Unit II - Research Methods - pages 19-49

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APA Content Standard: Research Methods, Measurements, Statistics

After concluding this unit, students understand:
1. Research methods and measurements used to study behavior and mental processes
2. Ethical issues in research with human and non-human animals
3. Basic concepts of data analysis
Content Standard 1: Research methods and measurements used to study behavior and mental processes
1.1 Describe the scientific method and its role in psychology.
1.2 Describe and compare a variety of quantitative (e.g., surveys, correlations, experiments) and qualitative (e.g., interviews, narratives, focus groups) research methods.
1.3 Define systematic procedures used to improve the validity of research findings, such as external validity.
1.4 Discuss how and why psychologists use non-human animals in research.
Content Standard 2: Ethical issues in research with human and non-human animals
2.1 Identify ethical standards psychologists must address regarding research with human participants.
2.2 Identify ethical guidelines psychologists must address regarding research with non-human animals.
Content Standard 3: Basic concepts of data analysis
3.1 Define descriptive statistics and explain how they are used by psychological scientists.
3.2 Define forms of qualitative data and explain how they are used by psychological scientists.
3.3 Define correlation coefficients and explain their appropriate interpretation.
3.4 Interpret graphical representations of data as used in both quantitative and qualitative methods.
3.5 Explain other statistical concepts, such as statistical significance and effect size.
3.6 Explain how validity and reliability of observations and measurements relate to data analysis.

Key Terms

Hindsight bias Random assignment
Critical thinking Double-blind procedure
Theory Placebo effect
Hypothesis Experimental group
Operational definition Control group
Replication Independent variable
Case study Confounding variable
Survey Dependent variable
Population Mode
Random sample Mean
Naturalistic observation Median
Correlation Range
Correlation coefficient Standard Deviation
Scatter plot Normal curve
Illusory correlation Statistical significance


Once you are one the PsychSim Website, find and complete the following labs:
PsychSim Lab Title
PsychSim Lab Questions
Descriptive Statistics

Statistics: Correlation

What's wrong with this study?

Scientific Method

Cards - intro - are you psychic?

Hurdles that skew our logic:

  • Hindsight Bias
The tendency to believe, after learning the outcome, that you knew it all along
“I knew it all along”
“Out of sight, out of mind”
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”
  • Overconfidence
We tend to think we know more than we do
Together with hindsight bias, can lead to overestimate our intuition

Critical Thinking: Smart Thinking

  1. Examines assumptions
  2. Discerns hidden values
  3. Evaluates evidence
  4. Assesses conclusions

Logic - what do we do with witches?

An example of how logic can be used to reach a popular yet invalid conclusion.

Identify the Control and Variables with the Simpsons

Practice Identifying the Variables

Methods of Research

Poorly worded surveys

Data Interpretation - Statistics

Stats on the web handout

Practice with Harry Potter!

Skew: How to Memorize Negative and Positively Skewed Distributions

In this short clip of a fake newscast, we are given ways to memorize the difference between negative and positively skewed distributions. Can you come up with other mnemonic devices to help you remember statistical terms? Try coming up with one to remember the difference between nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio scales.


The headless professor defines correlation and practical aspects, such as the direction and magnitude of relationships. What is a positive correlation? A negative correlation? Which is a stronger correlation: -.68, .42, or .09? What does a +1.0, 0, and a -1.0 correlation indicate?

Statistical Significance

The headless professor continues from the previous lesson on correlation. He begins with identifying the four possible relationships that could explain an association between variables. Probability values are covered and how to interpret them. What are the four relationships that can explain an association between variables? What is the null hypothesis and why is it important? How is interpreting a probability value different from interpreting the strength of a correlation?


Lots of ethical violations in this experiment - list them!

Whats wrong with these studies?

Review of Research Methods

Day 1
Do Now: How do we know smoking causes cancer? (green spiral teacher book)
- Research in psychology vs intuition. Hurdles to logic
-Monty Python Logic clip
- Psych card tricks - from Teacher's Resource Binder
- Scientific method (Green spiral teacher book)
-HW: 25-30

Day 2
Do Now: Table 2.1 in book
- Debrief scientific method
- Types of research, pro/con, operational definitions
-Wording of survey questions demo (teachers resource binder)
- Observational demo, at lunch (teachers resource binder)
HW 31-36

Day 3
Do Now: Practice multiple choice questions
- Apply types of research - problems
- Practice identifying variables
- Nuts and Bolts demo
HW: 37-42

Day 4
Do Now: Prep for quiz, quiz on Unit 2
- Sampling - M&Ms demo
- Statistics - overview, notes
-Practice correlation problems
HW: finish unit 2 notes

Day 5
Do Now: 4 main ethical principles?
- Finish correlation and stats
- Ethical situations - apply
-HW: APA Unit 2 questions
First test: test on units 1 and 2