How Science Works
Science is often considered as a systematic approach towards testing and proving the validity of ideas. Scientists do not just engage in haphazard arguments or develop unrealistic conclusions, but they engage in a process of a deliberate approach to practical learning. The findings in any scientific process are often founded on existing evidence that can be demonstrated through empirical data. A scientific process begins with the development of questions and ideas concerning different aspects that define the natural world. These ideas and questions can generate through critical thought of an individual or through a brainstorming session. In addition, brainstorming sessions or critical thought can sometimes generate ideas and questions with the aim of falsifying of affirming an existing theory.
Exploration and discovery therefore forms an integral part of the scientific process since it inspires scientists to develop personal motivation or use new technology out of curiosity of purpose to investigate a problem or an idea within the society. Such level of curiosity often drives the scientist in a process of making observations, asking relevant questions on the area of interest, exploring literature and finding inspiration by sharing ideas and data. For an individual to be able to verify his or her thoughts concerning areas of study there is need to engage in attesting process. Testing is perceived as a way through which hypothesis that have been developed about the natural world can be affirmed, falsified or affirmed. In other situations, science allows the researcher to engage in a process of reviewing the hypothesis by addressing its areas of weakness.
The testing process in any scientific endeavor is often characterized by gathering and interpretation of data. For science to succeed in the testing process, it is often necessary to develop a hypothesis. This will facilitate the process of developing expected results that will be founded on observation of the specific phenomenon. The scientific process used in gathering data will facilitate the process of interpretation, which facilitates the generation of actual results. The role of the scientist is to assess his or her hypothesis in terms of the expected results and the actual results. Similarities in these results often affirm the hypothesis. However, any form of difference between these findings is a denial of the hypothesis. The process of interpretation of data is multifaceted. This is because it involves addressing aspect that are in support or are contrary to the hypothesis. In other situations, the scientists can also find out more on the surprising and inconclusive data. This plays the role of inspiring the revision and the development of new hypothesis. New hypothesis requires gathering of new data. This makes the scientific process relatively circular in its desires to find out more concerning the natural works
Through the process of testing and re-testing the hypothesis is often aimed at enhancing the accuracy of any scientific endeavor. Members of the scientific community have the responsibility of upholding the accuracy levels of science by generating ideas, scrutinizing the said ideas, weighing existing evidence that affirm or deny the idea. The actions of the community of scientist make the scientific process a self-correcting process. The process of scrutinizing scientific ideas often necessitates the development of the argument that it is possible for scientists to engage in erroneous arguments. However, through scrutiny, scientists are often able to undertake a corrective measure towards the shortcomings of the idea.
There are numerous activities involved in upholding the authenticity and accuracy levels of science. Once ideas and questions have been generated, scientists often engage in discussions, peer reviewing, replication and publication. This enhances the process of developing a theoretical assumption that can also be taken through the process of scrutiny. This is a continuous process and it provides an explanation why there exist different theories explaining one phenomenon.
For science to succeed in its endeavors to explain natural phenomenon, it would be important for the discipline to be intertwined with the society. Science and the society influence each other considering that the latter presents the former with ideas and questions concerning different areas of interest. For instance through numerous investigations of X-rays in the society, Scientists have been able to develop CT scanners. The need to develop an understanding on the prevalence of HIV in the society has necessitated the development of scientific assumptions concerning the relationship between molecular interactions within the immune system. This is an indication that fore science to claim authenticity and accuracy, it must be used to provide explanation on different issues affecting the society. This form of interaction can be realized through the development of technology that facilitates building of knowledge. This helps in satisfying curiosity within the society while at the same time addressing societal issues. In addition, through the scientific process the society is able to develop informed policies that are essential in solving everyday problems. This makes science a continuous and dynamic process that is defined by different parameters that describe the procedures that can be used in explaining different aspects that explain different happenings in the society.
