A true experiment with random assignment of research participants sometimes called subjects to rival conditions allows researchers to make strong inferences about causal relationships. When there are large numbers of research participants, the random assignment also called random allocation of those participants to rival conditions ensures that the individuals in those conditions will, on average, be similar on most characteristics, including characteristics that went unmeasured.
In an experiment, the researcher alters one or more variables of influence, called independent variables , and measures resulting changes in the factors of interest, called dependent variables. Prototypical experimental research is conducted in a laboratory with a carefully controlled environment. A quasi-experiment refers to a situation in which there are rival conditions under study but random assignment to the different conditions is not possible.
Investigators must work with preexisting groups of people. Researchers can use common sense to consider how much the nonrandom assignment threatens the study's validity. Psychologists will compare the achievement of children attending phonics and whole language classes and, perhaps, statistically adjust for any initial differences in reading level. Experimental researchers typically use a statistical hypothesis testing model which involves making predictions before conducting the experiment, then assessing how well the data collected are consistent with the predictions.
These predictions are likely to originate from one or more abstract scientific hypotheses about how the phenomenon under study actually works. Surveys are used in psychology for the purpose of measuring attitudes and traits , monitoring changes in mood , and checking the validity of experimental manipulations checking research participants' perception of the condition they were assigned to.
Psychologists have commonly used paper-and-pencil surveys. However, surveys are also conducted over the phone or through e-mail. Web-based surveys are increasingly used to conveniently reach many subjects. Observational studies are commonly conducted in psychology. In cross-sectional observational studies, psychologists collect data at a single point in time.
The goal of many cross-sectional studies is the assess the extent factors are correlated with each other. By contrast, in longitudinal studies psychologists collect data on the same sample at two or more points in time. Sometimes the purpose of longitudinal research is to study trends across time such as the stability of traits or age-related changes in behavior.
Because some studies involve endpoints that psychologists cannot ethically study from an experimental standpoint, such as identifying the causes of depression, they conduct longitudinal studies a large group of depression-free people, periodically assessing what is happening in the individuals' lives.
In this way psychologists have an opportunity to test causal hypotheses regarding conditions that commonly arise in people's lives that put them at risk for depression. Problems that affect longitudinal studies include selective attrition , the type of problem in which bias is introduced when a certain type of research participant disproportionately leaves a study.
Exploratory data analysis refers to a variety of practices that researchers use to reduce a great many variables to a small number overarching factors. In Peirce's three modes of inference , exploratory data analysis corresponds to abduction. A classic and popular tool used to relate mental and neural activity is the electroencephalogram EEG , a technique using amplified electrodes on a person's scalp to measure voltage changes in different parts of the brain.
Hans Berger , the first researcher to use EEG on an unopened skull, quickly found that brains exhibit signature "brain waves": electric oscillations which correspond to different states of consciousness. Researchers subsequently refined statistical methods for synthesizing the electrode data, and identified unique brain wave patterns such as the delta wave observed during non-REM sleep.
Newer functional neuroimaging techniques include functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography , both of which track the flow of blood through the brain. These technologies provide more localized information about activity in the brain and create representations of the brain with widespread appeal.
They also provide insight which avoids the classic problems of subjective self-reporting. It remains challenging to draw hard conclusions about where in the brain specific thoughts originate—or even how usefully such localization corresponds with reality. However, neuroimaging has delivered unmistakable results showing the existence of correlations between mind and brain. Some of these draw on a systemic neural network model rather than a localized function model.
Psychiatric interventions such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and drugs also provide information about brain—mind interactions. Psychopharmacology is the study of drug-induced mental effects. Computational modeling is a tool used in mathematical psychology and cognitive psychology to simulate behavior. Since modern computers process information quickly, simulations can be run in a short time, allowing for high statistical power. Modeling also allows psychologists to visualize hypotheses about the functional organization of mental events that couldn't be directly observed in a human.
Computational neuroscience uses mathematical models to simulate the brain. Another method is symbolic modeling, which represents many mental objects using variables and rules. Other types of modeling include dynamic systems and stochastic modeling. Animal experiments aid in investigating many aspects of human psychology, including perception, emotion, learning, memory, and thought, to name a few. In the s, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov famously used dogs to demonstrate classical conditioning.
Non-human primates, cats, dogs, pigeons, and rats and other rodents are often used in psychological experiments. Ideally, controlled experiments introduce only one independent variable at a time, in order to ascertain its unique effects upon dependent variables. These conditions are approximated best in laboratory settings. In contrast, human environments and genetic backgrounds vary so widely, and depend upon so many factors, that it is difficult to control important variables for human subjects.
There are pitfalls, however, in generalizing findings from animal studies to humans through animal models. Comparative psychology refers to the scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of non-human animals, especially as these relate to the phylogenetic history, adaptive significance, and development of behavior.
Research in this area explores the behavior of many species, from insects to primates. It is closely related to other disciplines that study animal behavior such as ethology. Qualitative research is often designed to answer questions about the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals. Qualitative research involving first-hand observation can help describe events as they occur, with the goal of capturing the richness of everyday behavior and with the hope of discovering and understanding phenomena that might have been missed if only more cursory examinations are made.
