This week we made some more progress in our understanding of the strengths and limitations of the experimental method. The key ideas this week were:
- The placebo effect can complicate experimental research. You should understand what the placebo effect actually is.
- Ecological validity is when a study is so controlled or artificial that it does not predict what will happen in the real world under normal, non laboratory conditions.
- Ethics is an important consideration when designing an experiment. You should be able to discuss the role of each of the following ethical considerations: informed consent, no undue stress or harm, right to withdraw, anonymization and confidentiality, justification of deception and debriefing of the participants.
Speaking of ethics, watch this video on the latest Facebook experiment.
This week we learned a lot about psychological research. In particular, you should be talk about the following:
- What is meant by a null hypothesis? Why is it important?
- What is meant by the reliability and validity of a study?
- What are confounding variables? Intervening variables? How do they affect a study?
- What is self-reported data? What is meant by social desirability effect?
- What is meant by cross-cultural validity?
- How can the researcher affect a study? What is meant by researcher bias? Halo Effect? Screw You Effect? Expectancy Effect?
Still wondering about confounding variables? Watch this video as a review.
Next Monday we have a formative assessment to see how you are doing with all of this vocabulary. And this week we will learn a bit about statistics and how they help us to understand data. The fun just never ends in psychology!
This week we actually did quite a bit of new vocabulary. After these first two weeks, you should be able to explain the following concepts:
- When describing a study, we discuss the aim, procedure, results (findings) and implications.
- An experiment has a design – either an independent samples or repeated measures design.
- There are problems with using students as your participants. Remember YAVIS.
- Remember TEACUP when evaluating a theory.
- Theories are sometimes ethnocentric or androcentric.
- There are several different sampling methods: self-selected, purposive, stratified, opportunity haphazard, snowball or random.
To keep you thinking while you go off on your Week Without Walls, take a look at this video. Why do you think that Derren sometimes gets away with what he does?
A heartfelt welcome back! I hope that you all enjoyed your summer holidays and that you are ready to begin the study of psychology! A lot of psychology “took place” this summer. We saw violence break out in many parts of the world, Robin Williams committed suicide and Brazil felt a collective sense of shame as they lost the World Cup in a disastrous game with Germany. This year is all about learning about why people behave the way we do. I hope that you are ready to think critically about the issues in the world around us – everything from terrorism to mental illness; from how we learn to why we forget; from why we fall in and out of love and how we communicate. Psychology is a very broad field with a lot of cool research – and the field is one of the most dynamic and quickly developing. It is actually all very exciting.
You will need to get used to reading this blog. This blog is your “crutch” to get you through the course. You will find both required and extension readings here. You will also find a “Weekly summary” which should help to clarify and remind you of the learning goals of the week.
But for now, hold on tight. Here we go…..