Science works based on a logical scientific argument that employs evidence to demonstrate the accuracy level of an idea. For instance, the idea that the rate of illness among women can be caused by low levels of hygiene among doctors generates the assumption that the rate of illnesses will reduce when doctors begin maintaining high-level f hygiene before attending to women. This is the expected result. When a test is performed, and the observations match the expectations, then it enhance the development of a strong scientific arguments supporting the idea that doctors must always maintain high levels of hygiene. Science form this understanding is iterative since it works by circling back on itself to facilitate the process of building upon useful ideas and using the said ideas to develop a better understanding of the natural world.
How Do Psychologists Use Science?
The main objective of any psychological discourse is to generate data that is essential in explain aspects of behavior and the mind. Human behavior in the view of psychologists is affected by different aspects within the environment, which can be used in understanding different aspects that are related to cognitive development and integration in the society. For this approach to be successful, it is often important for psychologists to use the scientific approach in conducting their research initiatives. The scientific method qualifies as the best approach to the development of psychobiological data since it is founded on standardized techniques that are used in the process of observation, formation of theories, gathering data, testing, predicting and interpretation of results. Research in any psychological discourse can therefore be used in making observations that will help in the description and measurement of behavior. The observation of certain patterns of behavior repeatedly facilitates the process of developing theoretical assumptions that can be used in the explanation of the said observations. A theory from the psychological perspective is therefore a method of explanation that organizes separate pieces of information in an articulate way. While using the scientific method, psychologists often develop their theoretical assumptions after engaging in a series of research initiatives that increase the possibility that other scientists can produce their research results.
For psychologists the process of using the scientific methods requires that they meet specific criteria. This includes the understanding that their research initiatives must be replicable, falsifiable, precise and parsimonious. For a psychological research on the study of the mind and behavior to be considerd replicable, then other psychologists must be able to produce similar results when they engage in the process. This explains why it is important for psychologists to provide details concerning their discoveries in ways that can be used by other psychologist to verify and replicate the findings. This can also be facilitated by the development of a theory, which must be translated into a precise hypothesis.
A hypothesis is a testable assumption that details the possible results that will occur in specific conditions. Being a scientific field, psychologists often test hypothesis through the use of specific scientific methods such as observation, cases studies, experiments or surveys. Just like in any scientific research, is the tests do not confirm the hypothesis, the psychologist is often required to reject or revise the hypothesis while repeating the same process of investigating and testing the hypothesis. Psychologists use science in the development of their theories. This process begins with the formation of a hypothesis and the development of instruments that will be used in measuring the process is followed by making observations as a way of testing the level of accuracy of the hypothesis. The outcomes of the observation will be used in determining the validity of the underlying theory including the need to refine the theory. Upon refining, psychologist verifies their evidence and develops a theory, which is subject to further studies that necessitate the development of additional hypothesis. A good scientific theory from the psychological approach is one that has the ability to organize numerous observations through logic. Through such an organization it becomes easier for the researcher to clear and precise predictions that can be used in checking the theory.
Psychologists also use science in the development of falsifiable theoretical assumptions. This means that these theories must be stated in ways that make it is possible to reject them in case they do not provide conclusive evidence ort in situations where they are in disagreement with the expected results. Theoretical assumptions must be falsifiable because it is possible for any research to develop biased and subjective tendencies in its deliberations. Confirmation bias for instance can lead the researcher to only accept evidence that affirm their beliefs and reject evidence that support their beliefs. For easy development of falsifiable theoretical assumptions it will be important for psychologists to derive their hypotheses from underling theories and test these theories against observations. Hypotheses can also generate causal or relational results but would be important to involve them in deliberate experiments to allow for the untangling of causation.
Through scientific method, psychologist often engages in a process that ensures that their theoretical assumptions are precise. This is often realized through the use of operational definitions to define variables of the study. Operational definitions have the responsibility of stating the exact way by which the variable will be studies. There are two types of variables in any scientific of psychological research. These are the dependent and independent variable. The former encompasses what the psychologist intends to predict while the latter entails the variables that the researcher will be using to predict the former. When a psychologist decides to engage in a research initiative that that seeks to find out whether children are happier in warm or cold weather, he will need to develop an operational definition of happiness. This will facilitate the process of measuring the number of toddlers that are happier according to his definition. It is possible for the researcher to operationally define happiness as “the number of smiles that children give per hour.”
