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The Experimental Process & Ethical Guidelines

  • An Experiment is a controlled test of a hypothesis in which the researcher manipulates one variable to discover its effect on another
  • Psychological researchers rely on operational definitions and measurement in behavioral research
  • An hypothesis is a statement that attempts to predict an outcome within the confines of the experiment—how the manipulation of the independent variable changes the dependent variable
  • An Independent Variable is variable that an experimenter manipulates
  • A Dependent Variable is a variable than an experimenter predicts will be affected by manipulations of the independent variable
  • Extraneous Variables are conditions that a researcher wants to prevent from affecting the outcomes of the experiment
  • Random Selection is choosing subjects for the experiment without bias—often using a random number table or other randomizing procedure
  • Random Assignment is choosing which group, the experimental or control group each subject goes to
  • Randomness is a procedure that creates the attempt to limit bias and create representativeness
  • Single Blind Experiment is when only the subjects have no idea whether they get real treatment or placebo
  • A Double Blind Experiment is when the subjects AND the experimenters have no idea whether the subjects get real treatment or placebo
  • Placebo Effect is when changes in behavior that result from belief that one has ingested a drug or received a treatment
  • Ethical Issues in Research include the practice of no coercion-participation must be voluntary; Doctrine of “informed consent;” anonymity or confidentiality of participants; respecting dignity and welfare of human subjects; protection from physical or emotional risk—temporary discomfort ok, but not long-term harm; ability to withdraw at any time; and “debriefing”—done after experiment-explains true purpose of study and if any deceptions
  • Experimenting on Animals can be done but must have a clear scientific purpose, answer a specific, important scientific question with animals chosen must be best suited for the question and acquired legally

