Since psychology aims to discover how and why people behave in certain ways and formulate theoretical frameworks to explicate normative, adaptive and maladaptive behaviors, psychology relies upon the scientific method to investigate research questions (Baker, McFall, & Shoham, 2009; Plante, 2005, p. 75; Hogan, 2007, p. 585-587). Drawing upon numerous disciplines and lenses to view human behavior, circumstance, the interactions between nature and nurture and the ways combinations can engender or delimit mental illness and/or physical illness, psychology is both formal and applied science (Baker, McFall, & Shoham, 2009; Plante, 2005, p. 5; Hogan, 2007, p. 585-587).
Because of this its practice and research require a synthesis of art and science, inquiry and investigation and the statistical evaluation of data gathered. In this way, psychology seeks ways to quantify qualitative measures and apply psychometrics to almost every facet of behavior and its exploration (Plante, 2005, p. 75). As Aron, Aron, & Coups (2009) contend this process not only hones a researcher’s intuition and reasoning but also applies directs the formulation of research questions, validation and negation of hypotheses and the exploration of unaddressed areas and/or underlying factors.
Challenged by the difficulties of observation, predicting and measuring human behavior across cultures, regions and the like, the scientific method assists psychologists and researchers because it engages one process. As Aron, Aron & Coups (2009) explain, observation leads to inquiry, and hypothesis formation. Hypothesis formation alternately leads to methodology for structured observation and data gathering. Using psychometrics or other measurement tools such as Likert scale, all behaviors and attitudes can be measured and analyzed statistically (Plante, 2005).
After all, statistical evaluation either proves the hypothesis or refutes it. It also illuminated whether the variables selected were applicable to the dependent behavior or other unaddressed contributing factors could explain why something occurred or did not (Aron, Aron & Coups, 2009). Whereas descriptive statistics do describe numbers obtained from a research study and do so contextually, inferential statistics are more commonly engaged. After all psychologists make inferences and draw conclusions from the data gathered (Aron, Aron & Coups, 2009; Hogan, 2007).
A good example of the inferential process would extend from an exploratory study of behavior and reward and the resultant research question. If “x” number of people listened to a persuasive speech and then completed a survey, the results of the survey might yield a hypothesis stating that “X’ people would be likely to change behavior based on the information. The reasons why this might occur would be inferred and applied to the set of hypotheses formulated. These might include “x” people with cursory knowledge would be likely to change behavior. “X’ number of people would not change behavior or beliefs after the speech, etc.
Deeper questions and inferences might illuminate the underlying reasons or associative characteristics. Low socioeconomic status might constitute one area. Culture, ethnicity, and the like might also inform receptivity to the message. Still other inferences could be drawn based on the semantics of the speech itself. All of these areas would be subject to inferential statistics and the consequent hypothesis formulation. Accordingly, the subsequent study could be constructed (Plante, 2005; Hogan, 2007). Categories of independent variables such as socioeconomic status, education, age, mother tongue, etc. ould be assessed relative to the semantics of the speech and the perception of concepts.
These factors would be viewed as largely inferential devoid of statistical evaluations based on qualitative measures assessed through a structured response survey and supplemented by focus groups or interviews. The results would then be compiled and analyzed. Dependent upon the results, the characteristics might or might not be positively correlated with words and receptivity. Since the persuasive speech was delivered to promote behavior or attitude change, one of the questions included on the survey would be related to this.
In fact, the likelihood of behavior is explored through the assessment of the characteristics or categories constructed. While numbers do provide a snapshot of the relationship between the characteristics and categories and reveal the goodness of fit and/or applicability, graphing the results can elucidate other “hidden variables. ” Graphic representation can provide researchers with an alternate snapshot of the data and do so in meaningful ways (Aron, Aron & Coups, 2009). In fact, selecting the most appropriate type of visual chart can either add or detract from the findings.
Nonetheless, the graphic representations also validate or refute the hypotheses, raise questions for further research and /or elicit interest from the readers. Any and/or all of these are likely. Yet, this cycle constitutes the scientific method. Conclusion As evidenced through the preceding exploration, psychology uses methodology from science and social science. To discern the validity of a hypothesis or theoretical tenet, the scientific method is engaged. Statistical evaluation is an important part because it separates and/or reconciles inquiry and reason and helps researchers discover truth one hypothesis and study at a time.
January 9, 2018
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