved in the experiment are the participants, and the process of choosing these participants is sampling. A sample should be representative of the population, or the larger group of people, from which they are chosen. The sample should be chosen through random selection, which means that each person has an equal chance of being selected. One type of sampling method is stratified sampling, in which the sample represents the population according to some criteria.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has established guidelines for human and animal research. Academic research and experiments must conform to the guidelines of the APA, and psychologists must first propose their study to the ethics board or institutional review board (IRB) of the APA. The guidelines are different for animal and human research. For human research, the guidelines are:

No coercion—people must volunteer for the experiment/be willing to be involved....
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