The use of scientific methods in psychology also allows psychologists to provide the simplest explanations possible in any scientific discourse. For instance in the psychological discourse it is possible to use existing and accepted psychological theories rather than an elaborate and new hypothesis. This means that it is always reputable to use existing psychological theoretical assumptions in the explanation of phenomenon and only use new assumptions in situations where such assumption do not exist. Parsimony is therefore a scientific approach that is employed to minimize the possibility that psychologists will invent and pursue outlandish theories.
Uses and Misuses of Correlational and Experimental Research Data
Correlational Research Data
Correlational research data is often used in the description of the relationship two theoretical assumptions. Data that is collected through different research methodologies is often analyzed to find and understand the relationship that exists between two variables. For instance, a correlational research data can be in the relationship between the hours that students spend revision and the grades they attain in their examinations. A positive correlation is used in the description of a relationship where both variables increase in equal measure. Negative variable is used in the description of a relationship where one variable increases while another variable decreases.
Other than the provision of a relationship between different variables correlational research data can also be used in the description of the strength of a relationship. This is through a correlational coefficient, which is a simple way of describing the strength of the relationship. A positive correlation is often perceived as strong while a negative correlation coefficient reveals weakness in the relationship between variables. The strengths and weaknesses of the correlational research data can be influential in asserting the prevalence of an occurrence of a psychological phenomenon. For instance, +0.7 correlation co-efficient can be used in the explanation of the existence of a positive relationship between the time spent in revising and the resulting grades in academic examinations. This can lead to the assumption that students who spend more time revising often get higher grades in their examinations.
It is also possible for psychologists to misuse correlational research data. This is based on the understanding that correlations cannot be equated to causation. Failure by the researcher to notice or the decision by a researcher to neglect the role of a mediating variable in between the two variables may lead to an erroneous conclusion on the possible cause of correlation. In the example of students and their grades, it will be erroneous for a researcher to argue that the time spent in revising classwork was the main cause of student excellence in examinations in terms of the quality of grades. This is based on the understanding that the two variables are just related but they cannot be said to be related in terms of cause and effect. It can be that children who revise more have stable homes and comfortable lives and this could also be a contributing factor to their performance.
Correlational research data can also be misused when making erroneous conclusions about a study. This is because through such an approach to psychological discourse, the data does not provide the main cause of the relationship since more variables can still be used in the measure; this makes the use of correlational data to be necessary but not sufficient in understanding the psychological discourse.
Experimental Research Data
Experimental research data is an important undertaking in understanding different phenomenon within the psychological discourse. This is because through this approach the researcher engages in a deliberate process that seeks to use different tools in the provision often expected results. The subjects used in the process of understanding behavioral and cognitive aspects of beings. The main use of this approach to understanding phenomenon is that it provides specific settings that allow for the occurrence of a particular behavior. Through dependent and independent variables, the researcher is often able to determine the extent to which the independent variables can measure the dependent variables. The measure of tendency will be used in arrive at conclusions concerning the occurrence of a specific behavior within a given environmental setting.
The use of control experiments in the development of experimental data is often aimed at assessing the behavior of subjects in the basis of the factors that are assumed to motivate their behavior. Experimental data from this perspective is thereof important in understanding the mode of behavior that different organisms would undertake in in different environmental settings.
Despite the important uses, experimental data can also be subjected to misuse by the researcher who may produce results that are in accordance with his desires. This is based on the understanding that the researcher has the responsibility of controlling the experimental setting. This gives room for malice and the development of subjective data.
Expectancy effects can also be cited as misuse of experimental research data. This is especially when the researcher fails to notice the changes in the behavior of his subjects after the provision of certain cues. These may make the participants to act in ways that seek to please the researcher hence a confirmation of his hypothesis. To this extent, it will be possible to argue that the experiment will have missed its objectives and may result in the production of false conclusions about the phenomenon under study. It is also possible for a researcher to engage in misuse of experimental research data by failing to adhere to expected ethical standards. This is especially in situations where the researcher endeavors to acquire information by engaging participants in extreme situations than those experienced in everyday life.