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Ch 13: Statistics & Research for Psychology

About This Chapter

Learn how psychologists apply the scientific method to the study of behavior and use statistics to interpret their results. Explore the different types of research designs, the use of the scientific method, and more.

Intro to Psychology: Statistics, Tests and Measurement

This topic delves further into the practice of psychology as a science. Psychology's reliance on careful research design and statistical analysis make it a more precise and reliable measure of behavior than casual observation. Psychology seeks to answer questions about behavior in a systematic, scientific way.

In the introductory lesson, we'll examine key concepts of the scientific method and scientific control. A lesson on research design comes next, outlining the advantages and disadvantages of descriptive, correlational and experimental psychological research. We'll take a look at the different types of questions psychologists ask, and how to tell which kinds of questions are best suited for which kinds of research designs.

Next, we'll go into some of the more technical aspects of designing and interpreting research. A lesson on reliability and validity establishes the importance of thinking through questions of measurement and causation before conducting research. Without careful planning, psychologists can find out too late that their methods do not reliably measure what they intend, or that the effect they attribute to one thing is actually caused by another. A lesson on statistical analysis goes through some of the techniques psychologists use to interpret the data they get from their studies. We cover the difference between descriptive and inferential statistics and go into some of the key components of each. Ultimately, we reinforce the importance of reliable statistics for answering a psychologist's original research question.

We hope you'll use this series of lessons to become more fully acquainted with the process of answering questions about behavior by carefully designing a research study and interpreting its results using statistical analysis. You should be able to understand the challenges and limitations of different types of research, and apply the lens of the scientific method to all the fields of psychology you've studied thus far.

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