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Psychology And The Six Principles Of Scientific Thinking

Topics: Scientific method / Pages: 4 (1216 words) / Published: Mar 22nd, 2015
Psychology and the Six Principles of Scientific Thinking Psychology, as the scientific study of the human mind and its effect on human behavior, is a compound and intricate subject. It is equally as complex as the factors involved in determining human behavior itself. Behaviors are actions that are directly observable, while this is not true for mental processes. This makes it necessary for intricate and methodical data collection, so that a direct or indirect relationship between mind and body can be theorized. A consistent method of analyzing observations of human behavior can be attributed to the Six Principles of Scientific Thinking: Extraordinary claims, Falsifiability, Occam’s razor, Replicability, Ruling out Rival Hypothesis, and Correlation versus Causation.
Extraordinary claims is a principle that expands to note that any extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence before being indorsed. For instance, the statement, “All human beings are inherently good” is an extraordinary claim. This claim would require data collected from every human being on earth bearing evidence of inherent goodness; this degree of evidence would be considered ‘extraordinary’.
This principle is important to utilize while thinking about human behavior because it prevents over reactions to certain behaviors. In an occasion, for instance, of a person who were to commit a horrific murder, sentencing would be determined upon his state of mind during the act. If he has normal, or ordinary, brain functioning then it would yield him to a more severe punishment. However in the case that he has abnormal, or extraordinary, brain functioning then the court would require proof of that – extraordinary evidence of extraordinary mental process’ would yield the criminal to sentencing fit for someone considered to be ‘crazy.’ The Falsifiability Principle of Scientific Thinking is a protective measure, if you will. It prevents the acceptance of claims that are too extraordinary to disprove.
“It could’ve been that he went ballistic and murdered that little girl because he is possessed by an evil spirit,” is certainly a creative claim, however there is no conceivable way to disprove the presence of an evil spirit. Thus, it would be not be considered as falsifiable.
Utilizing falsifiability is important to psychological studies in that it prevents extraordinary claims to be explained with a cause that is too extraordinary to be disproven. Ockham’s razor is a principle which cuts straight to the basic, most simple explanation of human behavior before turning to the more complex theories for testing. It is also written in Latin as “lex parsimoniae,” or is otherwise known as the law of parsimony. This thrifty law relieves the burden of showing proof by advising that one should first look to the simplest theory before proceeding to the theory which would require additionally outstanding evidence. Regarding human behavior, the purpose of utilizing Occam’s Razor is similar to that of Extraordinary Claims in that it prevents over reaction and allows us to look at the simplest explanation prior to asserting extra efforts in a more theory. On May 8th, 2013, Marlon Brown was pulled over by an officer of the DeLand, FL police department. Brown refused to stop and ran on foot. The officer chased him in the car and subsequently hit and killed Brown. Krystal Brown, the victim’s wife, proceeded to claim that the policeman intentionally murdered her husband for running. Jumping to the conclusion that it is a murder does not utilize the principle of Occam’s razor given that our justice system instills the rule of “Innocence until proven guilty”. It is much simpler to assume that it was a mistake and then determine a murder while trying to falsify that it is an accident (officer.com/news). As we know, theories of Psychology are based upon observation of behavior, the data collection of that behavior, the testing process, and the outcome of that process. Replicability is another important Principle of Scientific Thinking in that it allows scientists to detect an error within the process of determining the conclusion to a theory. It allows psychologists to detect abnormalities in human behavior or errors in scientific process before accrediting a claim with authority. Psychologists and Psychiatrists detect psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia, by performing standardized tests which have been deemed credible by maintaining the Principle of Replicability. If a study on human behavior is done in a methodical process and is then repeated, then the outcome of the repeated study should reflect the outcome of the first study; they should be the same. In the case that the outcomes vary, the lack of replicability tells psychologists that there is an error in the process or theory. An error calls for a review. “Think outside of the box,” some say. In thinking outside of the box we can conclude more than the literal value of this statement. When we think outside of the box, so to speak, we can come up with a list of hypothesis to explain a single behavior which is the basis of the Principle of Ruling out Rival Hypothesis. The Ruling out Rival Hypothesis Principle can be applied by asking whether or not the claim may be explained alternatively and whether these alternative explanations have been addressed and excluded.
For example, a woman is observed standing on the side of the street with her arms up in the air making unclear exclamations toward the sky and the observer can theorize many things from this; either she is thanking ‘God’ for something marvelous, begging God to relive her of distress, or not even addressing a God (or God’s) whatsoever. From this point the rival hypothesis’ could be ruled out simply, in this case, by merely asking the woman what she is doing. The best example of recently circulating media lacking the principle of ruling out rival hypothesis is the buzz about Miley Cyrus and her promiscuous performances of late. Nearly every article presenting this hype has ridiculed her, saying that she is rebelling and not thinking about her original fan base (as a Disney-born Star). However, no one seemed to hypothesize that she is simply being creatively artistic or even working hard to gain publicity for her new singles (dailymail.co.uk). Correlation versus causation is the principle that presents correlation as a different relationship than a causal relationship. It is the difference between two or more factors being related to each other because of a common factor, and one or more factors being the actual result of other factors. An example of correlation can be illustrated as an observation finding that many women go to a tanning salon on days that many men report craving chocolate does not mean that men crave chocolate as a cause of women visiting the tanning salon. Nor does it mean that women visit the tanning salon simply because men crave chocolate. Two low-profile celebs, Dennis White and Cherie Johnson, were pulled over by police on their way to Myrtle Beach, SC and claimed they were ‘racially profiled’; they reported to have been asked some nonrelative questions such as, “How long have you known each other? How long have you been dating?” While there is a definite correlation between classic racial profiling, the skin color of both parties, and unless proven otherwise, there is not necessarily a causation involved (scnow.com/news). In conclusion, these six principles stand to protect the liability of flaccid theories.

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