Qualitative psychological research methods include interviews, first-hand observation, and participant observation. Creswell identified five main possibilities for qualitative research, including narrative, phenomenology, ethnography , case study , and grounded theory. Qualitative researchers  sometimes aim to enrich our understanding of symbols, subjective experiences, or social structures. Sometimes hermeneutic and critical aims can give rise to quantitative research, as in Erich Fromm 's application of psychological and sociological theories, in his book Escape from Freedom , to understanding why many ordinary Germans supported Hitler.
Just as Jane Goodall studied chimpanzee social and family life by careful observation of chimpanzee behavior in the field, psychologists conduct naturalistic observation of ongoing human social, professional, and family life. Sometimes the participants are aware they are being observed, and other times the participants do not know they are being observed. Strict ethical guidelines must be followed when covert observation is being carried out.
Program Evaluation involves the systematic collection, analysis, and application of information to answer questions about projects, policies and programs, particularly about their effectiveness. While program evaluation first focuses on effectiveness, important considerations often include how much the program costs per participant, how the program could be improved, whether the program is worthwhile, whether there are better alternatives, if there are unintended outcomes, and whether the program goals are appropriate and useful.
Metascience involves the application of scientific methodology to study science itself. The field of metascience has revealed problems in psychological research. Some psychological research has suffered from bias ,  problematic reproducibility ,  and misuse of statistics. Fanelli argued that this is because researchers in "softer" sciences have fewer constraints to their conscious and unconscious biases.
A replication crisis in psychology has emerged. Many notable findings in the field have not been replicated. Some researchers were even accused of publishing fraudulent results. Focus on the replication crisis has led to other renewed efforts in the discipline to re-test important findings.
The collaborators regularly make their data openly available for different researchers to assess. Some critics view statistical hypothesis testing as misplaced. Psychologist and statistician Jacob Cohen wrote in that psychologists routinely confuse statistical significance with practical importance, enthusiastically reporting great certainty in unimportant facts.
In , Arnett pointed out that most articles in American Psychological Association journals were about U. He complained that psychologists had no basis for assuming psychological processes to be universal and generalizing research findings to the rest of the global population.
Arnett , Altmaier, and Hall and Morgan-Consoli et al. Moreover, their analysis showed that several studies did not fully disclose the origin of their samples; the authors offered a set of recommendations to editors and reviewers to reduce WEIRD bias.
Some observers perceive a gap between scientific theory and its application—in particular, the application of unsupported or unsound clinical practices. Ethical standards in the discipline have changed over time. Some famous past studies are today considered unethical and in violation of established codes the Canadian Code of Conduct for Research Involving Humans, and the Belmont Report.
The American Psychological Association has advanced a set of ethical principles and a code of conduct for the profession. The most important contemporary standards include informed and voluntary consent. Later, most countries and scientific journals adopted the Declaration of Helsinki. All of these measures encouraged researchers to obtain informed consent from human participants in experimental studies. A number of influential but ethically dubious studies led to the establishment of this rule; such studies included the MIT-Harvard Fernald School radioisotope studies , the Thalidomide tragedy , the Willowbrook hepatitis study , and Stanley Milgram's studies of obedience to authority.
Universities have ethics committees dedicated to protecting the rights e. University ethics committees evaluate proposed research to ensure that researchers protect the rights and well-being of participants; an investigator's research project cannot be conducted unless approved by such an ethics committee. This code has guided the formation of licensing laws in most American states.
It has changed multiple times over the decades since its adoption. In , the APA revised its policies on advertising and referral fees to negotiate the end of an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The incarnation was the first to distinguish between "aspirational" ethical standards and "enforceable" ones. Some of the ethical issues considered most important are the requirement to practice only within the area of competence, to maintain confidentiality with the patients, and to avoid sexual relations with them.
Another important principle is informed consent , the idea that a patient or research subject must understand and freely choose a procedure they are undergoing. Research on other animals is also governed by university ethics committees. Research on nonhuman animals cannot proceed without permission of the ethics committee of the researcher's home institution. Current ethical guidelines state that using non-human animals for scientific purposes is only acceptable when the harm physical or psychological done to animals is outweighed by the benefits of the research.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Phycology , Physiology , or Psychiatry. For the album, see Psychology album. For the short story, see Psychology short story. For the Pet Shop Boys song, see Psychological song. Study of mental functions and behaviours. Basic types. Applied psychology. Main article: History of psychology. See also: List of psychology organizations.
Main article: Cognitive neuroscience. Main articles: Behaviorism , Psychological behaviorism , and Radical behaviorism. Play media. Main article: Cognitive psychology. Main article: Social psychology. See also: Social psychology sociology. Main articles: Psychodynamics and psychoanalysis. Main articles: Existential psychology and Humanistic psychology. Main article: Personality psychology. Main article: Motivation. Main article: Developmental psychology. Main article: Behavioral genetics.
Further information: Outline of psychology , List of psychology disciplines , Applied psychology , and Subfields of psychology. See also: Psychometrics and social statistics. See also: Clinical psychology. Main articles: Educational psychology and School psychology.
See also: Industrial and organizational psychology and Organizational behavior. See also: Health psychology , Social issues , Industrial and organizational psychology , and Occupational health psychology. Main articles: Psychological research and List of psychological research methods. Main article: Experiment. See also: Computational cognition , Graph theory , and Network theory. Further information: Misuse of statistics and Misuse of p-values. For other uses, see Weird. See also: Cultural psychology , Indigenous psychology , Transnational psychology , and Cross-cultural psychology.
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