Psychology as Scientific Method

Psychology as Scientific Method

The scientific Method: Its Basic Nature

According to many people, the term science conjures up the images of white-coated people working in laboratories or hospitals, due to which people conclude that word Science applies only to the fields such as chemistry, physics, or biology. Although, this term refers simply to as special approach for acquiring knowledge- an approach involving the use of several key values or standards. We human beings are part of the natural world, and thus the scientific method can certainly be applied to the study of our behavior and cognition. It is the adoption of scientific method that makes psychology a science- and that makes the information it acquires so valuable.

The actual procedure used by psychologists in applying the scientific method is:

A) Accuracy: Collection and assessment of information about the world in as careful, precise, and error- free manner as possible.

B) Objectivity: A commitment to obtaining and evaluating such information in a manner as free from bias as humanly possible.

C) Skepticism: A commitment to accepting findings as accurate only after they have been verified over and over again, preferably by many different scientists.

D) Open-mindedness: A commitment of changing one’s views- even views that are hardly held- in the face of indication that these views are inaccurate.

Thus, Psychology is the field, is deeply committed to these values.

The Role of Theory in the Scientific Method

One more aspect of the scientific method we should consider as, in their research scientists seek to do more than simply describe the word; they want to be able to explain it as well. Similarly, a psychologist studying memory is not content merely to describe the extent to which individuals forget various kinds of information; as a scientist, the psychologist also wants to be able to explain why such forgetting occurs.  To accomplish this task all the scientists are involved in forming theories. The procedure involved goes like this:

1. On the basis of existing violence.

2. This theory, which consists of some basic concepts and statements about how these concepts are related, helps to organize existing information and also makes predictions about observable events.

3. These predictions, known as hypothesis, are then tested by actual observation.

4. It results of new observation are consistent with the theory, confidence in it is increased. If they are not, theory is modified and further tests of its predictions are performed.

5. Eventually, the theory is either recognized as accurate or rejected as inaccurate. Even if it is accepted as accurate, however, it remains open to further refinement as additional research is conducted.

Advantages of Scientific Method

Advantages of Scientific method are as follows:

The confirmation bias: The tendency to verify our views: Humans generally wants other people to consider their views rather than rejecting them. This tendency is known as confirmation bias, is very strong  and when it operates, it places individuals in a kind of closed system in which only evidence that confirms one’s existing beliefs is processed.

The availability heuristic: Emphasizing what comes to mind first or most readily: Availability heuristic is a mental shortcut, which is designed to save our mental efforts, the easier it is to bring something to the mind, or the more information humans can think of it, the more importance people attribute to it- and the greater its impact on subsequent decisions or judgments.

Rational versus intitutive thought: The danger of “Gut- level”:  Institutive thinking is most appropriate when the consequences of one’s words and actions are unknown- there is nothing that the rational mind can grasp hold of because the result of our action is unknowable.

Whereas, rational thinking is defined as the use of reason, the capacity to make sense of things, and the use of logic to establish and verify.

On the other hand, critical thinking closely examines all claims and assumptions, carefully evaluates existing evidence, and cautiously assesses all conclusions. The following guidelines:

Never jump to conclusions; gather as much information as we can before making up our mind about any issue.

Keep an open mind: don’t let our existing views blind to our new information.

Be Skeptical: always wonder about why someone is making an argument, offering a conclusion or trying to persuade humans.

Never be stampeded into accepting some view because others accept it.

Be aware of the fact that our own emotions can strongly influence our thinking, and try to hold such effects to a minimum. 

Thus by adopting scientific method and using critical thinking, psychologists vastly increase the probability that their efforts to attain valid information about human behavior will succeed. 

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