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48 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

Difference between empirical and non-empirical methods of knowing about behaviour?

Empirical is based on experience. Non-empirical is based on authority and logic (has limitations)

When is logic not a good way of knowing the truth?

When it assumes something

2 basic limitations of common sense as a way of knowing

1) Standards of common sense (they differ from time to time, place to place, based on attitudes/culture

2) Only criterion common sense judges the truth by is whether it works

How do common sense and science differ?

Science can be counterintuitive/going against common sense

What is science?

A way of obtaining knowledge by means of objective observations

Characteristics of science (7)

Empirical Parsiomonious

Objective Concerned with theory




Remember: P.O.P.S.T.E.C.

Working assumptions of science (5)

-The Reality, Rationality, and Regularity of the Real world.

-Discoverability of how the world works

-Operation of causality

**See the extended explanation in the notes

Criteria for establishing cause and effect (3)

1) The cause must come before the effect

2) When the cause is present, the effect happens

3) There is no probable/possible explanation for the effect except the cause

Goals of science (2)

Discover regularities

Develop theories

3 processes in the discovery of regularities

1) Description of behaviour (describe the phenomenon considered important to be examined)

2) Discovery of laws (identifying regularities among behavioural events)

3) Search for causes (scientists search for the causes of events that we observe)

What is law? Give one example

A statement that certain events are regularly associated with each other in an orderly way.

i.e. The frustration-aggression law states that frustration causes aggression.

What is a theory? (Broad and strict definitions)

Broad: A statement or set of statements about the relationships among variables

Strict: ...that includes at least one concept that is not directly observed but that is necessary to explain these relationships

According to Sir. Karl Popper, can a theory be proven true?

No. It can never be proven true because there are many false theories that can predict any given outcome.

We try to disprove theories, but they can never be considered totally true.

What roles do theories play in science? (3)

-Organizing knowledge and explaining laws

-Predicting new laws

-Guiding research

What is a hypothesis?

A statement assumed to be true for the purpose of testing its validity. Tests both laws and theories together.

What is an operational definition?

Statement of what the experimenter did to define learning.

What is a paradigm?

A set of laws, theories, methods, and applications that form a scientific tradition.

i.e. Pavlovian condition.

How are variables related to theoretical concepts?

Variables are tangible. Theoretical concepts are intangible. They are related by means of the operational definition used to measure the concepts.

Dependent variables

A measure of the subject's behaviour that reflects the independent variable's effects

(What the subject does back)

Independent variables

The condition manipulated or selected by the experimenter to determine its effect on behaviour

(What the researcher does to the subject)

Quantitative variables


Categorical variables

Quantitative: vary in amount (i.e. speed of response, loudness)

Categorical: varies in kind (i.e. gender, age)

Continuous variables


Discrete variables

Continuous: fall on a continuum and cant be limited to a certain number of values (i.e. latency, duration, force)

Discrete: falls into seperate bins with no intermediate values possible (i.e. number of objects)


The process of assigning numbers to events or objects according to rules

Four types of measurement scales


Nominal: classifies objects/events into categories

Ordinal: ranks objects/events in order of their magnitude

Interval: the differences between numbers are meaningful (includes nominal and ordinal)

Ratio: has a meaningful zero point, as well as meaningful differences between numbers on the scale

4 types of validity in relation to tests and measurement


Construct: test should measure whatever theoretical construct it supposedly tests

Face: test should appear superficially to test what it is supposed to

Criterion: should correlate with other measures of the same theoretical concept being tested

Content: should sample the range of behavior represented by the theoretical concept being tested

Reliability of a test or measure

The property of consistency of a measurement that gives the same result on different occasions

Types of reliability of measures

Test-retest: degree to which the same test score would be obtained on another occasion

Internal: degree to which the various items on a test are measures of the same thing

Internal validity of research

Extent to which a study provides evidence of a cause-effect relationship between the independent and dependent variables


Error that occurs when the effects of 2 variables in an experiment cannot be separated, resulting in a confused interpretation of the results.

(One of the biggest threats to validity)

Construct validity of research

Extent to which the results support the theory behind the research

External validity in research

How well the findings of an experiment generalize to other situations or populations

Statistical conclusion validity

Extent to which data are shown to be the result of cause and effect relationships rather than accident

3 major threats to internal validity

1) Ambiguous temporal precedence (not clear which variable is the, which is the effect)

2) History (events occuring outside the experiment that could influence the results)

3) Maturation (error in experiment because of the amount of time that has passed)

What is the regression effect? When does it arise?

Tendency of subjects with extreme scores on a first measure to score closer to the mean on the second testing. Arises when there is some error associated with the measurement of the variable.

What is mortality? When is it a threat to internal validity?

Dropping out of some subjects before an experiment is completed.

It is a threat because the participants who drop out may be different than the ones that remain in the experiment.

Describe 2 threats to construct validity

1) Loose connection between theory and method

2) Ambiguous effects of independent variable - participants misunderstood the purpose of the experiment

Describe 3 threats to external validity

1) Other subjects (subjects must be representative of some larger population)

2) Other times (would the results be the same if the experiment was done at a different time?)

3) Other settings (observations in one lab compared to another, or in real life)

2 types of bias resulting from interaction between subject and experimenter?

1) Role demands (participant's

expectations of what the experiment is requiring them to do)

2) Good subject tendency (subject acting the way they think the experimenter wants them to)

How can role demands be overcome?

-deceive the participants on the purpose of the experiment

-divide the experiment in a way that parts of the data are obtained in anther setting

What is experimenter bias? How can it be overcome?

Bias by the experimenter that may affect the way they conduct the experiment.

-Experimenter 'blind' to the conditions each subject experiences

-To standardize or automate the procedure as much as possible


Any means used to rule out threats to the internal validity of research

Control experiment


Experimental control

Control experiment: allows conclusion that a dependent variable is associated with an independent variable and not any other variable.

Experimental control: conclusion achieved by limited the number of variables operating in the situation and their range of values that the conclusion is clearer

Strategies for achieving control

1) Use a laboratory setting

2) Consider the research setting as a preparation

3) Instrumenting the response

Describe subject as own control. What are the limitations of this strategy?

Each participant experiences every condition of the experiment.

Limitations: once the subject has learned something, they can't unlearn it.

Once the subject has experienced one condition, effects may carry over and influence the response to the next condition.

What is random assignment? How can it be performed?

Unbiased assignment process that gives each subject and equal and independent chance of being placed in every condition.

-random number assignment

-computer generated randomizations

What is matching? When should it be done?

Matching: Control procedure where subjects are matched on some common variable before allocating them to experimental groups.

Use when there seems to be an important variable on which the subjects differ that can be controlled. Also must be able to conduct a pretest to allocate subjects into groups accordingly.

What are nuisance variables?

A condition in an experiment that cannot easily be removed, and so it is made an independent variable as a means of control.

What is replication? Describe 2 types.

Repeating an experiment to see if the results will be the same.

Direct: Repeating an identical experiment

Systematic: Researcher B says "if researcher A's theory is correct, then the following should happen" and so performs a different experiment based on the first one.