Senior Seminar Psychology Discussion

Building Thoughtful Research for an Original Study

A critical element of the study of psychology is that it is not the tools or location (lab or the boardroom) that makes it a science.  It is the approach by which knowledge is sought and obtained. In this discussion we are going to apply the principles of the scientific method to create studies that inspire us. 

To refresh, the guidelines of the scientific method are: 

  1. Observe the people and the world around you.
  2. Ask questions about the things that you see in the world around you.
  3. Look for information from within the empirical literature the provides insights towards understanding, or finding an answer for your questions.
  4. Develop testable hypotheses that address possible solution to the question you have developed.
  5. Conduct empirical research to test your hypothesis.
  6. Objectively evaluate results of your test.
  7. Compare your results with those that already exist within the empirical literature.
  8. Communicate your results. 

Employing the scientific method, psychologist generally pursue one of the following goals: 

  1. Description – providing a clear understanding of behaviors observed.
  2. Prediction – anticipating the occurrence of behaviors and their magnitude.
  3. Explanation – generating theories and models that move towards causal explanation of why behaviors happen in the manner that they do.
  4. Control – applying knowledge to influence outcomes. 

With the scientific method steps before us, and the types of goals we can pursue in mind, let’s jump in and design our studies.  ? 

Your Task: 

Part 1. Main Post 

Research Methods and Design:  Below you will find seven questions. Use these questions to create a brief description of a study you would enjoy designing if you had the time and resources. When preparing your answers to share with the class, please number and label each of the six questions.  Doing so will create a rhythm by which peer review and feedback is enhanced. 

  1. Observe and ask: What are you interested in studying? 
  2. Look for information: What does the empirical literature have to say on your topic of interest? Briefly describe, in four sentences or more, one empirical study pertaining to your topic. (cite and reference) 
  3. Hypothesis: What is your testable hypothesis? Present operational definitions for your independent and dependent variables. 
  4. Research Design: Provide a rough look at the inner workings of your research design.
    1. Participants: How many participants do you think you will need to establish a representative sample of your target population? (Why this number?)
    2. Who would you like to include in your sample?  (Explain.)
    3. Procedures:  Share an idea for procedures you could follow to test your hypothesis.
    4. What is one confounding variable you should plan for? 
  5. Ethics in Action: List two principles of ethics you must keep in mind while designing this study.  
  6. Class contributions to terminology: while preparing your answers to Items 1-6, what terms or concepts challenged you? Provide here one term, or concept, that felt rusty in its application.  Provide a link to a resource the explains, or defines that term.   

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