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Chapter 01 - Thinking Critically with Psychological Science

The Scientific Attitude
  • Scientific approach that is skeptical and open-minded
  • To shift away from illusions to reality, one must use Smart thinking or critical thinking: thinking that does not blindly accept things, but approaches with skepticism and examines the evidence carefully; Ask how did they know, on guts and instinct? Are the evidence biased?
  • However, must remember to have humility as too extreme would be stubbornness

The Limits of Intuition and Common Sense

  • Intuition often ends up nowhere
  • Tend to use a lot hindsight bias: tendency to believe that one would have known it after the results are shown;
  • Seems like common sense;  The answer was right there and look how obvious it was
  • Experience it usually when looking back on history; eg. Glen Clark and the fast ferries
  • Humans tend to be overconfident, think we know more than we actually do (probably result of self-serving bias)
  • Hindsight causes us to be overconfident as we believe we would have picked the answer when the results are in front of us

The Scientific Method

  • Scientific theory: explanation using set of principles to organise/predict observations
  • No matter how good theory sounds, must put it to test
  • Must imply testable prediction = hypothesis
  • Beware of bias when testing
  • Good experiment can be replicated: the experiment can be repeated and would yield constant results; done with a different group of people or by a different person ending with constant results
  • Theory useful if:
  1. effectively organises range of observations
  2. implies clear predictions
  • Case study: research method where one person is studied in depth to find universal principles (things that apply to all)
  • Drawback is that the individual being studied could be atypical, results not universally contained
  • Survey: research method to get the self-reported attitudes/behaviours of people
  • Looks at cases less depth and wording of question affects the response given (framing)Tend to hang around group similar to us so using them as study is wrong
  • False consensus effect: tendency to overestimate otherís agreement with us; eg. Vegetarians believe larger amount of pop. is vegetarian than meat-eaters
  • Population: all the cases in the group being studied
  • To make a good sample, use random sampling: sample that gives each case a good chance of being studied to ensure results within range
  • Naturalistic observation: observing and recording behaviour in natural settings with any control on situation
  • Like case study & survey,  doesnít explain behaviour
  • When finding a trait that accompanies another, not resulting effect, but correlation: the way 2 factors vary together and how well one predicts the other
  • Positive correlation: direct relationship where factors increase or decrease together
  • Negative correlation: inverse relationship where one factor goes up while one goes down
  • Does not explain cause, simply show relationship between factors
  • Illusory correlation: perceiving correlation when none exist; Notice random coincidences as not random, rather as correlated


  • To isolate cause & effect, conduct experiments
  • Experimental condition: condition that exposes subjects to treatment
  • Control condition: condition that serves as a comparison to see effects of treatment on experimental condition subjects
  • Use random assignment: assigning subjects to experimental/control groups randomly to ensure no bias
  • Independent variable: experimental factor being manipulated and studied (by itself, alone, no need to depend on something)  * x-axis
  • Dependent variable: experimental factor that depends on independent variable and changes in response to it * y- axis
  • Placebo: an inert substance/condition that maybe administered instead of a presumed active agent
  • Double-blind procedure: procedure in which the experimenter and the subject noth don't know which treatment is given

[ Critical Thinking ] Neuroscience ] Developing Child ] Adolescence ] Sensation ] Perseption ] Consciousness ] Learning ] Memory ] Thinking ] Inteligence ] Motivation ] Emotion ] Personality ] Psych Disorders ] Therapy ] Stress ] Social Psych ] Statistics ] Critical Thinking ]


Myers, David G., Psychology Fifth Edition. Worth Publishers, Inc. New York, NY ©1998



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