Ch. 4, Scientific Method in Abnormal Psychology

Ch. 4, Scientific Method in
Abnormal Psychology
Prepared by Elizabeth Jacobs, Ph.D.
Theoretical Research
Each theory conducts its own
research to support its diagnoses
and treatments…
…some good, some bad,
some horrible and dangerous…
Schizophrenogenic parenting, estrogen….
What’s the worse thing about living
in/around Phoenix, Arizona?
The better driver?
• Males???
• Females???
A Reaction Time Experiment,
By Betsy Jacobs
• First thing I need?
– Hypothesis… (educated guess)
• Next thing I need?
– Operational definitions… (of reaction time…)
• Next?
– Measurement…
– I choose…
• A yardstick!! (Reliable/valid?)
My Experiment continued…
• Some variables are in order here…
– Independent… sex (quasi-experimental)
– Dependent…(measurement)
Running the experiment
• Need a male first… Time:
• Now a female…. Time:
• Statistical analysis (your next class?)to determine
whether there is a real difference or the
difference occurred only by chance.
• Statistical vs. clinical significance
Correlational studies…
From 0 (no Correlation ) to +1.00 or
-1.00 Perfect Correlation)
NOT Cause and Effect
More studies…
• Analog… effects of alcohol using rats
• Simulation…”sexual sadism” followed by
• Field studies…observe in nature (aggression)
One vs. many
• Nomothetic studies: study a large group of
people and formulate a general law of behavior
• Idiographic = one person…
– Case study (tests, observe, interview)
– Single N (baseline, treatment, behavior, withdraw, behavior)
– Multiple baseline (more than one behavior or one place)
– Can’t generalize from an N of 1…
More studies…
• Genetic connection (e.g., schizophrenia)
• Penetrance (to what extent is the gene expressed)
• Biological (affect of substance on behavior….sugar?)
Other types of research
Survey (GCC survey )
Longitudinal (over long period of time)
Historical (reconstructing the past)
Twin studies (twins – Thomas Bouchard)
Treatment outcomes
Treatment process (how/why treatment is effective)
Program evaluation (Dare, Head Start)
Prevalence (% in population with a disorder)
Incidence rate (# of new case in specific time period – PTSD
in last 9 years?)
Ethics in Research
Withholding treatment? (hip research)
Invasion of privacy?
Risk patient’s mental/physical health?
Cause pain in animals?
APA Ethical Guidelines
Informed consent
Ability to withdraw any time
Dignified Treatment
Minimal pain

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