The Experimental Process & Ethical Guidelines

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  1. Intro
    • Objectives
    • Objectives, Cont.
    • The Experiment: Searching for Causes
    • An Experiment
    • Some Vocabulary
    • More Concepts
    • A Graphic Overview
    • If One Eats Peanuts, One Will Recall Better
    • Practice -- Caffeine and Memory
    • Practice -- Sleep and Reaction Time
    • Potential Biases
    • Evaluating Results in an Experiment
    • Placebo Effect
    • Ethics/Ethical Responsibility
    • Experimenting on Animals
    • Practice Questions
    • Practice Questions
    • Intro 0:00
    • Objectives 0:15
      • Describe how Research Design Drives the Reasonable Conclusions That Can Be Drawn (e.g. Experiments are Useful for Determining Cause And Effect; The Use of Experimental Controls Reduces Alternate Explanations
      • Identify Independent, Dependent, Confounding, and Control Variables In Experimental Designs
      • Distinguish Between Random Assignments of Participants to Conditions in Experiments and Random Selection of Participants, Primarily in Correlational Studies and Surveys
    • Objectives, Cont. 0:57
      • Predict the Validity of Behavioral Explanations Based on the Quality of Research Design (e.g., Confounding Variables Limit Confidence in Research Conclusions).
      • Discuss the Value of Reliance on Operational Definitions and Measurement in Behavioral Research
    • The Experiment: Searching for Causes 1:23
      • Experimental Variables
      • Experimental and Control Conditions
      • Experimenter Effects
      • Advantages and Limitations of Experiments
    • An Experiment 1:55
      • A Controlled Test of a Hypothesis in Which the Researcher Manipulates One Variable to Discover Its Effect on Another.
      • To Identify Cause-And-Effect Relationships, We Conduct Experiments
      • Disadvantages
    • Some Vocabulary 3:34
      • Hypothesis: A Statement That Attempts to Predict an Outcome Within the Confines of the Experiment -- How the Manipulation of the Independent Variable Changes the Dependent Variable. To Make It Easier, Put it In a Conditional Format, If, Then
      • Independent Variable: A Variable That an Experimenter Manipulates.
      • Dependent Variable: A Variable That an Experimenter Predicts Will Be Affected By Manipulations of the Independent Variable
      • Unwanted Variables -- Extraneous Variables: Conditions That a Researcher Wants To Prevent From Affecting The Outcomes of the Experiment (e.g., Number of Hours Slept Before the Experiment)
    • More Concepts 5:15
      • Random Selection -- Choosing Subjects for the Experiment Without Bias -- Often Using a Random Number Table or Other Randomizing Procedure
      • Random Assignment -- Choosing Which Group, The Experimental or Control Group Each Subject Goes To
      • Randomness is a Procedure That Creates the Attempt to Limit Bias and Create Representativeness
    • A Graphic Overview 8:31
      • Chart
    • If One Eats Peanuts, One Will Recall Better 12:06
      • Chart
    • Practice -- Caffeine and Memory 14:16
      • Chart
    • Practice -- Sleep and Reaction Time 17:29
      • Chart
    • Potential Biases 21:05
      • Experimenter Effects -- This is When The Experimenter Unconsciously Pushes Subject into a Particular Response
      • Changes in Behavior Caused by the Unintended Influence of the Experimenter
      • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: A Prediction That Leads People to Act in Ways to Make the Prediction Come True
      • Single Blind Experiment: Only the Subjects Have No Idea Whether They Get Real Treatment or Placebo
      • Double Blind Experiment: The Subjects AND The Experimenters Have No Idea Whether the Subjects Get Real Treatment or Placebo
    • Evaluating Results in an Experiment 22:54
      • Statistically Significant: Results Gained Would Occur Very Rarely by Chance Alone, Usually Less Than Five Experiments Out of 100
      • Meta-Analysis: Study of Results of Other Studies
    • Placebo Effect 25:15
      • Changes in Behavior That Result From Belief That One Has Ingested a Drug
    • Ethics/Ethical Responsibility 28:28
      • No Coercion -- Participation Must Be Voluntary
      • Doctrine of Informed Consent -- Must Be Volunteer and Know Enough to Intelligently Decide About Participating
      • Anonymity or Confidentiality of Participants
      • Respecting Dignity and Welfare of Human Subjects
      • Protection From Physical or Emotional Risk -- Temporary Discomfort OK, But Not Long-Term Harm
      • Ability to Withdraw at Any Time
      • Deception of Subjects Can Be OK
      • Debriefing -- Done After Experiment -- Explains True Purpose of Study and If Any Deceptions
    • Experimenting on Animals 30:43
      • Humans are Similar to Other Animals in Many Ways
      • Two Extreme Options -- Do No Testing or Test in Any Way We Want, Without Constraint
      • Researchers Must (APA 2002) Ensure the Comfort, Health, and Humane Treatment of Animals and of Minimizing Infection, Illness, and Pain of Animal Subjects.
      • Must Have a Clear Scientific Purpose
      • Must Answer a Specific, Important Scientific Question
      • Animals Chosen Must be Best Suited for the Question
      • Animals Must Be Acquired Legally (Accredited Companies or Trapped Humanely, if Wild)
    • Practice Questions 32:06
      • To Understand In-Depth a Particular Individual or Family By Using Many Different Tools
      • To Watch a Person or People and Describe What They Do -- Often Involves Keeping Counts of Particular Behaviors
      • To Examine the Strength of Relationship Between Two or More Variables
      • Using Controlled Methods, Create a Situation Where the Researcher Can Measure Cause and Effect by Applying the Independent Variable With the Experimental Group and Comparing Results With a Control Group.
    • Practice Questions 33:31
      • To Find Out a Lot of People's Views, Attitudes, Experiences or Feelings About Some Aspect of Their Lives
      • To Use a Manipulated Situation to See What People Will Do in That Situation
      • Professor Xavier is Interested in Understanding the Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Social Anxiety
      • Dr. Jones Wishes to Investigate the Effects of a New Training Program on Employees' Job Performances
      • Professor Smith Wishes to Study the Effects of Food Deprivation on Learning in Rats
      • Dr. Watusi is Interested in Studying Peer Influence Among High School Students. He Decides to go to Several Local High Schools and Observe Students Over the Course of Several Weeks.