Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review of some basic concepts present in psychological science

Hindsight bias is also known as the ‘I knew it all along phenomenon.’  Once we know an outcome, we feel more confident that we knew what would happen.  Overconfidence can cause us to see what we want to see, therefore skewing results

A scientific attitude includes critical thinking, or not accepting conclusions blindly, but asking lots of questions and being investigative

Theory: explanation using an integrated set of principles that organizes and predicts observations, educated guess based on fact

Hypothesis: testable prediction

Operational definition – statement of procedures used to define research variables.  Allows others to replicate experiment

Case study: study of one individual in great depth. Strengths: intensive studies are sometimes very revealing. Weaknesses: individuals may be atypical, lead to false conclusions about a population

Survey: looks at many cases in less depth. Asks people to report behavior.  Strengths: lots of things can be inferred about a population.  Cons: wording affects results, samples are rarely perfectly representative, overgeneralizing/jumping to conclusions

Naturalistic observation: watching and recording the behavior of organisms in their environment.  Strengths: theoretically, no outside stimuli to skew results.  Cons: does not explain behavior, simply describes it

Correlation: concepts which are linked together, but which do not necessarily cause or influence one another

Measures of central tendency: mean (average score), median (middle score), mode (most common score)

Measures of variation: range (range of scores), standard deviation (measure of the standard distance of the normal distribution of scores from the mean)

Evolutionary psychology: study of how natural selection favored behavioral tendencies that contributed to the survival and spread of our ancestors genes

Behavior genetics: study of relative power and limits of genetic and environmental influences on behavior

Molecular genetics: the subfield of biology that studies the molecular structure and function of genes.

Fluid intelligence: ability to reason abstractly and with speed, declines in late adulthood

Crystallized intelligence: accumulated knowledge, verbal skills, grows with time

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